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Costly Thursday: Healing the Wounds from Absentee Church Fathers

God cares for orphans, and the church may be creating them in droves.  (Tweet that!) Let me explain…

Last night I saw a commercial on the OWN Network.

Okay, before I go any further, here’s my confession.  I watch the OWN Network.  That’s right.  Oprah’s network.  Even though I am not an Oprah fan, I am a 48 Hours Mystery junkie.  And since the OWN Network regularly runs episodes of 48 Hours, I tune in.  I hope you don’t count that against my manliness points.

As I was saying, the commercial that I saw was an advertisement about a show on sons who grow up without fathers.  It brought to mind the usual statistics about fatherless children:

  • Boys without fathers in the home are twice as likely to end up in jail as adults.
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.
  • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders grow up without a father present.
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
  • 70% of kids in juvenile detention centers do not have a father.
  • Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.
  • The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families.

(You can find sources for all of these statistics in Wayne Parker’s article – “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America.”)

It’s no secret that children need the presence of their father in order to thrive.  But, what’s the correlation to the church?

As I was thinking about these numbers, I realized that for the last several decades, the church has worked really hard to make spiritual babies and has left them to their own devices.  The church fathers have focused so intently on the idea of church growth and winning people to Christ that they have fathered a generation of children who had very little direction after their spiritual birth.

Life-on-life discipleship ceased.

Spiritual infants in the church were told what they were supposed to do, but were never shown how to do it.

Now the church has a behavior disorder.

The church has a high dropout rate.  And today we are seeing more people than ever imprisoned to the ways of the world.

I don’t know about you, but I think we – as the church – better get serious about spiritual fathering.

It’s not just about popping out babies.  It’s about staying in the home to raise them and teaching them how to raise their own spiritual children.

This is a much more demanding path, but I think we can all see now that it is worth it.

2 comments on “Costly Thursday: Healing the Wounds from Absentee Church Fathers

  1. Greg Gamble on said:

    Hi John
    Fatherhood has been a main theme in my life, having been abandoned by mine as a child.
    But the Lord put into my heart to love my dad into His kingdom.
    I suspect that’s what He had in mind when Malachi wrote that God would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and vica versa, lest He smite the earth with a curse.
    I’ve always wondered what that curse is, and why, of all the evils in the world, would He pull out that card in response to disconnected fathers and children?
    I suspect the curse is the disconnectedness itself, and all the collateral damage.
    Its been 40 yrs now since I was converted, and my dad isn’t yet in the kingdom but…
    love hopes all things.
    I just got off the phone with him, talking about our past, with ease and affection, which is something we could not have done a decade ago.
    At 85, he’s becoming vulnerable, and looks like he’ll live to 100.
    Probably cuz he’s a fighting Irishman.
    And God, who takes the long view on us and unbelievers, is able to do what we can’t.
    But we must do our part if God is to mop up after us.
    In turn, I’m father to 4 wonderful kids, who have taught me how to be a son to my father, by loving and respecting me, and always talking with joy and hope, about our lives together.
    Thanks for posting your article.
    I’ve got a blog too if u r interested.

    • John on said:

      That’s incredible, Greg. Thanks for sharing this. And thanks for finding a new way with your own children. I’m going to pray for both you and your father right now and I look forward to checking out your blog.


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