The Family at Church – Week 2
Here are some quotes and thoughts on this week’s readings from Scott Brown’s book, The Family at Church: 20 Days to Transform Your Local Church Experience.
“Your family needs much more than your family can provide” (p. 57).
This flies in the face of our rugged American individualism. As fears rise globally, conservative Christian families often go into “self-sufficiency” mode. On one extreme there are doomsday preppers. On the other extreme there is “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” But God has designed us for community. For society. For dependence. And especially so within the Church.
The author says we need pastors who are “under divine obligation to make you uncomfortable with your life.” He says we need the diverse gifts and personality and even the conflicts of the church. He concludes:
“In a world of independence, we need to recover a biblically ordered interdependence” (p. 62).
“God designed His church to be a face-to-face experience” (p. 65).
This is why our church stopped livestreaming our worship gatherings as quickly as possible after the COVID lockdowns. While we still post the sermons online, we do not livestream or offer any live online viewing options because we do not want to contribute to the unbiblical notion that church is anything other than a life-on-life assembly of saints covenanted together to live for Jesus and proclaim the message of Jesus near and far.
“Don’t lose your love for the gatherings. Don’t take them lightly. Don’t be critical. It is just as important that you don’t poison them. It is easy to poison children’s attitudes toward the church. You can cause your children to become hyper-critical. Parents can forever poison their children against the local church and other Christians. They do it by criticizing the people, the preaching, the program, and the leaders of the church. It breeds a sense of distrust and dishonor that will never leave them” (pp. 66-67).
“There is the subtle impact of sitting next to another person and hearing the sound of their voice” (p. 69).
Let me just ask you: Have you ever or are you now poisoning your children’s or friends’ attitudes toward the church? The Apostle Paul warned the Galatian church of back-biting that would devour others (Gal 5:15). Paul says just a few lines later that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (5:22). Why not join the fight for everlasting joy in Jesus? And bring your families and friends along with you!
“The Lord’s Day is a family day. In the Ten Commandments, God appointed parents to usher their families into a day of rest” (p. 71).
Thus begins a chapter defending the view that the principle of Sabbath rest is still very much intact in the New Covenant. Scott Brown does a great job of laying out various views on the Sabbath. Some say it’s fulfilled in Christ and abrogated. Others say it’s not an obligation but attending a church service pretty much keeps one in line with the command to “keep the Sabbath.” Some say it’s all spiritual now and symbolizes our ceaseless rest by faith in Jesus. Some believers have never bothered to even think it through very seriously. But the Bible is replete with Sabbath instruction and references from cover to cover! So, we had best ponder our position and inculcate it into our children. I urge you to consider the case made in this chapter. It is biblically faithful and has been expressed in some of the greatest Christian Confessions down through history (such as the Westminster and 1689 London Baptist).
Personally, I see the Apostles and early church clearly shifting their weekly assembly to Sunday, the Lord’s Day, as Scott Brown points out via several New Testament texts. For Jews to have done so, something radical must have happened on Sunday. Indeed, “He is not here, He is risen just as He said!” Yet, the Sabbath principle of a rest, a spiritual renewal in the gathering of the saints, a day to cease from normal labor to remember that all provision comes from God, a day to fellowship and feast with the church, a day to renew faith in the finished work of Christ, seems to still be clearly in effect in the New Testament. The Sabbath was a Creation ordinance. For humanity. And it is good for us in every way, if we will but be intentional about honoring it with a clear conscience before our God.
Regarding Sundays, “How you think about the day makes all the difference” (p. 81).
Regarding the worship gathering, “If your children are bored, it is most likely your fault” (p. 82).
“Remember, the Scriptures call for an entire day, not a half day. We have the privilege of getting to do things that are different from the rest of the days of the week. What’s the big difference? I’ll summarize it in two words: delightful celebration” (p. 83).
This chapter is chocked full of practical tips on how to lead yourselves and your families to embrace Sundays as a delightful celebration. Please read and heed! I especially commend the section on “11 Ways To Continue the Day of Delight at Church” (pp. 85-86). These pointers can really help us center our week on what God has done and is doing in and among us during our worship gatherings.
“It is nearly impossible to find age-segregated gatherings for worship and fellowship in the Bible” (p. 89).
One would think this statement non-controversial. But O contraire! The age-segregated method of worship and discipleship, which Scott Brown rightly points out was derived from the western public education system (not the Bible), is so ingrained in us now. Isn’t it? I mean, a multi-million-dollar industry rests upon the principle of age-segregation. Just try to find a Bible study curriculum designed for whole churches or families to use together. I dare ya!
While our church does have age-graded Sunday School (although we keep the groupings to a minimum), we are committed to whole families worshiping together. It comes with its own set of challenges. Primarily, it requires parents to work hard during the week to train their children to learn how to sit still, listen, sing, pray, worship, use inside voices, etc. It’s not the easy way. But it’s God’s way.
For far too long in evangelicalism we have given mere lip service to the foundational principle of the Reformation – sola scriptura! Our authority for all matters of faith and practice is the Bible.
“You cannot make an explicit case for age segregation by using the Bible. You have to go to some other source” (p. 95).
Amen, Brother Brown. Preach on!
by Keith McWhorter