Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Churches Without Fathers: We have "produced our own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest."

Robbie Low is vicar of St. Peter’s, Bushey Heath, a parish in the Church of England and his recent commentary on the fatherless church (requires subscription to "Touchstone") cites research done in Switzerland that showed,

"In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally."
Interestingly, the presence of faithful Christian fathers, worshipping regularly, has a greater effect on the developing child than the worship habits of the mother. Why this happens is a matter of speculation of course,
"Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates that going to church is not really a 'grown-up' activity."
"When children see that church is a 'women and children' thing, they will respond accordingly—by not going to church, or going much less." 
Boys raised by a single mom grow up seeing the church from the perspective that it is not for men. When I was young I recall there being a disproportionate number of little old ladies present at Sunday morning services even during the baby boom years. That and the effeminate nature of some of the priests may have turned many a young boy against the Episcopal sect. Episcopalians haven't done anything recently to change the impression left in children's minds, and in fact have added more major innovations that make things worse, just as the Church of England is doing,

"Second, we are ministering in churches that accepted fatherlessness as a norm, and even an ideal. Emasculated Liturgy, gender-free Bibles, and a fatherless flock are increasingly on offer. In response, these churches’ decline has, unsurprisingly, accelerated. To minister to a fatherless society, these churches, in their unwisdom, have produced their own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest."
They have "produced their own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest." Is that the model we want to present to children, to our fellow Christians, to the world?

Of course, the Episcopal organization and CofE are not turning back so Rev. Low's observations will not help them to climb out of their death spirals, but his words are a sharp warning to other Anglican entities,
"The churches are losing men and, if the Swiss figures are correct, are therefore losing children. You cannot feminize the church and keep the men, and you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the men."


  1. In the family and in the church, we tamper with the natural order, God's design, at our peril.

  2. In TEC as well as the CofE we were told that ordaining women would open the floodgates to growth. The opposite has proved true.

  3. It would be interesting to see if churches that are growing have more involved fathers than churches that are in decline.

  4. I think the Orthodox Church has a high percentage of fathers attending.