Betsy Hart

But I don't think even that vision will help reverse the trend toward lower church attendance by families if another trend not mentioned in the Baptist Press isn't addressed: Too often today, when it comes to the religious education of their kids, parents seem to think it's up to the "church experts" to handle it, and the church too often enables parents in their thinking.

When it comes to our kids, we are an expert-obsessed culture. We'll hire or find or read or rely on experts for almost every aspect of our kids' lives. Parents may too often think, "I'll let the church handle my child's religious life and give them what they need in that one hour a week."

But parents, by design, are the ones who have the time and intimacy with a child, over time, which is most likely to impact them with religious values. One hour a week, no matter how devoted the teachers. can do little if the parents aren't leading the way. Few people know this better than children's-ministry workers, who typically report that one of their biggest frustrations is that parents aren't more involved in the child's religious upbringing.

If churches communicated to moms and dads (the biblical pattern) that parents are the ones primarily responsible for their child's religious education and growth, might that refill those pews on Sunday mornings? I'm not sure. But I do know that if the church doesn't communicate that message, the church has little chance of winning families to worship before today's generation of youngsters are taking their own kids to soccer practice on Sunday morning.

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service. Her column on cultural and family issues, “From the Hart,” is distributed each week to hundreds of newspapers cross the country. Betsy’s first book, "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting out Kids – and What to do About It," was released in September, 2005, and was a top seller for its publisher, Putnam Books.