By Lee Yates
I’m ready to announce my campaign.This is not a political campaign. I’m not running for any office.
This is the beginning of the “PUT PRAYER BACK IN HOMES” campaign.
Ready for the opening speech?
My fellow Judeo-Christian Americans, too long we have watched while others failed to teach our children to pray. Too long we have waited for someone to magically share our faith with the next generation. Too long have we watched political pundents and para-church organizations fail to make others teach our children what they should believe.
We have tried to hire youth ministers but it seems many leave after only 2-4 years with our children. We have tried to beg volunteers but they expected us to “help them” too many times. So what is left? What other option do we have?
Today I ask you to join me in accepting the inevitable truth. We have no other choice but to put prayer back in the home.
The PUT PRAYER BACK IN HOMES campaign is one of necessity.
We would all rather out-source our faith education to schools, nuns, volunteers and that really athletic kid that dresses well and made good grades the first year of college.
We would all rather not risk the questions kids might ask us about God and our personal faith life. Too many scary questions about heaven, hell, death or even… sex.
But it seems we have no choice.
We must put PRAYER BACK IN HOMES.
While the above is clearly tongue in cheek, the issue it addresses is very serious. For years we have seen campaigns and petitions about prayer in school. For years we have heard debates and people on TV yelling about the 10 commandments. People have begged to have them in school, government offices and subliminally implanted into the minds of the masses. It seems that we have done everything we can to avoid teaching these things ourselves. It seems that we would prefer to outsource the faith formation of our youth and children.
So, why haven’t churches done this for us? After all, they are the ones we look to for this type of stuff.
Well, most churches only get people for an hour each week, if they come to church each week. Most people don’t come for Bible study or Sunday School. Even the church that is doing everything perfect can’t be expected to do it alone.
Churches can also fall prey to the out-sourcing trend… We do it in local churches when we hire a youth minister but don’t have enough volunteers to support their work. It is as if everyone thought hiring the staff WAS our contribution and solution to youth ministry.
We see it in denominational bodies when we hire a “Racism” expert but don’t participate in any of their initiatives. It is as if by hiring them we feel we have done our fair share. Surely we proved we aren’t racist by hiring someone to talk about racism for us… right?
Back in the old days people walked up hill both directions going to and from school and while at home they talked about God and talked to God at home. There was a time when families read scripture together and sometimes even sang some hymns. In the earliest days of the church this is how they worshiped.
A friend of mine would joke about being “home churched” – a quick witted excuse for not going to worship on Sunday morning. But the idea has merit. The Lutherans have been including home based projects in their curriculum and methodology for years (check out www.vibrantfaithathome.org for some examples). Our Jewish brothers and sisters have understood that faith identity starts had home for thousands of years.
So, what ARE we teaching our children at home? Well, that depends on the home, but in general we are not doing enough.
We need to equip our families. We need to challenge our families. We need to empower our families.
The reformation (among other things) tried to empower people to relate directly to God without having to go through a priest or even the church. Today we seem to have handed responsibility for relating to God right back to the church and cloaked ourselves in a veil of ignorance. Often when people say, “the Bible says…” they really mean “My minster says that the Bible says…” Rare is the self-taught student of the Bible or the perfect attendance award in Sunday School. What we know about the scriptures is whittled down to sound-bites and self-serving selective quotes.
So, let me say this again without the sarcastic narrative: It is time to put prayer back in our homes! It is time to reestablish parents and grandparents the storytellers of the faith! It is time to prayer back in the home.