Call to the Family
We call Salvationists worldwide to restore the family to its central position in passing on the faith, to generate resources to help parents grow together in faithful love, and to lead their children into wholeness, with hearts on fire for God and His mission.
We affirm that the family plays a central role in passing on the faith. We also recognize that families everywhere are subject to dysfunction and disintegration in an increasingly urbanized world in which depersonalization, insignificance, loneliness, and alienation are widespread. We believe that in the home where Christ’s Lordship is acknowledged, and the family is trained in God’s word, a spiritual enriching and strengthening environment is provided.
This Call begins with an assumption that the family has moved away from being the central avenue for the generational succession of faith. Salvationists are called to “restore” the family to its position of being the faith center.
Called to Be God’s People: The International Spiritual Life Commission lists numerous reasons why the family has abdicated its responsibility to pass on the baton of faith: social changes since WWII, the decline in birthrates, laws on abortion, births outside of marriage, the changing view of marriage, high divorce rates, marriages of mixed cultures, both parents working, influence of the media, and newer forms of technology.
Nevertheless, we must stay focused on the needs of the changing family. Psychiatrist and scholar Dr. Robin Skynner reminds us of our responsibility. “The family faces inward to the individual and outward to society. [The family] has enormous potential, including that of life itself and it is not surprising that, when it becomes disordered, it possesses an equal potential for terrible destruction.”
The Salvation Army promotes and values the family’s role in passing on religious faith. How can this baton pass from one generation to the next within the context of family? One way is through family meals, which are shared around the table. Such gatherings encourage conversation among family members and the sharing of activities with one another. A second way to contribute to the passing of faith is through prayer. Such prayer is more than, “thank you, Lord, for this food”; it includes praying for one another. A third possibility is worshiping together at the local church or corps. A fourth opportunity is through shared social activities within the context of Christian fellowship.
The family is an essential part of the Church and of the world.
by Colonel Janice A. Howard
Further reading on the Call to the Family can be found in Called to Be God’s People. A free download of the entire book is available at www1.salvationarmy.org/ihq/documents/called-to-be-gods-people.pdf.