Fathers Day

“So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, ‘Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.’” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭27:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Father’s matter. In a world that seems to downplay the importance of fatherhood, we must understand men make a difference in the lives of their children, particularly in matters of faith. Like Jacob we all seek our Father’s blessing.  A large and important study conducted by the Swiss government, published in 2000, revealed some astonishing facts with regard to the generational transmission of faith and religious values. (The full title of the study is: “The Demographic Characteristics of the Linguistic and Religious Groups in Switzerland” by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel. The study appears in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, a book titled The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States, edited by Werner Haug and others, published by the Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, Strasbourg, January 2000.) Sounds like a page-turner right? Since this report, similar studies have been conducted in the US with like results.
In short, the Swiss study reveals, “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 study reports:

  1. If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all.
  2. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.
  3. If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church!
In short, 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. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom while their conceptions of the world outside come from Dad. If Dad takes faith in God seriously, then the message to their children is God should be taken seriously.
This confirms the essential role of the father as a spiritual leader, which I would argue is true fatherhood. Fathers are to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5). Fathers are to care for their children as our Father in heaven cares for us. Finally, fathers play a primary role in teaching their children the truth about reality. Fathers are essential for nurturing kids in a biblical view of reality and a faith in Jesus Christ.
This Father’s Day give thanks if you had a father who helped you grow in faith. If you did not, remember you have a Heavenly Father who loves you very much. Also, if you are a father, examine how you are instilling values in your children and what they are learning from you. May we all receive blessings from God the Father and pass along those blessings to others.
In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn