Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Gathered Church - Pt 2

As I continue to work at what I think a healthy gathering of believers looks like I realize that not everybody sees things the same way. This is one of those areas that seems too often gets to be divisive when it should not, if one is to lead a church then those leading should be fully persuaded in how they will do things. This does not mean they will have everything figured out but why would one do something they are not persuaded is correct. So if I put forward a model, and I really hate the word model, I believe is both biblical and correct it is because I am persuaded by scripture that it is so. When it comes to church I really do think that too much that is done today is done based on the world’s desires and not God’s.

We do need to deal with the results of sin in people’s lives, but how much of what we do in church is a direct result of wrong actions of the congregation and the world around us? We have children’s ministry and nursery because parents feel that on the one day that a family should be together they want to just be alone so they ship their children off to the care of others thus really making children’s ministry more of a day care than anything else. We allow our children to be taught by others because we do not do so ourselves. So in the end, the result is that children are separated out and segregated from the rest of the congregation. Some churches do not even allow children below certain ages into the main worship of the church, which I am not ashamed to say is wrong. What boggles my mind on this is that this in essence bars the children, the ones Christ said to bring to Him (Matt 19:14 and others), from the corporate worship. This is all done, in my opinion, out of some individualistic feeling of needing to have their alone time with God at corporate worship.

We have youth groups because parents do not disciple their children or do not feel comfortable doing so. I am sure that many may deny this, but the concept of sending off youth to be discipled by others, often youth themselves is detrimental to the family rather than helpful. The whole idea of a Youth ministry is a new thing and to be truthful the grand Youth Ministry experiment should be deemed a failure (by the way I have been a Youth Minister). The result of allowing youth be shipped off to their own classes and even services is that parents continue not to disciple their children and instead leave that to the youth department and youth leaders. Young people already often feel uncomfortable being around those older than them so we have separate groups for them and keep them separated so that we even here foster still more separation and distance between cultures.

We continue to do this with basically every age group out of what is often a desire to help, but the end result is a hindering of the healthy growth of the church as I think God would want it to be. As long as we segregate the church, it will forever continue to splinter. I find it interesting that if we did the same segregation around ethnicity in churches there would be an uproar so why do we allow it around ages? I will flesh this out more as I go along.

All of this leads me to a view of church that is a multi-generational/intergenerational church that is in many ways 180 degrees away from how many churches function today. This idea is expressed in many ways such as family-integrated, a household of households or a family of families. In the end, names are just that and they often carry connotations that are incorrect. For example, if one calls their church a family-integrated church people will think it is not a place for singles or those that do not fit the perceived model of a family. However, this is incorrect since the concept is that the church itself is a family and it is made up of families. Singles that are not part of a family that is in the church are incorporated into existing families. So in the end this form of church gathering and congregation can fill the needs of all kinds of people and while it may seem unorthodox I do feel it is biblical. As I have said before, so much of how we do church and how we feel church should be done is taken from the world and not scripture. If we truly are to be a people of the Word should we not look more at God’s word for direction than the world?

So, over the next weeks and months I will try and see if I can flesh out how this all works and come up with how I would do church. I realize that where I would like to be in the end may not look like where I am now. Moving a church from the form it is in now to a age-integrated model takes time, patience, and vision, but I do feel it can be done and done to the glory of Christ. In all of this what needs to be kept at the forefront is that the church is here to worship God and to be Christ Glorifying and Cross Centered.

For some resources on this as well as I think a good scriptural basis here are 3 talks by Voddie Baucham that were given at Union University in 2005. The first one on “The Nature of the Family” is one of the best talks on a scriptural basis for the Bible calling for churches to be households-of-households I have heard. The others are very good as well and I encourage you to listen to them all.

Faith in Practice Conference: Voddie Baucham
"The Nature of the Family" Oct 26th, 2005

Faith in Practice Conference: Voddie Baucham
"The Two Skills a Pastor Must Have" Oct 27th, 2005

Faith in Practice Conference: Voddie Baucham October 28th, 2005


Kristie said...

I found your site via Rev's. We'll see how he responds to our comments to his post!

I liked this post you wrote because our church is working through the same issues. I'll have to have my husband take a look, since as an Elder he is part of shaping how things will be looking.

But we have tried a "model" that we called Dads and teens for a youth type model. That lasted for several years, and has faded so that we need to think of something else. I think a problem was getting dads there, and how to have them participate. Like game time....many of these dads have bad knees. (lololol)Also it was hard if a kid didn't have a dad, or had a dad that was too tired to come. It made it awkward. Still there was the reluctance to let the high school students have a crack at leadership....but I think our elders now realize this is how deep the bench (to use a sporting term) is in terms of developing leaders for the church in the future. The depth of the bench starts in high school and even junior high. (okay, the nursery!)

We are committed to multi-generations in our local church (I hope to blog about this from a woman's persective soon!), but there is a need for people in their particular age group get together. I think it is a norm for our culture to be segregated by age--look at the public school system. Our culture spends a good many hours there every is part of our DNA.

Having homeschooled for many years, and now my oldest in is public high school for the first time....I really see this. She enjoys the company of older women in the church, but there is still a need to be with girls and guys her age. It will happen at school. Will it happen in the church in a healthy and edifying way? How can it work? I can see how an on-fire Christ exalting youth ministry could have a huge impact. My daughter would probably love to invite friends from school if it was authentic and welcoming and Biblical. She has heard alot about other people's youth groups...and it is anything but that.

Well, I've babbled enough. Thanks for your thoughts.

Tony said...


Thanks for your comments

Actually Dave is a good friend of mine and a member of the church I attend so we converse on this stuff often.

As far as ministry goes, most of what I write is me working through what appears to be the most biblical model of church. I am the Assoc. Pastor/Elder at our church so I am talking to the Senior Pastor about these issues often. What direction our church will go and how we get there is still to be seen but these things take much prayer and conversation.

I have had a concern for some time, way before I heard of the term family-integrated, that the church was becoming more and more segregated by age. I realize that it is not easy to make the change and it is deffintly going against the grain as far as most churches go. There are many questions that need to be asked when moving a church to a more integrated model but we do need to ask those questions and then act on the answers.

Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Grace and Peace,