Church and the Family

"Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in you town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live..."  Deut. 31:12-13

"There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them."  Joshua 8:35

Church wide call to prayer; what a wonderful opportunity for the entire church to pray together, to come together as one, to let the younger see, hear, learn, to watch their parents in prayer, to see other families praying together, encouraging one another, yes, together. 

                               Dividing the family at every turn was never His will, but unity, ONE voice, ONE family, ONE church, The Church of Jesus Christ, together, working to bring glory to His Name.  Teaching the ones coming after us, the older teaching the younger.

I am so burdened, and have been asking God to help me see, truly see, what the answer is to my aching heart.  We hear the statistics of young adults leaving the church, Christian children from Christian homes.  I believe it is troubling to all who hear, and since it is a well known fact, we ask, "What do we do about it?"

Here are the facts:
88% of children raised in Christian families leave church at the age of 18, never to return. (SBC)
An estimated 4% of the bridger generation, or Gen Y, will be Bible-believing Christians when they reach adulthood. Their grandparents' generation, 65%, their parents' generation, 35%. 

Unless we do something and do something NOW, the 3rd chair, the 3rd generation will be--is--a generation of UN-believers, and can you see what will happen to THEIR children, that 4th generation?!?  We are the Israelites, we have forgotten, we have left God behind to satisfy our own desires, our own wants and wishes, we have left the God who brought us out...

"You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him."  Deut. 13:4

So...what do we need to do?

"All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives and their children."  2 Chron. 20:13

I have been bringing my concerns and burdens before His throne, and I heard Him say to my heart, that yes, sometimes change is good, and yes, we need to be equipping parents, and teaching absolute Truth.

Then, I heard something I had not heard before, and it was this, we as adults and church leaders have become the disciples.  Remember the account in Mark 10:13-14, "And they were bringing the children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, 'Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Verse 16 goes on to say, "And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them."

We, as the disciples, are pushing the children away, into their own places away from the older men and women.  Church is where we should come together corporately to give God the praise He is so deserving of, and it is where we gather to worship and be in awe of the One true God, Jesus Christ.

Behold, my eye has seen all this,
My ear has heard and understood it.

 Job 13:1

To watch, listen, pray, hear, and see ALL people together, in prayer. With one voice.  Calling on God our Father.  Crying out His Name, the Name of Jesus.  Bringing our requests before the throne.  Falling on our knees before our Heavenly Father!  Oh, how we miss many opportunities for unity in Christ, in teaching the younger men and women, simply in not calling Holy assemblies, men, women, and children!

If Jesus Christ Himself physically walked into our church and took a seat, what would we do?  We would run to get our children so they could see Him, the Son of God Himself!  We need to remember we are in God's House and He is there.  Do we really believe He is there?  Forgive us, O Lord!

"Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly."  Ezra 10:1

We wonder why young adults are leaving the church?  Check out your church bulletins to see how many activities are age or gender segregated and how many are family oriented. . .Throughout Scripture they called for assemblies, men and women and children and infants.  What have we done?  We are reaping the consequences of division.

As I think about this and when the statistics began, where we began losing young adults, it happened about the same time as the large "children's church" movement, when we thought "bigger was better," and when we wanted the services to be so well organized we left no room for the Holy Spirit to move us.

"Churches in many ways have actually, I think, added to the problem. They promote the idea of the church as a full-service entertainment and activity center, where you take children away from their parents and just put them in a different peer culture. Now it’s a church peer culture. What happens when they grow out of that?
Kids are spending a very small amount of time in church activities, and many of those activities have very little theological, biblical, or spiritual content. As a result, we have a generation of young people who believe that there is a God, but they don’t have any particular god in mind.

We should be exhorting each other, helping each other, equipping each other. Christian young people should be drawn into the church, but not in a way that isolates them with other young people."

I remember growing up, singing in our children's choir every Sunday, and later leading the children's choir, singing in our "adult" choir from before I can remember, singing "special music," I even tried to begin a youth choir because I thought it important for them to sing His praises.  I remember holding my babies as I sang in our choir, and I believe it is there where they developed their love to sing His praises.  I also remember beginning a BYW, our Baptist Young Women's group because I thought it would "draw" others in, that were not participating in our WMU, Women's Missionary Union, but in doing that, I separated ourselves from the older women, the Titus 2 women, we should have been learning from.   God showed me where I was wrong.

This is happening in the Church as a whole and I believe it is time we stop trying to initiate new programs with all the hype and chaos which ensues.  God is NOT a God of chaos, and if  He were, we could believe in the big bang theory, no, God is a God of order and amazing design, a God who loves each and every person, a God who is not a respecter of persons, but a God who commands respect, The God who instituted the family at the beginning of time, The God who wants to be glorified and lifted up, The God of unity not division, The God who expects obedience, not out of force but out of love for who He is, the Almighty Father, who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and gives us salvation and everlasting life. 

"Blow a trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly,
Gather the people, sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and the nursing infants.
Joel 2:15-16a

"'Do You hear what these children are saying?'  And Jesus said to them, 'Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself'?'"

"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!'"   Romans 10:14-15

Is all that we are seeing the church's fault?  No.  We live in a fallen and sinful world; we see it in our separated and divorced marriages, in couples who do not worship together, in families with rebellious children, but we should be teaching what God's Word says in ALL circumstances.  "Teaching them to observe ALL that I commanded you."  Matthew 28:20a

"Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; 
you shall not add to nor take away from it." 
Deut. 12:32

Always Experiencing Him,

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