The New Family Trump Card. That's what one pastor calls it. "I can't be at the meeting tonight, Pastor. My kid has a thing." The "thing" might be a ball game, flute practice, play date, or weariness from last night's sleepover—anything trumps a church obligation.

The increased emphasis on "family time," even at the expense of meaningful involvement in church life, is a sign of the times. It's one way Generations X and Y are making up for the hands-off, latch-key childrearing styles that characterized their Boomer parents: heavy investment in the kids, and everything else takes a back seat—including church.

This shift in values is a common theme in the Leadership study on church life and family. We asked 490 pastors to share their insights on the changing relationship between the local congregation and its constituent families, to examine the larger question of church as "family," and to crack open the door to the parsonage and tell us about their own marriage and family.

In summary, ...

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