Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Restoration Of Marriage & Right Relationships Pt. 2 ~ Building The Family


In his book, "What I know For Sure, My story of growing up in America" author Tavis Smiley described scenarios that are all too familiar to many Black families, especially individuals in the early days of the Black church in America. He described a time when there was a church service and or a church function nearly every day of the week. He described at time when life in the Black community, was synonymous with church. There were only 2 conditions and possibly three of the average Black family and individual; going to church, coming home from church or going or coming home from work, getting ready to go to church.
In those days there was a different study, rehearsal, preparation or practice for something all the time and every day. If one wasn't in a study, then one was in prayer. You mother, father and the whole family was engaged in something. Church was certainly a lively place, and a place full of activity, but it was also one that made a generation of folk commit to themselves, that once they were free from being required to attend church, that they weren't looking back. Some of them grew, left home, left the church and made true on their promises. Some never came back, although many of them continue to send their children to church even if they stay home.

A Little Different, But A Little The Same

Although the church has changed in its core makeup and type of activities that it offers, many of its practices have not changed at all. One could spend weeks if not months simply traveling back and forth to church everyday, somewhere, someplace if one followed all of the outlined and regimented services that they are "required" to attend. As a District Supt, within the organization that I am a part of, if I were to attend all of the services asked of me, and give all the offering that I am asked to give ever year, not only would I be physically worn out, but I would have no time to pastor a church, yet alone be a husband to my wife or a father to my children, and on top of that I would be broke nearly all year round.

I have seen people run up miles on cars, wear out clothes and become financially
unstable while doing everything they could do to keep up with the church and what the church required of them and vicariously what their "friends" wanted to see them do. I've seen some of the same individuals dutiful in all those areas that made them appear "well" to the church, shrink when trouble arose, because their activity only drained them and did not edify or build them up, yet alone prepare them for the time when trouble would come into their lives.

Back Up A Little...

Whether by force or by choice, some problems occur when people are simply too close to the church entity or organization. As stated, historically, especially within the Black community in America, the church was the center of both family and life. One could find an event at the church 7 days per week and all day on Sunday. Part of this was due to mobility. In many cases church was a long distance from the homes and many did not have adequate transportation such as cars, horses or wagons. one can yet hear stories of how our elders had to walk up to 5, 10 and 15 or more miles to a church and back home. Now, in many cases, we have transportation and are mobile. In some cases the church itself has some sort of transportation available for its members that makes the trip to church noting more than a few minute ride away. 

Although current studies have continued to show that church attendance, in many places, is down, I don't believe that the real problem is church attendance, per-se, but many times it is the consumption of the "drama" associated with the church gathering. The drama is what the modern church seems to turn on. There is always something going on, some "news" (ie: gossip) or some sort of story-line within the church, and it will consume you if you allow it to.

The church has individuals who obsess over what is going on or what could potentially happen within the context of the church. under normal circumstances some of the "news" or "gossip" of the church would matter to no one. However, many are taught this obsession and are made to feel as if they are less in tune spiritually if they either don't know the current gossip or don't care. 

Overcoming The "Story Line"

One antidote to the concerns of the "story line" or the "gossip" of the church is obtaining and practicing a meaningful hobby, personal interest, or service to the community outside of the church, undirected by the church and undeterred by church influence. My advice: If you don't have something that interests your spirit outside of the church, or if you don't have a hobby or personal interest that drives you, GET ONE! 

Whether you believe it or not, there are many more important things in life than who is preaching or singing a solo on Sunday...This is especially true when it is considered that one does not have to spend time, resources and energy on people who pick over your talent when there are so many who simply need and would enjoy a portion of your time and effort. For instance, if they (whoever they are) won't allow you to sing on Sunday, find a Nursing Home, where there are real people, many of whom would love to hear good singing and great songs and enjoy good company. If you are not good enough to be called up to preach to the congregation, remember that the real congregation does not attend church, many of them are yet in the streets and need to hear a word. If you are not good enough for your church's youth group, remember the local school would love to have you involved in assisting the students they receive daily. If you are a former athlete, you can always give back by coaching, tutoring or mentoring, and kids will love you for it. 

How does this start? It begins by finding time with your family setting first. Find the hobby or personal interest that all of you can enjoy or that your family does not mind supporting, and construct your efforts around it. Take it to the next level by finding the day and activity that fits your family unit. Sometimes that day may be on a day in which you have traditionally held service...Sorry Friday night service!!!! (but Please don't miss your Sundays!)

The Illusion Of Control...In Too Deep

As stated in Pt.1.of this series, in order to have strong relationships, a strong marriage and family unit, one can't allow the activities, ideas and normal expectations of the church and church members to consume you, your time, and attention. If you wake up in the morning wondering about the latest news of the church, then you need a hobby...If all you are thinking about is who will lead the song, get a chance to preach, who the pastor's "favorite" is, or who will be the next pastor, then you're in way too deep. I have known individuals who would sit up at night pondering and planning what they can't control in the church as if they could control it anyway.
In the 1993 movie Jurassic Park, Dr. John Hammond ( the late Richard Attenborough) claimed that "they" once had control of the dinosaurs longing to gain control of them again. While he was attempting to make his point, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) responded, "You never had control, that's the illusion!"

The church, good, bad and otherwise, belongs to God and him alone. I have seen people spend harvest time, the time that should be spent ministering to the lost, seeking information so that they could be a part of manipulating a situation to their benefit or to the benefit of them within their group or association within the organizational church. I have seen people who think they are in control of others and in control of the situation in church, spend years to try to obtain or pursue place, time and attention within the congregation all to no avail.

Your time should only be filled with things that are truthful, that edify and things that fulfill even if they are challenging.

Don't reduce yourself to what appears to be "easy". "Easy" is not necessarily what should be pursued. An indicator that one is in too deep into the church "scene" is their lack of ability to embrace ideals that challenge them and their lack of depth in handling conflicts and problems. If you seek the validation of the church, more than the validation of your family, your family will be and become unstable. I am not talking about a person seeking restoration and strength, I am talking about one who has a lifestyle, mode or pattern of living, where the church community sees them more than their own family. There is nothing worse than seeing a spouse that does not know if he or she is loved or dealing with children that do not know that you are interested in them or the things in which they have interest. (We will speak much more on this in Pt. 4 of this series)

Building Families

Let's just ask some simple questions to see if you are on the right track...Do you know your spouses favorite color? How about favorite food or TV shows? How about what your spouse is interested in aside from church and the church building? Then what of the kids? Do you know what they like? What they aspire to do outside of education? How about their favorite color, clothing, musical artist? And why?

If you can answer or think you have figured out what's going on in the church, but yet cannot answer those things and things along those lines, then you are on the wrong track for family success, happiness and spiritual growth. Yes, that is right. You are NOT on the right track of spiritual growth. If it is that the bible has unified the husband and wife in the context of the family, then neither the husband, wife or family can suffer neglect and continue to grow spiritually. There has to be some unification, some submission to one another, some shared interests and building up of family values.  

Through intimacy, finding common ground and building on it is exactly what God wants of HIS followers and those of us within the context of family and community. Discovering common ground will only lend to a stronger and much more fulfilling and nurturing relationships within the family, church and community.

Something that appears to be a hobby or an "interest" to you, could very well be what the community was waiting for and what they need the most. Never get in the habit of living your life based on the vision of someone else unless that someone else is God!



  1. A believer's life should be centered around the church, not within the church. If Christians were more balanced, we would see fewer issues of imbalance.

  2. Call it "around" or call it "within" is a semantic. The believer's life should be centered around and within CHRIST! The next order is his/her family. That's the biblical order. The church, or organized group of called out ones is later and certainly after that.

    We've got folk by the droves who know more about church than their children. That's ungodly and must cease.


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