Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Family Integrated Church

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
(Mar 10:13-14)

There is a modern unscriptural movement in Christendom that is so prevalent in modern churches that most likely you are involved in it, and you don’t even know any better. This is a movement known as “age segregated church.” In this type of arrangement infants are dropped off at the nursery on your way in the door. Walkers are on the other side of the nursery, but basically in the “baby wing.” Three and four year olds have their own classrooms with plenty of watercolors and play dough, not to mention animated video tapes that will keep them entertained. On down the hall older children are herded into their classrooms, while the youth huddle together in the back to discuss matters of the day, as it relates to “their” culture. Finally, Mom and Dad make their way into the auditorium in order to hear the message targeted for “adults.” The children love this arrangement as they get to visit with all their friends. The teenagers love it because they can foster their relationships with the other teenagers. Mom and Dad love it because they get a much needed break from having to put up with their out of control children for an hour or so. “But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased…” (Mark 10:14)

You see the modern Sunday School movement, which gave rise to the children’s church movement, had its beginnings in the late 1800’s. So, for over 1800 years, the Christian Church met together as families. This movement was formed for the well intentions of teaching poor orphans about the Bible. Yet, it did not take long for it to expand to include not only orphans, but the children of the congregation. Prior to this time, fathers used to lead their families in family worship each night. They realized that they were responsible to disciple the next generation so that the Church did not die. However, as they observed the Church organization taking on this job, many stepped back and allowed them to take the responsibility that previously belonged to them. As a result, children (and the adults they have grown up to be) have become biblically illiterate. Children no longer are expected to sit still for two hours while worship is going on. They are so media saturated that they can’t do without the alluring trance of the television long enough to sit and worship the creator of the Universe.

Yet, there is a reformation gaining momentum. Yes, the establishment is huge, and it won’t be an easy transition. But here and there, one family after another are waking up to the fact that unless things change they will lose their children. This family integrated reformation comes on the heels of the homeschool movement. Just as families have looked at the government school system and decided that they have been given jurisdiction by God for the training of their children, and not the state, they are beginning to wake up and realize that the church does not have the jurisdiction for training their children either. It really makes a lot of sense when you stop to think about it. And families are, finally, stopping to think about this very important issue.

Fathers, it starts in the home under your leadership. Disciple these young ones that have been entrusted into your care. Then, sit them down right next to you in the meeting of the Church on the Lord’s Day. They need to learn right doctrine. They need to observe how men and women worship the Lord. They need to see their own Daddy honor the one true God.

Let the children come unto me, for such is the Kingdom of God.


Anonymous said...

Mike, I was facinated by the discussion over at Oklahomahomeschool Yahoo Group. It's crazy how "troll" comes up when people don't want to hear what you have to say. I think you were perfectly within the bountries of the description of the group.

I agree with you on the Family Integrated Church. I am probably not as dogmatic about Halloween. I do not celebrate it or decorate around it, but I do take my grandson to the Fall Festival at the church whose purpose is to reach out to children that would otherwise be out there with no protection on that night. Everyone does not understand. I think graciously, lovingly educating the weaker, rather than accusing is the best way to go.

Mike Southerland said...

Thanks Liz,

One purpose of this blog is to "lovingly educate the weak" so I would agree with your assessment. I also believe that Christian instruction should be directed at Christians. It was news to me that that particular group welcomed those of false religions as participants, since they clearly state that topics of God, church, and scripture are appropriate.

You and I disagree on the Fall Festival issue. In fact, I will most likely blog about that in the near future (maybe an idea for today?). I believe that "fall festivals" play right in line with the reasoning behind age segregated church. As a church we are attempting to use pragmatic means to reach people when it was never commanded to do it this way in scripture. A "festival" intended as an outreach to the community, while good intentioned, appeals to the flesh by offering a time of entertainment. Such methods are never exampled or advocated in scripture. And scripture alone should be the standard by which we determine how we are to worship Him.

Thank you for your comments. I hope you will continue to follow my blog, and I will definitely check yours out.