"There is a father absence crisis in America. According to the U.S. census bureau, 24 million children, 1 out of 3, live without their biological father in the home. Consequently, there is a father factor in nearly all social ills facing America today."
This comes from the National Fatherhood Initiative. Essentially, fatherlessness is an epidemic, and the implications are significant both for now as well as for our future.
Just google "fathers" and you will find countless research studies that sounds the alarm of fatherlessness in our country and in the world. Statistics like this one: "Individuals from father absent homes are 279% more likely to carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers." (Source)
279%! That is enormous.
Now, this is not new information or even a secret. In fact, "According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America." (National Center for Fathering, Fathering in America Poll.) Almost 3 out of every 4 Americans identify this as the major problem facing our nation today.
So, what can we do about it?
God has a heart for fathers because God is a Father. Jesus teaches us to call Him, "Father" in the Lord's Prayer - the "Our Father." When God established the family as the foundational building block of society, he designed fathers to be the spiritual leaders in their homes. When a man doesn't lead, it impacts his marriage, his children, his community, the entire nation and generations.
Therefore, we need to be teaching, supporting, encouraging and empowering men to be the fathers God created them to be. Have you ever thought about where a man learns to be a father? As these statistics show, what if he did not have a father at home? Or if he had an "absent" father or still carries a "father-wound." We spend years in the educational system teaching a man the things he needs to know in order to help him get a job and be a productive citizen. And, then we have continuing education once a man secures his career. But, where does he learn to be a father? This has a much longer impact. A man will change jobs, even careers, multiply times in his life, but being a dad lasts a lifetime. And, you can have different relationships along the way, but you will always be the only father to your child.
One man's mission: This past weekend over 1,400 fathers & sons played in our annual Father & Son Bowl. Darin, and his wife Caree, started this incredible ministry 11 years ago. The vision was born out of the reality that Darin grew up in a home largely without a father. His dad was around, but not present. Because of this, Darin made some bad decisions in his own life that cost him years of agony and grief. Today, Darin is the father of 4 boys. He has a drive and passion to turn the hearts of fathers to their sons. And, it is working. Many of the young boys playing in the Father & Son Bowl will tell you that it is their favorite day of the year - why? Because, as they will tell you, "I get to play with my dad." Darin shares his testimony with the fathers each year of how Christ transformed his heart, and he encourages the men to be godly fathers. Darin is on a mission, and he is making a difference. (You can read about Darin and Carree's story about the Father & Son Bowl in"Immeasurably More.")
A Church's mission: At Rolling Hills, we are committed to the Father & Son Bowl because we understand what is at stake. We understand the implications on children and generations. We love the Father & Son Bowl because we love connecting dads to their children. But we also know it takes more than one day - it is education and teaching. That is why we also started the Men's Leadership Network. Through these podcasts, we bring in experts to help teach men what it means to be fathers, husbands and to succeed at the things that really matter in life. With 35+ podcasts in our library, men can have education from leading experts - a life-impacting and transformational experience. In additionally we offer Men's Bible Studies, Marriage classes and Mentors. All of these make a significant growth in the lives of many men and their families. Every Sunday Morning, we teach from God's Word and we encourage everyone to spend time in God's Word each day. In the Bible, God shows us and teaches us how to live as spiritual leaders. Our God is doing so much to grow and shape men, but we must continue to do more. At Rolling Hills, we are on a mission to disciple men in the Lord and to raise up spiritual leaders in our day and in our generation.
Everyone's mission: However, we cannot simply leave this enormous calling to the Church or to non-profits, this is something for which each of us must engage. All of us can encourage the men around us. Men need support. We have an enemy that targets men through 3p's - performance, pornography and financial pressure. Pray for your own father, husband and other men around you. Cheer them on as they live out their calling. Speak truth to them when they are off track. Invite them to church, so they can be around other men who are living for Christ. Help them find a "coach" - whether a mentor, counselor or friend. This is a calling for all of us - as an individual, church, community and country, we need to invest in men to help them become the spiritual leaders God created and intends them to be.
God has a heart for fathers, but He also has a heart for the fatherless.
By God's grace, through Christ, we all have a heavenly Father. Maybe you didn't grow up a strong earthly father and you still feel the effects. Or, maybe you did grow up with an earthly father, but he wasn't present for you or with you. If that is you, please know that God is the perfect Father. He provides, protects and is always present. Find your worth and value in the Lord God as your Father. Put your faith and trust in Him. Forgive those who have wronged you, and live with confidence that God can bring healing and restoration. It is only by knowing and growing in Him that you can reach your full potential. It is time for men to step into their role as spiritual leaders. Men are not perfect; men make mistakes. But, God is calling us all to go forward in Him. And, the implications are enormous on marriages, children, churches, communities, our country and generations. Let's join together to pray and impact this epidemic of fatherlessness. Let's invest in men who will change the world one life at a time.
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