If I, as a husband and dad, showed up only a couple hours once a week to visit with my wife and son—the rest of the week doing whatever I selfishly wanted to do—you’d be right in calling me a deadbeat dad.

So how is it that we Christians can get away with showing up for an hour or two on a Sunday and yet refer to the people we assemble with as “our church family”? Doesn’t that lack of connection (despite what the Bible warns about eschewing meeting together and the example of daily meetings of the early Church in Acts) paint us as deadbeats?

What kind of connection can we ever hope to have with our “church family” if we don’t see them more than a couple hours a week? I may live and die for my wife and son, but would I live and die for a “church family” member I almost never see or spend time with?

How is it that we have no problems with this obvious hypocrisy?

Community? Fact is, I’m still longing for it. I wish other people were too.

9 thoughts on “Deadbeats?

  1. casey

    This post is very interesting to me and I am looking forward to seeing the commentary from your deep-thinking readers. Our family has always regularly attended church with the exception of maybe the last year. We are currently without a church “family” but we have managed to stay in contact with a few people from each of the churches we have attended in the past. Although we don’t get together often, we do get together maybe once or twice a year for meals or birthday parties or maybe just catch-up over the telephone. I don’t think they would hesitate to help me if I should need them for something. We love these folks deeply and even if we were all able to be a part of the same fellowship I do not see how we could see them (other than a sunday morning) more than we do now. It would just be logistically impossible. By the time a person works, spends time with their spouse and their kids, does the yard work, attends a sporting practice or a school event, spends time with a hobby or an exercise program, maybe schedules a date with friends from the community or attends the occasional extended family event, I cannot see how one could possibly spend more than a few hours a week with church family. We were recently trying to schedule a time with our own children (who don’t even drive yet), but with their sports and invitations to spend time with friends and then a family emergency we were unable to even get that accomplished. I am truly curious to see if folks really spend more than a few hours a week with church family and if so, how they manage to do it. What do they cut out? Maybe it’s just our family that needs to manage their time better. Maybe the example from the early church worked well with their culture, but not with ours. Things that make you go “hmmmm?”

    • Mr. Poet

      Creative scheduling is needed, I suppose. For example, take yard work. Please! No, seriously…

      Say you and your fellow churchgoer are neighbors. You have similar yards of similar size. You spend about the same amount of time to cut the grass. Well, what if you went to your neighbor’s house, and he to yours, and you cut each yard’s grass together, you with your mower and he with his? In half the time, both yards would be cut, and the two of you could spend the other half fellowshipping (since it would be too loud to fellowship while the mowers are roaring).

      • Mr. Poet

        Oh, wait. 1/2 + 1/2 = 1. Therefore, cutting half of two yards would take the same amount of time as cutting your yard by yourself. Man…this is a toughie! Maybe you’ll just have to let your grass grow a little higher?

  2. It’s possible that I spend as many waking hours with my church family during the week as I spend with my wife (who works 8:30-5:30 each day.)

    I’m a stay-at-home dad and Catholic. My two girls go to a Dominican-run school in Madeira. Catholic schools are effective, but expensive and even after tuition is paid, they take a great deal of effort and volunteering to make them work. I’m working in the school at least a couple hours a week. I often watch my daughter’s friends while their parents get a break, and their folks reciprocate. Before lunch, our little guests say prayers with us, which reinforces the devotion to God they get at school and their own homes. Even aside form school, I have choir rehearsals and any number of meetings to go to. Christ is at the center of all this activity —if I don’t lose my focus.

    It’s interesting that you’ve posted this at the outset of the Lenten season when churches are offering all kinds of programs to get us out of the house and spend some extra quality time with God. I’d love to take better advantage of these lectures, missions, retreats, etc. and I hope to do more of it in the future.

    Having said that, I rarely feel like a hypocrite. Moreover, I don’t think others who are better at safeguarding their own family time are hypocrites either. Our wives and children are the most important segment of our church families. They are our supreme responsibility, our vocations, and part of a special covenant with God. Family is second to God, always. But if we do our job correctly, God is present in our family time as sure as he is present in our churches.

  3. Dan, this is a great, and horrible, analogy. I’m deeply grateful for churches that emphasize the need for community. I’m even more grateful when “community” means more to them than just hours spent in small-talk.

  4. It saddens me to hear people talk about their “church family” when in reality they barely know many of the people they “go to church with” and the ones they do know are only superficial relationships when everyone is wearing their best clothes and on their best behavior. That is not universally the case but it is all too common.

  5. Cliff

    I struggled with this issue, that of developing meaningful relationships with others in my church (in Dallas) in a context other than Sunday worship. It never seemed to gel; we all seemed so very busy. So it was Church on Sunday, then a week of work and busy, and a complete disconnect with the Sunday experience. The effort frustrating and left me dispirited. It seemed like church was something we did, not something we WERE.

    So, some years later, here I am in OKC, trying again, and wondering if can be different — to be connected with others in a meaningful way. And I’m still wondering…

  6. Angie

    When I spend time w/my church family it is on Sundays primarily. What I have found though is that since I am active in my church w/the youth programming, I have had the blessing of meeting so many people with my same interests and values. Over the years I have realized that these are the people that I choose to spend time with the most.

    What I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t get to know people at church unless you get involved. To be involved means you are there basically every week. For me personally, I got involved because if I didn’t, I found taking a week off here and there just came too easy. I didn’t want that so I became involved and because of that I have grown in my faith as well.

    I have a special closeness to my church family and a very special bond. I don’t know everyone but I hope over time I’ll create special bonds with them as well.

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