I absolutely love our faith family at Trinity Baptist Church and I have been honored to be here almost 5 years. While it has seemingly never been an easy ministry, it has been an incredible blessing to my wife, boys and me. I have written several blogs about the way our church family views the importance of family worship. I, along with several of our staff members have explained in detail why we believe that a Family Equipping approach is the best biblical tool in teaching our children. I thank God for, and listen very often to men like Voddie Baucham who stand strongly for family worship. As a body, we are strong on the local church, the importance of accountability, and equipping our parents to train their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We rejoice in the diversity of families that God has brought us at TBC: we have families that send their children to private school, public school, homeschool and at times a hybrid of one or more of these three. We have some families who want their children in classes at church with them and others who do not and, while this has never been an issue in our fellowship, we have recently heard from parents who are genuinely struggling with how they should see these issues. So, I want to take a blog or two and describe what we do at TBC and even to discuss how we should view things.
First, as stated above we desire more of a family equipping model to be used at TBC. Meaning, we feel the number one priority of teaching a child falls to the parents. It is our desire to teach, disciple and give tools to aid each dad in leading his family. We also think that each of us need to see and even hear from other believers. I have said before that an 8 year old and an 88 year old singing and hearing the same truth means a lot. It reminds the 88 year old that there is another generation of warriors for Christ coming up, but it also tells the 8 year old that what he is singing and learning is not just for kids. My boys need to hear truth and see me lead in worship in our home, but I rejoice that they can see multiple godly men around them that can also teach them. To think that the family must always be together in every worship context is not consistent with what we read in Titus 2. It seems that this passage outlines a time for distinct age and gender segregated groups, does it not? Through the years I have also found it interesting that some families who hold very strongly to the idea that the family must always be together have no trouble participating in a mother/son breakfast or a daddy/daughter dance. In Judaism, the fathers would certainly understand their role in teaching their children, but the Rabbi would also have specific teachings for young men. Jonathan Edwards would gather youth together for specific instruction separated from the rest of the body. I have a family for which I am accountable but I also preach to the family of God at Trinity for which I am accountable. I want to teach our boys what biblical manhood looks like and I try my best to do so, but I want them to hear from other godly men to see what it looks like in their unique circumstances. I want them to see how God uses different personalities and giftedness to glorify God in our diversity, not in our sameness. I want my boys to understand that if God so wills, He will give them a family to lead and love and there is no greater calling. But they also need to understand that I can make an idol of my family as quickly as I can make anything else an idol. Christ goes so far as to show that the gospel may divide families, so our true family is found with those in Christ. When I look at Matt. 12:46 it seems that Christ makes it clear that the spiritual family even takes priority over the natural family.
Secondly, this cannot become a “top tier” gospel issue. I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. The Word of God is sufficient to tell us everything that we need to know; this obviously and by necessity includes the function and structure of the church. Scripture in no way commands that all meetings of the church body be integrated. Again, I thank the Lord for the movement away from the traditional structure of children and student ministry. To have a youth group in the church that becomes a subculture where they are combining youthful ignorance is not biblical in any way. However, to have times where students get together and are instructed in the Word of God is no less biblical than having a senior adult Bible study. In my family we worship together, we have meals together, we pray together, but we are not always together; at times my boys are upstairs in their “man-cave” playing PS3, or watching a movie. At times they have read a book and actually discussed spiritual issues without me. There have been older students in our church whom I have helped disciple who have, in turn stepped in and given my boys counsel and instruction. This is good! Balance is a good thing. Within our fellowship there are differing convictions and freedom in this area, but wherever we fall…we must be biblically balanced in our approach. I hope this helps with our present members and visitors who have asked about this, as well as with readers who have not really thought through these things.