Pastor Dad

Jason Micheli —  June 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

Looking ahead to Father’s Day, I’m reading Mark Driscoll’s new ebook, Pastor Dad: Biblical Insights on Fatherhood.

I’ve not understated my frequent revulsion over the words that come from Mark’s mouth and pen; however, I did promise, perhaps unwisely, that I would read this new book in a spirit of charity and with a willingness to find wisdom in it.

Perhaps God’s rewarding me for my hospitable disposition because Driscoll’s second chapter offers a needful contrary voice to how many parents think of parenting and faith.  Driscoll unabashedly calls parents on the carpet:

‘Our ultimate goal must be that our children would grow to love and worship our God.

As Christian fathers, we should long to see our children worship the same God we do.’

There it is, and as much as I normally loathe Mark Driscoll he’s right on this count.

I can’t even begin to count the number of ‘Christian’ parents I know whose immediate reaction would be to resist this conviction as indoctrination. Driscoll is a far cry here from the dominant American (mainline liberal) ethos which instead advocates introducing our kids to Christianity- but not enough to be harmful to them- but not not inculcating the faith in them.

‘I/We want them ‘to decide for themselves…’ I hear from parents (and engaged couples) all the time. While this is typically presented as caring for the best interests of the children, it’s most often rooted, as all things are, in self-interest.

‘I want them to decide for themselves’ really equals ‘I’m not sufficiently committed to the faith to persuade any one else to it much less my children.’

I mean, think about it. If you really believe your life is a gift from a good God, that the story of Jesus is the truest story of how we’re to live in the world and that the most important possible thing in the world is what God calls us to do in it, then why would you not want that above all things for your son or daughter?

I’m a huge fan of baseball; I love the Washington Nationals.

My children have no absolutely no choice, based on how I’m raising them, to be anything but Nationals fans.

They know the lineups, the stats, the radio commercials in between innings. I’ve exposed them to it and slowly I’m raising them into what it means to be a baseball fan.

Most Dads out wouldn’t quibble with this one iota. Cowboys fans would never think of raising their kids in such a way that they’d not grow up to be Cowboys fans.

But when it comes to Team Jesus most moms and dads are ambivalent.

Nice if it happens maybe but…

This isn’t me being cranky right along with Mark Driscoll. It’s empirical. The recent Survey on Religion and Youth found that the majority of young Christians in America actually practice what sociologists had to describe as ‘Moral Therapeutic Deism.’ 


God as a cosmic butler rather than an incarnate messiah that calls you to give up everything and follow him with your life.

Why do the majority of young ‘Christians’ practice MTD?

Drum roll…

Because their parents do.

Children don’t grow and drift away from Church to rebel from their parents.

Children grow up seeing whether or not their parents really walk-the-talk believe and, concluding not so much, they conclude the Church isn’t worth much of their time.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas calls bullshit on this cultural cliche about ‘letting everyone make up their minds.’

In addition to BS, he calls it moral cowardice, frequently telling his students that ‘they don’t have minds worth making up until he’s formed their minds and conformed them to his own.’ 228958_10150729303960096_564145095_20288493_4614542_n

Master teachers should care enough about the life-changing potential of their material to pass it on to their students. Once their students have ‘mastered’ it then by all means their lives can take whatever turns and detours an earnest life brings.

Likewise, Christian parents shouldn’t be letting their kids ‘make up their own minds about Christ’ until their kids have mastered the messiah’s material. Of course, that’s very likely the rub. The Church has failed too many, letting parents’ languish so that they’re still no more than novices.

I’ve taken to applying Hauerwas’ wise (seriously, it’s wise) crack to rearing my own boys, making sure they’ll grow up knowing both the OBP of every starting Nats player and also knowing exactly what Jesus told another young man what he should do to inherit eternal life.

I should point out: my boys can only learn from me what I already know.


Jason Micheli


2 responses to Pastor Dad

  1. Well said. Thank you for this. As someone who works with youth in an Episcopal church, I am sick and tired of parents raising children to “make up their own minds” about religion. One such youth stopped coming to church in the 7th grade. Why don’t these parents let their children “make up their own minds” about their math or science education? “Uh, mom, you know, I really don’t think I like this math thing; it’s not working for me, and I know you want me to make my own decisions, even though I’m only 13, so I, uh, I don’t think I’ll be going to my math class anymore.”

  2. Loved this and not only because we also LOVE the Nats! I have always cringed when people said they were going to let their children make their own choices about God. If you talk to your kids about everything that matters to you, they may rebel temporarily, but ultimately, they make their choices based on what they were exposed to and what they heard and how that all pans out in the world for them. Thankfully, ours have decided we were right about a lot of things~

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