Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Carpenter

My life has been rather hectic lately as my home goes through many much needed renovations: wood floors, paint, siding, windows, fixing a leaky roof and a leaking basement ... lots of things.  The wood floors, though, have been the most exciting!  They are now covered in a lovely bamboo flooring that turned out to be far more beautiful than anticipated.  As the carpenter Joe worked, I couldn't help but reflect on The Carpenter ...

The house was a mile marker: the start of a new venture in my life.  I had gotten divorced the year before I bought the house and was proud to be "making it on my own."  The house was physical proof that I was moving on, leaving a bad marriage behind me, starting anew.  But, during the past years as I struggled to pay for graduate school, I had let things go around the house.  Now, my home was in need of major changes.

In preparation for the carpenter, I had a lot of basement and closet junk to rummage through and throw out.  I had rented a dumpster into which many of my old things went, along with construction-related refuse.  There was one evening that I found myself in tears, as I relived some old memories and made some self-discoveries.  "This is going to be more than just a house renovation," I thought.

In preparation for The Carpenter, we likewise must go through an inventory process: taking account of what we have done, tossing out what clutters our lives and obscures our vision, and keeping those things that are of true help.   We need to reflect on where we have been -- where we have come from, what we have done and accomplished in our lives, and where are next steps will lead us.  Of course, we must be mindful of what true value is and not substitute what is truly important for what only momentarily entertains and distracts us from the real journey before us.

My neighbor the carpenter appears bright and early at my door, greeting me with a big smile and an energy of excitement for a new job.  He meticulously carries in the various tools he will need for the job, placing them strategically about the house and even putting a power saw out on the back deck. 

First, there is the removal of the old carpet: a nasty, dusty job.  I'm so glad to be rid of the 15-year-old berber, having had it installed when I first bought the house.  Then, there was the pounding down of loose nails and the laying down of roofing tar paper all over the floors.  It was a dusty, dirty, noisy environment with all my appliances piled in the middle of the living room.  But, knowing nothing about carpentry and hardwood floors, I found it interesting.

One evening, I watched as Joe the carpenter and his assistant struggled to keep the flooring in straight lines as the wood went down the hall into a guest room.  It turns out that the original carpenter of the house had done a lousy job.  Rooms were not square due to an apparent slap dash job to get the house up and on the market as quickly as possible.  The new carpenter used a red chalk line to help see what I would call "true straight" in spite of the crooked walls deceptively indicating otherwise.  Kneeling closely to the floor with his tools, he would pull and let snap the chalk line,  leaving a bright red line that seemed to glow against the background of the black tar paper.  This was his guide as he finished the stretch of flooring out to the end of the guest room wall.

It made me think of The Carpenter: the color of the red chalk calling to mind the red color of Christ's blood as He hung on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins -- for my sins.  We humans are incapable of keeping the Law, running crooked against its true and straight lines.  It was in kneeling down close to the red line that Joe could better make out the direction he was to follow.  We, likewise, must kneel down and follow closely, ignoring lines poorly laid down by others and, instead, seek true direction that will lead us to walk in straight lines with God.

And, yet, despite our best efforts, our lives become a crooked mess.  Looking at the sharp red chalk line against the black tar paper, I envisioned Christ's blood dripping down his arms as He hung on the Cross.  We cannot keep the Law and are, therefore, condemned by it.  But, because of Christ's Great Sacrifice, the true, straight line of God's law gives way to drops snaking down and around our imperfections, swirling around our failings, covering over our sins and bringing us back into alignment with God.

How wonderful to ponder that God chose to send His son to earth in human form to be adopted by a carpenter -- Joseph -- who passed on the trade to the Son.  Carpenters create, refine, repair, reshape, strengthen -- and, yes, sometimes tear down and start anew.  It is a skill of creation and recreation, repairing and renewing.  How appropriate for Jesus, our Redeemer.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  (2 Cor. 5:17 NIV)
I reflect on the glaring mistakes made during the construction of my house -- glaring to Joe, but not to me with my untrained eyes.  I think about my "mistakes" and "shoddy construction" -- some glaringly obvious to me, some embarrassingly glaring to others, and some to which I am sadly (mercifully?) oblivious.  Oblivious, that is, until pointed out to me by an Expert.  And I give thanks that His blood covers over and fills in my transgressions ... my sins.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Preaching God's Word without a Tongue

What an amazing story I read today by Tim Townsend in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  How inspiring that a man could continue on in his ministry despite such hardship.  It truly makes me think of St. Paul and all his trials while spreading The Word. ...  (emphasis added) ...
St. Charles preacher with no tongue speaks wisdom

The Rev. Scott Schmieding sat in an examination room at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where a surgeon had just examined a malignant tumor in the
center of his tongue.

The tumor was spreading rapidly, the doctor told him. Surgeons would have to remove most, if not all, of the preacher's tongue, and he might never be able to swallow on his own. His speech would likely be unintelligible.

In that moment, Schmieding was not afraid of death or the physical ordeal that he faced. He knew heaven awaited him if he were to die. But he wondered about his calling if he survived. How could he spread the word of God if he couldn't speak?

"I was most fearful that I would never again be able to verbally communicate with my family," Schmieding recalled.

Sitting in the examination room about 13 years ago, he asked God to either make
him whole or take him to heaven. Ultimately, God would do neither.

Schmieding survived the cancer, but he lost his entire tongue. In the years
that followed, he retrained himself to speak using a special retainer and a muscle from his abdomen that surgeons transplanted into his mouth.

On Sunday, Christians around the world celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the
official end of the Easter season commemorating a dramatic scene in Scripture when the Holy Spirit empowers Jesus' disciples to begin spreading the Gospel: "Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."

For that reference to "speaking in tongues," Schmieding comes equipped with a joke: "I definitely know a person can be filled with the spirit and yet not be
able to speak in tongues, since I don't have one,"
he said.

Two months ago, Schmieding took on a new ministry, as the congregation at Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Charles welcomed the preacher from Baton Rouge, La.

Though his speech is difficult to follow at times, the church believed Schmieding was the best qualified to lead its flock. The awkwardness of his speech has, in fact, brought more power to his words, parishioners say.

Jana Leppien, who was on the Immanuel selection committee, recalled how one person put it best: "If someone is willing to work that hard to speak, after going through what he went through, I'm going to work twice as hard to listen."

These days, Leppien said, the church is pretty quiet with Schmieding around. "People are listening more. His message is phenomenal."


Schmieding left his hometown of Beatrice, Neb., to attend a Lutheran college, where he studied vocal music, then moved to St. Louis to attend Concordia Seminary. He was 27 in 1992 when he was ordained and called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Baton Rouge as associate pastor. His daughter was born there in 1995.

Schmieding had never smoked or chewed tobacco and he had no family history of
But in 1997, he noticed a sore in the back of his tongue. In an 11-hour
operation, surgeons in Houston sliced open Schmieding's neck from ear to ear and removed his tongue through his throat. Then, they reconstructed the cavity in his mouth with a muscle from his abdomen. Schmieding likes to tell people his former six-pack abs are now only a five-pack.

During his rehabilitation, he suffered from blisters in his mouth from intense
radiation, making his speech therapy sessions agony. He calls it "the most painful part of the entire ordeal."

For eight months, he had to breathe through a hole in his neck, and he ate through a feeding tube. Doctors told Schmieding they feared he would choke to death if he tried to swallow food, and that the feeding tube might be permanent.

The loss of his tongue meant Schmieding permanently lost almost all of his sense of taste. Radiation treatments to his head eliminated the ability to produce saliva. When he did learn to swallow, it was with the help of gravity to push both solids and liquids — with a quick toss of the head backwards — to the back of his throat.

He had to learn how to replace the sounds of consonants in his speech — making the "T" sound, for instance, by shooting air at his retainer, which acts like a megaphone and replicates the traditional sound of the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth.

Having survived surgery and radiation, Schmieding was determined to return to parish life. His first public act as a pastor after his ordeal was to give a sermon at his former church in Baton Rouge and celebrate the baptism of his newborn son.

Despite his zeal, Schmieding did have some misgivings. He confided to his speech therapist: What if parishioners could only understand half of what he said during a sermon?

Her reply? "Isn't that true with most pastors?" he recalled, laughing Schmieding says now that he never asked why he was struck with tongue cancer, but for what purpose. In the 13 years since his diagnosis, he said, he found the answer.

"I have become an expert at adversity," he said, noting that he also lived
through five major hurricanes in Louisiana. "I know what people are feeling when they face trials and tragedy."

Schmieding said he believes strongly in Paul's words in his letter to the Romans that "we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us."

That sense of hope and triumph over adversity has made Schmieding a sought-after public speaker on integrating what he calls "the faith factor" into the healing process to doctors' groups, hospitals and cancer survivor


He consistently relies on one of his favorite verses, from Paul's second letter
to the Corinthians, which has a particular relevance to his own life. In the verse, Paul recounts God's words to him: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."

Schmieding believes strongly that he's been able to reach more people without a
tongue than he would have had he not had cancer.

"The history of the Bible is the story of God using imperfect people for his
perfect purposes,"
he said. "I'm just one in a very long line of imperfect
people being used by God."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Modern Day Superstition

Isn't it amazing how superstitious people remain today?  I'm not just referring to astrology, tarot cards or Ouija boards.  Those, indeed, are popular among the New Agers and those who enjoy dabbling in occult practice.  But, I'm surprised at people of faith who, although don't participate in the aforementioned activities, cling to such superstitious things as e-mails and St. Joseph statues.

We've all received those annoying e-mails that threaten us with impending doom if we don't promptly forward said threat to at least 10 of our closest friends within 5 minutes of opening said e-mail.  Now, why on earth would I want to threaten my friends?  And, how sad that I would do so just to save my own hide!

Perhaps even more annoying are those e-mails that challenge me to PROVE that I love Jesus by forwarding the goofy e-mail to my friends .... who are mostly Christians in the first place.  And I always thought guilt-tripping your friends wasn't a very nice thing to do.

Do you know what I do when I receive these e-mails?  I promptly delete them!  I say "HAH! to your superstition!"

My next pet peeve of superstition is those who believe burying a statue of St. Joseph in their yard will help them sell their house, either faster or in a deadlocked housing market.  It seems both the home buyer and the real estate agent can do this nifty little trick.   I noticed one website was selling the St. Joseph "kits" at a reduced rate .... I guess having pity on all those folks caught up in the housing market fiasco.  Nice of them.

Why St. Joseph, I wondered?  He's the patron saint of workers, as well as having been deemed by Pope Pius IX in 1870 to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church.  Why would he be helpful in selling real estate?

These modern day "incantations" and "magic charms" drive me nuts, especially when they are practiced by God-fearing individuals who should not be believing in such mumbo jumbo.  Of course, the "proof" always come when you're told about Aunt So-And-So who 'did just that and, BAM!, the next day her house sold!"  I roll my eyes and want to blurt out "yeah, but it would have probably sold the next day anyway!  Not exactly beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt proof, my friend."

Speaking of "mumbo jumbo", I got to wondering where that expression comes from.  It went to and found the following:
Main Entry: mum·bo jum·bo
Pronunciation: \ˌməm-bō-ˈjəm-(ˌ)bō\
Function: noun
Etymology: Mumbo Jumbo, a masked figure among Mandingo peoples of western Africa
Date: 1738
1 : an object of superstitious homage and fear
2 a : a complicated often ritualistic observance with elaborate trappings b : complicated activity or language usually intended to obscure and confuse
3 : unnecessarily involved and incomprehensible language : gibberish
4 : language, behavior, or beliefs based on superstition
Interesting: "an object of superstitious homage and fear" ... "ritualistic observance" ...

Some people might easily confuse "faith" with "superstition."  To me, superstition involves a person implementing an object or ritual in order to control or manipulate God or one's situation.  For example, if I pray the right prayer the right number of times, if I rub prayer beads or a rabbit's foot while praying or wishing, I can manipulate God or manipulate the "powers of the universe."   (Just to be clear, I do not believe that prayer beads are bad.  Interestingly, the world's three monotheistic religions all use prayer beads.  I believe they are to be used to help us focus on "the task at hand", helping to calm our minds as we roll each bead around with our finger tips as we contemplate needs, sins, praise, thanksgiving.  It is not the beads themselves that foment change, but rather they help quiet our minds.)

Faith, on the other hand, involves a relationship with God.  We pray for others or for ourselves so that we build up one another.  I am praying for Christine, Meg and Bob -- not because I believe I can manipulate God into doing my bidding on their behalf, but because it helps me to think beyond myself, to bond in community with other believers ("communion of the saints"), and to encourage those who are suffering.  My prayers are heard by God, but the final outcome is up to Him and is not dependent on how I pray, what tools I use, or if I hop around on one foot while saying a magical incantation.

Ahhhh, those lovely e-mails.  Luckily, someone came up with an ingenuous way to reply to those "friends" who would wish us ill for not forwarding the same malarkey on:

1) I will NOT get bad luck, lose my friends, or lose my mailing list if I DON'T forward an email!

2) I will NOT hear any music or see a taco dog, if I do forward an e-mail.

3) Bill Gates is NOT going to send me money, Victoria's Secret doesn't know anything about a gift certificate they're supposed to send me.

4) Ford will NOT give me a 50% discount even if I forward my e-mail to more than 50 people!

5) I will NEVER receive gift certificates, coupons, or freebies from Coca-Cola, Cracker Barrel, Old Navy, OutBack SteakHouse or anyone else if I send an e-mail to 10 people.

6) I will NEVER see a pop-up window if I forward an e-mail..NEVER-NEVER!!

7) There is NO SUCH THING as an e-mail tracking program, and I am not gullible enough to think that someone will send me $100 for forwarding an e-mail to 10 or more people!

8) There is NO kid with cancer through the Make-a-Wish program in England collecting anything! He did when he was 7 or 8 years old. He is now cancer-free and 35 years old and DOESN'T WANT ANYMORE POST CARDS or GET-WELL CARDS.

9) The government does not have a bill in Congress called 601B (or whatever they named it this week) that if passed, will enable them to charge us 5 cents for every e-mail we send.

10) There will be NO cool dancing, singing, waving, colorful flowers, characters, or program that I will receive immediately after I forward an e-mail. NONE, ZIP, ZERO, NADA!!

11) The American Red Cross will NOT donate 50 cents to a certain individual dying of some never-heard-of disease for every e-mail address I send this to. The American Red Cross RECEIVES donations.

12) And finally, I WILL NOT let others guilt me into sending things by telling me I am not their friend or that I don't believe in Jesus Christ. If God wants to send me a message, I believe the bushes in my yard will burn before He picks up a PC to pass it on! And my friends already know that I love them - whether or not I respond to or forward an email.

Now, repeat this to yourself until you have it memorized, and send it along to at least 5 of your friends before the next full moon or you will surely be constipated for the next three months and all of your hair will fall out.

Oh, and you will have really good luck if you send me $20.
Hee, hee!  :)

Creed of the Modern Thinker

I posted this a while ago on my political/culture blog (Hummers & Cigarettes) and happened to run across it again the other day ... while listening to good ol' Ravi.  Turner's words are alarmingly so true!

In the mornings as I prepare for my work day, most times I listen to various Christian podcasts that inform, educate and uplift me. It helps me to focus on things that really matter rather than allowing myself to start obsessing about things that are bothering me. (I call it my "Tasmanian Devil routine" when I start ruminating and fretting too much about piddly things. "Stop spinning! You're corkscrewing yourself into the ground!")

One of my favorite podcasters is Ravi Zacharias of RZIM Ministries, a brilliant Christian apologist who was born and raised in India and the Hindu religion. (You can download his podcasts from iTunes.) The other morning he offered a wonderful quote from an English journalist, Steve Turner. Turner's insights into today's society and its wriggling away from notions of right, wrong, and truth are spot on. The ideas he lists are very much like what I hear quite frequently ... especially in the PC world of education.
Creed of the Modern Thinker
Steve Turner

Here is the creed for the modern thinker:

We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin.

We believe that everything is okay as long as you don’t hurt anyone, to the best of your definition of hurt and to the best of your definition of knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during and after marriage.

We believe in the therapy of sin; we believe that adultery is fun; we believe that sodomy is okay; we believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better despite evidence to the contrary. The evidence must be investigated and you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there is something in horoscopes, UFO’s and bent spoons. Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammad and ourselves. He was a good moral teacher although we think basically that his good morals were really bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same; at least the ones we read were. They all believe in love and goodness, they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes nothing, because when you ask the dead what happens, they say nothing. If death is not the end, and if the dead have lied then it’s compulsory heaven for all except perhaps Hitler, Stalin and Kahn.

We believe in Masters and Johnson - what’s selected is average, what’s average is normal and what’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament. We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed. American’s should beat their guns into tractors and the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good, it’s only his behaviour that lets him down. This is the fault of society, society is the fault of conditions and conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him and reality will adapt accordingly. The universe will readjust; history will alter. We believe there is no absolute truth, except the truth that there is no absolute truth. We believe in the rejection of creeds and the flowering of individual thought.

If Chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is His rainbow in the sky. And when you hear “State of Emergency”, “Sniper Kills Ten”, “Troops on Rampage”, “Youths Go Looting”, “Bomb Blasts School”, it is but the sound of man worshipping his maker.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Atheists Lose Again in Court: 'God' in Presidential Inauguration A-OK

Hope still remains for America, people!  Michael Newdow, known for his challenges to "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, has lost out on deleting the mention of God from the President's Oath of Office, as well as his attempts to remove the ceremony's invocation and benediction.  This report from Nathan Black of The Christian Post (emphasis added):

Atheists Lose Suit Against 'God' in Presidential Oath

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that challenged prayers and religious elements in presidential inaugurations, including President Obama's in 2009.

The claims made by atheists regarding the 2009 inaugural ceremony are moot, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concluded, and the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the 2013 and 2017 inaugurations.

The plaintiffs were led by atheist Michael Newdow who tried to keep the "so help me God" phrase along with the invocation and benediction prayers (led by Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery) out of Obama's inaugural ceremony.

Newdow, who lost similar challenges twice before, filed suit before the 2009 inauguration. A federal district court, however, rejected the complaint days before the ceremony, ruling that plaintiffs lacked standing. Newdow appealed.

They argued that the religious elements were violations of the First and Fifth Amendments, and in particular the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

References to "God' by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., and the invitation of ministers to pray "might have misled the uninformed to think the imprimatur of the state had been placed on the invocation of the Almighty and contributed to a social stigma against them as atheists," the atheists maintained.
D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown said Friday it was too late to act on Obama's inauguration.

"Whether the 2009 ceremony’s incorporation of the religious oath and prayers was constitutional may be an important question to plaintiffs, but it is not a live controversy that can avail itself of the judicial powers of the federal courts," Brown wrote in the opinion.

"It is therefore moot."

The judges also ruled against the atheists' attempt to block prayer and religious elements from being included in future presidential inauguration ceremonies.

It is really up to the President or the President-elect to choose what to include in an inaugural ceremony, and any other participants, such as the chief justice or clergymen, are "powerless" in that respect, Brown wrote.

Thus, issuing an injunction to prevent the defendants – including the Chief Justice Roberts, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the Presidential Inaugural Committee – from implementing the future President's inaugural plan would be "folly," Brown noted.

The plaintiffs conceded that the President cannot be denied the prerogative of making a religious reference because doing so would abrogate his First Amendment rights.

"For sure, if it were otherwise, George Washington could not have begun the tradition by appending 'So help me God' to his own oath; Lincoln could not have offered a war-weary nation 'malice toward none' and 'charity for all [] with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right'; Kennedy could not have told us 'that here on earth God’s work' must be our own," Brown wrote.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the words "so help me God" in the presidential oath are not proselytizing or otherwise exploitative and use of the phrase is deeply rooted in the nation's history and tradition.

Prayers, Kavanaugh added, are also deeply rooted in American history and tradition and the ones said at the 2009 inauguration were also not proselytizing. Though the prayers contained a reference to Jesus, the Establishment Clause does not ban any and all sectarian references in prayers at public ceremonies, he wrote. Moreover, the sectarian references in the 2009 inaugural prayers were limited in number.

Though in agreement with the judgment, Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion that the plaintiffs did have standing to raise an Establishment Clause challenge to the religious elements in presidential inauguration ceremonies. But he rejected the plaintiffs' claims on the merits, concluding that the longstanding practices do not violate the Establishment Clause as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court in previous cases.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Going Orange: Churches Band Together to Combat "Surrogate Faith"

I came across this article about an interesting movement among some churches working to fight "surrogate faith" with the hopes of preventing youth and young adults from abandoning their faith.  Check this out from Audrey Barrick of The Christian Post (emphasis added):
Thousands Think Orange, Fight 'Surrogate Faith'
Thousands of churches and families are beginning to think orange.

In other words, they're strategically and intentionally combining their efforts and synchronizing their influences to make the most impact on kids and teenagers.

At a time when an estimated two-thirds or more of the younger generation is walking from the Christian faith after high school, churches (yellow for light) and families (red for heart) are realizing the need to become true partners.

Some 4,000 people attended The Orange Conference, April 28-30, in Duluth, Ga., to learn the Orange essentials and be equipped with the tools necessary to better influence the next generation.

Todd Clark, founding pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, Calif., contends the Orange philosophy combats what he calls "surrogate faith."

Just as a surrogate mother carries a child that is not her own but for someone else, there are many Christians who are carrying a faith that is not their own, Clark explained at The Orange Conference on Friday.

"Everything they know about God comes from their favorite author, or their pastor and they never spend any time directly with God so it all comes to them in a surrogate way," he said.

So when such a believer falls, their faith crashes, he noted.

Surrogate faith not only applies to youths but it also applies to parents.

A lot of times, parents want to drop off their kids at church and essentially not participate in their spiritual lives.

"They (parents) want us to do baptism to them (children) and not with them; they want us to basically program out the child's life to where the church is responsible for their faith rather than the parent and that way the parent never has to go to God. They can get everything through their favorite book," Clark lamented.

But in a church that thinks Orange, families are challenged to be more proactive both in their children's lives and in their own faith.

"I think that Orange irritates parents a lot of times," said Clark, "because of the word 'partnership.'"
At Discovery Church, parents are asked to be involved in the faith of their child by growing their own faith. The Simi Valley church equips parents with tools to help lead their kids to know the Lord.

"I love just setting those parents up to be the heroes because the parents are the ones who are going to be there forever," said Clark, who noted that many parents don't feel they have the knowledge or Bible education to lead their children spiritually.

"We're giving them the tools behind the scenes and your daughter [or son] can look at you as a spiritual leader."

"Orange" was introduced by Reggie Joiner, who formerly led the family ministries at North Point Community Church. He argues that when the influences of the church and the home are combined, a greater impact can be made than either of the influence would make individually.

Thinking Orange, however, does not merely mean to work concurrently and effectively in order to accomplish more. Already, churches are full of programs that inspire families and many homes are also serving as positive spiritual environments.

But they have to be in sync, Joiner contends.

"Working on the same thing at the same time is not as effective as working on the same thing at the same time with the same strategy," he says in Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide.

"The church and family are at a pivotal time, and there is incredible opportunity for us to redefine how we do ministry," Joiner stresses. "The bottom line is that we as church leaders are called to influence parents to become active partners in the process of their children's spiritual formation. Something needs to shift in our churches so we begin to see what happens in the home is just as important as what happens in the church."
Having been in youth ministry many years, there were times when my fellow youth leaders and I felt like parents sent their kids to camp hoping we could someone give their kids the faith that they themselves lacked.  It seems that, just as with school and sports, parents today believe they can just drop off their kids and let someone else do "the work."  Here, the parents rely on the church to instill faith in their children, overlooking the pivotal role they play in their kids' lives.  Parents cannot expect schools and churches to "fix" their kids.  They need to be the leaders and model what faith is .... maybe growing in faith alongside their children, if need be.