Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daily schedule's appearance: Too Hideous or ready to harness?

I love the smell of leather. I know it might sound weird, but I have a German-made knife that sometimes I remove from its sheath, and I sniff the sheath.
The smell of leather is one I'm very familiar with. Some of my earliest memories are of handling my dad's saddle that he kept in our livingroom. His saddle was for horsemanship in the "Western Pleasure" style. My dad also had an old set of horse-harness he kept out in the barn. Both the saddle and the harness-set had a rich aroma that deeply appealed to my young senses. I rode in my dad's saddle along with him in the days before I was even walking. But, we never used the harness, though I heard many stories from my dad about the days when his people depended on the horses's harnesses.

Today we have a huge challenge in our churches. Our congregations seemingly have to compete with the barrage of activities that our families are entrenched in. Grandparents have an endless supply of sporting events they can watch their grandchildren participate in. Children have several different extracurricular actives at school they can sign up for. Parents have their own activities to consider as well.

If you've ever tried to recruit Sunday school teachers for just one quarter, I don't have to tell you how busy our people are. If you've been asked to serve in any capacity in a church activity, I don't have to tell you how hard it is to fit these requests into your overbooked schedule. So what can we do, and, what does this have to do with the smell of leather?

We, as believers, can either fight against the overwhelming madness of the endless stream of dance classes, orchestra concerts, practices for (you fill in the blank)__________, or scouting activities that rob our children of any free time... or we can harness them.

Moses, nor Jesus as far as this goes, commands us to escape the world. We are, on the other hand given this command, to uses every opportunity throughout our day to develop our faith... and to pass on our faith to the next generation. We are commanded by Moses to use the daily events as springboards to instruct our young people about how we walk with our God. We examine the day's activities through the lens of God's Word, not through the blinders of monasticism.

In other words, The Scriptures reveal our faith takes place in the chaos of the day, not in spite of it, nor apart from the daily grind. Re-read Deut 6:4-9 with a closer look at the word "when": "[4] “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Moses didn't expect the Israelites to postpone their instructional or formational duties to their children in light of the demands of their daily life. He clearly instructs his people to use those everyday-experiences for teaching their children.

So, consider how our people could adapt this. Instead of forbidding or prohibiting our children from playing football, we go to their games, and we pray with them before the game. Or consider a volleyball game with your child, what an opportunity to talk about how good sportsmanship sends a clearer message of the gentleness believers practice than any message we could proclaim. Or, what about simply seeking an opportunity to invite a fellow parent from any of these events to a worship service? We complain about not having enough opportunities to evangelize, yet we come in contact with hundreds of people through our children's activities we otherwise would've never been able to meet.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm fed up with the craziness of our demanding culture. I've often thought how great it would be to escape this hyperactive culture and join the Amish... no, really, I have. And, I have the utmost respect for the people who bemoan this tug-of-war plight we are in, but mistakenly think we can get our young people to scale back their activities. I simply think we can either fight the stream till we are all drowning, or we can channel these activities for the glory of God. I covet your feedback on this, when you can find the time...

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