My first real job in the church was 1979. I was a Jr/Sr. High pastor in suburban Pittsburgh. In that time you had just as many kids sports leagues and Sunday activities other than church to do any given Sunday. You had just as many options to choose from to take up your time. What I have perceived in over 32 years of professional service is the dramatic cultural shift, a dramatic secularization of the culture and society, where God and faith is more or less silent in the public square. Where parents with children are so busy making sure they sign up their kids for almost every structured sports or activities Saturdays and Sundays that come; Sunday night they and kids are exhausted and spent. In essence the loss of “Sabbath” or sense of sacred. Where church, if it is a factor in many families it is place to ensure the kids do the various Pageants with plenty of pictures taken. Where people when they do seek a church for a wedding or other significant event, do so on matters of size, seating capacity, stained glass, pictures and how the time fits into the reception and happy hours. God, faith, or making a faith statement have very little to play in these matters.
The loss of the Sabbath, the “Sacred” in people’s lives has effects spiritual as well as physical and psychological. When we are unable, unwilling, or just plain too stubborn to rest mind, body, spirit, to recharge or take time for the Lord or faith, we are far more prone to real life issues of stress, hypertension, heart issues, cancers and a whole host of lifestyle related diseases. We are always on the run, work, career, family, sports, kids, that sooner or later we just break down physically, if not emotionally.
In 1900 where 7 out of 10 Americans still worked on a farm or agriculture, hard physical, back-breaking labors, diseases that kill the vast majority of Americans today, heart disease, diabetes, obesity where almost unknown. In 1900, 87% of Americans attended houses of worship on weekly bases. In 2010 60% of Americans suffer for lifestyle and food related diseases, will die sooner than their parents in some cases, and less than 30% of Americans attend a house of worship, read Scripture, or have any faith experience in their lives. A coincidence? I do not think so. You make your bed and lie in it as my old grandmother would say.
The Pew Research Trust for Faith and Life tells us that 6 out of 10 houses of worship in current life will close in the next 10 years. Kids born in 2010 will not live to the average age of their parents, simply because of diet, activity, and life style choices. Sobering facts all. When we forget and ignore God, mock His wisdom and counsel, pretend we do not need faith or worship in our lives, be ready reap to exactly what we sow.