While my last post addressed a hard reality of the foster crisis and the church, it was not an exhaustive explanation. I’m not sure we can completely define the cause for the crisis, as there are multiple layers. Nor am I sure it is the best use of our time attempting to do so. With that said, I do want to explore the conversation a little further. Because this crisis should not be in existence when you line up the numbers of children/churches and you layout the call of the church. And if we do not at least have an understanding of why, even if it fails to offer a complete answer, we will not know how to move forward with solutions.
As the wife of a pastor, one of our greatest and most constant struggles is lack of volunteers. Which I believe provides a significant insight into why the church is so uninvolved in this crisis. This problem within the church is a result of the same problem causing much of this crisis outside the church. Our churches are filled with members who are spectators rather than participants. We have failed to teach the most basic truth for a follower of Christ, that it is not left for the super saints to take up their crosses. It is in fact, the most fundamental mark of a true believer. The consequence is cultural Christianity. As Christians, we have accepted a “religions affiliation” Christianity rather than a disciple view of our faith. As individuals, we attend church and have our moral stances but we are not living transformed, surrendered lives.
Now consider the progression with me. Our relationships are only as healthy as the individuals making up the relationships. Thus, the result of this discipleship deficit is that our churches are filled with spiritually infant believers who are living in spiritually infant relationships. I do not say this critically of church members but of church leaders. Our lack of diligence over the decades in discipleship has been to the detriment of the family. The result is marriage and family relationships functioning for the earthly rather than eternal. Unless we have such Christ centered view of life and relationships, we will not have the heart to sacrifice and serve for the sake of others. We will continue to enjoy the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice and service for us, but we will not strive to share it with others. We will not desire to steward our time and our family for the sake of the gospel. We will resent our spouse for serving others, we will place our own kids above the needs of other children, we will see our time and our family as ours to control and keep our own.
The reality is that many marriages and families making up our churches are in their own forms of crisis. They are unhealthy and hurting. They function without margin. They are not Christ centered. Thus, they are not Christ proclaiming. They look more like the worlds definition than God’s. They are their own idols. Which has resulted not only in families falling apart but in families failing to function with God’s vision. Marriage and family are God designed kingdom partnerships with kingdom purpose. The church must capture a high and holy view of marriage. A better, eternal view of marriage. Where churches are filled with homes of kingdom partnerships, spouses and children teaming together for the glory of Christ. The condition of our families within our churches directly impacts the condition of families within our communities. When our own marriages and families are falling apart within our churches, we are not present to help the failing families within our communities. Until Christian families view themselves with such God designed significance, there will be no desire or room for such sacrifice and service-inside or outside the church. They will continue to function at full capacity, with no room to serve. They will continue to function self, spouse or child centered rather than Christ centered. They will continue to idolize itself above its God given mission. Here is what I can tell you. Family only works when it works the way God designed. Even our best intentions to build strong marriages fail, because they focus on the individuals rather than teaching the individuals to focus on Christ. Therefore, until the individuals making up the homes in our churches are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the families in our churches will continue to fail.
All the while, our communities are filled with children who live with the consequences due to the brokenness of their parents. Parents who needed the church to be lighthouses but were not, so they’ve turned to addictions. Parents who are so poverty entrenched that they needed the church to help them find a their way out, but we didn’t, so their children are neglected. As a result, our communities are producing traumatized children who will statistically grow up to repeat the cycle, become homeless or end up in prison. And the church was not there to prevent nor to stand in the gap. Because those within the church were too consumed with their own lives and broken relationships. It is a cycle that must be broken or the moral, crime, poverty and drug crisis of our culture will only continue to escalate. Individual Christians must come to a place of healing and wholeness in Christ, in order for their marriages to be whole and healthy, in order for their families to be whole and healthy, in order for churches to be whole and healthy, in order for churches to impact the broken families within its community.
The goal of Christian family is not good Christian homes. It is gospel centered homes. If we want to see our own children loving the gospel, they must see us living the gospel.