Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Family Friendly II

More thoughts on what is actually being "Family Friendly:

As I further think about how the church is to rightly deal with families it does seem that the essential question to ask first is: What is the purpose of the church? If the purpose is to provide a slew of activities and allow parents a time of “spiritual renewal” then sending the children off in every direction would be a logical result. Now, I referenced “spiritual renewal” but I do not think that this has to be done apart from the family. We, the church, have in our day of the “individual” redefined things in such a way that if anything appears to get in the way of ones personal aim then it needs to be either eliminated or at least abated for some time frame. Thus having children in a service or at some specific age in a general Sunday morning study is seen as distracting and thus to be eliminated. Of course things are not worded this way and the common claim is that since differing ages learn differently then they need to be divided. While there is some truth to this it does not necessarily have to end in separation.

This is not an issue that only applies to children. I hear adults complain that group studies just slow down their spiritual walk. This individualistic approach neglects to see that the community grows together as well as individually. So while a group may slow one individual down that individual may actually increase the growth of the slower members of the community. Thus the church as whole grows much faster and more deeply and the individual grows in that they actually use the gifts they have for the benefit of others ( 1 Cor 12 ). This applies to children as well as adults so that if these differing groups learn together the growth will be so much more as a whole.

I do believe that there are times for groups to be built around specific needs, common life experiences and mutual goals not at the expense of the church as a whole. By constantly separating the church we in essence create many smaller churches that lack the discernment that others may provide but due to this separating is not possible.

I am sure that for many this sounds like an old fashioned, one school room, way of seeing church but let me assure you I do not think this is so. My goal in trying to see how this is too truly work is to see how God has designed the family and thus the church family and then make sure that we are doing all we can to help it grow. I do not think that on the sermon on the mount there was a separate children’s mini sermon on the mount or youth sermon on the mount with culturally correct lingo but those that were there sat and listened together. The parents were then tasked with explaining what was heard and this is how I think the main teaching in church should function. This way the teaching of children and youth is not abrogated and given to some other person but the parents are intimately involved in the discipleship of their children.

What is actually just as hard a problem is not in seeing how the church should function with regards to families but seeing how the church is to move to what is truly a “Family Friendly” church. This separation has gone on so long and become so ingrained moving people from this is a difficult task. This is true also for the teaching of younger people in the church. We so often dumb down the message to children that over time this is what is expected and all that can be handled but children can learn so much more.

I will have to think through this more as the more I ponder what God desires from His church all too often I see the church taking it’s cues from the world rather than scripture. Yes we have to deal with a fallen world but we as a church do not need to take on fallen principles but instead need to work at moving God’s people to God’s design.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Great post! About 3 or 4 months ago our church did away with the nursery. We have women in the church who sit in the service and if a visitor has to go out with a child, one of these women will show them the way to the nursery where we have a radio in there where they can still listen to the sermon. We also encourage them to come back into the service as soon as possible. So far it has been great, it also gives the women who are helping to be able to talk to the visitor while serving them.

I was just meeting with my pastor last night for pre-marital counseling and he was talking about how the husband is to be pastor of his wife and kids. He said that our church will be moving more in the direction of focusing on equipping parents to do what they have come to rely on the church to do for their kids. As in, teaching and pastoring them spiritually.

I think you are right on here. Keep up the good work.