Is it just me or does it seem a little contradictory to advertise that a church is “Family Friendly” and then have the family split apart in every direction with numerous “age appropriate” activities. I guess it depends on how you view the family.
I realize that the motives may be good in trying to cater to families by supplying numerous choices for activities but the result is that families are fragmented. The spiritual growth of the children and youth is basically taken over by the Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, AWANA or some other activity.
This said I do see that there can be a place for some of these ministries as support for the family as a whole. Such as, youth can have time together but at as an addition to not in place of the family and the same for children, My issue is that while there may or may not need to be different studies on Sunday mornings, for example, what has happened is that this has spawned even further fragmentation with families not even worshiping together. Again, there can be times of added studies that relate to differing life situations and ages but this is in addition to worshiping together.
We have sort of taken the world’s view of supplying so many choices to the consumer that the church is more like a market place than a center of worship and we know what Jesus did when this happened. I think back to Judges 2:10 which speaks of a generation rising that did not know the Lord or the work He had done. As we fragment the family so to will the passing down the truths of scripture be lost. This function will be taken over by others and the family will cease to be what God designed it to be.
I am sure this is not how everyone sees church, obviously as one looks at the church today, but I do think we need to take a hard look and see if it is consumerism that is driving how we do church or scripture. I have to think about how this all works and where it is appropriate for separating ages and such but my personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that these decisions need to be based on how it affects the whole and not necessarily the individual. The individual is important, but as God designed us to be part of a community of believers, just look at Acts, we need to see the individual as part of that community and not simply a lone consumer searching for the next good buy.
This is not a call to go back to some time in the past but a call to be faithful to scripture today. Not to read today’s culture into scripture but to live scripture into the culture and thus change it or at the least be a beacon of light in a lost world.