In our technological world, parenting has gotten more complicated. I recently heard a speaker at PTHS challenge the students to go without texting for a day to see if they could actually talk without their thumbs! According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, if you add up the total time children spent consuming “media,” which includes iPods, phones, computers, video games and TV (and now iPads); it’s almost eight hours a day, seven days a week!
According to Webster, an epidemic is primarily defined as “a disease affecting many individuals in a community or a population instantaneously.” A secondary definition is “anything which takes possession of the minds of people … as, an epidemic of terror.” When epidemics hit, it’s natural for people to take notice because they can be terrifying.
I want to suggest that we’re facing a frightening epidemic that has hit the homes in our community. We could call it the epidemic of indifference or apathy. Here are some stunning statistics about the state of the family today.
• According to George Barna, 61 percent of today’s young adults were churched at one point during their teen years, but are now spiritually disengaged. Most youth of today will not be coming to church tomorrow.
• In his book called, Already Gone, Ken Ham points out that we are one generation away from the evaporation of church as we know it.
• And a recent Lifeway poll discovered that 87 percent of parents believe it’s important to teach their children how to have a relationship with God, but only 55 percent take their children to church on a regular basis.
I’m reminded of the famous painting by Norman Rockwell that shows a family going off to church, led by the oldest sister, followed by the mother who is then followed by the younger sister. All three women are dressed for church. Following them is a young boy who appears to be going with some reluctance. Why is he reluctant? Because at the center of the painting is dear old dad slumped in a chair, in his pajamas, reading the paper. As junior walks by he casts a longing eye at his father. He’s going to church, but clearly he’d rather be with his dad.
I’m challenged by Psalms 121:1 – Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Parents, are you allowing God to build your house? Are you participating with him in the process of raising sons and daughters for His purposes?
Harmon Killebrew once said, “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ my dad would reply, ‘we’re raising boys.’”
One of the saddest things I can think of is when a parent tells their children that they are brats or worse yet, when I hear of a child being abused in some way. Another tragedy is when kids are left to dive into technology without any supervision. One pastor writes, “we should treasure our children as we would a precious gift from a wealthy friend – because that is what they are.”
Parents, if you want to fight the epidemic of apathy in your home, then practice what you preach. Cultivate your faith for your own sake and for the sake of your family. And take your kids with you to church this weekend.