Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Standard for Christian Parenthood: a brief history.

I think that it is safe to say that I was raised in a Christian home environment, though that terminology is much too vague to really say much of anything. So I'll be more specific.

Our family went to church every Sunday. Our church was a few miles away, in the neighboring city. No one at our church went to the same school as me or lived near me, so mostly, I only saw them at church or at church-related activities.

My grandparents actually lived near the church, and more often than not, we'd go to their house for Sunday dinner after church. If I'm to understand correctly, they'd been going to this church for a long time. It was the same church that my father was raised in. According to my memory, there were usually about 100 people at service each week, maybe 250 on Easter or Christmas.

When I was younger, my dad actually led the youth group and I have a few associated memories of the teenagers being at our house or going along with whatever activity they were doing. By the time I was a teen, my dad was no longer involved in the youth group (I never quite understood this. You'd think it'd have been the other way around.)

My dad had quite a few "guy" buddies from church that would often come over to our house to hang out, work on the car, play a board game, or watch a football game. I don't ever remember my parents hanging out with other couples or other families, just the "guys".

He did a lot of reading. Over the years, he managed to build quite a library, especially for a non-pastor, blue collar factory worker. Though my dad read a lot of theological books, I think it was more of a personal thing for him. I don't remember many familial discussions involving us or my mom about my dad's thorough interest in theology and ecclesiology.

He listened to John Macarthur sermons on a regular basis, so we were exposed to this by sheer proximity. The only at-home aspect of my father's faith that I think he really went out of his way to include us was music. He made sure that we were involved in singing at church, with or without him. He also included us in his musical selections at home and abroad (while driving). We listened to a lot of worship music. Also Contemporary Christian Pop (80's) and even Contemporary Christian Rock (80's). We rarely listened to secular music - if we did, it was usually piano based (as he played the piano).

Occasionally, he would announce that we were going to start "praying together" before meals. This was always short lived. The only time that we were guaranteed to pray before a meal, was Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Also, he would occasionally announce that we were going to start "studying the Bible" together as a family. This would also be short lived.
Obviously, he wanted these things to happen, but I think he just didn't have the "stick-to-itediveness" to make these elements a regular part of our upbringing.

My mom always played the part of dutiful wife, and probably didn't have as much of a discernible impact on our family as a whole, though she obviously shaped my own personal character development much more so than my father.

When we moved, an hour south, to another part of Michigan, my father pretty much stopped going to church (for a few years). I never really knew why, but I have a theory. I think that upon leaving the church that he'd gone to for all of his life, he was kind of at a loss as to what to do next. He also had the precedent set already by his own father, who had simply stopped going to church late in his life. I think those few years out of church were a time of reevaluation for him. In retrospect, he clearly came out a more mature Christian who took his faith more seriously. It was actually kind of cool to watch my dad mature as a Christian during the last 10 years of his life - at least, from my point of view.

My mother, on the other hand, just found a new church right away and kept going each week. My brothers and I had one of two choices - keep going to church every week with mom, or use dad as an excuse to stay home from church. I've never asked my brothers how this season of my dad's affected them, but for me, it made it that much easier to let my upbringing fall by the wayside once I was off to college.

When I first arrived at college, I made a few pathetic attempts to get into a Bible group on campus, but the endeavor didn't last long and was soon forgotten.
In my next post, I'll address the Faith Journey that my wife and I began at the age of 24, just before we were married.


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