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Churches that don’t pray…

14December2011

What would you say about a church that never read scripture together?  Or how about never prayed together?  Can a congregation be a congregation if they outsource all of the “spiritual stuff” of life to some outside group?  It is a crazy notion, isn’t it?  A congregation that doesn’t pray, doesn’t chew on the Scriptures, doesn’t engage in intentional faith talk together isn’t a congregation at all.  It’s a social club and it is not what we are called to as the body of Christ.

And yet, this is where so many of us find ourselves.  Let me explain.  As Lutherans we have, at least, a cursory understanding of “the canon within the canon.”  We hold fast to the powerful teaching of Jesus that “Where two or more are gathered, I am there.”  We witness the growth of the early church was about whole households being baptized together and coming to faith.  Is the family a church—a church within a church?  And not just the nuclear family—the family that you live with—in whatever size, shape, or stripe it happens to be.  Is your family a church?

Systems theory proclaims that you are only as healthy as your smallest cells.  How is the health in the families of your congregation?  Do they pray together?  Do they open the scriptures together?  Are they aware of what is happening in each other’s lives?  We would not stand for a congregation that never reads and prays—why in the world do we stand for families that don’t?

To those pastors that are reading this—let’s stop worrying about attendance and giving.  Instead, lets begin to measure what really matters.  Is the work of the church producing healthy marriages?  Are parents being equipped to spend time with their children and teaching them the stories of faith?  My oldest is in Kindergarten this year.  Each week I have to fill out a reading chart—how much time I spent with him reading.  What would it look like if the church had parents fill out prayer charts?  How much time did you spend praying with your children?  With you spouse?  How many bible stories did you learn/ read/act out together this week.  And here is the reason why.  I love to read with my son.  But sometimes it is easy to push it aside and say a quick prayer and kiss him goodnight.  But then, in the back of my mind I know that Mrs. Taylor is going to want to see that chart next Monday… Out comes the book and so begins the high of my day—quality time with my son as I read him stories.  Measure what matters, because this is what gets done.

If you are a parent—put down the computer, silence the cell phone, turn off the TV.  Make a TV show yourselves and record your kids as they act out the story of David and Goliath, or Jesus feeding 5,000 (I’d stay away from Cane and Able with siblings J).  Make it fun.  Use their imagination and your heart will be stirred.  Measure what matters—after all, all those folks living under that roof over your heads is the church.  Get to worship!

 

SMN @CCD

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