Last night my wife was going over grammar homework with my eight year old. Mind you that I am usually happy to help with homework, but grammar is not my strong suit. I am the guy who regularly got a B- in high school English (an “A” in literature and, let’s just say, less in grammar). I am the guy who heard the words of terror in seminary, “Oh don’t worry, you’ll do fine in Hebrew and Greek as long as you remember your high school grammar.” I am the guy who has a good friend who tells me I would strengthen my sermons if I used less statives in them. The first time he told me that, I had no clue what he was talking about.
Just to establish the setting for you, last night my wife was quizzing my eight year old for a test he will take today. “What is the predicate?” “What is the simple subject?”, “What is the “complete predicate?” I actually could follow it all but I was thinking that at his age, I would have been lost in the woods. I made it through high school, college, and even graduate school by applying grammar as it sounded right. But I couldn’t exactly explain what I was doing. By the time I was going through seminary I maintained a fairly high GPA (my high school teachers would never have believed it). I always assumed that I had mastered English enough that I didn’t need all that grammar nitty gritty after all. But then, I met my wife and good friend who both gently let me know that my grammar is on-par with my singing voice (in other words all too often, not so hot).
What does this all have to do with faith? I wonder how many people in this world take the same approach to faith that I have with grammar all of my life. We stop the formal learning. We know it is somewhat important but we have a “self taught” curriculum. We master it to a degree. But perhaps we could go further if we didn’t let the formalities scare us. There are so many people out there that have a natural curiosity, maybe even a tendency, toward spiritual questions and spiritual matters, but they don’t regularly go to church or discuss it in beyond their circle of friends. That is a loss on both sides.
My goal as a father is to “keep up” with my son with his grammar and re-learn what I never learned before. If I pace with him as he is learning predicates and subjects, perhaps I won’t be so lost when topics like gerunds, past participles, and statives come up. And I will continue to think about, as a pastor, how I might re-interest those who have drifted away from the church. We live in such a crucial age. It’s never too late to start.
What do you think?
Until next time,