Friday, October 27, 2006


Mostly we learn by our mistakes. Sometimes, we learn by seeing someone do it right. Here’s a family that does it right:

The parents are fifty, have known each other 35 years and married 25 years. They have two sons.

These folks are very fortunate members of a close community of families that have deep roots. Church is the base of this community - a church that practices its faith in many forms of service to others.

This couple and their sons have been raised in this tightly knit culture. Mutual respect and support binds this family with the other family members, young and old. They have maintained this closeness despite the great social changes of the past 100 years. Yet they have done it quietly with little public awareness of this special world.

All family members are employed in some form of community service. There is a strong family tradition of shared community service projects. They seem to offer unlimited hospitality and respect for others.

What are the lessons for us from this family?

1. They are members of an extended family network with deep roots in the church, family and community.

2. There is a strong common faith which is continually shared and debated.

3. They have a two-fold mission of raising believing, serving families and reaching the needy in society.

4. There seems to be no limit to their practical, spontaneous charity.

5. This is an energetic family that is highly disciplined in their use of time, health practices, study and worship.

6. The fabric of this family is interwoven with music, good humour and openness.

So What about the rest of us?

We could doubt this,

Or, we could go find a family like this,

Or, we could be one.

For any of this, we need to make choices and set goals. To aid us, we can go to for guidance.

Please join in our discussions of THE FAMILY CHALLENGE, we are all a part of it.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Boy, do we have a spirituality muddle these days! We’ve got more brands than A & P. In the middle of this muddle, old-fashioned Christianity is taking a beating. The young folks just don’t dig church.

Where does this muddle leave the family? Research by Barna says faith is nurtured in the family. That’s both good and bad news. It’s good if the family is firm in its faith. It is not good if the family is in the muddle.

In today’s Western world, the usual response to a spiritual question is: "That’s personal and private" or another is "I go with what’s comfortable."

Both responses clearly represent the general public mood. The popular name for that mood is New Age. The central theme of New Age, whatever brand, is "I’ll decide what I believe, thank you."

This public mood is in direct contradiction to Christian belief (despite the fact that most Westerners call themselves Christian). The Christian, Bible-based belief is that the new life comes when one surrenders self to the guidance of the Lord and His followers.

How’s that for radical? That’s radical! It just happens to go against a tenet of Western culture, i.e. "My Freedom comes First!" That’s probably why traditional Christianity is on the wane in the West. It can’t stand the cultural competition.

Where does this leave the family? In the middle of a muddle! However, all faiths call for decision. The question is not whether "To Be or not To Be." But rather "To believe or not believe" - that’s the question!

As the family chooses, so go the children. Barna is probably right about that.

If it is decision time, check out - it helps.

Give us your views on THE FAMILY CHALLENGE.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Jimmy learns at school, at home and in the community. His parents learn at work, at home and in the community. Learning involves listening, reading, talking and doing. We know that learning is a life-long experience. But now we have the computer which is mastering the facts for us and our job comes down to learning to make good choices.

Jimmy and his parents face big challenges. Are the messages Jimmy is getting constructive? Do they support or war against family life? Are his relationships healthy?

Now we come down to the big question: Who is responsible for Jimmy’s good learning?

Is it good enough for each learning site to do its own thing? Somebody should
know how it all is working. Is it good enough for the family to say - education is the school’s job? Somebody has to decide if it is all good for Jimmy

This means that only the family’s job can ensure Jimmy’s education is right. That doesn’t mean taking over the teacher’s job. It does mean working with the teacher to get it right. It also means knowing how Jimmy is doing in the community.

Some parents will say, "Where’s the time for all that?" The answer is - How important is Jimmy and his learning? That leads them to make better choices to do the job they took on by having kids.

Other parents will say, "Our kid is not motivated to learn". Here is another opportunity for the family. Many of our kids seem to lack motivation to learn (too many other distractions). If school learning isn’t working, then there is work learning. Jimmy then learns the harder way. He learns the big lessons of life - the things he wants, like toys and food and fun all come from work. So to get these goodies, he works.

While we can’t do anything much about the child labour or education laws, families do have the responsibility and powers to orchestrate Jimmy’s life so that he learns in a constructive and loving atmosphere. If Jimmy is at the age of legal independence, the family can give him the same opportunity - learn at school or learn at work.

The family is the basic educational unit in our society. All family members learn when they work together for each other. To set a practical goal for Jimmy or the family, try and do your part to meet THE FAMILY CHALLENGE.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Why are the churches a puzzle to most families?

It’s confusing when churches have:

- Shrinking membership
- Aging programs
- Rigid leadership
- Little help for troubled families
- Focus on individuals not the family

The Christian faith has four essentials:

Experience: Lives transformed from selfishness to loving.
Belief: God, who is here as Jesus shows.
Church: Where folks pray and find God, neighbour and self.
Service: Lives of sacrificial helpfulness.

One big question: How do churches rate on the four essentials?

The great Gandhi said: "Christianity is the greatest religion in the world -
I’d be one if I knew one."

Another big question: How can churches support today’s stressed family?

Faith is a decision. If a family or church needs to make a big faith decision, can help.