Reeder on Christians Skipping Church for Ball Practice

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“Pastor Reeder,” they explained, “we want to honor the Lord’s Day, but our children’s sports programs are on Sunday.” We sat down and I listened to their story. Their local recreation league scheduled ball practice on Sundays. Should their families skip worship for ball practice? Should they pull their kids off the teams? Eventually they decided, appropriately, that obedience to Scripture and family worship on the Lord’s Day was far more important than team sports. That may seem like an obvious choice to some readers, but it is not the norm. In the child-driven families of today’s culture, it took courage and conviction to make the right decision-the kind of courage and conviction that church leaders must model if they desire to disciple and shepherd their members and their families.

As I led these parents through the Scriptures toward resolution of their problem, I thought about my own childhood in the American South in the 1950s. We had some significant cultural issues that needed to be addressed in that day and place, but having to choose between Sunday worship and ball practice wasn’t one of them. In fact, sports programs not only avoided activities on Sundays, but would not even schedule practice or play on Wednesday nights when midweek church services were routinely held. Why not? Was the culture of the 1950s more sensitive to the worship and prayer schedule of the Christian church? Certainly it was, to a degree, but that wasn’t the main reason that ball teams avoided Sunday and Wednesday night practice and play.

The main reason was that they wouldn’t have had enough players to do anything if the committed Christians were absent. And most would have been absent. Christians connected in the society by playing in the community leagues of the day, but they also prioritized biblical obedience and commitment to Christ’s church and Lord’s Day worship. In response, the surrounding culture was affected by their faith and was shaped by it. Church leaders of the day taught that the Lord’s Day was sacred-a gift from God-and was an essential means of grace in the life of a Christian. Under the influence of biblically based leadership, Christians used the Lord’s Day to worship, rest, and be with their families. And unlike today, the parents’ need for the child’s friendship did not trump their call to be parents and make the right decision, even if it did not meet their child’s approval. They didn’t toss all of that aside to play ball. And if the Christians didn’t show up, the ball teams couldn’t function. Therefore, the athletic leagues adjusted their schedules to accommodate believers-not the reverse.

Not so today. Cultural accommodation by the church actually lessens our opportunity to impact the surrounding culture. Yes, some church leaders would argue that such accommodation enhances evangelism. But please remember that true effectiveness is never achieved at the expense of faithfulness! When a child’s desire to play ball becomes more important to Christian parents than Sunday worship, the local church and its leadership are failing. The family is being “discipled” by the culture, instead of being discipled by the church. Assuredly we are commanded to connect with the surrounding culture, but we must do so through obedience to God’s Word, not disobedience. Remember, we are called by our Lord to be “in the world” but “not of the world.” Eventually, thoughtless accommodation to the world becomes capitulation to the world-and our witness for the Lord is rendered useless. ~ Reeder III, Harry L. (2008-10-22). The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders (p. 27-29). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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The above article was posted on August 8, 2013 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donna Davis October 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

when we do that we teach our kids there are things more important then God.

2 Donna Davis October 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

when we do that we teach our kids there are things more important then God.

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