The Family at Church – Week 4
Last week was our final week of reading through Scott Brown’s book, The Family at Church. I sincerely hope you found the book challenging and encouraging. So many of the practical, biblical principles contained in this book were enormous means of grace as my wife and I raised our two daughters. Perhaps you may want to read through the book again in a future month? We have a sinful human tendency to be forgetful. So, as a church family, let’s put one another in remembrance.
“Jesus says, ‘Take heed how you hear’ (Luke 8:18). Children need to learn to ‘take heed.’ Taking heed is an action you take. It means pay attention, be ready, and take notice. This means your children need your help to teach them how to hear” (p. 129).
“Passivity is not your friend nor your children’s friend” (p. 130).
“The regular preaching of the Word of God is a powerful tool for transformation in a family. It shapes the culture of your home” (p. 131).
“Hearing the Word of God is a matter of life and death” (p. 132).
Sometimes I wonder if we really believe that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). If we do, we will spend countless hours doing whatever it takes to train our children to sit still, to sit quietly, and to learn to listen intently to the preached Word of God every Sunday. If Romans 10:17 is true, then nothing else we do as parents (with the possible exception of our own daily teaching of the Word to our kids), will matter as much for eternity in the hearts and lives of our children.
“Sermons are like ‘goads.’ They were designed to inform as well as move you forward” (p. 135).
“You may be passive, but the devil is never passive” (p. 135).
“Make it your practice to talk about the sermons the day you hear them” (p. 136).
This is the essential distinction between Bible teaching and Bible preaching. Preaching aims not just at the head, but at the heart. Biblical preaching is designed by God to move sinners to faith in Christ, and to move saints to deeper love and obedience of Christ. While all good preaching involves teaching, good teaching does not necessarily involve preaching. Preaching is a unique gift to God’s people. “For since in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God to save those who believe through the folly of preaching” (1 Cor 1:21).
This is why our small groups primarily center on sermon discussion and life application. This is also why most of our groups meet on Sunday nights – to discuss and apply the sermon the day we heard it. So, let me ask our parents who are in small groups: Do you make sure your children are included in the sermon discussion and application somehow? Or, do the kids mostly just play and run free while adults talk through the sermon text and application? Why not brainstorm with your group on ways to include the children? Maybe a special sermon discussion time just for them? Or, if the child is old enough and/or disciplined enough, expect him or her to participate with the adults. Or, maybe a Christian teen can serve the group by leading the smaller children in a time of reinforcing the truths of the sermon.
“We often live helpless lives because we do not pray for help” (p. 139).
“It is for you as parents to teach your children to pray . . . This includes how not to pray silly prayers, long prayers, unwise prayers, self-serving prayers, or prayers to attract attention to themselves out of pride” (p. 140).
“Children need to learn how to endure things that are not full-blown entertainment” (p. 142).
“Pray the words of Scripture” (p. 143).
On that note, I highly commend Donald Whitney’s book to you titled Praying the Bible (Crossway, 2015).
“One of the ways that Satan sabotages the joy of the Lord is through prayerlessness” (p. 145).
So, how are you doing parents and grandparents? Do you pray over, with and for your children? Do you teach them how to pray? Are you memorizing the great prayers of the Bible with them? Do you attend the corporate prayer meetings of the church with your family? Do you encourage children to pray aloud with the church once they have demonstrated a basic ability to do so? Are you helping your children learn to listen to the prayers of the saints? And say hearty “amens!”
“God has given the church two very graphic and beautiful ordinances to help you explain the gospel – The Lord’s Supper and Baptism” (p. 147).
“These two ordinances proclaim the love of God for sinners. They are saturated in mercy” (p. 148).
And all God’s people said, “Amen!” Parents and grandparents, never, ever let one of these ordinances be celebrated in your church gatherings without seizing upon the moment to remind your children of the gospel. Jesus is our life! Jesus died for our sins. Jesus rose again to conquer sin and death for us. Only Jesus’ sacrifice satisfies God’s wrath against our rebellion. Only Jesus’ blood washes us clean from sins and puts us into a right relationship with God. We must believe in Jesus! We must renounce our sin, and Satan, and the world, and any sense of self-righteousness, and trust wholly in the finished work of Christ. We must find our identity completely in Him. By grace through faith, His death becomes ours. His resurrection life becomes ours (Rom 6:1-11).
These ordinances are beautifully designed by God not just to illustrate and symbolize these gospel truths, but to appeal to the senses. Children get to see and smell and hear the gospel being affirmed. These things make children naturally long to participate. Indeed, the bread of Communion symbolizes the body of Jesus “broken” for us, meaning it is given to us as our source of life. Distributed to us by sovereign grace and received by us through gift of saving faith. It is for those who have been graciously born of the Spirit, made members of the “new covenant in My blood” (Mark 14:24). Children will naturally desire to eat the bread and drink the juice. Just as they will naturally want to be baptized when they see someone else being baptized. These “natural” impulses and curiosities are ordained of God to drive them to Christ in conviction of sin and desire for forgiveness. Seize these teachable moments! If your child is not saved, explain lovingly why she cannot yet participate. But seek grace to do so in a way that deepens her longing for Jesus to save her soul. Urge repentance and faith upon her. Pray over her and with her. Soak her in the gospel. Until the Spirit makes her a new creature in Christ. Then, put no hindrance between her and obedience to her Lord and Savior. Celebrate her baptism! Rejoice as you receive the bread and juice with her. There truly is “no greater joy than to see my children walking in truth” (3 John 4).
“Parents, you are tour guides at the gates of everlasting joy. Go for it. Give it your whole heart. Don’t miss the treasures. As a great tour guide, you need to help your children see the opportunities there. Help them experience the beautiful things God has in store for families who prioritize gathering with the redeemed in local churches. What is in store is better than what your children could gain from their sports or hobbies . . . Parents, don’t underestimate what God has done in giving you the local church. He did it for your joy” (pp. 153-4).
“When the rains falls, and the winds blow and the storms of life break upon your family, make sure your house is built upon the rock . . . It is coming! It is your job to prepare them. There is no better preparation than a lifetime of saturation in the means of grace within a local church” (p. 158).
by Keith McWhorter