Fathers and the Spiritual Development of Children
He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; Malachi 4:6
Not long ago I came across an interesting an article by Robbie Low. The article was entitled The Truth About Men and the Church.
In this article Low pointed out the results of a survey that took place in Switzerland. Questions were asked to determine whether a person’s religious practices influenced the spiritual practices of the next generation. What the survey discovered was interesting. Here are some of the results of that survey:
“It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.” (The Truth About Men and Church, Robbie Low)
This statement can be taken in several ways. It can be ignored as foolish. It can be seen as a slanted statement with a male bias or it can be noted that men have been created by God to have a significant place in a family’s spiritual well being.
I fully believe that the reason I have embraced the Christian faith is due to the fact that both my grandfather and father were devote practicing Christians. These men were what anyone could easily describe as “a man’s man!” Both men loved the Lord without apology and intensely loved their wife and children.
My father died before he turned 41 years old. My memories of him are very clear and valuable. He taught me how to fish, how to hunt, how to wrestle with him in the living room to the annoyance of my mother, and how to be a spiritual man by loving Jesus with all my heart in a masculine fashion.
Spiritual Dads Do Make a Difference
Here are a few more statements from Robbie Low and his study that you may want to think about.
- If both parents attend church regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly.
- When the father attends church but the mother does not the following are the results. The percentage of children attending church regularly goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular attending mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing mothers. It almost seems that faithfulness of the children to a dad’s church commitment grows in proportion to a mother’s indifference. (The Truth About Men and Church, Robbie Low)
These stats are not meant to discourage the mom’s out there who are doing their best to raise their children in the faith. It is meant to remind all the fathers how critically important their spiritual influence is upon their children.
It cannot be ignored.
According to Robbie Low, “If a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper.” (The Truth About Men and Church, Robbie Low)
So, why do so many men resist practicing a strong Christian faith?
In his book The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity Leon J. Podles says that
- Men stay away from the Church because they regard it as a threat to their hard-won masculinity.
- Many men view the church with femininity.
- This femininity undermines what real men consider themselves to be.
There are many opinions floating around out there as to what the role of men should be in spiritual matters and what their influence really has upon their families. One thing is for certain; fathers are needed in the spiritual development of their children.
Surveys show that a father’s participation or non-participation in church is not only copied by their sons, but also their daughters.
There may be many who want to deny the influence that men have in spiritual matters but the stats show that fathers are needed in this area. They are needed here as much as any other responsibility.
There is power in a man who leads the way to church. There is strength in the prayers of a father.
God has placed a unique call upon us as men! Let’s lead the way. The children and women in our lives will be forever grateful.
Who is Dale Roach?
- Robbie Low is vicar of St. Peter’s, Bushey Heath, a parish in the Church of England, and a member of the editorial board of the magazine New Directions, published by Forward in Faith.
- Leon J. Podles holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and has worked as a teacher and a federal investigator. He is the author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity.