This Sunday thousands of Christian families will park their cars, unbuckle car seats, unpack strollers and begin walking toward the church building. But then, something strange will happen—like a fork in the road, the kids will run to the right while the adults go to the left. Today, we are going to discuss if this structure of dividing families during a church service is biblical.
Key Takeaways From This Episode
- While most parents are not aware of the spiritual ramifications of this directional detour, something is being taught every time this divide takes place. To the children, it is a consistent and indoctrinating moment that says:
- My church is here and my parent’s church is there.
- My church is fun and my parent’s church is boring.
- My church leader is my pastor and not my father.
- But the parents are not free from this influential ritual either. To them, it says even more:
- My children aren’t ready for “real” church yet.
- I am not qualified to teach and disciple my children toward a biblical understanding.
- It’s not mine, but the church’s responsibility to develop my child’s spiritual growth.
- I, unlike the youth pastor, am incapable of relating to and understanding the spiritual journey of my child.
- It is acceptable for me to not grow in my role as the primary spiritual teacher for my child because the church is doing it for me.
- Ultimately, the church has embraced a system where parents can outsource their responsibility for the spiritual leadership of their children to the youth pastor, youth program, or youth camp. But what if modern Sunday School was more harmful than helpful to the spiritual development of your child? What if this cultural church tradition has nothing to do with the Bible? But most of all, what if the Bible’s instruction for teaching children spiritual matters was actually in conflict with what’s being practiced at most churches?
- Now, I’m not saying that youth ministry is unbiblical. But it is extra-biblical. There isn’t a single piece of scripture that talks about parents sending their children to someone else to be discipled. And if we just used the Bible as our blueprint to establish a local church, we wouldn’t end up with what we have today.
- As believers, we’ve become so enamored of our good intentions and innovative ideas for “doing church” that the only question being asked by church leadership is, ‘How can we do this better?’ However, when it comes to the extra-biblical activities of the Church, maybe it’s time we ask ourselves, ‘Should we be doing this at all?’
- So how did something that isn’t found in the Bible become central to what the Church does? Let’s take a brief historical journey.
- The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain (roughly 1760 – 1840). Interestingly, this is the birth era of the now universal “Sunday School.”
- At the time, the children of the poor and especially orphans provided the cheapest labor that could be found. Soon the gears of eighteenth-century English industry were churning out profits through the exploitation of these unfortunate children. The novels of Charles Dickens, such as “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield,” capture the stories of these poor children. The immorality of exploiting the hoards of homeless orphans on London’s streets was vile to Christian philanthropists, but what should be done?
- In common missionary fashion, the need was narrowed down to three initiatives: These children needed the Gospel, a moral education, and the ability to read, although this was easier said than done. Between 1802 and The Factories Act of 1844, the only restriction to child labor was that they couldn’t be worked more than six days per week and 12 hours per day! As a result, Sunday was the only available day to instruct them in spiritual and moral matters.
- The Need: Thousands of illiterate, homeless, immoral, orphans.
- The Answer: The Gospel, moral education, instruction in reading the KJV Bible on Sunday.
- Sunday School was literally “school”—a place where illiterate, poor children would be educated and evangelized through being taught how to read the King James Bible.
- So, the creation of Sunday School was a missionary effort to evangelize the working-class orphans of London. Within a few decades, however, this missionary movement became the modus operandi of virtually every church in the developing West—not just for the less fortunate or orphans who didn’t have parents but for every socially stable child from every Christian family.
- Just like these children of the Industrial Revolution, the chances of your child standing before Jesus Christ is 100%.
- But while millions of Muslim parents throughout the Middle East are putting their children through 40+ hours per week of training in the Quran, Christian parents expect sixty minutes of coloring Noah’s Ark in Sunday School to be sufficient.
- Though it is not a numbers game, it is an intentionality game.
- So, parents, are you training your children? Are you teaching them the word of God? The battle for your child’s heart in this world is fierce and the enemy is playing for keeps. The preparation for sports and music and hobbies is fine, just make sure these pursuits never overshadow their preparation for eternity.
- Additionally, remember that if a church doesn’t regularly remind Dads and Moms that the theological and moral education of their children is the responsibility that God placed directly on the home (not on the Church), then they are teaching and encouraging a lifestyle and culture within that church that is contrary to what the Bible teaches.
- Take a moment to ask yourself: In my current Church gathering, am I regularly encouraged to be the primary teacher and spiritual guide of my children? Am I challenged to embrace the responsibility of imparting the knowledge of God to my children? Does my pastor admonish me to understand that God will hold me accountable for how I have led my family and how I have taught and modeled the truths of Scripture to them?
- Sadly, most will answer “no” to these questions.
- This is why this extra-biblical approach of outsourcing the discipleship role of parents in their own families is a direct assault on what the Bible teaches.
- Now, are there positive results from church youth programs? Absolutely. Just like those London orphans, many kids have received the grace of God through hearing of the Gospel at just such a gathering. It’s a tragic day, however, when Christian parents are so ill-equipped, so poorly taught, and so badly led that they must rely on others to do what the Bible has directly stated is Dad’s (and by way of implication, Mom’s) duty.
- A Church lead by mature, biblical leadership teaches men how to walk in the responsibilities that God has given them in leading their families—not in usurping a father’s role and responsibility by making the discipleship of his own children unnecessary.
- Are you caught up in the extra-biblical church culture that sidelines Dad & Mom, or are you a warrior being trained and encouraged to enter into the epic battle every parent faces: discipling your children to know and love their Heavenly Father?
- Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 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.”
- Ephesians 6:4 “Raise up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
- Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
- Ephesians 6:4 “And, you fathers, don’t provoke your children to anger: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
After watching or listening to this episode, what is your opinion? Do you have any questions or comments? Maybe you have something to add to the discussion? If so, let us know in the comments below.