This satirical story is far more true than I wish it was, but over the years I’ve had dozen’s of conversations rooted in the same sad logic. The assumption here is that fault rests with the parents, but they cannot be blamed completely. Who’s responsible for those who are clueless? To some degree doesn’t it rest with those who have a clue? In some cases, spiritual ignorance is on me and other pastors and leaders who’ve either forgotten the powerful influence of some of the simple practices of faith or have lost the backbone (or the respect) necessary to demand them. I hope I haven’t lost any backbone…I don’t think we’ve shrunk from difficult conversations at Vista…but I do tend to minimize the association of tried and true practices for new and creative ones.
James Davison Hunter, in his book To Change The World, wrote (grossly oversimplified by me) that beliefs form into practices which form into physical structures, and that physical structures reinforce practices which reinforce beliefs. I’m so tired and terrified of empty structures and practices that I have a strong and imbalanced tendency to throw out the physical bathtub and the practice bathing in order to focus on the priority of hygiene.
I’m considering a new Sermon Series called The Power of our Basic Practices, A Return to Regular Sunday Attendance, Giving 10% of Your Income, Pot Luck Dinners, and Inviting Your Friends to Church. Seriously. Honestly. Assuming Biblical sermons and authentic worship, financial planning and integrity, and some tasty food – these have always been the foundation for many a good church throughout history.
Yes, in case you were wondering, I think that everyone should go to a good church every Sunday; that giving should never be a second-thought but always be first, living on 90% of what we earn; that everyone should be committed to a small and vibrant community of believing friends (whether pot luck approach or Lifegroup or whatever); and that we should be truly excited and consistently inviting our our neighbors and friends to church.
Some very smart, God-fearing people put these basic practices together millennia ago, and they still work to make you and our world more Godly. Let’s not be shocked when our lack of Godly practices lead to ungodly lives.