“You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” Deuteronomy 6:9.

In the 1980s, the Lily Foundation conducted studies on the decline of a major mainline denomination. One of the assumptions was that the decline in attendance and membership was related to a lack of participation, the decline of the Sunday School, and thus instruction in faith fundamentals, specifically those distinctive of the denomination itself.

Church members and non-church members were the subjects in the study. The outcome was surprising. Both groups, those still churched in the denomination and those who were unchurched had attended Sunday School in virtually equal numbers. Obviously, their assumption was flawed. Sunday School attendance was not a deciding factor in the attrition of members, and from that standpoint – arguably ineffective. Shocking!

Further probes revealed another factor. The high correlation of retention was between religious education in the home – family worship and learning – and current church involvement. It wasn’t church that tethered them to faith, but the home.[1] The twice daily, father-led family worship – less formal, perhaps less sophisticated – was far more effective than the once-a-week Sunday School class.

God, it is so simple! How did we mess it up so badly? And how did we hand off something so precious as prayer and faith – to others? Bring prayer home! Tether our families together again, around you and your Word!

[1] Louis Weeks, “Why We’ve Lost Members …”, p. 21.