January 10, 2013

Church & Family: Part 2

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a family member about church or faith and found it to be incredibly difficult or awkward? Yeah, me neither....

Why is it so difficult to talk with family members and loved ones about something so important as faith? Part of me thinks it should be easy to talk about things like this with the people closest to us and yet that is rarely the case. Here are a couple guesses why...

Issues of church and faith have often been seen as a very personal, and even private thing. Regardless if it's a family member or not, we are slightly uncomfortable talking about such a personal thing and would hate to make a loved one feel that same level of uncomfortableness by asking him or her how church is going. Many of us have fallen into the misconception that church participation or matters of faith are personal in nature and therefore not up for discussion. This idea runs completely counter to the picture we see in scripture of what it means to be the Church and what it means to live a life of faith. These cannot be done in isolation. As John Wesley mentions, "The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness."

I'm reminded of the time when Jesus arrives in his hometown to teach and everyone eventually runs him out of town (Luke 4:14-29). Sometimes it is difficult to talk with family members about church because they know us so well. Often times they have seen us at our worst; when we are most selfish or stubborn, and so we feel as though we have been disqualified from being able to talk about things like church, faith, and God. I wonder if there is a way you and I might use the experiences our loved ones have of us to show them how much of a difference church can make in one's life. In order to do that though, you have to actually try to be less selfish, stubborn, judgmental, etc.

Another reason I think it can be so difficult to have these kind of conversations with family members is the fear of "What Ifs." What if my family member asks me a question about faith I don't know the answer to? What if my loved one feels awkward when I ask her about her thoughts on church? What if...? What if...? The fear of things that never happen can paralyze us. Like so many other "What Ifs," we simply won't know until we try, so we spend time in prayer and trust the Holy Spirit to guide our words. Are these conversations we can afford to not have with our family and loved ones?

Tell us, what other things make it difficult to talk church and faith with family? How do you have these sorts of conversations?