Churches failing to address fatherlessness 'epidemic,' warns expert: 'The devil makes it more complicated than it is'

By The Christian Post |
Sean Teils
Sean Teis, head of Life Factors Fatherless Ministries, speaks with The Christian Post in Nashville, Tennessee. | The Christian Post

When Sean Teis was just 9 months old, he was abandoned by his earthly father. 

“My dad came home, an alcoholic in a drunken rage … my mother was in a panic, she went over to the neighbor's house and got the cops to come. They showed up, my dad took me and threw me across the room to the cops,” Teis told The Christian Post in a sit-down interview.  

“That day was the beginning of my father’s journey. It was the day he really rejected me. He said, ‘I’m done with you.’ He packed up his things and moved back to his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, after that and never came back and left us in a small town in Pennsylvania.”

But unlike many fatherless children, Teis had a number of men who stepped up in his life and filled the role his father left vacant, from church members to grandparents. 

“I had a grandfather that poured into my life. I had church people that poured in my life and helped me along that path. But so many kids don't get to have that opportunity where they have people that care about them and love them and help them,” he said. 

It was this experience that prompted Teis and his wife, Jackie, to launch Life Factors Fatherless Ministries, which equips individuals to fulfill James 1:27 through practical ministry in their churches and communities to fatherless families.

The ministry, which has the stated aim of “spreading awareness, creating unique resources, speaking, partnering with local churches, and establishing local fatherless family ministries and support for these families nationwide,” employs a multifaceted approach to combat this crisis. 

Initiatives range from informative books like The Fatherless Journey for Guys and The Fatherless Journey for Girls to digital resources and mobile applications such as The ministry also advocates for mentoring and local church involvement, offering a non-programmatic, organic approach to support.

“The ‘God is my Dad’ brand has been such a positive thing for children who don't have an earthly dad,” Teis said. “God is my dad and He cares about me. It’s my story, too: God's my dad, and through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God will be your heavenly Father."

According to Teis, fatherlessness is an “epidemic” in the United States. He cited statistics from The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of the Census revealing a startling 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. 

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy and criminality,” he said. “We look at our country, and we're like, ‘Why are all these things happening? Why are all these people committing crimes? Why is all this abortion happening?’ And it's not always from fatherlessness, but many times these kids are growing up without a dad, without a mom, without both.”

Despite the evident need for addressing fatherlessness, Teis, a former youth pastor himself, said there’s been a significant challenge in gaining widespread attention from both cultural and, tragically, religious platforms.

“It's been an uphill climb, really, over the past 15-plus years trying to get pastors to take this issue seriously,” he said. “It’s affecting every single person in the United States of America, we try to tell people that in churches, when I speak, it's affecting everybody. But they don't want to shine a light on it … I'm not bashing pastors .. but I honestly believe that churches need to shine a light on this, and we have resources to help them with that.”

Teis also expressed a growing concern that governmental agencies, once sources of vital statistics on the ramifications of fatherlessness, have diminished their role in bringing the issue to the forefront of national consciousness.

"The government's not putting out statistics like they used to," he said, suggesting a deliberate oversight that masks the depth of the crisis. 

“I believe they have a grip on the fatherless," he said. “So, our job as Christians is to go to the fathers around us and spread hope to them individually. That's the best way to do it.”

Teis acknowledged that the issue is often “messy” for many families, but stressed there is always “hope.” He underscored Scripture's definition of "pure religion" as caring for those in need, including children deprived of parental guidance and support. 

“We can bring them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we can disciple them, it's not complicated. I honestly believe the devil tries to make it more complicated than it is. … Sometimes, they just need somebody to tell them, ‘I love you, I believe in you. And I care about you.’ But we’re just medicating them or giving them a tablet to play on. We're not giving them people who care about their lives and want to help them succeed in life. We're all about trying to help them break that cycle."

Now a father of three himself, Teis said he’s even more determined to break the cycle of fatherlessness. His ministry's work, including family-inclusive ministry tours, is a personal mission to ensure his children understand the value of family and community support.  

“When we first started our ministry over 15 years ago, I would travel a lot and do our ministry when they were little. And I realized real fast, I need to be bringing them with me. We need to do this together. ... And I started making sure that I at least traveled with one of my kids or made sure that they were there, being together as a family," he said.

"I think it impacts my kids because they get to see us working and doing the work of the ministry. I’m just so excited to have them with me.”

Learn more about Life Factors Fatherless Ministries here. 

Originally published by The Christian Post