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May 05, 2006

Top Ten Issues Facing Families Today

Lifeway magazine has just completed release of results of its on-line survey into the Top Ten Issues Facing today's family. The results are an interesting reflection on priorities:

10. Materialism: "The placing in high regard of ownership and consumption as a family priority."

9. Balance of Work and Family: "The rising pressure to invest more of one's energy in work at the expense of family."

8. Negative Media Influences: "The growing influx of destructive images and messages into the home."

7. Lack of Communication: "The increasing abbreviation or near elimination of meaningful family member interaction."

6. Financial Pressures: "The chronic misuse of debt and/or mismanagement of financial resources."

5. Lack of Discipline: "The death of respectful behavior as a norm in our schools, churches, and families."

4. Lack of a Father Figure: "The absence of a father in the home or lack of strong participation in the family."

3. Busyness: "The participation in numerous activities crowding out quality family fellowship."

2. Divorce: "The ongoing wave of broken marriages and families both within the church and without."

1. Anti-Christian Culture: "The stripping away of Christian heritage and traditional values."

The results reflect a very insular and self-absorbed culture, inasmuch as it demonstrates Western priorities.

I wonder, however, whether the order reflects something of our misguided priorities. We think that the challenge is to be addressed first by changing the culture of the wider community, when the reality is (as reflected in issues 10 and 9) that we have - by our own choice - absorbed and owned that culture to our detriment. There is a deep interrelatedness to these articulated concerns, the solution to which can be found within the choices that we make at first. Instead we too often find the church and christians buying in (literally) to the rat-race consumptive lifestyle at the neglect of our own humanity, let alone our own faith. The coincidence of christian wellbeing with material success has disempowered us so much that we are at the mercy of advertisers who are constantly telling us that we are inadequate as a catalyst for purchasing their product. The end result is that we discover that the product does not deliver, our financial strain is worse, and we are still without a deep sense of our identity and value. We need to be able to articulate and evidence the alternative which reflects the values of Jesus and the kingdomg of God. We are too busy rendering to Caesar, it seems.

When touring the Space Needle in Seattle last week, I was stunned to hear the elevator operator (who called herself our "shuttle commander" - which made me decidedly nervous) suggesting that we visit their gift shop before leaving, whereupon she promised that "you will find the most wondrous gifts and souvenirs that you will ever find in your entire life..." and that "every gift you buy is going to bring you joy. And we're talking about joy that you can't put a price on... but we do..." Funnily enough noone else in the elevator blinked or blanched at the thought.

I wonder if we were to globalise this "top ten" and look at it from the inside out, what we might put at the top of the list?

Posted by gary at May 5, 2006 07:08 PM


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