God has always had intentions in regards to the family unit:
Gen. 45:10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have.
Ex. 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.
Deut. 12:25 You shall not eat it, that it may go well with you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.
Deut. 12:28 Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.
Deut. 30:2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
Num. 33:54 And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers.
Psa. 115:14 May the LORD give you increase more and more, You and your children.
Why your church should have a Children’s Church If you are a pastor of a church that doesn’t have a children’s program please read this paragraph. I hope to convince you to start a program. Don’t misunderstand, God’s word will not be wasted (Isaiah 55:11) on little ears, but have you had kids fall asleep in your services? In 6 years of Children’s ministry I have had 1 kid fall asleep. Am I a better preacher? No. My preaching is designed to teach and interest children. Some might not like the methods, some might not think they are appropriate in church, but they work! Those methods have increased the kingdom of God. I bet there were a few preachers that said Peter, Stephen, and Paul were out of line, too. So here is my suggestion. Investigate it. If you don’t have the physical room or volunteers to start a program, do it yourself. One Sunday morning or night a month have a children’s program. It might help you keep young couples with children in your church (you know you are losing them) and evangelize to kids in your neighborhood that might have no other way of hearing the Word of God. And we need to reach them while they are kids, before their hearts and minds are hardened.According to the Barna Research group, 32% of American kids between the ages of 5 and 13 will accept Jesus as their Lord. 4% of teens between the ages of 14 and 18 will, and 6% of adults from 19 to death (http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=37). So we need to reach out to the kids, they are the church of the future. Their parents aren’t teaching them. The government isn’t teaching them. We have to reach out and evangelize to the children in a way that will interest them enough to learn, at their level. We might have to spend a few more resources to do it, but we have to do it. We want to help in any way we can. We can consult with you, or visit your church and help develop volunteers.
~The above taken from Kid’s 4 GodChildren’s Ministry could be the first place a child has an encounter with Jesus Christ. While research shows us that parents remain the most important faith influencers in their children’s life, our ministries play an important part in coming alongside of families to reach their children for Jesus.As a Family Ministries Pastor, one of the findings in the Sticky Faith research that really stuck out to me was the fact that the trajectories of where our teens will end up in their faith are set during the childhood years. In other words, if we have an idea of what we want our teens to know or at least be exposed to when they graduate high school, we need to start thinking about that when they enter the nursery, not when they enter their senior year. Children’s ministries are helping set the foundations of faith that should be built on the gospel. We, as those who love Jesus and love our children, need to take this fact very seriously.
~The above taken from: Children’s Ministry
“In our children’s church we teach the same Jesus, the same death on the cross, and the same resurrection.”
“Just because children have been placed in the adult service in the past doesn’t mean that it was the best way; it was just the only way.”
“Children also need a place where they can learn to worship God freely and not be intimidated by the grown-ups.”
“An adult worship service is for adults. Vocabulary is not on a child’s level; concepts can be abstract rather than concrete, which is difficult for children to understand; and the method of delivery doesn’t sufficiently reach the generation we’re teaching today.”
“It’s great if children can worship in church with adults, but too many times I have seen children messing around and parents not doing anything to teach their children to worship God.”
“After 20 years of children’s ministry and having had it both ways, I’ve seen a greater freedom in children when they worship alongside other children.”
~The above taken from ChildrensMinistry.com
- The Family unit; Fracturing begins in the home; Federal Headship is everything!
- Corporate Worship vs Sunday School vs Youth Groups vs Camp-is there ever a reason to segregate?
- In segregating our children during Corporate Worship, your children are being denied the Means of Grace.
- Can it ever really be called ‘Children’s Church’? Where is the Pastor?
- Segregation is Arminianism.
- Segregation denigrates the power of God.
- Segregation denigrates the Family unit.
- Segregation denigrates the covenant.
- The historic church never segregated children from their parents.
- You believe that having a Children’s Church will help grow your church.
- The fractured leadership
The above video is taken from Glen Ellyn Bible Church. This is not an attack on Glen Ellyn Bible Church, but the methodology in general. The website goes on to say:
Preschool & Kindergarten
9:00/10:30 a.m. Service Hours
(3-year-olds – Kindergarten by September 1)
We invite your child to join us and begin their journey of knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him. Our preschool area is filled with excitement and wonder for the children. Dedicated storytellers and small group leaders strive to make the people, stories and principles of the Bible captivate the attention of children. This is done through the use of music, drama and storytelling. Instruction is given in a combination of large and small group settings. Our children also spend time connecting with others during playing in activity stations, making crafts, small group discussion and prayer.Elementary
9:00/10:30 a.m. Service HoursJune 15-August 31 kids start in worship service with parents and are dismissed to class before the sermon
(1st-5th Grade)We know these years provide an opportunity to help children gain a solid foundation for their direction in life. We believe that God has created each of them uniquely with specific abilities and personalities. We also believe our elementary students can have an active and living faith. Our focus is on helping them commit all of their lives (spirit, soul and body) to the Lord. An emphasis is placed on children building relationships with teenagers and adults that will facilitate spiritual growth. Worship, group games, storytelling videos, small group discussion and dynamic Bible storytelling are some of the elements included.
1. The Family unit; Fracturing begins in the home; Federal Headship is everything!
God created the family. In Genesis we read:
Gen. 2:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Gen 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God, in His wisdom, see the need for the family. He brings the woman to the man and are directed to procreate. He gives the creature dominion over all of the other created things. It is quite the responsibility and in many ways, more than we can handle. The dominion mandate should be understood in light of stewardship. Fathers are federal heads of their families. A family without a federal heads is akin to a boat without a rudder. Many single families are now run by the woman because of the failing of federal headship. You see this often in our age. These woman are generally bruised by weak men and in their weakness adopt a worldview. You hear it said often, ‘I don’t need a man. I am doing just fine without them’. If these families had men that were faithful to God and His commands, things like this would not occur. Possibly the evident rise in divorce, aberrant lifestyles and singleness is secondary to a curse God has laid on creation. Mind you, some societies are worse than others.
You might think that divorce is more prevalent in the United States than anywhere else, but it is not the highest. In fact Europe suffers more. Belgium being the worst offender. Business Insider reports:
The divorce rate is still high in the U.S. at 53%. But Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are worse off with divorce rates higher than 60%. Belgium has the highest rate of divorce in this data set at a staggering 70%. The lowest official rate is in Chile with 3%.
Compare this with the divorce rate in previous years:
One can easily see from the graphics that the fractures of the family unit are astronomical when compared to the early 1960’s. Divorce dates back to the days of Christ; however, as Jesus sates, that was not the plan:
Matt. 19:8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Mankind has become hardened. Much like Pharaoh, in one way, it was Pharaoh hardening his own heart and on the other it was decreed by God. So, is this a curse of God? Possibly. Could it be that men hate God and in reflection of that hate, they sin against His commands. it all starts with a hatred towards God and what He commands of the creature; For instance, look at Adam’s sin in how he did not take the lead:
God makes Eve from the flesh of Adam. Her name literally means out of man. The woman comes from man, her leader.
Gen. 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Gen. 2:23 And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Adams job was to tend to the garden and tend to his wife in the same way he was to tend to himself. He neglected this command and look what happened:
Gen. 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Gen. 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ Gen. 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen. 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Gen. 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Gen. 3:9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” Gen. 3:10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Gen. 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Gen. 3:12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
Eve was on her own. Her decision making was independent of her federal head, Adam, and to his shame! Independency is ill. It is schismatic. It never turns out well when believers act independently of the whole. All of us have to answer to someone. Both the husband and wife were responsible to this sin, but mainly it was the fault of the husband. Notice how Adam hides himself as well. Giving up headship resulted in sin. The sin was not so much the eating as the consideration to eat. The sin was even before the actual eating. The sin was Adam’s irresponsibility in overseeing his wife. Thats where it actually occurred. The hierarchical mandate, given to Adam by God was neglected and the end result was par for the course.
Albert Mohler writes:
….gender is part of the goodness of God’s creation. Gender is not merely a sociological construct forced upon human beings who otherwise could negotiate any number of permutations. But Genesis teaches us that gender is created by God for our good and his glory. Gender is intended for human flourishing and is assigned by the Creator’s determination—just as he determined when, where, and that we should exist.
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
If the family is fractured, the church is fractured as a result. If many fractured families gather under one roof on the Sabbath, what you have is a fractured church. A fractured church cannot function properly. Most churches are like this. The woman continue to take the place that Eve took and the men allow for it. Women by nature need the leadership of the Godly men. They are the weaker vessel. The majority of women by nature reject that headship. God’s word tells us that the woman will have the desire to lead the man (Gen 3:16). It is the mans responsibility to redirect that desire. To educate the weaker vessel. This is only accomplished in Obeying God, loving your wife as Christ loves the church and being obedient to what God’s word teaches us. You will notice in all of this, that the church is akin to a bride. Christ is the groom. The groom always leads the bride. He cares for it. Nurtures it. The bride is never independent of the groom. The groom directs and the bride follows accordingly. In the same way, husbands are to oversee their brides and families. It is a great responsibility and a grave error to neglect this call. In this day of equality, it runs across the grain. Husbands that are obedient to this command are called tyrants. They are charged with ‘lording’ it over their wives. Strong Christian women understand submission. In fact, most feel the joy of the Lord as they rightfully submit to their heads. Notice how Sarah called Abraham, ‘Lord’:
1Pet. 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
This Greek word is translated as:
GK G3261 | S G2962 κύριος kyrios 717x
a lord, master, Mt. 12:8; an owner, possessor, Mt. 20:8; a potentate, sovereign, Acts 25:26; a power, deity, 1 Cor. 8:5; the Lord, Jehovah, Mt. 1:22; the Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 24:42; Mk. 16:19; Lk. 10:1; Jn. 4:1; 1 Cor. 4:5; freq.; κύριε, a term of respect of various force, Sir, Lord, Mt. 13:27; Acts 9:6, et al. freq. → lord; master; sir.
6. And are not afraid. The weakness of the sex causes women to be suspicious and timid, and therefore morose; for they fear lest by their subjection, they should be more reproachfully treated. It was this that Peter seems to have had in view in forbidding them to be disturbed by any fear, as though he had said, “Willingly submit to the authority of your husbands, nor let fear prevent your obedience, as though your condition would be worse, were you to obey.”
In this age, men are brainwashed into a worldview of equality. They are taught that submission is wrong and that to see their wives as ‘weak’ is blasphemous and tyrannical. Godly men understand this mandate with the utmost love and caring hearts. It is their desire to honor God and their wives by protecting them and loving them as Christ loves the church. I mentioned in another paper I wrote that if you truly think about the statement, ‘love your wives as Christ loves the church’, the level of love these men show their wives is mind boggling. It surely cannot be done in the flesh. It must be God given and solely produced by the Spirit of God. Understanding that loving one’s wife like this is reflected in the idea that the wife is actually their own flesh they are caring for and loving. No woman would ever have an issue with biblical submission and as mentioned, would do it with joy. However, most men do not understand this biblical doctrine; hence, we have a fracture.
I believe it to per prudent to mention that the biblical understanding of equality and that which the world holds is entirely different. Biblical equality does not pursue denigrating of genders. The worldview seeks to make no distinction between the two. The worldview seeks to destroy characteristics as they believe them to be presuppositional only and limiting. I recall reading an article recently where a college was awarding extra credit to students who participated in a experiment. In this sociology experiment, female students who didn’t shave their underarms and male student who shaved from the neck down were awarded extra credit. The study was conducted by Professor Beanne Fahs at Arizona State University. She says of the study:
She said the social experiment helps students analyze society’s attitude to genders, with female students facing ridicule for having hairy armpits, and the men gaining insight into how much pressure is put on women to stay hair free.
Read more: Shaving study
Dr. Fahs goes on to say:
‘There’s really no reason why the choice to shave, or not, should be a big deal. But it is, as the students tend to find out quickly.’
The Professor seeks to destroy an important social characteristic; granted, most likely, woman of scripture probably did not shave; however, men, surely did not shave from the neck down. Interestingly, when we read and excerpt from Esther, chapter two we see that the preparation for the kings wives were elaborate:
Esth. 2:12 Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.
We see in 2 Samuel that it was considered a reproach for men to shave:
2Sam. 10:4 Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away. 5 When they told David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Wait at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”
While the scriptures do not expound on the details of shaving specifically, the doctrine that must be considered in light of all of this is vanity, pride and sexual gender. If our society deems that woman shave their underarms because it is a sign of their femininity, for a man to do it is to adopt femininity to himself. Can it be said that this is biblically wrong for a man to follow a trend of such? I would have to say, yes. For example, for a man in the Old Testament days to shave his head and beard, he would be cast out as a perversion. In the early 1970’s, the only men who were doing this kind of thing were those from aberrant lifestyles, i.e. homosexuals and the transgendered. One cannot mss the trees for the forest in that as time passes and we continue to spiral downward, these trends are now the norm for many. Homosexuality is on the rise with a vengeance. Same sex marriage is becoming law; the next thing, in a generation will be giving dues to the paedophiles.
What Dr. Fah’s has attempted to destroy is gender. If a woman dresses like a man, looks like a man, smells like a man, that is the only thing that should be important. What she has between her legs should not matter in a social standing. From a worldview perspective, I can understand this type of thinking. Biblically speaking, it runs against the grain; since all men are created in the image of God, it will never work. It will be the undermining of life as we know it. When you busk the system, the system bites back. I understand that God’s word endorses equality; we are all one in Christ. However, do not misconstrue the intent:
Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This ‘oneness’ however is not meant to destroy gender nor the hierarchical mandate. Men, woman and children all have positions in the body of Christ; all are important participants in the gospel of grace. To remove this mentality would result in anarchy. The enemy is the mastermind behind this movement. Destroy the gender issue and you destroy the root.
Look what Sir Thomas Manton writes in regard to the issue:
The devil hath a great spite at the kingdom of Christ, and he knoweth no such compendious way to crush it in the egg, as by the perversion of youth, and supplanting family-duties. He striketh at all those duties which are publick in the assemblies of the saints; but these are too well guarded by the solemn injunctions and dying charge of Jesus Christ, as that he should ever hope totally to subvert and undermine them; but at family duties he striketh with the more success, because the institution is not so solemn, and the practice not so seriously and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the omission is not so liable to notice and public censure. Religion was first hatched in families, and there the devil seeketh to crush it; the families of the Patriarchs were all the Churches God had in the world for the time; and therefore, (I suppose,) when Cain went out from Adam’s family, he is said to go out from the face of the Lord, Gen. 4:16. Now, the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to prevent the succession of Churches: if he can subvert families, other societies and communities will not long flourish and subsist with any power and vigor; for there is the stock from whence they are supplied both for the present and future.
Having said all of this, if the hierarchical mandate is not understood in the family unit, prior to going into corporate worship, corporate worship is by default affected. God is a God of families and if those families, by and large are dysfunctional in this regard, you have what we have. Look over the realm of Christendom in our age and you see masses of people missing the mark. Even in the Presbyterian Church in America considerations are being made for equality. Woman are given offices where no office for women exist. Women are lifted up in the congregation as their husbands sit at their feet. Men care for the children while the women serve. We erroneously give women little clubs in church so they feel needed and we call the leaders of those clubs, officers. No one would deny the importance of the women in the church. They are integral to the well being and a healthy church has women serving. However, that service has been redefined for the age. God’s plan is perfect and needs no correction. Everyone has a place and all those places important to a healthy family. Oh, would it be that all persons in the body of Christ would understand these simple, needful, doctrines; God is glorified only in the way he has commanded. We wonder why the church is in the state it is in? Solomon said it best, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’, and to pursue novel ideas, ideas that are forced on the leadership to submit or else is grave and the Lord will deal with it accordingly. Is it possible that these are related to the blessings and curses spoken of in Deuteronomy, chapter 28? It would do well for all of us to read that chapter.
For more on this topic read these important preface documents to the Westminster Confession:
2. Corporate Worship vs Sunday School vs Youth Groups vs Camp-is there ever a reason to segregate?
Deut. 6:6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
I will begin this portion to define when it is appropriate to segregate the family unit. Surely no one would disagree that children thrive when they are amongst children of their age groups; it is an important factor in their growth. When we talk about segregation, we must delineate between corporate worship and things outside of corporate worship. In corporate worship, there are no biblical commands to separate the family. Nowhere in God’s word do we see such an act done. God is a God of families and since the Lord has commanded the parents to raise their children in the way they should go, it is in the best interest of the family to remain together. For example, we have teachers, i.e. the Elder; these teachers are to preach and oversee that the church functions along a biblical standard. You will notice that if the wife has question in the sermon, she is to remain silent and wait until she is outside of the call to worship to ask her husband questions pertaining to the teaching.
1 Cor 14:33 As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
This is not to say that if the question cannot be answered by the husband that the Elder cannot be consulted. It is the primary responsibility of the husband to educate his family. In fact, if the question need to be transitioned to the elder, the husband should be the one carrying it there and then taking the teaching back home to his family for further consideration and prayer. When we think of the children and their learning capability, we must consider the idea that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are not limited nor shackled by age and intellect. To consider so would be synergistic and Arminianism. God’s word and Spirit does what it wills and always accomplishes that which it is set out to do, never returning void.
Think about this for a minute; during the call to worship, the Word of God is proclaimed. The people of God sit under the means of grace. We sing and we pray. We receive the sacraments. The means of grace can only be administered by an ordained man of God:
Chapter 27 of the Westminster Confession reads:
IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
and the directory for Public Worship reads:
Of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures.
READING of the word in the congregation, being part of the publick worship of God, (wherein .i.we; acknowledge our dependence upon him, and subjection to him,) and one mean sanctified by him for the edifying of his people, is to be performed by the pastors and teachers.
When the children are dispatched to ‘Children’s Church’, is there a pastor present preaching to them? There is not. Most of the time, this farming out of the covenant kids is to a baby sitting service. Most of the time it is lead by an Adult with assistance from one of the older children. Ponder the thought, we send our children away from the means of grace. When we place the sacrament of baptism on a child, the parents, as well as the congregation are agreeing to raise the child in the admonition of the Lord. All of us have a responsibility in this; yes it is the parents responsibility primarily, but the covenant community has a part. It cannot be said on one hand that when we send the child to a gathering of children and away from the means of grace we are fulfilling that oath and on the other hand deny them sitting under the means of grace. When we segregate them and farm them out to pasture, it is akin to letting the sheep run amuck. The Shepherd remains in the pulpit and the children are sent away to fen for themselves. There is no way to justify this. Well, you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Scott, children learn better in an environment that is more appropriate for their age. It is beneficial they are around kids of their own age where the word is brought to them at a level they can understand’. Two things: As mentioned earlier, the Word of God is not shackled by age, culture or capacity. An infant in a basinet, in the congregation during the preaching of the Word has as much chance of being regenerated by the Holy Spirit as any cognizant adult. If God wills a thing, it is accomplished.
The next objection may go something like this: “Scott, I cannot concentrate when my infant and children are being disruptive; the infant is crying and the toddlers are fidgeting in their seats’. One of the reasons that we yield to this mentality is based on a misunderstanding of how salvation comes to mankind. It is as important for your infant to be present under the preached word as it is for yourself. I have been in congregations where the children were raised in the pews; the children grow to understand the proper respect and adoration to worship. This is due to the fact that the father’s are doing their jobs in the home setting. Kids watching other kids in worship is educational. The desire to dispatch our kids is neglectful and as well selfish on the parents part as they feel as if they will not get their money’s worth if the kids are rambunctious. I am not against taking an unruly child or crying infant out of the sanctuary to distract them or discipline them if need be. However, they should be adjusted and then returned to the covenant congregation where they belong. Parents need to express to their kids that they are part and parcel of God’s community. In the same way parents worship together with their families in their own homes, they should worship together in God’s house. In my home, everyone has responsibility in our worship time. I open in prayer. I read from the scriptures and let my daughter finish a portion; I then expound on what we just read and apply it practically to our daily lives. We sing a Psalm. My wife and daughter close the prayer out. Being in the congregational setting, my daughter has a different responsibility. She is to pray, recite the confession with the body of Christ, sing the Psalms, listen to the preached word knowing that it is God speaking, ponder these things; we always tell her, “Zoe, make sure to make your calling an and election sure. Perfect your baptism!”
2Pet. 1:10 Therefore, brothers,* be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
If you have been sending your children to these settings for a good season of time, it is quite possible that you are in sin. Are believers held responsible for sins they are not aware of? Of course we are:
Lev. 4:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally* in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, 3 if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.
Lev. 4:13 “If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally* and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and they realize their guilt,* 14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting. 15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be killed before the LORD.
Sunday School, Youth Groups and Camp:
Much can be said of these types of settings. Can we find any examples in scripture that show where children attended such things? How about history? Think back about a few hundred years. I have on my website a few important exhortations that were prefaces to the Westminster documents on the subject of neglect. One is by Thomas Manton and the other by The Westminster Assembly. Can we consider these church functions cultural? Does culture ever dictate that which God commands? These are questions that must be considered in light of this discussion. I have no real issue with the above settings per se as long as they are not being used based on a neglect that the family head is passing off on others. For instance, if you are not teaching your family, you should not be sending your kids to someone else to do it. All of these venues can be profitable if used correctly. When they are abused, there is sin involved. The distinction between corporate worship and these settings must be considered. They should never be used to replace corporate worship, they are additions only. I teach a Sunday School class at my church. My family attends. My daughter asks to go to a younger class often; the reason she wants to be there is because ‘it is more fun’ for her. I explain to her that we are there to worship God and to learn what God would have of Him, not to be entertained. Yes, Sunday School is not considered worship per se, but it is a form of personal worship and in that, there should always be a reverence. Having fun is important to the lives of believers; it is part and parcel with gifts the Lord blesses His people with. Should worship be ‘fun’? I would have to argue, no. It is not meant to be fun. We cannot find any instance in scripture where we are told this. There is a big difference with ‘fun’ and being filled to overflowing with joy. They are not the same things. Fun is more practical and fleshly and joy is that which the Lord gives His people. It is spiritual! From time to time I will let her goto the younger classes, however, again, it is my responsibility as her father to make sure she is benefiting from these settings; as well, If she attends my class, I can monitor exactly what type of information she is receiving. In regard to Youth Groups and summer camps: They have their place. In my opinion, Youth Groups should not be meeting on the Lord’s Day. Camp functions should not interrupt corporate worship. If the group goes to a camp out, proper arrangements should be met by the leadership if it runs into the Lord’s Day so as the children do not miss church on that day. There must be a ordained man there for that day so as the preached word can be given. The criteria for the Sabbath should not be ignored even though they are away from home and their church.
I fully understand the stigma attached to the Steelites and David Steele; I would not advocate for all of their doctrine, mind you. However, I can appreciate this statement by Steele in regard to ‘Sunday School’:
“But God gives Sabbath-schools no work to do, nor any qualifications, call, or ordination: he assigns them no duties, nor gives them any promises—does not know them at all, any more than he does the foolish virgins. They have nothing but a human origin, appointment, and authority. They are only spoiling God’s heritage—”through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ,” Col, 2: 8, Then it is manifest that the Sabbath-school is not a Christian institution: i f it were, Christ would have, 1, named it in his word, 2, He would have named and appointed its officers, 3. He would have described their qualifications as a separate and distinct class of church officers. 4. He would have shown what relation this society and its teachers bear to the church. 5. He would have laid down rules for their orderly election, ordination, and installation; that they might be solemnly bound by oath or covenant to the performance of their own peculiar duties; and that the Sabbath-school and its officers be responsible to God and the church. “It is certain that God has never named either the Sabbath-school or its teachers; and it is equally certain that he has never described the qualifications of its teachers, nor shown how they are to be chosen, ordained, or installed; neither has he given them any promises or assigned them any duties. Then it is manifest that the Sabbath-school is no part of God’s covenant society. Then we are sure that its teachers are running without being sent, and answering without being called; and if so, God will never own such labourers, nor bless or reward their labours. The Sabbath-school teachers bear about the same relation to the church in our days, that the false prophets did to the church in the days of Jeremiah, 23: 21 ” I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” Verse 32, “yet I sent them not, nor commanded them ; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” Jer. 27: 15, ” I have not sent them, saith the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye and the prophets that prophesy unto you.” Then the Almighty complains “that the false prophets ran, not being sent—that they prophesied, not being spoken to—that they prophesy false dreams and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies and by their lightness, yet I sent them not.”. Now, it is just as true that the Sabbath-school teachers run, not being sent—that they prophesy, not being spoken to that they cause the Lord’s people to err by their lies and by their lightness, not being sent nor commanded.. The false prophet and the Sunday-school teacher are both alike chargeable with two capital crimes. 1. They both pretend to speak for the Lord and in his name, not being sent or commanded. 2. They both speak lies in the name of the Lord. Those who speak in the name of the Lord, not being.sent or commanded, necessarily speak lies in the name of the Lord; because they are pretending to speak in his name, when they are not: and those who can presumptuously speak lies in this matter, can in any other. And the Almighty never sends or commands a liar to speak in his name: and the false prophet and Sunday-school teacher being both only pretended teachers, sent from God, are also both liars”
I am in no way attempting to convey that all teaching outside of that which occurs on the Lord’s Day to be aberrant. I am however attempting to convey that when we speak of that which does occur on the Lord’s day, should be with the whole of the congregation present and should be taught by the elders of the church. It is the elders calling and responsibility to teach the sheep, not a layperson. There is no such thing known as lay teachers. When I hold a personal devotion in my home and am teaching, it does not fall under the same constraints as the Lord’s Day limitations. If my friends from work and I decide to gather on a Thursday evening to study the scriptures, it is not one and the same thing as teaching members of the congregation on the Lord’s day. We need to make the needed distinction. Yes, all worship falls under the Regulative Principle and in that we do follow suit. However, when we speak of the Lord’s Day, we acknowledge that there are men called specifically for this task and they should assume that responsibility, understanding that they will be held to a higher degree based on that office which they hold. To exercise teaching without an office, on the Lord’s Day is to allow those called to neglect that calling. It essentially endorses and advocates for those called to this task to neglect the idea.
Brian Schwertley states in his paper, ‘Christ’s Warning Concerning False Teachers’ :
…heads of households must train and catechize their children so that they will able to discern between good and evil; good doctrine and bad. When prelatical apologists were sent by the Church of England throughout the countryside of Scotland in the seventeenth century to turn the Presbyterians into good Episcopalians, the prelates were amazed at the biblical and theological knowledge of these rather poor Scottish peasants. In town after town, the prelates were soundly refuted and turned away by simple folk who had a solid grasp of Reformed theology. Sadly, today we have a different situation—popular “Reformed” speakers advocate doctrines that are blatantly unscriptural and irrational and unlearned church goers accept them willingly. If heads of households build up a good Reformed library; study; learn as they ought and then teach their children the truth, the false prophets among us would not even receive a hearing. They would be fired and sent packing to Rome or Constantinople where they belong.
Since the nineteenth century the responsibility of fathers or covenant heads to lead the family theologically has increasingly been replaced by church programs (Sunday school, youth groups, vacation Bible schools, etc). Fathers have a responsibility to know and understand Reformed theology in order to lead, teach, nurture and protect their families from theological perverts and heretics. Today, however, many men have only a little theological knowledge; many men do not have the needed theological sophistication to protect their families from subtle and dangerous heresies. (For example, the Auburn Ave. theological perversions have spread rapidly in some Reformed circles even though this system is a radical departure from Reformed orthodoxy). Reformed denominations must train fathers to be the spiritual leaders they ought to be so that doctrinal deviants will immediately face an army of opposition and be forced from their pulpits. (When the P.C.U.S.A. became apostate in the 1920’s and abused the great reformer, J. Gresham Machen, only a tiny handful of people obeyed Scripture and separated themselves from apostasy.) Heads of households must be expected to sturdy their Bibles and theological materials in order to protect the future. One cannot except to adequately learn theology simply by attending church. One must study to show thyself approved (2 Tim. 2:15).
3. In segregating our children during Corporate Worship, your children are being denied the Means of Grace.
Think about the idea. We send our children routinely away from the congregation, the pastor and the means of grace. They start out in the service and leave before the message is even preached. Ultimately, this is a baptistic approach to nurturing the child. remember, our children are part of the covenant community. As it states in 1 Cor 7;14, they are considered holy. 1Cor. 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. This holiness is akin to the vessels used for sacred practice in the original temple that Solomon built. They are set apart for the works of God. They have had the sign of the covenant placed on them at birth. God’s word tells us that they are in covenant with God. yes, it is external at this point, but they are taught to ‘perfect their baptisms’. This perfection is taught to them immediately. In the local church, they are considered non communicant members, but they are still members. yet when it comes to worship, we treat them as the heathen and send them off to an area away from God’s graces and Word. How can a man be saved outside of the preached message? It is quite possible that your child is already regenerated. The only way that child could be converted is under the preached message. In sending them off, you assault God’s command of covenant and fail greatly at the nurture needed for your child’s soul. As well, as earlier mentioned, most all of these avenues that we dispatch our children to have no ordained man there preaching. It is usually a baby sitter of sorts. Sometimes it is an intern. Whatever the case, whomever is overseeing our children are keeping them from the means by which Christ saves. Bringing this portion back to the intent of the original point of this paper, you can see the fractures growing larger as we continue. The federal head is fractured and it is trickling down to the child now. The family unit is corrupted and it is reflected even in the church as the church compounds the issue by endorsing the neglect the parent has by providing another fashion to segregate the family from the parent and covenant. It is covenant unfaithfulness and God is not pleased. In fact, one sin begets another. It is quite possible that this sin is bringing a curse upon the family and local church.
4) Can it ever really be called ‘Children’s Church’? Where is the Pastor? Where are the means of Grace?
We have discussed elsewhere what the marks are of an actual church are.Lets go over them again here briefly: A biblical church of Christ is a church that preaches the true gospel, distributes the sacraments rightly and implements biblical discipline. As mentioned, when we move our children away from the means of grace by segregation, we are denying them the rights as covenant members to participate in these means. In essence, we are failing on a few points; 1) This thinking is Arminian. 2) it is not Presbyterian, 3) it is denying the covenant. You may be thinking at this point, “Scott, they go to their own areas-it is Children’s Church!” My response to this claim is, where is the Pastor? You will notice that in most of these venues, there is no pastor present. There are no marks present. How is it we call it ‘church’? It is not a church and it is an assault to everything, we Presbyterians hold dear. I understand how we have gotten to this place. The prevalent theology in America is evangelical. Evangelicalism is by and large Arminian and Baptistic. I refer you back to the videos at the beginning of this paper. In these settings you will generally find woman leading these covenant children. Yes the scriptures call women to ‘(t)each’ the younger women and children:
Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
This teaching is a nurturing; it is not the same (T)eaching that the officers are called to do. In that, we cannot neglect the responsibility that the elders have and pass it along to the women of the church, nor can we call it a church setting, because obviously, as shown, it is not. We need to rethink this. Can you say egalitarianism? In our age, we have an unbiblical concern for harming anyones feelings. Loom at what that has gotten us? Go back 40 years and you have none of this. Equality is the flavor of the month; The homosexuals have cried loudly and society has responded. Same sex marriage is rampant. Big corporations now insure the aberrant lifestyles by even giving insurance benefits to same sex couples. Paedophilia is on the rise and eventually they will as well get rights under this despicable world view. This thinking has sadly invaded even the church of Christ. We crumble under the pressure of egalitarianism. The women of the church, much like Eve, elbow their way into positions they should rightly reject. To compound the issue, the husbands of these women take a back seat to their wives, many times allowing them to lead and to their shame. This all boils down to leadership and a lack of education. This is not to say that the women are not invaluable to the function of the body of Christ. They have integral jobs; but not in leadership. Example: The PCA has a women’s group called, ‘Women in the Church’. This group has leadership so that the group functions properly. These women are often times, officially installed to the leadership positions of the ‘Women in the Church’ ministry. Many times the church will even go to the extent of ‘installing’ these women during the call to worship. This is flawed. The individuals who are ordained to lead this ministry are ‘ministers’. The elder, i.e. the session leads. It is not the pastor, it is the session. Do we see any biblical account of segregating of children? There are no biblical examples. Corporate worship is unified. Again, think covenantally. Yes, women are to teach each other, but it is the responsibility of each family’s federal head to be the primary means of educating their wives and children. When Titus mentions ‘teaching’, it is not meant to dismantle or contradict the hierarchical mandate. if all the federal heads were obedient to this charge, we would have no fractures. Notice this passage and how it tells the federal heads that if the wife has a question in regard to the sermon that they are to remain silent in the church and ask their federal heads when they get home:
1Cor. 14:34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
Giving that the pastor only teaches one hour per week, it would seem obvious that the primary teachers of wives and children are the federal heads of each family. Family heads should be leading personal worship daily. Lets look at a few scriptures and what the Westminster Directory for Family Worship says:
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
Genesis 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
The Directory for Family Worship of God:
2. The ordinary duties which should be part of a godly family met for family worship are these: Firstly, prayer and praise touching the life and present needs of the church at large, the nation, and of every member of the family. Secondly the reading of the Scriptures, with a plain explanation of the text so that all [children especially] may be better able to benefit from attendance at public worship, and profit from their own private reading. As well, there should be some discussion with application to all members of the family, with appropriate rebukes and corrections explained by those in authority in the home.
4. The head of the family is to take care that no-one in the family withdraws from family worship. Further, since the responsibility for family worship belongs to the head of the home, the minister is to stir up those who are lazy, and train those who are weak, so that all will be equipped properly. It is also quite proper for a man to engage anyone else approved by the Presbytery to train him and his family. Then too if the head of the family is unfit to lead family worship, another member of the family approved by the minister and session may be given that task. The minister and session are accountable to the presbytery for those whom they recommend in this way. If through the providence of God the minister should be present and convene family worship, he should do so with the whole family present, unless there are special reasons [eg something that should be discussed privately] for meeting only with some.
5) Segregation is Arminianism at it’s core.
At the root of segregating our children is the theological error of Arminianism. It is the false assumption that God cannot use the preached word delivered under faithful preaching to save our children due to the understanding that the child does not yet have the capacity to cognitively ascend to biblical facts; they are above his level of understanding. Arminianism teaches that the salvation is synergistic. This means that men do something in order to be saved. The thinking goes something like this: “Since a child is unable to cognitively ascend to spiritual facts presented from the pulpit on any given Sunday, how would he be able to respond to things he does not understand? Send him to the children’s church as they are speaking down to his level there!” This is shortsighted at best as the gospel can reach the imbecile and unborn if God so wills. We all need to wrap our brain around this fact. Regeneration is miraculous from start to finish. It is not synergistic, but monergistic. God, the Holy Spirit, descending upon elect individuals as per God’s decree outside of time. There is no other way to appreciate soteriology. Arminianism is heresy. A few things to consider: Men cannot be converted outside of the preached word of God. Look what Romans chapter 10 says:
Rom. 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
1Cor. 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
If we segregate our children away from the means of grace on the sabbath, how can they be saved? Well, you might say, ‘Scott, the teachers that are overseeing the children on the Lord’s day are supposed to be following a curriculum which encompasses the gospel message’. If you will notice the follow up scripture to the Romans passage i quoted:
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
‘Except they be sent’. This is an example of a biblical ordination for ministry. Those spoken of here in Romans are the ordained Elders. This is not to say God could not use a donkey if He wanted; He has in days passed. However, we are under the idea that a sound biblical interpretation renders that Ordained men are to preach only. I refer you to the Westminster confession and the PCA Book of Church Order. Having said this, to segregate is anti-biblical.
6) Segregation denigrates the power of God.
When I say that segregation ‘denigrates’ the power of God, it is an unavoidable fact. It says that men are in control and God is not. It says that God cannot regenerate our infants and toddlers because they cannot respond. Waves and seas respond rightfully. It is not a large task for the creator of all things. It takes sovereignty and the elective decree and reduces it to the limitation of mere men’s minds. This is synergistic. It says that men cannot be saved because unless they are able to understand and ascend to facts first, God’s decrees are frustrated and confounded. Again, as previously mentioned, it is Arminianism. God is never restricted by the limits of the creature.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is compared to a wind blowing about. God’s spirit will find it’s target. Men cannot confound the decree of God.
Think John the Baptist:
Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
Is. 49:1 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
Is. 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
Psa. 71:6 By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
Psa. 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
Psa. 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
Judg. 13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Judg. 13:7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
7) Segregation denigrates the biblical family unit
Biblical families always function as a unit. God is a God of families. Adam, upon receiving his wife was told to ‘be fruitful and multiply’. Think about that. Multiplication was central to the family unit. Reflect on how the covenant and sign work. Abraham was ordered to place the sign upon all the male children. The female children were included in the covenant in a proxy sort of fashion, i.e. the male seed passing through the cut on the father into the female, fertilizing the egg. You will notice that whenever a family did something, they did it as a family unit. For example, in early biblical days, to have a quiver full of children meant profit; the larger the family, the larger the financial gain; more children, more people available to farm, shepherd, etc. As well, with a large family, there were dowry’s on the daughters part given to the family of the daughter upon betrothal. Since Israel was by and large a spiritual peoples, whenever they did anything spiritual, the father, being the federal head, knew what his responsibility was in reference to rearing his family and never excluded them; that would have been against the direct command of God to ‘rear your children in the way they should go’. No one turned their children over to any outside resource. Even in the case of handmaids, they lived with the family and were in fact considered part of these families, i.e. Hagar.
11) The Fractured Leadership
One of the major problems in the Presbyterian church setting is the fact that many Presbyterian churches function as Baptist churches in their actions. It is difficult here in America to appreciate historic Presbyterianism when the prevalent polity is independancy For instance, the church will only be Presbyterian in polity if the elders understand biblical polity rightly and are convinced of the biblical doctrine and value. The church will always function independently if the leadership does not have this important information onboard. Independency is a scourge and was frowned upon by Westminster, et. al. If the pastor is aware of this Presbyterian polity and disregards it in light of the sessions inability to maintain it, he as well is part of the problem. This attributes to the fractures that will eventually cause churches like this to eventually implode. The church is only as strong as it’s leadership. All church leaders should be continually in training in this regard. Elders are called to teach. To continue to faithfully teach, elders should be continually educating themselves. Elders are in the business of teaching the laypeople.