In the decade of the 70s, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) made the observation that Christian homes often did not stand in significant contrast to those of the world. Many Christian families were torn by the same conflicts experienced by those who were not united in Christian faith.
Studies done since 1984 by the NAE Task Force on the Family indicate that this situation has not improved but worsened. It is clear that Christian families are being touched by the same destructive forces as families outside the church. This is a condition that calls for action by the Christian community. Family life must be given a renewed priority. Resources needed to heal and strengthen family relationships must be provided.
The NAE Task Force on the Family believes the place to start in the recovery of the Christian family is with Christian leaders and their families. Christian leaders live in highly stressful situations which make it very difficult to meet the emotional needs of their families, including those of their spouses. These stresses are created by unreasonable expectations, the perception of being objects of unsuitable veneration, the feelings of being trapped on a treadmill, relegated to the sidelines or isolated. Often these leaders and their spouses have not developed close friends in whom they can confide and through whom God’s love and grace can be mediated when needs arise.
A number of factors contribute to the reluctance of some Christian leaders to address family concerns or take the lead in initiating strong family life programs in their churches or places of leadership.
Some obvious factors are:
- A sense of inadequacy as they view their own families;
- The difficulty of making their own families’ legitimate needs primary over the needs of other families;
- The expectation that they be models of an ideal elite instead of seeing themselves as fellow-strugglers in dealing with family pressures.
NAE, therefore, calls on those in Christian leadership to make their own families a matter of priority in ministry. We urge them to become part of a mutual support system. We encourage them, under the Lordship of Christ, to lead their families to emotional health through God’s unconditional love.
We call on churches and Christian organizations to provide adequate resources to enable leaders and their spouses to meet the physical, economic, emotional and spiritual needs of their families; to protect their leadership from unreasonable demands on their time, energy and privacy; to be alert to what would thwart an effective ministry to church families and, in turn, weaken their ministries to the families of others.
We call upon all within the evangelical community to pray and work for the recovery of Christian family life, with its spiritual and moral distinctives, as a public witness to the grace of Jesus Christ.