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Strong Families Make a Healthy Home

Men play a significant role in whether or not their homes are Christ-centered and if their children will continue in their faith as they grow older.

Roger Gibson, senior national director of Adult and Family Ministry, shares his personal insight on the family and the important role fathers play in making their home Christ-centered.

Soon after our wedding, my bride began to have second thoughts about her novice husband. We'd just returned from our honeymoon, and our marriage appeared perfect. Honestly, I often wondered why people complained about marriage.

Fresh out of college, I had just been hired by a national finance company. I had passion, enthusiasm, and an appetite to make money. Unfortunately, my desire for "stuff" almost derailed my new marriage.

I found myself in a meeting daydreaming about a new 4-by-4 extra-cab truck. Between appointments I visited a nearby car dealership. Immediately, I saw my dream ride in forest green, loaded with bells and whistles. Thirty minutes later, I was a proud new truck owner.

Quickly, I realized I should have talked to Kari -- especially since I just put us in debt. But I thought, It's the coolest truck ever. She'll love it. I was wrong! That night I learned the harsh reality of marriage as I slept on the couch.

Fortunately, Kari and I worked through my impulsive purchase -- but many marriages today just give up. As leaders, we hear stories about the decline of marriage and family.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that 45 percent of families have absent fathers. Single parent homes, cohabitating couples, grandparents raising grandchildren, and other family dynamics are the new normal. The familiar nuclear family -- a male and female married couple with children -- is now in the minority.

What, then, is family?

Dennis Rainey of Family Life shares, "The purpose of family is to glorify God by forming the spiritual, emotional, physical, and economic foundation for individuals, the church, and any society." Sadly, sin entering the world continues to cause havoc on families.

God is the originator of family. He blessed the union between Adam and Eve, then commanded them to multiply and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). The home is where our children should first learn about God, see Jesus modeled, and have a personal relationship with Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

Men -- husbands and fathers -- are significant in influencing the lives of children. A sociologist, Vern Bengtson, University of Southern California, found that 71 percent of children with close relationships to their fathers continued their faith, versus only 46 percent of children continuing in faith without a close relationship with their father.

Leaving a legacy of faith for the next generation requires lifelong commitment. After the 35-year study on passing on a family's faith, Bengtson discovered two significant points: First, how parents model their faith is important to children. Parents who are consistent at home and at church are more likely to have children who follow their faith. Second, family relationships are the greatest factor in determining a child's decision to continue in the parents' faith.

As men accept their God-given roles, effective discipleship within their families will extend to effective discipleship within the larger family, the church.

Here are some good points for men in leading a Christ-centered family:

• Husbands, love your wives as God wants you to -- give your children a positive example of interacting with your wife.

• Hold intentional family devotional times -- spend a few minutes daily to read, talk about, and memorize Scripture. Include God's Word in family conversations.

• Lead your family in being missional -- give to and serve those in need locally, nationally, and globally. Your children will absorb your heart for serving and sharing.

Calgary Stampede, a horse show spectacular, demonstrates the power of partnership between home and church through one of its events. Two horses pull weight one at a time. One pulls 9,000 pounds; the other pulls 8,000 pounds. However, when harnessed together, they pull -- not 17,000 pounds, as we would think when doing the math -- but over 30,000 pounds.

Imagine church and family harnessed together, doing what God intended. How strong they would both be in discipleship and in the mission of knowing Jesus and making Him known!