I've been thinking a lot lately about the responsibility of parents in the spiritual upbringing of their children. Mostly because I have also been thinking about our Children's Church program at Riverview (although I suppose the fact that I have 1.5 children has something to do with it as well!). Unfortunately, I fear the only spiritual education and direction that many children receive comes at either 9:00 or 10:30 on Sunday mornings, and is neglected (at least for the most part) for the rest of the week.
The church often times wonders what went "wrong" with children in the church as they grew up, because 86% of kids who grow up in the church leave it after college. Could it be because the only spiritual direction these kids ever received as children was the hour they spent in Sunday School? I think that's definitely one of the main causes. And this lack of spiritual direction never leads them to a grounded faith in Christ as the only Savior.
I received what follows in one of my "Grace Gems" emails. It's a bit of commentary by A.W. Pink on the importance of establishing and maintaining a family based attitude of spiritual growth and worship.
"Pour out Your wrath on the heathen that do not acknowledge You--and on the families that do not call upon Your name!" Jeremiah 10:25
We wonder how many of our readers have seriously pondered these awe-inspiring words! Observe what fearful threatenings are pronounced against those who disregard family worship! How unspeakably solemn to find that prayerless families are here coupled with the heathen, who do not acknowledge the Lord.
How loudly should these words speak to us! It is not enough that we pray as private individuals; we are required to honor God in our families as well. Each day, the whole household should be gathered together to bow before the Lord--to confess their sins, to give thanks for God's mercies, to seek His help and blessing. Nothing must be allowed to interfere with this duty--all other domestic arrangements are to bend to it. The head of the house is the one to lead the devotions. If he is absent--or seriously ill--or an unbeliever, then the wife should take his place. But under no circumstances, should family worship be omitted. If we would enjoy the blessing of God upon our family--then let its members gather together daily for praise and prayer. "Those who honor Me--I will honor" is His promise.
All our domestic comforts and temporal mercies, issue from the loving-kindness of the Lord. The least we can do in return, is to gratefully acknowledge together, His goodness to us as a family. Excuses against the discharge of this sacred duty--are idle and worthless! Of what avail will it be when we render an account to God for the stewardship of our families--to say that we had no time available? The more pressing are our temporal duties--the greater our need of seeking divine help. Nor may any Christian plead that he is not qualified for such a work--gifts and talents are developed by use--and not by neglect.
Family worship should be conducted reverently, earnestly and simply. It is then, that the little ones will receive their first impressions, and form their initial conceptions of the Lord God. Great care needs to be taken, lest a false idea of the Divine Character be given to them.
The advantages and blessings of family worship are incalculable! First, family worship will prevent much sin. Daily prayer in the home, is a blessed means of grace for allaying those unhappy passions to which our common nature is subject. It awes the soul, conveys a sense of God's majesty and authority, and sets solemn truths before the mind. How can those who neglect the worship of God in their families--look for peace and comfort therein?
Personal piety in the home is the most influential means, under God, of conveying piety to the little ones. Children are largely creatures of imitation, loving to copy what they see in others.
Finally, family prayer gains for us the presence and blessing of the Lord. There is a promise of His presence which is peculiarly applicable to this duty, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name--I am there among them." Matthew 18:20. Many have found in family worship, that help and communion with God--which they sought for with less effect in private prayer.