On Tuesday evenings from 10-12 I have the privilege of serving on a pastor’s round table with two other excellent pastors on the Alive in Christ Radio Network. Last night, Gene Goertzen, the director of Awana in San Diego was also a guest and he made an outlandish statement. Studies performed by the Awana group on a national scale reveal that only 5% of families that claim to be born again actually have family devotions. Gene said that the vast majority of parents simply delegate away their responsibility to the church and school. The Awana group is so concerned about this that they have developed a program for every age group that the parents are to fill out with the child. Homework, so to speak, so the parents are involved and teaching their own children. The Awana group firmly believes that the parents should be the primary spiritual teachers of their own children. Hmmm, interesting.
A casual (or detailed for that matter), reading of the Scripture would confirm these concerns. It certainly seems that the Bible presents a family-centric picture and squarely places the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents for the impartation of spiritual guidance. Just about anywhere the family is mentioned, the head of the house is responsible for the actions and training of those under their care. Deuteronomy 4, 6, Ephesians 6:4 and most of the book of Proverbs will certainly confirm this presupposition. While the organized Church, and before that, the Tabernacle/Temple model, were to assist the parents in training, they were never commanded to replace them. The responsibility still rests on the parents to impart the training and to make disciples beginning within their own home. Like many groups, and confirmed by several national studies, the Awana group is extremely concerned with the results of parents delegating away their responsibility to others. Others may assist and compliment the parents, but ultimately the one given the job will be held responsible by the One that gave it to them in the first place.
I do not believe that family devotions have to be some big, drawn out ordeal, but they should take place and the more often the better. Christ should be the center of a godly home and children ought to be able to see their parents praying, singing, and studying the Word of God daily. Why should children be deprived of talking to their parents about the things of God? Why not begin today to open the Bible and read a Psalm or Proverb around the dinner table? Parents do not need to have all the answers to every question, but they should be able to direct their children to the One that does. The joy of family devotions begins by starting…begin today. Lead in a reading, prayer or song. It cannot hurt, and it just might help. Change happens slowly but it will never start if we do not change something. Do you really want to be part of the 5%?