It is true that, theologically-speaking, the church provides us with a new family. In Christ we call each other sisters and brothers. We have a new heavenly Father. The church has been referred to as “Mother Church” or “The Bride of Christ.” Jesus even tells us that we’ll need to leave our earthly, familial relationships behind if we want to be a follower. These are sharp words to hear in a culture where we’ve idolized the family, or some idealized expression of it, for far too long.
This does not mean that the family is unimportant though; even in relation to the church.
Late last week I read a statistic that made me stop and pause. The statistic went something like this:
Youth spend an average of 40 hours per year in the church but 3000 hours per year with their family. Which one, either church or family, do you think has a bigger role in discipleship?
Well, of course the family will have a bigger role in the discipling of our youth. That’s where the kids are learning what it means to be Christian, to be a human, to relate with others, to deal with money and conflict, and learning proper communication. The church only gets a little bit of time and much of that is built around offering praise during corporate worship–which is tied into discipleship but is not specifically geared towards them. Whatever skill you want to learn in life–piano, gymnastics, underwater basket-weaving–you can learn better with 3000 hours of practice rather than 40 hours. I’ve taken guitar lessons three times in my life and never put in any practice outside of the lessons. So, today, I still can’t play guitar. The same would go for discipleship.
But wait, there’s more!