Christianity Today recently ran a piece with an attention-grabbing headline: “Our Priorities Are Off When Family Is More Important Than Church.”
The basic premise of the article is this: while God loves family, we also see some statements in the Bible that the author says are “anti-family,” such as Jesus’ words in the book of Luke: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (14:26).
Citing a few examples of modern-day couples striving to prioritize their church family, the author argues most believers would rank their priorities as:
- God’s family (church)
He contends, however, that the correct way to prioritize these things looks like this:
- God and His family
- My family
Now, you may or may not agree with all of the author’s thoughts, but the reality remains that, in many homes, there’s a tension between the natural family and the faith family.
Perhaps that tension is especially felt today because, in many ways, expectations are so high.
If you’re married with kids, for example, you might feel pressure to enroll your kids in multiple extracurricular sports and activities – including those that meet on Sundays. You might feel compelled to take on that promotion – and the expected extra hours – so you can move your family to a nicer neighborhood or go on that lavish vacation with the hefty raise.
Some will be too busy for church.
Their schedule will be too full to make it to church on Sunday. They’ll be too busy to serve in the nursery or volunteer to host the men’s Bible study. They might be so preoccupied that they won’t consider accepting that leadership position as a deacon.
Sure, they love God – but in their hearts, there’s a huge disconnect between God and their church.
But is that correct?
Now, I’m not saying we should blindly serve at church without giving a second thought to how it might impact our lives, marriages, and children.
That’s why this is a tricky topic to write about. Every family has their own unique circumstances. There’s no “one size fits all” advice I can give.
What I can do is to offer a suggestion: Take time to pray. Instead of taking our decisions for granted and being assured we know best, it would benefit us all to ask God for wisdom and guidance.
And as we pray, we can be open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting – perhaps He’ll have you free up your schedule of certain hobbies or commitments so you can attend church more faithfully. Or He’ll show you that serving together at church is valuable family time. Maybe He’ll cause you think rethink how much you’re willing to sacrifice for the benefit of your church family.
I’m interested in hearing from you: how do you prioritize church and family life? What are some principles that help you make decisions related to how you’ll spend your time, talent and energy? Let me know in the comments section.