The 6 dads in your church (and how you can help them)

June 7, 2017 | by Ryan Sanders

“Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.” Uncle Screwtape writes to his Nephew Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. There are six dads sitting in your church on any given Sunday. You, church leader, have the most important job in the world: make dad uncomfortable by getting him off the pew. The Devil may have the dads in your church where he wants them—not in deep, dark sins—but in occupying a pew. 

Here are the six dads in your church and how you can help them:

1. The “I didn’t know it was my job” dad 

Many well-meaning dads in your church simply don’t understand how vital it is for them to disciple their sons. 

This dad would say: 

“I make money, try to be a decent husband, and I’ll get involved in activities with my kids. But, as for their spiritual development, I expect my pastor to give them direction; the teacher to give them knowledge; and my spouse to shape their character. Hey, at least I’m not sitting back and letting the internet raise them.”

If a dad believes his purpose is to drop his son off at the right spot, with the right people, at the right time, my fear is this dad misses the point. Teach this dad to avoid self-pity, resist becoming the victim and to find mentors who will walk with him.

2. The “I don’t know where to start” dad

When we’re sitting still, we tend to keep on sitting still unless a force of change helps us get moving. Here’s the secret to dad discipling his child: it doesn’t matter how or where he begins. It only matters that he starts. The Holy Spirit takes care of the rest.

You can help this dad by encouraging dad to ask his son for prayer requests or read a verse of the Bible—just start. Can you see how the devil might be winning with the dad who says for years, “I don’t know where to start”? 

3. The “I’ll let someone else do it” dad.

This dad relies on two experts for help: his wife and “the professionals”. This approach works well while the kids are young. Dad learns he can work and bring home the check. See where I’m going here? 

As for the professionals, this dad expects the youth pastor will guide his child spiritually. Your job is to show this dad his role as a father is his God-given assignment. Encourage this dad to ask his son about the discussions he’s having with other leaders.

4. The “Who am I to talk” dad

This dad says, “I’ve got my own issues – who am I to talk?” One of the most effective tools Satan uses against fathers is guilt. Guilt over how we’re living now, and guilt over how we lived in the past.

You can help this dad understand God’s word tells him there is no condemnation in Christ.

5. The “I’ve got plenty of time” dad

If you are a father of young children, it’s almost impossible to explain how little time you really have. Now don’t get negative on me, turn this in to a positive by exercising urgency. 

This dad needs different advice from the other dads. Encourage this dad to create margin in his calendar. He needs to carve out time to just be present—with no agenda. 

6. The “My kid’s too far gone” dad

If you are a dad of a teenager or older, there's still hope. God is the author of redemption and restoration. This dad needs to learn from you how to resist despair and reassurance his situation can be restored. Encourage this dad to connect with his child in the simple things and just be present.

Any of these dads sound like the dads at your church? Screwtape counseled Wormwood, as Lewis writes, “The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out in the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Dads who get off the pew are what I’d call intentional fathers. The intentional father changes everything. From his home to his church, everyone benefits from the dad who knows his purpose. You shape that. Imagine the home where dad isn’t the passive observer, but he’s the passionate lover of his wife, the confident caregiver to his child and the fearless follower of Christ. 

Are any of these obstacles blocking the dads at your church? Download our free eBook Identify and Destroy for more details on the six obstacles and how to remove them.


Topics: Discipleship, Leadership, Ministry, Outreach, Preaching


Ryan Sanders / Ryan Sanders is Director of Marketing for Manhood Journey, the nonprofit ministry helping fathers raise the next generation of godly men. Ryan is married to Tonia with two daughters and one son. They live in Reston, Virginia right outside of Washington, DC.
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