One of the great things about dry cleaning is how little is required of you. You can just walk into a dry cleaning establishment, throw your soiled laundry on the counter, and say, “You deal with it. I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
And then I go get donuts and while someone else deals with my daughter’s nosebleed-stained comforter.
I love America.
At any moment I can have food prepared by someone else in 15 minutes or less. Or I can step out of my own life, to escape my problems for a couple hours and watch someone else deal with their own problems (i.e., being left on Mars).
While eating popcorn.
And when I return to my reality, I still don’t really have to deal with it unless I really want to: someone else can handle my taxes; someone else can teach my children; someone else can listen to my friends' struggles (and I don’t even have to pay that guy; they do!).
The more I think about it, the more I realize that Wendell Berry’s prophetic words in The Unsettling of America, which I must quote at length, are wildly true:
The disease of the modern character is specialization…specialists [are] people who are elaborately and expensively trained to do one thing…This supposedly fortunate citizen is therefore left with only two concerns: making money and entertaining himself. He earns money, typically as a specialist, working an eight-hour day at a job for the quality or consequences of which somebody else – or, perhaps more typically nobody else – will be responsible. And not surprisingly, since he can do so little else for himself, he is even unable to entertain himself, for there exists an enormous industry of exorbitantly expensive specialists whose purpose is to entertain him…All of his vital concerns are in the hands of certified experts…Between stints at his job he has nothing to do but mow his lawn with a sit-down lawn mower, or watch certified experts on television. At suppertime he may eat a tray of ready-prepared food, which he and his wife (also a certified expert) procure at the cost only of money, transportation, and the pushing of a button. For a few minutes between supper and sleep he may catch a glimpse of his children, who since breakfast have been in the care of education experts, basketball or marching-band experts, or perhaps legal experts.
While Berry penned these haunting words in 1977, they still ring incredibly true to me today.
We are a culture that loves to let professionals take care of all the things. Educational professionals teach our kids; emotional professionals help us with our feelings; agricultural professionals grow our food, and the list goes on.
And far too often, it seems we believe that religious professionals are the ones responsible for teaching the Faith, both to us and to our young people.
How often do we the same thing with our kids that we do with our dry-cleaning?
How often do we drop ‘em off, and expect to pick ‘em up all clean and Christianed up after a half-hour of Sunday School, or “the spiritual part” of a 2-hour youth event that also consists of running through a lightless hall, and yelling "Murder" in the dark?
Personally, I feel very convicted of this. Sure, we say prayers every night with our daughter, but I’m afraid that when it comes to passing on the story of Faith in the person of Jesus Christ, I’m all too ready to let the religious professionals (i.e., preists, pastors and Sunday School Teachers) do that work for me.
This Sunday, we will see Christ raise a young girl from the dead and restore her to the community. Present at the healing are the girl’s parents and Christ's disciples: “And when he came to the house, he permitted no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child" (Luke 8:51).
Here we see that there is a clear need for a partnership between the home (the parents) and the Church (the disciples). It is in the presence of both that Christ restores this young girl to life.
Yet we usually try to put the entire onus on one party, saying that if kids would just came to Church, then they would believe. Or that if the parents would just teach them the Faith, then the kids would be alright.
This Gospel reading, however, shows us that there is no such dichotomy when it comes to life in Christ. We need a partnership between the Home and the Church.
Or, as Christians have been saying for centuries, we need to mold our homes into little Churches.
When it comes to raising Christians, to raising Saints, we need to reject, abandon, and crucify the idea that there are religious specialists who are exclusively responsible for passing on the Faith to our young.
As a parent, I need to reclaim the call, the right, the urgency of my being witness to and being present, fully present, in the restoration of my children in Christ.
If we keep trying to make only one part of the equation important (home or church), then we, like the servants in the story, will keep finding ourselves believing that our kids are lost and without hope: “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more" (Luke 8:49).
But Christ stands beside us to remind us that our children will be made well, though He wishes to do so in the company of both their parents and their congregations.
There is no room for specialization in the Church; we are a Body, and we need to start acting like it. Parents, pastors, peers, and religious educators all have a part to play in the development of the young.
If we want our kids to be alive in Christ, it’s time we start focusing on the partnership between Church and Home.
 Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture (San Francisco: Sierra Book Club, 1977), p. 19-20.
Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working toward a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.