I read an interesting article called “The Missing Elements of Modern Worship” which my brother shared on Facebook. I was hoping for further insight into what can account for the epidemic downturn in church attendance. I used the author’s points to take inventory of our own services and I believe we have 100% of these every week. (Excepting only that there is no separated scripture reading but there is typically heavy use of scripture throughout the 40 minutes during which 2-3 speakers “preach expositionally”. So I don’t think anything here can account for the downturn.
I think it’s parenting. Parents should insist that children maximally participate in relevant church programs. Nothing, not friends, sports, school, and especially not part time work, should be permitted to interfere with church-sponsored activities. The Church must be the chief focal point of the child’s life, outside of the family. This is the only way the Lord, through the church, can speak as persuasively as the noisy distractions of modern life.
I am a technophile but I can still appreciate that technology can make it easier for children (and adults) to be distracted from important things. Technology itself is not the problem. Considering it so is a cop out for parental incompetence. So is “teaching my child the value of work” when that work takes place on Sunday or interferes with full participation in church programs.
There are Christians in Syria and Iraq who choose torture and death by ISIS rather than renounce their faith. But here many neglectful parents deny their children the necessities of a spiritual life by placing the false goods of modern culture on a higher pedestal than Christ. We allow the weeds of work, institutional secular education, and the lure of a secular peer group to choke off the plant which could become a tree of spiritual life for their children before it has a chance to take firm root. It is insidious and each generation of parents is guiltier than the one before. To renounce one’s faith or to deny your child the opportunity to develop his/her faith, what’s the difference? And so many do the latter under the most meager pressure.
If you allow your child to place a part time jobs, sports, or parties to take precedence over full participation in church youth activities or worse, over Sunday worship, then you, neglectful parent, are the reason why your grown children will mostly likely stop going to church. You, by your negligence, will have renounced their faith before they even knew they had it. We who can see this and say nothing about it, will be just as negligent.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6.)
“And again, inasmuch as parents have children … that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the Living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost … the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25.)