In every arena of culture, forces seem to separate families instead of uniting them. The cultural narrative is that children need to be away from their families and around other people their age at the earliest developmental stages. The powers that be at least portray themselves to be the experts on children instead of the parents.
While that type of formation will prove to be devastating to a society, it does not have to be the reality within a local church.
Unfortunately, churches have too often taken their cues from society rather than the commandments from Scripture.
When it comes to how the church and the home work together, these are the four options:
- Family-Isolated – All programs focus on age-group environments and take full responsibility for each age’s spiritual development.
- Family-Included – All programs focus on different age groups but include extra events to bring the family together.
- Family-Intentioned – All programs provide age group ministry but with intentional directives to unite the family.
- Family-Integrated – All programs integrate the families with no age-based ministry.
Is there a right path? Within each section, there are numerous ways to break it down. The one biblical expectation I think we must pursue is to unite the family. Once you realize that the most critical spiritual environment is the one in which we live, you will want to do everything within your power to equip the family to be who God has called them to be.
Psalm 127 says it is vain to build a home on pursuits other than the LORD’s pursuits. What is amazing is that the psalm is a song of ascents meaning that priests would sing it over the families as they left their house to gather in God’s house. It was as if they were saying, “If you are only getting spiritual once a week when you come to the sanctuary and it doesn’t invade your home, this time is empty.”
What an important charge for us! Church leaders, we must lead in a way that tells families that occasional religious attendance isn’t enough, we need to live it out, especially in our homes!
How can your church be family formative?
Here are some simple steps you can consider:
- Can your families worship together? You have 936 Sundays before a child turns 18. One of our distinctive is we want kids in worship with their parents. We believe the best way to learn how to worship is by imitating passionate parents.
- Can your families study together? Consider a curriculum that all ages study together. That way when you pick your children up, you don’t have to ask what they learned — you already know it and can start reaching them more.
- Can your families grow together? What if you had a Bible reading plan that a family could use together. Make it around the sermon series, curriculum, or another focus.
- Can your families serve together? Is there a way that your families have an opportunity to give and live on mission local and global?
There might be small tweaks you make or over-arching issues that need to be radically changed. One of my hearts is that the most pivotal spiritual moments in someone’s life is not always experienced away from one’s family.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.