A Little Time With The 1689: Day 284

Day 284

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 6.

“…daily,…”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 6:11

Psalm 55:17

Reflection

The Confession states that family worship is to occur daily. Honestly, the first reaction to such a directive is to throw up my hands in frustration. There is so much going on each day, what with work, school, chores, extracurriculars – how can a time of family worship be managed every day? Such thinking may be common, but it fails to recognize the proper place God should have in our lives.

When Jesus instructed His disciples to pray in Matthew 6, He didn’t say, “Give me this day my daily bread.” Instead, the prayer is to be the prayer of a group of people. They are not praying for a irregular provision, but a daily one. Families are to ask together that God would provide for them, and they are to praise Him and ask for His blessing each day. When you stop and take the time to gather together to worship God, you are stating that He is a priority in your family’s life. You demonstrate your dependence upon Him to provide what is necessary for that day. No longer do the world’s priorities dictate how time is spent.

Christian wife and mother, you are called to worship God. Not only with your local church, but with your family. And your family is called to worship Him daily. Set aside time to worship Him together.

Questions to Consider

  • If family worship is not happening regularly, what may have to change to make it a priority?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 283

Day 283

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 6.

“…as in private families…”

Scripture Lookup

Acts 10:2

Reflection

Everyone everywhere is called to worship God. Each man, woman, and child is called to offer prayer and praise to the Creator of all things. As individuals we are to spend time worshiping Him, and also when we gather as the church to formally worship Him. There is another group that should gather together to worship God, and that is the family.

Family worship is not a term that is heard much in mainstream evangelical churches. Often the extent of worship done by the family is in the church setting on Sundays, and then through individual times of devotions. But parents are instructed to raise their children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Gathering together as a family to worship God is an opportunity to do just that. Children are shown that worship is not just a “me and God” thing during the week, but a time to learn who God is and what He requires of us.

When we worship as a family, we are also to worship in spirit and in truth. It does not need to be elaborate. A sincere, heartfelt simple song, chapter of Scripture, and brief prayer is enough. Don’t run through it to get it over with so you can move on to the next thing. Also, we must be careful not to add anything to that time that God has not permitted. For example, lighting candles and bowing before statues are not parts of acceptable worship. Why would they be part of your family devotion time, then? That is an extreme example, but it is important to keep in mind lest you be tempted to add “visuals” to keep your children’s interest.

God has established families so that they might worship Him together. As a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your child to worship God. Take the time to worship Him together in your home.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there any parts of your family worship that you may need to stop doing?

 

The New Birth in First Peter

With Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in San Angelo, TX., I have had the honor of preaching through the book of 1 Peter. This past week, we got as far as 2:17 in our study. Reflecting on the study thus far, and looking forward to where we are headed, I have come to the conclusion that everything in the first half of 1 Peter flows out of the reality of the new birth (1Pt. 1:3).

Outline:

As a result of the new birth:

1) …we have a new relationship with God (1:1-21).
2) …we have a new relationship with one another (1:22-2:3).
3) …we have a new relationship with unbelievers (2:4-3:17):

a) …unbelieving Jews (2:4-12).
b) …unbelieving civil authorities (2:13-17).
c) …unbelieving masters (2:18-20)

(In all this Christ is our example; 2:21-25)

d) …unbelieving husbands (3:1-6).
e) …unbelieving wives (3:7).

4) …we are to love as brothers (3:8-12).
5) …we will suffer (3:13-17).

Hopefully this serves as a helpful outline for those of you who would like to engage the book of 1 Peter a little deeper. I was almost done with the first chapter of the book before I realized this was what Peter was doing with his argumentation. Let me flesh it out a little further though for those of you who may be a bit skeptical of my approach here.

New Relationship with God

Peter starts by securing our new relationship with God in eternity past through the election of God’s people (1:1-2). Understanding how our new relationship with God is rooted in eternity past gives us great security. He will go one to explain how our relationship with God is also being kept secure in the here and now.

First, he points us to the new birth itself (1:3-9). We are born again to a living hope, an inheritance being kept in heaven for us who are being kept by God Himself. We rejoice in this new standing we have before God as heirs of the promise, even though now we are sojourners in a land where we are persecuted strangers. We have a home, a glorious family awaiting us in heaven. The hope and assurance of that great promise sustains us through our trials.

Second, we have this hope revealed to us this side of the incarnation. We are a privileged generation in that we have these great mysteries revealed to us. The prophets prophesied of the Messiah to come, the things He would suffer, and the glories that would follow, but they did not have as full a revelation as we now have.

Third, as a result of this new birth, this inheritance we have received as sons of God, we have a new relationship with Him. We are no longer children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) and sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2; 5:6; Col. 3:6). Rather, we are now called children of obedience. As such, our behavior is to reflect what we truly are as a result of having born again into the family of God (1Pt. 1:13-21).

New Relationship with One Another

IMG_8323Also, as a result of our new birth, we have new brothers and sisters. We have brothers and sisters in the flesh, but flesh is like grass. “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grassThe grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1:24-25a). By contrast, our inheritance and relationships with our new family are imperishable (1:22-25).

Our new relationships with one another yield new behaviors (2:1-3). As a result of our new birth, we now have familial obligations and familial motivations. We seek unity rather than division, and this new motivation effects how we live in fellowship with one another. We put aside devices of discord and cling to the One who builds up the body: Christ Jesus.

New Relationship with Unbelievers

As a result of our new birth, we have been grafted into true Israel (2:4-12). Paul taught that unbelieving Jews in the New Covenant have been broken off so that believing Gentiles might be grafted in (Rom. 11:17-24). This is part of a greater argument Paul made about his unbelieving brothers in the flesh starting in Romans 9. Peter refers to these unbelieving Jews as builders. We know he has unbelieving Jews in mind because he quotes the same verses Paul quotes in his argumentation in Romans 9-11.

We also know that he is referring to unbelieving Jews and Gentiles who are being grafted into true Israel because he applies uniquely Jewish titles to the New Covenant believing community. He describes the church as a temple being built and we are the stones and we are the priests, with Christ as the Capstone / Cornerstone. In fact, Peter calls us a royal priesthood and a holy nation. We ought not to take this to mean that we have replaced Israel, though. We have not. We have merely been grafted into true Israel. As such, true Israel has taken on a new shape.

As a result of the new birth, we also have a new relationship with civil government (2:13-17). Just as I would expect my kids to obey any adults with whom I would leave them, God expects us to honor the authorities He has placed in our lives. To disobey and dishonor the civil authorities God has established in our lives is to disobey and dishonor God.

We also have a new relationship to our masters as a result of the new birth (2:18-20). This has particular application in our day and age where people hold so loosely to their commitments to their employers. In Peter’s day, you entered into a contractual agreement with your master. It was much like joining the military. If a man were to come to a church and say, “I went AWOL from the military, because my sergeant was an unbeliever,” our proper response would be to tell him he needs to return and honor his enlistment. In the same way, Christian employees should not be flippant about jumping from job to job simply because their employers are unbelievers. We need to honor our commitments and show honor to our bosses.

Christ is our example in these things (2:21-25). When He was slandered and reviled, He did not revile in return. He willingly submitted to His persecutors and, as such, He was submitting to the will of God. We do not know the will of God for our lives or what He is orchestrating for our future, so we ought to humble ourselves and submit to the hardships we will receive as a result of our new relationship to the world.

Our new birth does not give us license to divorce or liberty to ill-treat our spouses (3:1-7). Rather, wives are to respect and submit to their unbelieving husbands. Husbands, are likewise to deal with their unbelieving wives in an understanding way and not to domineer them. When I was first introduced to the Doctrines of Grace, I tried to force-feed them to my wife. This is not how wives learn. We need to be patient with them and allow them to sit under the word and be convinced by God, not our forcefulness.

Love for the Brethren

Once again, Peter returns to our familial motivations / obligations (3:8-12). As a result of the new birth, we are to deal with one another with brotherly affections. This will result in certain heart motivations, which will then lead to changes in the way that we behave toward one another.

The Suffering to Follow

If we commit all of these things to memory and allow them to shape us and motivate us in how we walk in this world, we will have hardship. The world hates Christ. As those who are being made over in His image, they will hate us. We are to be ready to give a defense in the face of the trials that come our way. However, we must do so in fear and solemnity, recognizing that we represent our holy Father who is in heaven, and we have a brotherhood who will reap the consequences for our misdeeds in the flesh.

“Yes, child, if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved.”

Since I’m not watching the World Cup and just watching my Texas Rangers continue to struggle with injuries (it is still baseball season. I don’t know what I will be watching in October.), I wanted to say I just read Mark Jones’ latest blog post over at Reformation21. He asked “If you are a Christian parent with young children, do you consider your children to be Christians?” My initial answer is no. But then my second answer would be, “Can they and have they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for justification?” Let me say at the outset I am a Reformed Baptist.

I do not hold to an age of accountability, yet I find it hard to believe that my 7 month old child could grasp and comprehend her sinfulness and my plea for her to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, or to be as believing Thomas when he said upon seeing Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” That would be the simplest belief one would need to state in order to be saved.  I know my daughter cannot say this and believe with any assurance at this point in her life, yet even now I call on her to repent. This is mostly so that I will be in the habit of leading her to Christ, and also to cultivate this in her from a very early age. Pastor Jones also states that when thinking about this issue the Presbyterians were “judging this to the terms of the covenant.” Again, as a Reformed Baptist, I whole heartedly agree. So I must ask the question: “Which covenant?” Jeremiah 31:31-34 says:

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (NASB).

The New Covenant in the blood of Christ says that God will be their God and they shall be my people. They will not teach…each man…to know the Lord, for they will all know Me…” This tells us that there will not be a mixed people. We shall not have to teach those in the covenant to know the Lord. They will know the Lord and be part of His covenant people. This is the foundation of the New Covenant. The Covenant promises will be found in those who have God’s law written on their heart because their sin is forgiven and not remembered for it was nailed to the cross of Christ. Knowing this, we can now answer Pastor Jones questions. He asks 5:

When my children sin and ask forgiveness from God, can I assure them that their sins are forgiven?”

Yes, the same way you would with an adult. Our justification is in Christ alone. Those who had the faith of Abraham are the ones who are the children of Abraham. Chapter 14, paragraph 2 from the Second London Confession quoting the Westminster states of the grace of saving faith the following, “By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself…acteth differently, upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come: But the principal acts of Saving Faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of the covenant of grace(italics are my emphasis and bold is added in the Baptist Confession).” If your child can believe in Jesus Christ for justification, sanctification and eternal life then you can tell them their sins are forgiven. When can they believe this? The earlier the better, and all Christians have the solemn obligation and command to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

When I ask my children to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics? On what grounds do I ask my three-year old son to forgive his twin brother? Because it is the nice thing to do? Or because we should forgive in the same way Christ has forgiven us?”

No. We instruct our children to “forgive us our debts as we forgive others.” Our forgiving others is to be based on the forgiveness found in the Lord Jesus Christ. All of this is a tool to evangelize our children. The way our children treat their siblings is an opportunity to show how we are rebel children in Adam and that reconciliation with God means reconciliation in our elder brother Jesus. Only when we have true forgiveness can we forgive others. We must tell our children to come to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and only then can we forgive in the same way God has forgiven us.

Can my children sing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ and enjoy all of the benefits spoken of in that song? (‘To him belong…He will wash away my sin’)”

No. Unless they trust in Christ alone for the receiving of those benefits. Chapter 11 in the Second London Confession and the Westminster: “Those whom God effectually called, He also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole Law, and passive obedience in His death, for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God (bold section added by Savoy and Second London Confessions).” We should teach them the song, but they can only sing it with a true, saving faith when they’re resting on Christ alone.

When my children pray during family worship to their heavenly Father, what are the grounds for them praying such a prayer? Do they have any right to call God their ‘heavenly Father’? Do non-Christians cry ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8:15)?”

Here is how one has the grounds to call out to the heavenly Father: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13; NASB). We must evangelize our children and yet instruct them to pray as Jesus instructs people to pray. One need only be born again to have the right to call God Heavenly Father. All people have an interest and command in calling out to God as He has revealed Himself. The only way one has the right if He has been born again.

Should I desire that my children have a “boring” testimony? (Though a testimony to God’s covenant promises can never be boring, of course). Is it not enough for them to simply say each day that they trust in Christ alone for their salvation?”

The only desire a parent should have regarding the testimony of our children is that they know God and are known by Him. This comes from an effectual call to God’s elect in Christ in the Covenant of Grace who receive and rest upon Christ alone whereby they become children of the Heavenly Father and can only then have   assurance by loving Him and keeping His commandments.

Thank you Pastor Jones for asking these questions. Even as a Baptist I ask these questions. On the judgment of charity, I call upon my child (Lord willing my wife and I may be able to say children) to call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Peter did to those who heard him preach and they will be saved and can sing and know for sure “Jesus loves me.” We both have become convinced of this position because we believe “for the Bible tells me so. We are weak and He is strong.” I’m thankful for your work. I don’t consider myself wiser than you. I am simply answering as a convinced Reformed Baptist how I deal with these questions. We still are brothers in Christ and long for the day when all is set right and we know finally who belongs to the Lord. Until that day, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Come!

(In case all have forgotten, it is baseball season. I’ll be watching my Texas Rangers until the end of September. October looks like it may be out of sight.)

Repost: Dispelling Myths About Teaching Children’s Sunday School

One of the hardest tasks a Children’s Ministry director has to accomplish is the finding of volunteers. It seems that sometimes it’s hair-pulling, teeth-grinding work to try to get people to volunteer their time and talents. This is true both inside and outside of the church. And let’s face it, I’m no Stalin. I couldn’t inspire water to flow downstream.

Having given this topic much thought, though, I discovered there are basically seven myths about volunteering for a Children’s Sunday School that must be dispelled in order to make the decision easier for many church members. This is not an indictment against any church member who has had these concerns, though. I had many very similar concerns before I started volunteering for the Children’s Ministry at my church. Nevertheless, they are erroneous and must be dispelled.

1. I have to be a genius to do that.

It is quite common to feel a sense of inadequacy when witnessing what you perceive as “true greatness” at work. Everyone has been there. When the guy who normally speaks in NLT suddenly prays for 10 minutes straight in KJV, after which no one has the gall to follow. Far too often we compare ourselves to the speakers rather than the audience. In prayer, our audience is God, so we should have a sense of inadequacy regardless of who precedes us in our prayers. However, an adult should have nothing to fear in teaching those of the next generation, regardless of the education and spiritual prowess of those who teach alongside him. We all have knowledge and wisdom to pass along to the next generation; let us not be hindered by constantly comparing ourselves to those in our own. 

2. I have to have kids of my own in order to teach other people’s kids.

Granted, it certainly seems to comport with common sense that parents, the people who benefit the most from the Children’s Ministry, should always be the first to consider and pray about volunteering for it. However, some of the best people who work with kids do not have kids or, at least, not yet. In my undergraduate studies, I had many fellow students who were either youth ministers or went on to be, or went on to become teachers and substitute teachers in primary schools, most of which did not have kids and / or were not married. There is no parental prerequisite for working with children. 

3. I have to be uniquely gifted to work with kids.

There is no “gift of working with kids” listed in the Bible. My wife and I struggled with this one. For years I heard the plea from the pulpit for more volunteers in the Children’s Ministry, but I would tell myself, “I’m just not sure that’s my gift.” Eventually, it occurred to me just how unbiblical that was. Children’s Ministry is not a spiritual gift.

On the flip side, however, I do think it is important for men who think they are called to ministry to be exercising their gifts in some way already before they are ordained to the ministry. Let’s face it, preaching opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air for pastoral students of the Reformed, Confessional Baptist persuasion. If a young man thinks himself called to the ministry and does not otherwise have opportunities to preach and teach, one way he can exercise his gift is to volunteer for Children’s Ministry. A man who is afforded few other opportunities and persistently refuses to take advantage of this opportunity to exercise his gift likely does not truly have the gift. 

4. It would take too much time out of my already busy week.

Depending on your level of theological exposure / education, this may be true at first. Some may have to spend hours preparing every week in order to come up with a decent 30 minute lesson on even the most basic truths. Over time, however, it gets much easier to prepare for the lesson. If your church uses a catechism, as our church does, many of the Scripture references you will need for your preparation should already be provided in the Scripture citations after each answer. Other more seasoned volunteers are also a great help in this area of lesson preparation. 

5. The Children’s Ministry is the least important part of our church.

Granted, many parents treat children’s ministries like Sunday daycares. However, those of us who actually catechize our children in the home find children’s Sunday school to be of great value. The kids are able to get together and get deeper teaching on the things they are hopefully learning at home, and they experience the value of the catechism answers they are memorizing with their parents in a classroom environment. Most importantly, the truths they are being taught at home are being reinforced by other adults within the church. Such reinforcement is of immense value to the catechizing parent. 

6. That’s the parents’ job.

Then we have the arguments often made by many within the Family Integrated Church (FIC) movement that the teaching that takes place in children’s ministries really should be done by the parents. In large part, I agree with the FIC on this point. Parents should never leave the spiritual training and nurture of their children up to children’s ministry volunteers. Such training and nurture is primarily the responsibility of the parents.

However, the Bible does not present such a rift between the authority of the church and the authority of the parents as is presented in many FIC churches today. Paul writes directly to the children on a couple different occasions in the Bible (Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20). This is not seen as a usurpation of parental authority, but a reinforcement of it. As such, he demonstrates a very important truth: parents who have covenanted with a church and have come under its authority should take no issue with subjecting themselves as well as their children to its teaching.

To argue against allowing their kids to be taught by the church, the same church that is teaching them, is to demonstrate a general lack of teachability. Hence, often times families who have been heavily influenced by the FIC will join non-FIC churches and war with them relentlessly over their children’s ministries. In doing so, they show themselves not only to be unteachable, but also divisive. Yes, the parents ought to teach their own children in their homes, but the church has a responsibility as well, and that responsibility is to be respected. For more on this subject, read my church’s Philosophy of Children’s Ministry. 

7. There are many people in the church more qualified than I am.

If redemptive history proves anything, it proves that God does not always use the most qualified people to get the job done. In fact, He does not even always use the most willing (see Jonah). Often times, the most qualified people are the most unwilling to be used by God. God uses both the talented, unwilling servant, and the untalented, willing servant to accomplish His ends.

This is why we should be open-minded about where God may be leading us to serve when we pray about where we should serve in His local church. God uses fallen, ill-qualified, unwise laymen to accomplish the most amazing things in His kingdom. Might you be the next weak, ill-prepared, under-qualified, imperfect vessel He uses to help raise up the next generation of saints in His local church?

Dispelling Myths About Teaching Children’s Sunday School

One of the hardest tasks a Children’s Ministry director has to accomplish is the finding of volunteers. It seems that sometimes it’s hair-pulling, teeth-grinding work to try to get people to volunteer their time and talents. This is true both inside and outside of the church. And let’s face it, I’m no Stalin. I couldn’t inspire water to flow downstream.

Having given this topic much thought, though, I discovered there are basically seven myths about volunteering for a Children’s Sunday School that must be dispelled in order to make the decision easier for many church members. This is not an indictment against any church member who has had these concerns, though. I had many very similar concerns before I started volunteering for the Children’s Ministry at my church. Nevertheless, they are erroneous and must be dispelled.

1. I have to be a genius to do that.

It is quite common to feel a sense of inadequacy when witnessing what you perceive as “true greatness” at work. Everyone has been there. When the guy who normally speaks in NLT suddenly prays for 10 minutes straight in KJV, after which no one has the gall to follow. Far too often we compare ourselves to the speakers rather than the audience. In prayer, our audience is God, so we should have a sense of inadequacy regardless of who precedes us in our prayers. However, an adult should have nothing to fear in teaching those of the next generation, regardless of the education and spiritual prowess of those who teach alongside him. We all have knowledge and wisdom to pass along to the next generation; let us not be hindered by constantly comparing ourselves to those in our own. 

2. I have to have kids of my own in order to teach other people’s kids.

Granted, it certainly seems to comport with common sense that parents, the people who benefit the most from the Children’s Ministry, should always be the first to consider and pray about volunteering for it. However, some of the best people who work with kids do not have kids or, at least, not yet. In my undergraduate studies, I had many fellow students who were either youth ministers or went on to be, or went on to become teachers and substitute teachers in primary schools, most of which did not have kids and / or were not married. There is no parental prerequisite for working with children. 

3. I have to be uniquely gifted to work with kids.

There is no “gift of working with kids” listed in the Bible. My wife and I struggled with this one. For years I heard the plea from the pulpit for more volunteers in the Children’s Ministry, but I would tell myself, “I’m just not sure that’s my gift.” Eventually, it occurred to me just how unbiblical that was. Children’s Ministry is not a spiritual gift.

On the flip side, however, I do think it is important for men who think they are called to ministry to be exercising their gifts in some way already before they are ordained to the ministry. Let’s face it, preaching opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air for pastoral students of the Reformed, Confessional Baptist persuasion. If a young man thinks himself called to the ministry and does not otherwise have opportunities to preach and teach, one way he can exercise his gift is to volunteer for Children’s Ministry. A man who is afforded few other opportunities and persistently refuses to take advantage of this opportunity to exercise his gift likely does not truly have the gift. 

4. It would take too much time out of my already busy week.

Depending on your level of theological exposure / education, this may be true at first. Some may have to spend hours preparing every week in order to come up with a decent 30 minute lesson on even the most basic truths. Over time, however, it gets much easier to prepare for the lesson. If your church uses a catechism, as our church does, many of the Scripture references you will need for your preparation should already be provided in the Scripture citations after each answer. Other more seasoned volunteers are also a great help in this area of lesson preparation. 

5. The Children’s Ministry is the least important part of our church.

Granted, many parents treat children’s ministries like Sunday daycares. However, those of us who actually catechize our children in the home find children’s Sunday school to be of great value. The kids are able to get together and get deeper teaching on the things they are hopefully learning at home, and they experience the value of the catechism answers they are memorizing with their parents in a classroom environment. Most importantly, the truths they are being taught at home are being reinforced by other adults within the church. Such reinforcement is of immense value to the catechizing parent. 

6. That’s the parents’ job.

Then we have the arguments often made by many within the Family Integrated Church (FIC) movement that the teaching that takes place in children’s ministries really should be done by the parents. In large part, I agree with the FIC on this point. Parents should never leave the spiritual training and nurture of their children up to children’s ministry volunteers. Such training and nurture is primarily the responsibility of the parents.

However, the Bible does not present such a rift between the authority of the church and the authority of the parents as is presented in many FIC churches today. Paul writes directly to the children on a couple different occasions in the Bible (Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20). This is not seen as a usurpation of parental authority, but a reinforcement of it. As such, he demonstrates a very important truth: parents who have covenanted with a church and have come under its authority should take no issue with subjecting themselves as well as their children to its teaching.

To argue against allowing their kids to be taught by the church, the same church that is teaching them, is to demonstrate a general lack of teachability. Hence, often times families who have been heavily influenced by the FIC will join non-FIC churches and war with them relentlessly over their children’s ministries. In doing so, they show themselves not only to be unteachable, but also divisive. Yes, the parents ought to teach their own children in their homes, but the church has a responsibility as well, and that responsibility is to be respected. For more on this subject, read my church’s Philosophy of Children’s Ministry. 

7. There are many people in the church more qualified than I am.

If redemptive history proves anything, it proves that God does not always use the most qualified people to get the job done. In fact, He does not even always use the most willing (see Jonah). Often times, the most qualified people are the most unwilling to be used by God. God uses both the talented, unwilling servant, and the untalented, willing servant to accomplish His ends.

This is why we should be open-minded about where God may be leading us to serve when we pray about where we should serve in His local church. God uses fallen, ill-qualified, unwise laymen to accomplish the most amazing things in His kingdom. Might you be the next weak, ill-prepared, under-qualified, imperfect vessel He uses to help raise up the next generation of saints in His local church?

A Philosophy of Children’s Ministry

A few years ago, I would never have thought I would be posting something like this. My sympathies toward the Family Integrated Movement resulted in somewhat of a suspicion toward children’s ministries and youth groups. After taking over the children’s ministry last year, I started to research the issue. The following post is a result. This is our church’s new Philosophy of Children’s Ministry with Scripture citations. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Our Philosophy of Children’s Ministry –

Sovereign Joy Community Church has a high view of the family, and our families have a high view of the local church. The primary place God has ordained for the spiritual teaching and training of children is the family,1 and the primary goal of that spiritual teaching and training is to make of them disciples of Christ equipped for service in His local church.2 Further, the church has an obligation to teach and instruct not only parents but children as well.3 Therefore, the substance4 and methods5 of our Children’s Ministry are designed to support the families of Sovereign Joy as they seek to raise their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4b; NASB).

1Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 1:8-9; 3:1-12; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20

2Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; 2Timothy 1:5; 3:14

3Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20

4By substance, we mean the doctrines and practices we teach.

5By methods, we mean the way in which we teach our doctrines and practices.

How do we do this?

  • Over the centuries, catechisms have proven to be a useful means of passing biblical truths along from generation to generation. Therefore, we use A Catechism for Boys and Girls (Carey Publications) as our primary means of instruction in our children’s Sunday school.
  • By using the catechism in Sunday school and providing free copies of it to all our covenanted parents, we encourage catechesis in the home.
  • Our teachers are expected to develop and present a rough exposition of the questions and answers provided in the catechism.
  • Once a month, the children will also be taught a church history lesson that is meant to help them to understand the historical context of the biblical truths they are learning in the catechism.
  • The children are also encouraged to memorize large portions of Scripture (the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, the Beatitudes, etc.) and parents to work with their children in this endeavor.

Why Catechize?

It has been such a blessing for our family to catechize our daughter. My wife and I use The Baptist Catechism, but my four-year-old and the children’s ministry at our church use the more basic Catechism for Boys and Girls. Every night we get together as a family to pray, sing hymns, and read God’s word. Of course, we haven’t always been able to do this perfectly, but it has become a fairly regular expectation for my family. When we gather together at night to have family worship, we also spend some time catechizing our daughter and one another. We even let our daughter ask us questions from The Baptist Catechism. She loves it. So, today, I was thinking about the benefits of catechesis and thought I’d simply blog about it.

Some Benefits of Catechesis:

  • It helps us to make sense of the things we are reading regularly in Scripture. We should not simply be concerned that our families understand what the texts say in their immediate contexts, but what the Bible as a whole has to say on various topics. If we simply focused in on the immediate contexts of certain texts, we would never arrive at a full-fledged understanding of even the essentials of Christianity such as the Trinity, Justification by Faith Alone, and the Hypostatic Union.
  • It helps us to set a context for making sense of the gospel. When children have a big picture understanding of the teachings of Scripture, they can better understand not only the truths of the gospel, but also the importance of those truths to their everyday lives. The Bible’s claims make the most sense from within a biblical worldview. It is this worldview that catechetical parents hope to instill in their kids.
  • It provides us with healthy opportunities for daily, intentional interaction with our kids. Our kids crave and long for our attention. When we catechize them, we are providing them with an opportunity (scripted, but an opportunity nonetheless) to interact with their parents in a way that few other things do. They have a sense of accomplishment and, more importantly, they bond with their parents.
  • It provides us with the opportunity to pass on our worldview and subsequent values to our children. The influences in our society are plenty which compete for our children’s affections. Catechisms are an invaluable tool for ensuring that our children are immersed in a biblical worldview on a daily basis.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. I’m sure there are many benefits I have yet to consider, but I think these are sufficient for whetting our appetites for catechizing our children. I pray this has been an encouragement for you in your endeavors to raise your children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord.