John Piper on Families Worshipping Together: Why Not Children’s Church?

As we’ve discussed the idea of church nursery and children’s ministry, I wanted to restate something I mentioned in the comment section from a recent post:  This issue is not about “right and wrong” as much as it is about “wise or not”.  It’s not about attacking your church and its intentions, it’s about the challenge to think, possibly about positions you  may haven’t thought of before.

I challenge you to ask questions. 

“What is worship?”  “How does age-segregation in the church affect the body?”  “Does age-segregation hinder the ‘older teaching the younger’ model from Scripture?” “From whom do children learn to worship in spirit and in truth?”

These thoughts by John Piper are a beautiful and timely word for the discussion of family togetherness at church (excerpts only–full article can be read following the link):

“God-centered worship is supremely important in the life of our church. We approach the Sunday morning worship hour with great seriousness and earnestness and expectancy. We try to banish all that is flippant or trivial or chatty.

Stumbling block…The greatest stumbling block for children in worship is that their parents do not cherish the hour. Children can feel the difference between duty and delight. Therefore, the first and most important job of a parent is to fall in love with the worship of God. You can’t impart what you don’t possess.

Togetherness...Worshiping together counters the contemporary fragmentation of families. Hectic American life leaves little time for significant togetherness. It is hard to overestimate the good influence of families doing valuable things together week in and week out, year in and year out.

Catch the Spirit...Parents have the responsibility to teach their children by their own example the meaning and value of worship. Therefore, parents should want their children with them in worship so the children can catch the spirit and form of their parents’ worship.

Children should see how Mom and Dad bow their heads in earnest prayer during the prelude and other non-directed times. They should see how Mom and Dad sing praise to God with joy in their faces, and how they listen hungrily to His Word. They should catch the spirit of their parents meeting the living God.

Something seems wrong when parents want to take their children in the formative years and put them with other children and other adults to form their attitude and behavior in worship. Parents should be jealous to model for their children the tremendous value they put on reverence in the presence of Almighty God.

Not an excessive expectation…Children can be taught in the first five years of life to obey their father and mother when they say, “Sit still and be quiet.” Parents’ helplessness to control their children should not be solved by alternative services but by a renewal of discipline in the home..

Not all over their heads..Children absorb a tremendous amount that is of value….

Music and words become familiar. The message of the music starts to sink in. The form of the service comes to feel natural. The choir makes a special impression with a kind of music the children may hear at no other time. Even if most of the sermon goes over their heads, experience shows that children hear and remember remarkable things.

The content of the prayers and songs and sermon gives parents unparalleled opportunities to teach their children the great truths of our faith. If parents would only learn to query their children after the service and then explain things, the children’s capacity to participate would soar….

Sunday worship service is not useless to children just because much of it goes over their heads. They can and will grow into this new language faster than we think—if positive and happy attitudes are fostered by the parents.”

From The Family:  Together in God’s Presence



136 Responses to “John Piper on Families Worshipping Together: Why Not Children’s Church?”

  1. Sheila, Mama to Six says:

    It’s kinda funny sometimes, to “notice” when one of my children’s heads pops up to look at the pastor, when he or she catches something he’s talking about – either something that we’ve discussed at home, or simply something that piques the child’s interest. It’s fun, because I see how much my children really are paying attention.
    (We usually give each child a small notepad and pen during the sermon, for either drawing a sermon- or “Jesus”-related picture, or, for the olders, to tally how many times they hear a certain word (i.e. thankfulness, or Holy Spirit, etc.). Now, that does keep them paying attention. :)

  2. Diane says:

    That John Piper is one schmarrrt fellah☺

  3. kimberly says:

    The church I attend is over 100 years old. The parish has been here 160 years. We have no nursery, no crying room, families sit together, children are expected to be quiet and behave.

    There are times I have had to take a fidgety little one and stand in the back, or step out in the vestibule for discipline, but they know what is expected of them, and that makes it easier.

    We had a visitor several years ago, that decided to drive to the big church in a neighboring town, because we didn’t have a nursery for her to drop off her children and go to church by herself. She called us backwoods Catholics, and was in quite a snit. The mere idea of having to control her children in church was too much for her.

    Children learn by example, and learn what is expected of them. It is true we have some rough Sundays, my youngest just turned two. My husband works Sundays, and we have 7 children at home…but, the older ones help with the little ones, and we pray and worship together. When they ask a question in a regular voice i shush them and remind them we are in Gods’ house, and we are talking to him.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’m still glad for Sunday school; many children simply learn lessons there in a more beneficial way than they would in a church. Each to their own. Thanks again Kelly for presenting a challenge in an open-minded way.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I meant to say sanctuary btw, not church.

  6. Charity says:

    I really enjoyed reading Piper’s points on this subject. Thank you for posting.

    One of the reasons that we refuse (!) to place our children in church nursery /children’s church is that we know that it is our responsibility to teach them and we don’t want anyone else taking that away. When you place your child in the care of someone else you hand that responsibility over to them. (Which is one of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool.) I know each parent has to make that choice themselves, and I’m thankful that you are raising the subject for everyone to think.

  7. Leah says:

    Jennifer, I was just having this discussion on my facebook page, and I responded to a Sunday school teacher who had your view. This was my response:
    “I think it is a problem when we conclude that children learn more in children’s church than with their own parents. Parents ought to be putting all those “teaching talents” towards their own children, not other people’s kids as a general principle. Of course there are special circumstances and needs. However, most parents figure their children got a lesson on Sunday, therefore they can neglect giving them lessons the other 6 days of the week. It’s a fact that most parents do not practice family worship daily…. they go to church on Sunday, send their kids to age-segregated classes (which IMO breaks sibling bonds, rather than fostering them), and send their kids to a school where they are discipled by someone else 6 hours a day. Meal-time prayers are all these parents have left in the day. They are deceiving themselves if they think this is what the Bible considers training their children in the admonition of the Lord. Building solid foundations is a noble thing, but it is not your duty to build other people’s children’s Christian foundation….. there isn’t anything inherently wrong with SS, but it could be working against the biblical model. After all the SS classes and youth ministries, we have a decline in Christian culture! Clearly, that model is not working.
    As far as comprehension goes – I saw an interview with Marshal Foster who was promoting the Geneva
    Bible (it pre-dates the KJV) …fathers who read it to their children for 1/2 hour in the morning and 1/2 in the evening produced incredible literacy and comprehension when it was severely lacking at that time. We underestimate the power of the Word.”
    That interview is here: http://www.worldhistoryinstitute.com/videos/video_detail.html?id=308http:

  8. Jennifer says:

    I think Sunday school is like regular school: good for talented teachers to take on. I learned primarily at home; SS enriched the process.

  9. Lori says:

    Hey, I think there might be a defenition problem here – Leah, in Canada is Sunday School primarily where children go while the adults are in regular worship? Just wondering. Here State-side Sunday School is ususally what people (children and adults) go to in addition to church worship, oftentimes before the corporate (well, we’d like corporate) worship service. The children’s during-church programs are usually called “children’s church.”

    Just wondering. :)

  10. Lori says:

    I myself am pretty much opposed to chilren’s church, for the reasons you posted Leah. But for SS I tend to reserve judgement (yet). I AM wary of it though, again, because of the point you and Piper both made. As a kid it was ok with me, but definitely by the time I was a teen I wish I had not been so much w/ my peers. I think if I had spent more time in the company of adults I would have matured better, and more safely.

  11. Leah says:

    Yes Lori, that’s what I meant… My “SS” terms are referring to the segregated learning times when children and adults are separated during the service.
    Again Jennifer, where in Scripture is there support for the discipleship of other people’s children?
    This was a book review on Amazon:
    “Here’s some food for thought: when we go out to eat at a restaurant, we don’t walk in the door and hand our children over to the “professional” meal administrators to teach our children how and what to eat while we go and eat in another room. Why do we hand our kids over to others for their spiritual nourishment? Think about it … “

  12. Dawn says:

    I posted this under the nursery thread, but it fits here too.

    Kelly,

    I have been thinking and praying a lot about this topic and as I was reading through the scriptures asking the Lord for wisdom and direction in this area, I came to Romans 14. The entire chapter speaks to the things which are not essential doctrine but that might prick at a believer’s conscience. The whole chapter is worthy of studying, but a couple of verses particularly stand out to me. Verse 3 says “The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.” And verse 5 “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” And verse 17-18 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” And lastly verse 22-23 says “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

    The Bible also says in Matthew 7:16-18
    “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

    As believers we need to look at our own church and ask ourselves, “Are we bearing good fruit? (as individual believers and as a whole body)” “Are our children being fed the Word of God?” “Are they growing in their walk with the Lord?” “Are the young people following after the Lord or chasing the things of the world?” If a person can answer “yes” to these questions, then I believe they are in a healthy church (assuming they are teaching sound doctrine).

    I really appreciate your blog Kelly and the ideas that you bring to the table. Although I may not always agree with your position, you challenge the believer to take a look at why he/she is doing things and that can only strengthen the body of Christ.

    Just for the record, we have done a mix of both (keeping our kids in service and allowing them to go to children’s classes). We homeschool and take the training of our children very seriously.

  13. Dawn says:

    Leah, maybe this might help to answer your question about where in Scripture there is support for the discipleship of other people’s children:

    1 Cor. 12:27-28, “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

    Notice that one of the gifts is being a teacher?

  14. Lori says:

    Dawn, I think that passage is referring to teachers rather broadly. For example, the teaching elders, or the elder women who were commanded to instruct the younger women. Both of which are described roles in the Bible. Special teaching of little childern set apart from their parents is nowhere indicated. I guess you could apply it to Children’s Church, but it’s stretching it. We are commanded to “be not forgetful in gathering together.” Together, as a body. I think it’s no small thing at all to represent Christ’s body acurately during church worship, all the member of the body together.

  15. Leah says:

    Dawn, I am pretty sure you just took what was to be applied to the BODY of Christ and ripped kids right out of their parents hands to somehow imply that a gift of teaching means “the discipleship of other people’s children”. Scripture twisting at best. The whole purpose of that passage is about the edification of the entire Body.
    Again, insufficient support for that position.

  16. Dawn says:

    I just wanted to add that since the Bible says that teaching is a gift, those of us whose churches have Sunday School teachers, etc. need to be sure that those teachers truly have that gift. How will we know? By their fruit. We should never allow our children to sit under the teaching of a fellow believer who is bearing bad fruit. We need to get to know them personally and observe their walk with the Lord and the fruit they are bearing in their life.

    I posted this already (it didn’t show up??) but Matthew 7:16-18 says, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

    Just some additional things to think about.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Thank you, Dawn. Leah, I never write something as wrong unless there’s a command against it.

  18. Lori says:

    Leah, I respectfully disagree.

    You said: “I think it is a problem when we conclude that children learn more in children’s church than with their own parents.”
    It’s not a question of them learning more in children’s church than with their own parents; it’s a question of whether they learn more when they listen to a sermon primarily geared toward adults or when they listen to a sermon specifically tailored toward younger children. Let me reiterate that at my church at least, children’s church is not play time. The children receive a sermon from the Word of God just as the adults do, just more on their level than the main service would allow.

    “Parents ought to be putting all those ‘teaching talents’ towards their own children, not other people’s kids as a general principle.”
    Most parents DO.

    “Of course there are special circumstances and needs. However, most parents figure their children got a lesson on Sunday, therefore they can neglect giving them lessons the other 6 days of the week.”
    First of all, from the church parents I know, this is anything but true. Parents at our church tend to take the discipleship of their children very seriously, but many still choose to allow their children to attend children’s church after worship singing because they know their children will receive the Word of God more readily if it is fed to them in a more milky and less meaty form.

    ~Lori #3

  19. Lori says:

    Oh, and one more thing, regarding this comment: “However, most parents figure their children got a lesson on Sunday, therefore they can neglect giving them lessons the other 6 days of the week.”

    While that may or may not be the case (I think not), this is equally likely to be true for families who allow their children to attend children’s church AND for families who keep their children in service with them. Unless you are saying that parents who keep their children in service with them somehow feel they are not learning, so must be taught at home? In that case, if you really feel they don’t get anything out of it, what would be the justification for having them in adult/main service in the first place? But if it’s equally true that parents feel their children are learning in family-integrated sermons versus children’s church sermons, then it follows that the very thing you complained about would apply equally to either group.

  20. Charity says:

    Ugh! I completely dissagree with “dumb-down” or “watered-down” versions of God’s Word for children. Children need the meat too!

  21. wordwarrior says:

    Dawn,

    Your earlier commented is posted now. It was in my spam folder (do you know about my pesky comments-in-spam-folder problem?) and I just got home to let it out ;-)

    Referencing the passage you quoted from Romans, I do think that passage has broader implications, maybe, than just the topic of eating foods that were in question…I think it’s paramount, as you said, to “let each be fully convinced in his own mind” and I think by and large, few people give it any real thought.

    But we also have to be careful not to take a Scripture such as this, apply it to an area where we just don’t feel like searching out Scripture, and use it to clear our conscience on the matter.

    I may not be being clear, maybe you know what I mean. It’s easy to apply the “well, I’m convinced in my mind” about a topic when we may not have given it proper thought, or we just don’t want to face opposition.

    It is my prayer that we take the time to fully search out the matter. And I think you’re right about “judging by its fruit”, to the degree that the issue in question doesn’t oppose a matter of wisdom already expressed in Scripture. That is, pragmatism can be applied with positive results, and still be against the wisdom of God’s Word.

    Sorry if I’m rambling…I have a splitting headache ;-)

  22. Leah says:

    Lori, when I said “I think it is a problem when we conclude that children learn more in children’s church than with their own parents.”
    - I was trying to point out to the lady I was addressing was the common attitude that our children are better off with someone else when it comes to learning about God (which I was trying to point out is ultimately discipleship). I guess I didn’t phrase that very well.
    But you make a good point about the tailoring of a sermon to the understanding of children. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all. We do that with our own kids every day, although I think they can handle more meat than we realize.

    Our worlds must be very different because all the “church parents” we know over here have barely heard of the term “theology” or “doctrine”, much less heard anything about discipling their own or considered the consequences of government schooling, etc. So when I referred to the situation of kids getting teaching in children’s church, but not the other 6 days of the week – sadly, it is the norm in our circles. And yes, it is probably an issue in every family out there, but probably less in family-integrated church families, as they already understand the basic concept of discipling their children and are more likely to practice family worship.

  23. Christie says:

    In my opinion – what occurs in the privacy of homes is speculation – do parents teach their children the other 6 days of the week? Some do – some don’t. If your parents taught you, then you assume most all parents teach their children. If your parents didn’t – then you assume, as a child, that most parents don’t – and it’s easy to then NOT train your own children because it simply NEVER crosses your mind to do so (unless challenged by church and friends at church to do so.)

    Must like using seat belts – in some families, the car NEVER leaves the driveway without everybody being buckled in, and you’re raised with that assumption, and as a teenager or young adult, would feel positively NAKED to ride in a car without your seatbelt buckled. But for others, they NEVER buckle their seat belt and never think to do so.

    So – I do hope EVERYBODY is teaching and training their children at home, but I know this is NOT the case.

    I was raised in a family that attended a church – when it was convenient – and my brother and I soon learned that if we bounced into M&D’s room early Sunday morning and begged for doughnuts, Dad woudl go get us doughnuts and we’d end up staying home from church. We also learned, by example, that we never said a prayer before meals UNLESS grandma and grandpa were visiting – then we ALWAYS said grace before meals.

    I also realize that even today, my parents probably ONLY say grace before meals IF me and my children are visiting.

    (and the Bible was NEVER cracked in my childhood home except once, when my Dad attempted to instruct us as a family when we were middle-schoolers, and to my shame, my brother and I mocked him so that he soon gave up the notion. I think MAYBE he tried that twice before giving up.)

    So please – don’t assume that because training children 6 days a week comes naturally to you because you were raised in it – that it comes naturally to everybody. Not everybody was raised wearing seatbelts – so becuase there is SOMEBODY out there, like me, raised without it who will implement it if challenged – PLEASE CONTINUE PREACHING THE MESSAGE becuase SOME will hear. Do not let this message go by the wayside because of an assumption that everybody knows it already. WE DONT”.

    Thank you!
    Christie

  24. Catherine R. says:

    I agree with all this in theory, however my husband and I often give up and take our little one out to the foyer to play. He is one of the only toddlers in the (large) service so when he makes noise, it’s like there’s a microphone on him. My husband and I want to train him but we are both weaklings. It is my hope that one day he’ll be able to peacefully sit through service because we don’t want him in the nursery.

    Funny, a lot of times he (our 1 year old) will dance during the music and we get lots of comments on how cute he is, especially since he’s one of the only small children in there, but I know this is not a good long term solution.

    One more thing is that a friend of mine who believes family integrated service is best commented, I think wisely, that the church as a whole has so completely conformed to the “separated” mentality that it’s going to take a while to turn that massive ship around. Therefore, it’s good to understand that some people struggle with this, especially when, for instance, everyone is looking at you like you have two heads just because your toddler made a peep in service. Ya know?

  25. Lori says:

    I think that like in the NT, the church should be primarily focusing on evangelizing adults – esp head-of-households, who then bring their families into the fold. For the occasional child who might come to the Lord outside of that biblical model, it would be ideal to be placed by an elder w/ a family for worship. Not only is this more biblical than evangelizing children away from parental authorities, but it allows them to see the family witness shown in Piper’s writing.

    Children’s church has become the new box. But still we’re seeing apostacy at the national level. I think it’s time to think outside the box again.

    Again, I’m not saying that

  26. Lori says:

    Sorry,

    Again, I’m not saying that SS is wrong. But it dosen’t seem to be accomplishing much. And it’s not the biblical model, so far from ideal. Hmm. Soo far from ideal.

  27. Mrs. Lady Sofia says:

    I enjoyed Mr. Piper’s article, and it certainly gives me something to think about regarding age-segregation classes in church.

    ~Mrs. Lady Sofia~

  28. Jasmine says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Mrs. Kelly!

    I wonder, have you read “Soul Searching,” by Christian Smith? It’s not written from an FIC perspective, but it’s got some amazing statistics about the percentage of families that actually have a long-term plan for the discipleship of their children -they’re in the minority. It’s not specifically geared towards age segregation vs. integration, but its quotes are priceless.

    Also on this subject, “Perspectives on Family Ministry” is a great book edited by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones. It talks about three different methods of family ministry, including the FIC (one of our elders wrote that chapter ;-) ). It’s a wonderful follow up to the dilemmas presented in “Soul Searching.”

    Thank you again for sharing, and for your gracious approach to the topic!

  29. Word Warrior says:

    Thanks, Jasmine! No, I haven’t read those…I’ve been looking for new books to start so that gives me ideas ;-)

  30. Lori says:

    Hey Jasmine and Kelly, have either of y’all read The Greatness of the Great Commission by Ken Gentry? It’s one of my favorites! (this is to the book tangent, it has nothing to do with children’s church)

  31. Dawn says:

    Lori, you said, “Special teaching of little childern set apart from their parents is nowhere indicated.”

    Well, I can think of at least two examples: Samuel (taught by Eli) and Josiah (taught by Hilkiah). There may be others. I was curious about how the children of the Israelites would have been educated in Bible times (yes, I know that parents were the primary educators of their children…but I wondered if they ever handed them over to anyone else) and so I did a little research and came across this info:

    “Since all Israelites were bonded together in covenant relationship as the people of God before Yahweh, the religious community also played an important role in the education of the Hebrew youth. Again, community instruction was essentially religious in nature and purpose and took the form of didactic and historical meditation, moral training, sign and symbol, memorization and catechism, festival and sacrificial liturgy, ritual enactment, and priestly role modeling. Specific examples of community education include: the three great pilgrimage festivals (Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and Tabernacles Deut 16:16 ; cf. Exod 12:14-28 ), the public reading of the Mosaic law every seventh year ( Deut 31:12-13 ), the covenant renewal enactments (Deut. 29-30; Josh. 23-24), the annual national festivals/fasts, sabbath worship, historical teaching memorials, tabernacle/temple architecture and furnishings, the sacrificial system, and priestly dress and liturgical function.”

    Did you notice it said “religious community” and “community instruction?” You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/education-in-bible-times.html
    There may be a better source of info out there somewhere but I don’t have time to go searching for it if there is.

    You also said, “I think that like in the NT, the church should be primarily focusing on evangelizing adults – esp head-of-households, who then bring their families into the fold. For the occasional child who might come to the Lord outside of that biblical model, it would be ideal to be placed by an elder w/ a family for worship. Not only is this more biblical than evangelizing children away from parental authorities, but it allows them to see the family witness shown in Piper’s writing.”

    I thought your phrase ” the occasional child who might come to the Lord outside of that Biblical model” was interesting because I accepted Jesus at the age of 5 (at my Christian Kindergarten no less…even though my parents were teaching me about Jesus at home and my grandpa was a Baptist preacher and evangelist no less!!) Anyway, I decided to also look up the statistics on the age at which most Americans become saved and found that 85% say they got saved between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. Only 4% say they got saved at age 30 or older. (Info taken from this site: http://home.snu.edu/~HCULBERT/ages.htm )

    So it doesn’t really make sense to try to evangelize only adults or heads of households does it? You said, “Not only is this more biblical than evangelizing children away from parental authorities, but it allows them to see the family witness shown in Piper’s writing.” How is this more Biblical??? Jesus said to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” I think all creation would include children as well.

    Just some more things to think about.

  32. Dawn says:

    Just realized I said “no less” twice…man I must be tired! ;-)

  33. Lori says:

    Charity, I didn’t say we had to “dumb down” or “water down the Gospel.” I said we have to present it in a way that children can understand, commensurate with their developmental level. Are children dumb? No.

    Again, at our church, parents are always free to keep their children with them in adult service during the sermon. Everybody worships together during the singing and pre-sermon prayer times, and then some of the children leave when the sermon begins to participate in children’s church. The children’s service is not a Sunday school-type service at our church. The children receive a sermon.

    Lori (whichever number Lori you are ;) ), our church does focus its evangelism efforts on adults. Ideally, yes, we would like the adults in the household to come to a saving knowledge of Christ, at which point the rest of the household follows. However, ideals don’t always or even usually match up with reality, and we are not in the business of turning people away.

    Our children’s minister, on his way to church one morning, noticed several children in a group of townhouses playing basketball outside. He asked them if they went to church anywhere, and they said that although they would like to, their parents never took them. His heart was broken over this, and our bus ministry began. We don’t pick up children outside the authority of their parents. Their parents, of course, must sign for them to ride the bus and attend. Many of these children are educated about Christ in a way that excludes their parents, but only because they will not come to church. In many of these families, there is no male head of household anyway. When Jesus said to let the little children come, I feel that he meant all the children, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or whether they have good/responsible/Christian parents. I feel like we do live in very different communities. We live in a military town, so our congregation is very diverse. There are many homeschooling families in our congregation, but then there are also many people who are not able to homeschool due to finances (especially single mothers). Children’s church does work for our church, but I fully admit it may not work for every church.

    As far as milk vs. meat, I am not saying that our children’s minister avoids doctrinal topics, but rather that he takes care to explain them slowly enough and clearly enough that his words do not fall on deaf ears. For instance, he spent ten weeks on the fruits of the Spirit (one for each fruit and a wrap-up week), two weeks on forgiveness (God forgiving you, you forgiving others), and four weeks on the Trinity (specifically emphasizing the Holy Spirit because He is perhaps the hardest concept in the Trinity for children to grasp).

    Let me reiterate that I think families who choose to sit together in service are perfectly fine, but I just don’t feel that children’s church (especially the model our church employs, with parent choice about whether to let their children go or sit in main service, and with very serious lessons for the children if they attend children’s service) is problematic.

    Thanks, Kelly, for hosting this interesting discussion!

  34. Rachel Falaschi says:

    I’m finding in these discussions that the view among many faimly integrated worshipers is, if children are in children’s church, nursery, or sunday school, then the parents are not teaching, training,or disciplining their children. They expect others to do it for them. I really don’t want to step on other people’s toes and my intent is not to start and argument, but I must disagree.

    The same type of parents that leaving children’s church to do all the teaching and training of their children, are the same type of parents whose children would be disruptive in a family integrated worship. If training is not there, then integrated worship will not magically bring it out.

    The kind of parents that teaching their children to behave in family integrated worship are the same kind of parents to lead their children in training and teaching at home even if they recieved an hour of instruction from another beleiver at church.

    It ultimately rests on the parent’s sholders. It doesn’t matter what type of church you attend if the parents are not doing thier job.

    As for me, my family worships together daily, on Sunday we have the opportunity to worship with others in community.

    On a side note, we have many new believers that appreciate the fact that they get to learn and be fed during the service without having to train their children at the same time. They know their children are learning as well. Not an argument for, just stating how things go at our church.

    Btw, we have a relatively large church with 350-400 people in a service and another 100-150 children not in the service. Around Christmas we do serveral special services with the children in the sactuary. No one finds the children distracting, even though they spend most Sundays in chilren’s church, they are still well discipled and well trained.

    Wow, this is really long, sorry.

  35. Rachel Falaschi says:

    Sorry for all the spelliing/gramatical errors in my last post. :(

  36. Lori says:

    Hi Lori, (don’t worry, I’m the only other Lori on today’s board, so I know you’re referring to me :) )

    I’m glad your church is trying evangelize adults. For the record, I believe that if there is no man in the house then the mother is the head of household. I wish other churches would preach more full gospel so the absentee fathers would go home and marry/live with the mothers of their children.

    “When Jesus said to let the little children come, I feel that he meant all the children, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or whether they have good/responsible/Christian parents. I feel like we do live in very different communities.”

    Hmmm. You seem to think that I have a very nice, tidy, Merry-maids view of evangelism. All I said was that we should be going to the biblical models for evangelism. What my communitiy looks like (or what you think it looks like) is irrelevant. Perhaps you’ll also note that I did not say children should not come to church w/out their parents, in fact I addressed that. I did not cite race, age or socioeconomic background for my model. I looked to the Bible. (speaking of the Bible, Jesus said that when the *parents* were bringing their children to Jesus for blessings, but for the sake of discussion I’ll go along – after all, I’m not for excluding children)

    I’m not saying your model is wrong, I’m saying it’s not biblical, and on a national level (children’s church has been fairly ubiquitous for what 20 years?), it’s generally failing to produce life-long christians.

    I’m not saying your wrong, and I’m not here to convince you of what I believe. I’m responding to what I think are misrepresentations of my viewpoint.

  37. Lori says:

    Whoops I probably should have said “man of the house”

  38. Lori says:

    Rachel F. – “I’m finding in these discussions that the view among many faimly integrated worshipers is, if children are in children’s church, nursery, or sunday school, then the parents are not teaching, training,or disciplining their children.”

    Actually, I thought Leah, Kelly and I have been begging people to look at the Bible first and formost, not pragmatically first.

    Plus…

    Lori (me) – “We are commanded to “be not forgetful in gathering together.” Together, as a body. I think it’s no small thing at all to represent Christ’s body acurately during church worship, all the member of the body together.”

    Dawn – ” I can think of at least two examples: Samuel (taught by Eli) and Josiah (taught by Hilkiah).”

    Samuel was not a normative case – he was a rare exception based on a unique promise between Hannah and God. It’s of as little relevance as using Sampson as a case for whether or not to imbibe.

    Josiah too is not normative – for one thing, he was born in a time of total national spiritual harlotry. As far as I can tell, he was the head of household since he was the king! Also not normative. I also can’t tell that Hilkiah didn’t address him w/ God’s work until the age of 18 (2 Kings 22) which even we modern Americans consider an age of adulthood. For another thing, I believe him be a type of Christ (rebuilt the temple -2 Chron 34,35-, did away w/ the former priests -2 Kings 23-, was born of the line of David, and the one who proclaimed his birth to the king was commanded by God to go home by a different way 1 Kings 23, who’s life on earth was followed by the destruction of Jerusalem). Again, not an example of bringing up baby the normative way.

    “Anyway, I decided to also look up the statistics on the age at which most Americans become saved and found that 85% say they got saved between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. Only 4% say they got saved at age 30 or older.”

    I have no argument w/ this.

    “So it doesn’t really make sense to try to evangelize only adults or heads of households does it?”

    You’re address evangelism pragmatically, not biblically.

    “Jesus said to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” I think all creation would include children as well.”

    I believe that if you preach it to the head of household you have by proxy preached it to the child because you have preached it to the household. However, I hold to a covenental view of grace, sacrament etc, so naturally I will have a different view than someone who is starting out with a different presupposition.

  39. Lori says:

    ‘scuse me, Hilkiah dind’t address him w/ God’s Word, not God’s work – typo

  40. Dawn says:

    In Luke 2:46 We find Jesus at the age of 12 (without his parents knowledge or permission) sitting and listening to the teachers in the temple. “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.”

    See that? Even Jesus listened and asked questions of teachers who were not his parents! Obviously it couldn’t have been wrong because we know he never did anything wrong. Now someone might say he was acting under the authority of his heavenly Father…and that would be true. However, he was still under his earthly parental authority as well. His father Joseph was still responsible for his religious training.

    Lori said, “I’m not saying your model is wrong, I’m saying it’s not biblical, and on a national level (children’s church has been fairly ubiquitous for what 20 years?), it’s generally failing to produce life-long christians.”

    Again, how is it not Biblical?? I think the above story about Jesus proves otherwise. Why is the church failing to produce life-long Christians? Because parents are neglecting to do their job! Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Whether your children sit with you in service or whether they sit in their own classes makes absolutely no difference if parents aren’t obeying this command. And we have the freedom in Christ to choose for our families the resources we want to use for that training. For some it will be having their children sit and worship with the family and for others it will be to have their children sit (as Jesus did) and listen and ask questions of the Sunday School teachers.

  41. Dawn says:

    Lori said, “You’re address evangelism pragmatically, not biblically.” That doesn’t make any sense. This is how the Bible says we are to evangelize:
    Mark 16:15
    “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

    He didn’t say to go and preach the gospel to every head of household.

  42. Dawn says:

    Hmmm…my other post must be in the spam folder! ;-)

  43. Dawn says:

    Lori, I realize that Samuel, Josiah (you are right that he wasn’t exactly a child when Hilkiah taught him…somehow I missed that part. However, the Bible mentions that his father and grandfather both did evil in the sight of the Lord, so someone other than his father taught him what was right…maybe his mother, but the Bible doesn’t say), and Jesus are unique examples. However, I already showed in my previous post that it was normative in Jewish culture for the whole community to have a part in a child’s religious training.

  44. Lori says:

    If it helps others to understand me better (hopefully find me less offensive? :) )

    I have a higher view of the family and of covenental headship than many contemporary. I believe that the order set in the Bible is the standard of what should be normative. I don’t think that my way is always the only right way.

    I also don’t place nearly as high a value on the sermon as a way of celebrating and observing the Lord’s day. I think that the best way of celebrating His day (in addition to rest, of course) is in corporate worship, reading of the Word, and celebrating the Eucharist. So having the children have a separate service, while not biblical,is not a cross I choose to die on, so to speak.

    I do think that children’s church can breed anti-child sentiment in churches, but that clearly isn’t the case among the women debating here.

    Y’all have a great weekend, and lovely Lord’s day!

  45. Lori says:

    oops (again) – So having the children have a separate sermon…

  46. Word Warrior says:

    Dawn,

    You make good points worthy of thought and discussion (that’s the point, right? ;-)

    But for the sake of clarity as we think through them, I wanted to point out that I *think* all the “community education” you referenced involved whole families, which makes those examples very uneven in comparison to segregating a worship service, the original idea of the post.

    I’ve thought about the example of Jesus myself. Several things come to mind…one, I’m guessing that a 12 year-old, in the Hebrew tradition, was virtually a man and so, again, makes our comparison a little skewed. Also, the fact that he was sitting under the scholars of his day is a far cry from Veggie Tales in children’s church…again, just to point out some nonparallel conclusions.

    All in all, I hope I’ve been clear stating that I don’t believe children’s church is wrong, nor is this a matter where all apples look alike.

    Like many other discussions, I believe I can make a general observation, based on general statistics and such, that it is *best* for families and children to worship together. As soon as families start to be segregated, although good can come of it, no doubt, many undesirable, precipitating effects can result.

    Overall, I think the church does more damage than good when it segregates its members, both in what is being communicated by that, and the practical implications that follow.

    More thoughts… ;-)

  47. Heather says:

    I’m a little late to the party, Kelly and I don’t have timeb to read all of the comments, but I think a bit of history concerning “Sunday School” would help shed a bit of light on the “should we or shouldn’t we” discussion.

    I recently blogged my way through the parallels between the churches of Revelation and the progression of church history (very interesting, BTW) and came across the name Robert Raikes, who is remembered as being the Father of the Sunday School Movement (begun in 1780)

    In England, Mr Raikes’ purpose was to draw into the churches care poor street children who either had no parents or whose parent were unable to/uninterested in getting an education for their children. And the subjects covered not only Bible but reading, writing and arithmetic.

    Remember, this is a time in history when “free public education” was not available to all children, regardless of class. The idea became quite popular and spread through England,Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America and is foundational to the development of what we know call “public school.

    How’s that for a zinger, Kelly? We have free public education for the underprivileged masses because of the love and concern of Christians for poor kids who need to know Jesus and learn valuable life skills–and it’s been commandeered by godless government agenda!!! I’ll bet most of us are totally ignorant of that aspect of both Sunday School and Public School history. I know I was.

    Anyway, I didn’t find anything that suggested Mr. Raikes was trying to give Sunday morning relief to mothers who had trouble controlling their children. I would suspect that he assumed that kids with church-attending parents would likely be getting proper training at home, during the week.

    Today, because of lack of parental guidance of our youth, I do see that the traditional vision for Sunday School still has a place. But it’s meant to bring MORE (likely injured) sheep into the fold instead of create fractions within the existing group.

    FWIW

  48. Heather says:

    I couldn’t resist jumping in, Kelly, but I think my comment is currently floating in Spam.

  49. Lori says:

    BTW Rachel F., I have often really benefitted from your input. If you have a blog that you’re not linking to here I would be very grateful to get to read you more. You can contact me through my blog if that’s an option (I understand though if it wouldn’t be, as a lot of blogs are private). Thanks! :)

  50. Lori says:

    Heather – Spam – it’s kind of like the comments Purgatory, isn’t it? ;)

    (My apologies if that would be an offense to our RC sisters’)

  51. Heather says:

    Yes. I’m thinking there must be a setting that picks up on certain words or phrases and catches the comments as being potentially offensive.

    Since my comments are usually novel-length, I have no idea what I’m typing to trigger the thing…

    Guess I’ll just be patient :)

  52. Rachel Falaschi says:

    Lori-

    No I don’t currently have a blog, although I have thought about it…
    Thanks for the nice thoughts.
    Rachel

  53. Heather says:

    Ah. Thanks Kelly for freeing me!

  54. Heather says:

    Ew. With all the typos, one might be tempted to assume I received a less-than adequate education myself. :P

  55. Word Warrior says:

    Heather,

    Hee..hee…nothing like setting the captives free. Except it’s a major pain in the neck for all involved ;-)

  56. Word Warrior says:

    Heather,

    Thank you for bringing rup that very important information…I had actually thought about that historical fact (which I had just learned a few years ago) and how fundamental it is when we start unpacking this topic–I had just been too busy to post it.

    Sometimes looking at how/why a thing got started gives much needed insight.

  57. Word Warrior says:

    Lori,

    You’re a mess ;-)

  58. Rachel says:

    Picking up on a different issue that has been mentioned – that of primarily evangelising adults/heads of households and not children – I don’t see that in scripture at all. If we take that logic, should we not just be evangelising men, as they are heads of the household, and not women? Of course, if a child is in a family where the father is saved, then that’s great for that child – and hopefully they will benefit from a good christian upbringing, though it doesn’t mean they will be saved. But I don’t see anything wrong with trying to evangelise children directly too.

    The church I grew up has a Sunday School on Sunday afternoons. It is separate from the other worship services and is explicitly evangelistic in focus and aimed at children from the village who aren’t from christian families (children in church families are in both sunday services with their parents). They get 70 – 100 children aged 3 – 13, and the Lord has really blessed the work. One girl, who is now 16, was saved at 11 from a very difficult background. It makes me so sad to think that most of these children would never here God’s word or the gospel if these efforts weren’t made. We can’t just leave children who haven’t been blessed with a christian upbringing out in the cold.

    Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle down in London have a similar style of Sunday School and reach hundreds of children with the gospel. I suppose I am coming at this from a different theological angle, as I am not presbyterian and reject the head of household/covenantal view. But if you take this view of evangelism – if the head of the household rejects the gospel, the children may never even get a chance to hear the gospel themselves – how can that be right?

    On a separate note, I think Robert Raikes was a very godly man who did a great work for the Lord in bringing the gospel to children, who again, would never have heard it at home. You may be interested in looking at the work of George Muller in Bristol too, who worked with orphans in the 19th century.

  59. Mandy says:

    Well, I’d like to look at this from my perspective as a child who sat with my parents during service until I was 12 and my father allowed us to go to the children’s service. It was then that I fell in love with going to church and couldn’t get enough of it. I learned that going to church meant worshiping God and that it could be both magical and comprehensible, something I didn’t know service could be. Until that time, church was an exercise in sitting still and being quiet. I’d listen long enough to catch one phrase to repeat after service, then occupy my self with counting how many times the ceiling fan rotated. As long as I was quiet and my eyes were facing forward (or up) then I met expectations. The one phrase I tried to remember to repeat was something that came later when my family began to expect me to understand the message. However, if I missed the message I just said I didn’t understand it and that was accepted. After I started going to children’s service I could repeat the entire lesson, sing new songs to praise the Lord and I felt really connected to the Lord. As an adult, I was able to reintegrate to the adult service with a more open heart and a better understanding of the joy of worship, rather than the duty of it. This is why I think children’s service is beneficial. Children do learn differently than adults and just because they can sit still doesn’t mean they’re spiritual needs are being met in a meaningful way. As such, I respectfully disagree.

  60. Kelly L says:

    I am very late, as I have been reading the comments and generally don’t like to get in the middle. (Read:WIMP) But I think, as so many have pointed out, that neither corporate worship as a family nor children’s care/church/Sunday School is not explicitly and exhaustively covered in the Bible (like love, adultery, or Hell are). And as such, we need to rely on Holy Spirit to speak to us, guide us, convict us as to what He wants for our particular families. That is one of the reasons Christ sent Him to us; we are to commune with Him as the disciples communed with Christ. For instance: Our daughter has been part of the little ones care through 5th grade. Next year, she will be expected to join the youth group. From what we see there it is equivalent to high school. As HSers, that is not what we are going for and not what we want her in. But that is based on our eyes, so we have asked the Lord what to do. He has told us both that she is not to be a part of it. Whoohoo! I like it when we “seem” right! But, I am not naive enough to assume that just because He told us that, He told everyone that. God has proved me wrong too many times for me to go there again. OK, WAY too many times ;}
    While I can see the heart of Kelly (WW) and her intentions of just bringing something to light for fellow believers to chew on, I see sometimes in the comments others who want to be right very badly and in that need for security in their beliefs will start to condemn others. Not so much in overt ways, although that has been seen here too, but in covert, passive aggressive ways. I would just say that this can be rooted in the spirit of people pleasing. And that has nothing to do with the Lord. I would just submit that if God was our only source for encouragement, security, and feeling of importance then we would not seem so defensive or offensive in our comments, we would be talking in love about things that matter to us and thus, matter to God because He is a loving Daddy. Please know that I am not yet delivered of this, either, so I am not coming from a place of hubris. Just another work in progress with a promise of completion!
    I have enjoyed many comments too, before I sound like a naysayer.

  61. Lori says:

    Hi Lori, I did not mean to suggest that you have a “Merry maids” view of evangelism, and I’m sorry if my comment implied that. :) I was simply saying that in our congregation and community, we have this strange dichotomy between church-going parents who care very much about their children’s spiritual growth and children in the community whose parents could not care less whether they ride the bus to church or don’t, whether they learn about Jesus or don’t. These are children who, I don’t think, would come or at least want to come if they were expected to join in adult service, or, even more awkwardly, be “assigned” to sit with some family every Sunday. We do direct some (though perhaps not the majority) of our ministry efforts toward children whose parents have no interest in church, the Bible, or God. Since we live in the United States of America, it’s pretty safe to say that most unsaved adults are not that way because they have never heard the Gospel, but because they have rejected it.

    In the “covenantal” theological system, this is not problematic. If children don’t hear the Gospel because their parents have rejected it, if they don’t accept the Gospel as adults because their hearts were hard before they heard it, to the Calvinist this is all well and good. The answer to the problem is, well, God created that person for wrath in the first place and put him or her in an unsaved household accordingly (at least if I am understanding Calvinism correctly…real “covenantal” Calvinists, please feel free to correct me ;) ).

    “Speaking of the Bible, Jesus said that when the *parents* were bringing their children to Jesus for blessings”
    Did he? Who brought them? The Bible (Luke 18:15-17, Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16) just tells us they were “brought” and refers to “those who brought them.”

    Also, Lori, are you distinguishing between “not Biblical” (i.e., not specifically directed in the Bible) from “unbiblical” (as in, contradicts principles clearly laid out in the Bible)? Perhaps we are misunderstanding what you’re trying to say. Then again, perhaps the “covenantal” and “dispensational” lenses through which to view Scripture are simply irreconcilable on yet another point.

    Also, I’d like to point out that my church’s model (or the “children’s sermon” model, or even the “children’s service” model) has not been tested out over the last 50 years and found lacking. Arguably, this can be said of the “send the kids off to Sunday school to color pictures of David and Goliath during the worship service” model, but certainly not of a model that includes children receiving a sermon from a pastor. Even if it did, however, I think modern moral disintegration has a lot more to do with the advent of free love and birth control, the rise of cities, new modes of transportation (including the automobile), new modes of communication (telephone and the internet), the nuclear bomb, or perhaps the centuries-ago invention of the printing press. In the face of that kind of shifting cultural landscape, to blame the last 50 years of humanity’s shared values on the advent of children’s Sunday school is just a little bit ludicrous, at least to my mind.

  62. Jennifer says:

    “We have asked the Lord what to do. He has told us both that she is not to be a part of it. Whoohoo! I like it when we “seem” right! But, I am not naive enough to assume that just because He told us that, He told everyone that”

    Mandy, you are singularly wise. Thank you!

  63. Jennifer says:

    Kelly L, you are singularly wise. Thank you!

    (Kelly Crawford, please don’t post my comment right before this one. I made an error).

  64. Lori says:

    Ladies, God did not put us on this earth and ask us to fugure things out based on our senses and how things seem to us, whether or not they make sense to us, how we feel about them, etc. Our feelings and senses are most useful tools (and they are part of God’s image on us). But we are to base our opinions on God’s Word as revealed in the Bible.

    I’m am not interested in debating this further (I thought I had essentially excused myself earlier). It is not my job to convince y’all, only to give an answer to the hope that is within me (including for cultural victory). But I am persuaded that the ladies are not only closed minded to the challenge, but are not even attempting to understand our position based on horrible misquotes such as “to blame the last 50 years of humanity’s shared values on the advent of children’s Sunday school is just a little bit ludicrous” (Lori). I don’t have all the answers, but I’m not even interested in trying to clarify my position further only to be publically misrepresented. Good night Ladies.

  65. Lori says:

    Lori, I am so sorry that I misunderstood you, and I regret what you see as a misrepresentation.  I would never intentionally misrepresent someone’s position on an issue. My sincerest apologies in this regard.

    However, I do object to the characterization that I’m closed minded, or not even attempting to understand. If I weren’t attempting to understand, I wouldn’t be here. If there is really something wrong biblically with children’s church, Sunday school, or a similar activity that involves someone other than a parent teaching a child, of course I absolutely want to know about it. My goal is to live my life in a way pleasing to my Savior, a goal I’m sure you share. If children’s church, Sunday school, and the like violate principles clearly laid out in Scripture, I want nothing whatsoever to do with them. I just have not seen a compelling biblical case against them by citing specific Scriptures. In asking questions and attempting to restate people’s positions, I AM seeking to understand. I am not here to cause trouble or a debate. There is a time and a place for that, and it is not here. I simply don’t understand how or why people feel that this model of “doing church” is potentially unbiblical.

    I hate that I can’t sit down with all of you and have a cup of coffee or tea, chat about our lives, and just generally love one another. Instead, all you see is a weird fractal to the side and words on a page. ;) It is not enough to get a sense of anybody’s personality. No one sees my face here. No one knows my character. Maybe I don’t come across the right way all the time, but my heart, I assure you, is in the right place.

    “Our feelings and senses are most useful tools (and they are part of God’s image on us). But we are to base our opinions on God’s Word as revealed in the Bible.”
    I agree with you 100000000000000000%. God’s Word is the all-sufficient guide for life. It is the instruction manual, or more to the point God-breathed guidance to teach us how to walk blamelessly. You will not find me disagreeing with the sufficiency of Scripture.

    I suppose the core difference, on this issue, between you and me is a curious blend of soteriology and eschatology. I feel like I have had this conversation before, on Kelly’s blog in fact. You believe Christians can work to make things better, that the Lord has promised cultural victory through multigenerational faithfulness before His return (is that correct?). I, on the other hand, believe that the world is slowly grinding to a dirty, lecherous end, punctuated by the glowing exclamation point of the return of Jesus Christ. I can see how this difference of theological opinion could impact such seemingly faraway disputes as this one.

    At any rate, Lori, I sincerely respect you as a thoughful sister in Christ, and again, I apologize for mischaracterizing what you said. I would still like to know whether you are making a distinction between “not biblical” and “unbiblical,” but other than that, I would not ask you to be drawn into a fruitless debate.

    God bless you all, and have a wonderful weekend and a blessed and restful Sunday!

  66. Angela says:

    Kelly L, Thank you for your timely reminder to ask God about what is best for our own families.

  67. Jennifer says:

    “I simply don’t understand how or why people feel that this model of “doing church” is potentially unbiblical”

    I totally agree, though not all say so.

    “You believe Christians can work to make things better, that the Lord has promised cultural victory through multigenerational faithfulness before His return (is that correct?).”

    Idk if Lori believes this, but some do and it seems foreign to the Bible. The multi-generational, dominion-oriented stuff seems to be from folks who think God will give us the world to rule before Christ’s return; some multi-generational fams even exhort planning their families’ sizes, numbers, and birth/death dates for a couple of centuries! Talk about family planning. I’d love to see the good parts of the world get better, but the end result will be ruin and then Christ reigning, not us.

  68. Leah says:

    Lori (#3?),

    You are right in recognizing how theological differences – especially in soteriology and eschatology can affect one’s opinion and general worldview on almost every topic. That is why they are of the greatest importance.
    I’m glad you at least are able to articulate your expectation of Christ’s failure in culture and society. Most people are not able to express how they believe in the failure of the Great Commission so eloquently as you.

    (sorry if that sounds inflamed, but I’m honestly surprised)

  69. Jennifer says:

    Leah, the Bible speaks CLEARLY of the fact that the world will worsen and Christ will crush it before making it anew. Don’t attack Lori for such ridiculous reasons.

  70. Lori says:

    Leah, that is a completely bizarre mischaracterization of what I believe and what I articulated above. I don’t believe in CHRIST’S failure in culture and society; I believe in His ultimate VICTORY, as the Bible declares. It’s the simplest of syllogisms: Christ is God, God is love, and love never fails. Therefore, Christ does not fail, cannot fail, will not fail. EVER.

    I also do not believe in the failure of the Great Commission. That’s just a very strange representation of what I said. We are to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. Clearly, the witness of Scripture is that not everyone will be saved (my apologies to universalists). It is, however, the responsibility of Christ’s disciples to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. It is God’s responsibility/role to draw them to Himself, to send His prevenient grace to make them receptive to Him. I would argue it is also the individual’s role to accept that grace or reject it (though obviously I know this is inconsistent with Calvinist doctrine).

    On the other hand, I do believe that mankind has failed since nearly the beginning, and will continue to fail until Christ’s return. Some people are lovers of themselves and not of God. They do not care about the things of God. They outnumber the saved, and likely will continue to do so. The road to destruction is wide, and the road to eternal life is narrow. The world is dark. Christ is the Light who shines in the darkness, but as John 1 says the darkness can’t comprehend it!

    In the end, the Lord will be victorious over all things. He will marry His bride, who He has cleansed with the washing of water and the Word, who is without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. This is the church (or, arguably, all God’s elect, which may/may not include His people Israel).

    But there is nothing to suggest that the evildoers will not increase in the end of days before Christ’s return, and a lot to suggest they actually will. So no worries, I am not calling Christ a failure; I just anticipate that His patient waiting to give all a chance to come to repentance will also give the world time to become more and more evil. Scripture is brimming with passages about the evil we will see in the end of days. We could argue about what the phrase “end of days” means, but if you are intellectually honest you will at least admit that my theological standpoint doesn’t accuse God of failure, just victory at the appropriate moment He has chosen.

    Any belief that the current decline in society (or an expectation of future decline in society) represents some kind of failure in Christ is quite simply heresy, because there is no failure in God Christ. Please make no mistake about my firm belief in that assertion.

  71. Leah says:

    Jennifer, “Leah, the Bible speaks CLEARLY of the fact that the world will worsen and Christ will crush it before making it anew. Don’t attack Lori for such ridiculous reasons.”

    The Bible CLEARLY says the world will get worse, eh? Lets see book, chapter and verse for that. I wouldn’t even try Matthew 24 if I were you.

  72. Heather says:

    “The Bible CLEARLY says the world will get worse, eh? Lets see book, chapter and verse for that.”

    I probably shouldn’t step in here but wanted to offer a few thoughts.
    This present world is horribly marred by sin. Even atheists can see that the earth is “dying” as pollution increases, famines worsen, animal species become extinct, the food supply gets more contaminated, new diseases are becoming ever more deadly, man-focused political and financial systems keep falling apart. The counterfeit earthly kingdom that is being promoted by man-as-god-under-Satan is on a one-way course to self-destruction.

    Jesus gave His friends fair warning of what they were to expect after He was arrested.

    John 16:33 I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

    Does that “prove” that the world will get worse? Not necessarily. But it doesn’t give any suggestion that Christ’s people will inherit this world in it’s present form as a kingdom for us to rule over.

    In Matthew 20:25-26 the disciples are warned against having an attitude that mimics that of worldly, pagan rulers.

    The Father has given all things into the hand of His beloved Son (John 3:35; 10:29). Jesus has already inherited the earth and will judge righteously all who have ever inhabited it. He has promised to rescue all who call on Him (John 6:37) and has given His word that those who place faith in His faithfulness will be given eternal life with Him in His new creation (John 14:1-4).

    1 John 2:15 Warns to not allow ourselves to become attached to the things of this world.

    Philippians 3:18-20 says that those who mind earthly things are enemies of the cross of Christ–but Paul goes on to say that we are waiting for our portion in Christ’s kingdom–which will be revealed when He returns to transform our corruptible bodies into incorruptible, like His.

    1 Peter 1:3-7 describes our hope for inheritance as being in Christ’s resurrection:

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
    who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials,
    so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    Again, I don’t see Christian dominion over this present corrupted world being promoted in any of these passages. What we look forward to is the new creation which Christ has promised to those He raises from the dead after this earthly threshing phase is over.

    I trust God’s Word is true. Jesus is alive and currently ruling from His throne. He will return one day for all of His family and take us to the place He promised to prepare.

    At this time, I have not been convinced of the validity of the dominionist perspective. It seems to be focused a little too strongly on this current earthly realm to be exactly what Scripture is saying.

    But, I’m not stubbornly attached to any other schematic. So, I suppose I could be convinced if someone offered an adequate explanation.

  73. Heather says:

    Drat. Got spammed again.

    Oh well, my comment was probably not very helpful considering the direction this discussion has gone and the fact that I’m not of a dominionist perspective at this time.

    Don’t bother freeing me this time, Kelly, if you feel my thoughts would be inflammatory. My intention was certainly not to insult the ladies here who hold to a different understanding than myself.

  74. Lori says:

    Dawn – “Even Jesus listened and asked questions of teachers who were not his parents!”
    -I never once took issue w/ children sitting w/ other adult or religious leaders and asking them questions (another reason I believe you to be NOT trying to understand our position).

    This is not an example of children’s church because is wasn’t church for children. It was Jesus quizzing the priests.

    “Now someone might say he was acting under the authority of his heavenly Father…and that would be true. ”
    -You just hit the nail on the head.

    “However, he was still under his earthly parental authority as well. His father Joseph was still responsible for his religious training.”
    -First of all, in Hebrew culture age 12 was the generally beggining of manhood. Second of all, this is still not a support for children’s church because he was there without his earthly parents’ (as you yourself pointed out) permission and completely freaked them out. And you’re right, it couldn’t be wrong, because he was there on His true Father’s business, and God’s commands trump man’s.

    Lori- Thanks for the references on the “little children” and for pointing out my mistake. I guess I had just completely absorbed it from hearing it as a kid in the church sermon (seriously, not trying to be smart). It does stand to reason that they was w/ family members as the Hebrews generally travelled in family units like for the festivals, trips to temple etc (thanks for the reminder), but you’re right Lori, the Bible’s not specific. Thanks again.

    Lori – “I AM seeking to understand. I am not here to cause… a debate” That was more or less my impression. I apologize.

    By the way, your multiple examples of “religious community” are fabulous supports for family integrated worship, and I thank you.

    Lori – I accept your apology. Mistakes happen.

    Dawn and Lori – I do not know how to say “not biblical” any simpler. I’ve said over and over again “not wrong but not biblical.” I am not interested redefining those words.

    And speaking of redefining,
    Lori, with your views of the Great Commission you’ve essentially just redefined the words “win” and “fail” so naturally Leah would think the way she does. And for the record, I think she’s right.

    And yes, it’s come up before on Kelly blog:
    http://www.generationcedar.com/main/2008/11/subtle-effects-of-birth-control-culture.html#comments

    http://www.generationcedar.com/main/2009/09/how-diapers-and-dishes-will-change-the-world.html

    And another post that Kelly wrote on her own views, but I can’t find the link right now.

  75. Lori says:

    Pahhahahaha! Yeah, “they was with”

    You are all free to laugh at me! ;P

  76. Lori says:

    Oh, and since I forgot so elaborate, the pastor was talking about how in Hebrew culture is was considered normal for parents to take their chilren to the religious leaders for blessings. It is logical to me, but not “Bible-truth” so to speak. :) Anyhow, that’s where I got that idea.

  77. Heather says:

    Lori (Red Fractile) said: I agree with you 100000000000000000%. God’s Word is the all-sufficient guide for life. It is the instruction manual, or more to the point God-breathed guidance to teach us how to walk blamelessly. You will not find me disagreeing with the sufficiency of Scripture.
    ********************************
    God’s Word (LOGOS) certainly is sufficient! He became flesh and when we have a personal relationship with Him, He will teach us what we need to know via Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

    I have been often haunted by Jesus’ words to the hypocritical Jewish leaders when He said:

    “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me”, (John 5:39).

    And I shudder to think how often I’ve done the same thing as those men– elevating my Bible to idol status when it is supposed to be God’s letter, a “tool”, by which He reveals Himself to His people.

    Not saying you worship your Bible. Your comment just reminded me of my own struggle to keep Jesus front and center.

  78. Lori says:

    Lori – “It is the instruction manual, or more to the point God-breathed guidance to teach us how to walk blamelessly.”

    I forgot to mention, I love that, and totally agree.

  79. Lori says:

    Oh yeah, and there are like a 100 Psalms about loving God’s law and precepts. (OK, 100 might be hyperbole, but you get the idea :) )

  80. Jennifer says:

    Leah, if you’re unaware of the promises in the Bible of the anti-Christ coming to reign, the evildoers taking over and Christ returning and destroying the wicked world before its renewed, I suggest you read Revelations.

  81. Lori says:

    Jennifer, I suggest that you read Days of Vengance by David Chilton, which I believe you can download free here http://www.entrewave.com/freebooks/sidefrm2.htm

    It will greatly assist one’s understanding of Revelation.

  82. Lori says:

    Heather – “the earth is “dying” as pollution increases,”
    - pollution is decreasing per capita, esp in the “first” world. Technology is getting increasingly efficient, there is far less particle contamination, and is less and less poisonous. And hello, can I give a shout-out to water sewage treatment? Oh, yeah, and machines that draw clean water out of AIR?

    “new diseases are becoming ever more deadly”
    -More deadly than what – Smallpox? Beubonic Plague?

    “man-focused political and financial systems keep falling apart. ”
    - Please forgive me, but, OF COURSE. We need God-focused political and financial systems.

    “But it doesn’t give any suggestion that Christ’s people will inherit this world in it’s present form as a kingdom for us to rule over. ”
    -Totally agree! It will be improved.

    “What we look forward to is the new creation which Christ has promised to those He raises from the dead after this earthly threshing phase is over.”

    -I agree with this. I also believe that the meek shall inherit the earth (this earth) and that this earth shall be Christ’s footstool as He sits in His throneroom. Total dominion.

    “1 John 2:15 Warns to not allow ourselves to become attached to the things of this world.”

    -It’s not about “things” it’s about spreading Jesus’ kingdom and stewarding it. And obedience in stewardship. Which will get better and better as His kindom expands not just over all the earth, but over all facets of life. Because everything here us Jesus’, God gave it to Him (as you yourself pointed out), and we are his co-heirs (thanks to His sweet Grace).

    “I trust God’s Word is true. Jesus is alive and currently ruling from His throne. He will return one day for all of His family and take us to the place He promised to prepare. ”

    -Totally agree!

    “the dominionist perspective…seems to be focused a little too strongly on this current earthly realm to be exactly what Scripture is saying.”

    -Aaack. Again with the “seems.” For a somewhat detailed (though far from comprehensive) review of a certain Dominion-orientied lady’s Scripture supports, please visit:

    http://www.generationcedar.com/main/2008/11/subtle-effects-of-birth-control-culture.html#comments

  83. Lori says:

    Dang it! I hate it when that happens! I was addressing Heather’s concerns and missed the main point! Which is – The prophecies came true. The old order was destroyed when Rome sacked – all that apocolyptic talk? Running for the hills? Woe to them that give suck? If you read up on what the Jews went through during the seige you’ll agree. Especially about woe to them that give suck. (shudder) It all happened, almost 2000 years ago.

    The Mark of the Beast? Here’s a little known fact:

    Remember how in elementary school you learned the Roman Numerals? They were really just letters w/ assigned numeric value.

    Same thing in Hebrew.

    AND if you spell out NERO CAESAR in Hebrew it also spells out in numerals. And you can add them up. And they add up to Six Hundres Sixty-Six.

    No lie.

    If you’re intrigued by that I recommend reading The Beast of Revelation by Ken Gentry, or for further explanation of above topic, read Before Jerusalem Fell by Ken Gentry. Don’t worry, it’s not just Ken Gentry talking, it’s explication of Bible passages.

  84. Lori says:

    ‘Scuse me, meant to type “when Rome sacked Jerusalem”

  85. Leah says:

    I know eschatology is veering off the original topic, but we at least agree that eschatalogical views affect one’s worldview in general, which will essentially affect the way you view family, it’s responsibilities and how you handle issues such as family integration and children’s church.

    Jennifer, I suggest you read RevelatioN – no “s” yourself… you won’t find the word “antichrist” anywhere in there. You also won’t find anything about a rebuilt temple, or a covenant between Jews and an antichrist (you didn’t mention those specifically, but those beliefs often go together). What you will find – right in the first chapter is that John says to the readers of his day that the “time is near” and that he is their “brother and companion in the tribulation”. He reconfirms this several other times.
    Jennifer and Lori, I have no idea what your background is or what kind of teaching you have been exposed to, but if this is a new idea to you, I think you will find that when you read this historical account of basically what is John’s version of Matthew 24 (the warning of the destruction of Jerusalem about to happen in 70 AD)in the context it was intended (the readers of their day), it will make so much more sense and is a great deal more satisfying than trying to pole-vault it’s intention and meaning 2000+ years into the future.

    Jennifer, your view that “the promises in the Bible of the anti-Christ coming to reign, the evildoers taking over” represents the general pessimistic, defeatology that most modern evangelicals have accepted as true.
    Well, if I were the devil, I would be so ecstatic you believe that whopper of a lie. What better way to retard and forfeit the Church than to have it believe that I (satan) am supposed to take over. You’ve practically handed this world to me on a silver platter – and with a smile!

    I’ll quickly state what I believe to be the most biblically consistent here: Christ will return one day. It will not be for a defeated bride. He will return for one without spot or blemish. A perfect church is not dominated by evil, nor is it under the bondage of Satan’s reign. Rather, the church is moving toward discipling the nations on a global scale. Discipleship. This is far beyond evangelism. This is teaching nations the law and principles of Scripture for which they can live by! From the bottom up….. from the Holy Spirit regenerating the person, the family, the community, and then to how God wants civil governments run.

    The very fact that people believe Satan is able to or will reign is the denial of Christ’s present Lordship and what He did on the cross. That is serious business. It’s like people don’t understand fully what happened when Christ defeated Satan that day and overcame death. They get the sin part. But they don’t understand the actual transfer of power, (sorry, that sounds like Star Wars terminology). Jesus took back that day what Satan gained at the Fall.

    Also, consider these passages – this describes when Christ ascended to the throne – where He CURRENTLY sits today.

    Ps 110:1 “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

    Matthew 22:44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies beneath your feet”.

    1Cor 15:25 “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.”

    Now, exactly how is Christ going to put all enemies under his feet, if his enemies are reigning on the earth?

    Lori, to say that you believe the world will get increasingly more evil until Christ returns IS believing that the Great Commission will fail. You can’t have both beliefs – they are in direct conflict with one another.
    “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” Isa 11:9. Pretty sure that hasn’t happened yet.

    We have nothing but good things to look forward to – and not without sacrifice.

    Some of us are realizing the impact of what a family can do in a nation, or the rebuilding of one. That is why we have these discussions.

  86. Word Warrior says:

    Lori,

    Thank you for making those first three points in your reply to Dawn (the comment I just now released from spam!) I started typing a comment with the exact answers, and I accidentally deleted it before I finished and didn’t have time to retype ;-)

  87. Jennifer says:

    “If I were the devil, I would be so ecstatic you believe that whopper of a lie. What better way to retard and forfeit the Church than to have it believe that I (satan) am supposed to take over. You’ve practically handed this world to me on a silver platter – and with a smile!”

    The you would be a great fool indeed. The Bible promises many horrific occurences, followed by Christ Himself, not His followers, defeating evil once and for all.

  88. Lori says:

    Jennifer you’re not dealing with her Scriptures.

  89. Lori says:

    OUR Scriptures, but the ones she posted. :)

  90. Jennifer says:

    I see nothing in the Scriptures contradicting great troubles and Christ’s returning for a fierce battle. All these Scriptures were about personal enemies, not the world’s enemies near its destruction.

  91. Lori says:

    Where are your srciptures, Jennifer? Let’s meet at the source.

  92. Leah says:

    Is that your only response Jennifer?
    First, I said the devil is most likely very ecstatic about your view because you are expecting him to gain power and dominion on this earth, instead of the Christians taking dominion – as specifically commanded in scripture. I don’t see how the devil would “be a great fool” – I see that his convincing you that to be true is quite clever.

    “The Bible promises many horrific occurrences”
    -Promises that project over two thousand years into the future? Really? I think everyone can agree that in general there has been a measure of suffering and persecution in every decade since Christ. Nothing new there.
    What exactly are you talking about?
    “…followed by Christ Himself, not His followers, defeating evil once and for all.”

    No one said anything about Christ’s followers defeating evil. I said that through regeneration of individuals through the Holy Spirit, the Great Commission will be fulfilled and the nations will be discipled.
    We are, however, commanded to take dominion over the earth and steward it – which inevitably requires that we evangelize and disciple, bringing God’s laws and principles into every sphere of life.

  93. Jennifer says:

    My Scriptures are in Revelation, Lori.

  94. Jennifer says:

    Your rather baiting words about the devil, Leah, are not exactly inducement for me to take you sincerely.

  95. Lori says:

    Well, OK, Jennifer, which ones, and how should we understand said verses?

  96. Jennifer says:

    I haven’t read over them in a while, but will be happy to later on. Do you not see promises of God’s wrath in this chapter, of fearsome things taking place on earth?

  97. Lori says:

    OK
    Help me out Jennifer, which chapter?

  98. Jennifer says:

    Sorry Lori, Revelation I mean.

    I’ve been reading over Revelation these last several minutes and hope to borrow my mother’s Study Bible later this evening. Leah and Lori, if Christ indeed comes to a mostly peaceful earth, I will rejoice at this; it will be a miracle. But, while not everything in Revelation seems literal (the woman on the beast with seven heads and ten horns seems very symbolic) the overall impression is that great wrath from God will come upon the earth, and the beast is mentioned as sitting on a throne with his followers suffering extremely from heaven. Do you believe something else will occur?

  99. Heather says:

    Lori (Pink Fractile)

    I appreciate that you took the time to offer some counterpoints to my thoughts.

    Actually, I’m not totally ignorant of the postmill. perspective and I’ve been fascinated by the fact that much of “end times” prophecy can be well-matched with easy to verify historical events.

    I don’t buy the dispensational pre-trib rapture stuff but I don’t have peace at this time concerning a postmillenial view, either.

    While my little corner of the world seems relatively unaffected, there’s plenty of destruction going on elsewhere. Perhaps it is indicative of the death throes of a rebellious pagan empire, as the labor pains of a new Christian kingdom pick up.

    If you believe circumstances are getting better, I guess you can. From where I stand, evil people are becoming ever more evil and we’ve really not had a lessening of natural disasters, war or fatal diseases.

    What the Lord has made quite clear is that I need to be focused on Him alone today so I will be prepared for whatever happens tomorrow. I’m watching, listening and studying as I wait on God’s direction. I’m always hopeful that we will see the collapse of atheistic humanism even in my own lifetime and we are consciously working to raise our children to have a Christ-centered focus.

    I do believe “something” is happening and the powers of the enemy do seem to be particularly disturbed. Over the past year, our family has experienced very real spiritual warfare. My husband and I have been spending more time in prayer than we ever have in our lives.

    One way or another, the old things are passing away and Christ’s Kingdom is forever. I can trust Him even when I don’t fully understand everything.

  100. Jennifer says:

    Yup, the angel just said the woman and dragon are symbolic. The ten horns are ten kings and the woman is the city that rules over the earth’s kings. It also says the beast will be given power to rule until God’s words are fulfilled.

  101. Jennifer says:

    Brilliant thoughts, Heather :)

  102. Heather says:

    “Brilliant thoughts, Heather :)

    LOL! Well, they’re honest thoughts, anyway.

    I suspect if I keep asking, the Lord will eventually give me the insight I need in this area. After all, He’s the one who said to keep pounding on the door….

  103. Word Warrior says:

    Re: the discussion about the dominion mandate:

    Forgive me for not engaging in this discussion, and for too busy a day to even read all the comments.

    But this tiny thought occurred to me…what if we peel back all the eschatological/theological viewpoints and just took the simple, first command of Scripture for our implications for living:

    “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and SUBDUE it.” Gen. 1:28

    Therein lies a wealth of instruction.

  104. Lori says:

    Heather, I’m so sorry for the spiritual trials you’ve been having.

    But honestly, I think I would be optimistic even if I weren’t Post-millenial. I mean, God is giving us victories everywhere (wish I could italicize). I mean, plague, smallpox, polio, cholera, scarlett and yellow fever, I could go one all night… All vanquished or almost vanquished. So few people lose their children anymore in the first world, and we’ve come really far in bettering the odds in third world countries now, with health education programs, vaccinations, medicines, etc.

    Food and crops so abundant that crops are rotted to keep the prices up.

    Cities built and thriving where there was once only sand (Dubai), and watered because of a technology that removes salt from the seawater.

    Skyscrapers that can withstand fierce earthquakes.

    Tiny, powerful technological items that make smuggling the gospel into “closed” countries easier and easier.

    Big, powerful technological items (ships) that make shipping millions of tons of food and water to suffering places in a matter of days or hours.

    I could go on and on!

    Of course there is rampant evil and death, but not all the earth is subdued. No one said it would be quick or easy. And some areas still fight tooth and nail against God’s kingdom.

    I am grieved, just grieved, that other Christians don’t see these blessings. Nothing against you (you should be grieved by the presence of evil yet), but it’s like the Hebrews complaining in the wilderness of their tiresome manna. That they didn’t even have to work for, just go and pick up off the ground, perfect and ready to eat. In the midst of total freedom after hundreds of years of slavery and slaughter.

    Rejoice!

    No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make His blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found!

  105. Lori says:

    Kelly, I agree1!

    Jennifer, God already poured out His wrath – that’s what I’ve been saying. It already happened in AD 70. You really need to pick up a book of Josephus (not a bit hard to find) and read what happened to Jerusalem and the Jews, and read in the light of the biblical prophecies (as in, read w/ Josephus in your one hand and your Bible in your other hand). God told His listeners it would all happen in their generation (Matt 24) and it did. I know it’s hard to believe, but we Americans are not known for our thorough knowledge of world history. ;)

    And if you’ll excuse me, I need to go exercise dominion over my kitchen. “Faithful in the small things” and all that! :)

  106. Lori says:

    Oh you know what, I didn’t mention who Josephus is (his is a household name here).

    Josephus was a first century historian who was and still is *highly* respected. Only he didn’t write about the sack of Jerusalem based on stories and other accounts. He was there himself, witnessed the whole thing, and even went inside the wall twice to try to negotiate a surrender, so he knew better than any other writer what happened.

  107. Jennifer says:

    Lori, you’re saying that Satan’s already been given dominion, that the mark of the beast has already come, that the angels have thrust all evil into hell and that Christ has already returned? Somehow I don’t see that.

  108. Lori says:

    Jennifer –
    “Satan’s already been given dominion?”
    – No, he’s been conquered

    “the mark of the beast has already come?”
    -Yes. In Hebrew, Nero Caesar spells 666 (six hundred sixty-six). It has also already passed.

    “the angels have thrust all evil into hell?”
    – No, dominion is progressive and we are still progressing

    “and that Christ has already returned?”
    – Well, we are the body of Christ are we not? He indwells us. He has not returned in his risen form though, no. That will only happen on the day of final judgement.

    Please, please read my comments in full here and in the other posting (subtle effects of bc culture). And please, please use the Scripture reference that are forming your beliefs, as it will make it so much easier for me to share with you. I feel as though you and I are speaking a different language and we need the same touchstone!

  109. Lori says:

    Hmmm. I smell canned pork product. ;)

  110. Jennifer says:

    So, there will be a time of final judgement. That’s what I’ve been saying. I guess the disagreement is how long it will take.

  111. Heather says:

    Lori (PINk)
    I appreciate that you feel sympathy for my struggle. Although I need to clarify that this past year has been an amazing time of brokenness and healing. It was necessary and I am grateful that the Lord cares enough to discipline those He loves.

    You said: “Nothing against you (you should be grieved by the presence of evil yet),but it’s like the Hebrews complaining in the wilderness of their tiresome manna.”

    Well, I’m glad we don’t have anything personal between us but I’m not complaining in the least. In fact, I’m today more free to worship and thank the Lord than I have ever been in my life and it has more to do with the fact that I now KNOW I have a personal relationship with the King than it does the material blessings I’ve received. Don’t get me wrong, the stuff and comfort is nice, too. But I’ve had to learn that it is extra, not something God owes me.

    Being able to say “I’m weak and foolish but I know and trust the One who knows everything” is a far cry from “I have this perfectly developed eschatological framework by which I can plan my life”. The latter is what I was actually looking for when I started to fall apart a while back and God has not yet released me to adopt anything. I suspect He would prefer I cling exclusively to Him for now and I’m satisfied to just rest in His arms.

    He has been both merciful and generous.

    My main point is that I’m happy to trust that Jesus has everything under control regardless of whether *I* have all the answers.

    I have seen how certain doctrinal beliefs and eschatological frameworks can offer order and purpose to a person’s life. Sometimes for the better and other times for the worse, (especially if those beliefs turn out to be unbiblical). I used to worry tremendously about that because I was afraid I would end up doing all the wrong things if I picked the wrong system.

    The Lord has shown me I can live without a system, but I cannot live without Him.

    Communion is sweet and I’m not willing to let go of that to run off in search of answers without having been given permission.

  112. Dawn says:

    Ladies, I want to give one final thought and then I’m done. Back to the original topic at hand: I think the reason so many of us non-FIC goers get so defensive about this topic is that some of you have made the claim (whether stated or implied)that the only Biblical way to do church is for families to stay together and that it is wrong to send your children to Sunday School/Children’s Church. You need to be very careful about being so dogmatic about something that #1 is not essential doctrine and #2 cannot be proven without a shadow of doubt scripturally.

    I do believe there are many benefits to worshipping together as a family, but that’s a personal conviction between you and the Lord…not a scriptural mandate.

    “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16) “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:17).

    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  113. Jennifer says:

    Thanks a lot for your thoughts, Dawn.

  114. Lori says:

    I suppose the difficulty to me is in believing that God ever stopped truly reigning. From my perspective and the way I understand the Bible, there was no “taking back” of power over the earth (except that sin itself lost its power to bring death). Satan has never really “reigned” the earth. God has always been omnipotent, and anything Satan has done has been because God has limited Himself for the purpose of accomplishing His plan. Satan has never been more powerful than God, even before Christ’s sacrifice, and to me, to say anything different frankly borders on blasphemy. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what y’all are saying again?

    Also, hope you all are having a blessed Lord’s Day!

  115. Jennifer says:

    God never stopped reigning, but man’s free will often chooses Satan’s ways, and in THIS way sin has the immediate reign in man’s nature.

  116. Jennifer says:

    God allows this, though; He is not powerless to stop it.

  117. Heather says:

    Lori (Red)

    You are right. God is and always has been in control.

    Satan is a usurper here and has attempted to set up an “unauthorized” kingdom. Only, that isn’t quite the best way to say it, either, because he couldn’t have done what he’s doing without God’s express permission. As Jesus told Pilate “You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above…”

    I think the book of Job gives a good picture of what’s going on here. In that account, God actually pointed out Job to Satan and gave him permission to torment Job in order to test and refine him. And, in the end, God’s goodness and majesty was proclaimed.

    Ultimately, we need to remember Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12 “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

    The above list specifically states that our problems are not primarily caused by people–regardless of how evil they are. It’s spiritual warfare and always has been–and we need to view hurting unsaved people as captive pawns of our enemy.

    We see the horrible effects of this war from our side of eternity, but there is far more going on than we can possibly fathom.

    Jesus came into our mess and lived the triumphant, sinless life that none of us ever has. He took the punishment that we deserve for our rebellion. And, He sends the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us as we continue to wait on the Lord. His victory is our assurance that we may overcome the evil one. That was God’s promise when He sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden and His plan from before the beginning of time.

  118. Lori says:

    Jennifer and Heather, I really think we are on the same side of this issue…but maybe I’ve confused you for another person named Jennifer and/or Heather? What I was trying to say (perhaps ineffectively) is that I disagree pretty vehemently with the idea (expressed above by some covenant theologians/postmillenials in this comment section) that God only regained His power and reign over the earth after Christ’s sacrifice was complete. God has reigned from the beginning, has authority over all creation, and will reign forever. Any belief that the premillenial view requires a failure on Christ’s part or saying that God does not reign is a misunderstanding of the premillenial position.

  119. Lori says:

    Lori – “I disagree pretty vehemently with the idea that God only regained His power and reign over the earth after Christ’s sacrifice was complete.”

    Lori, I totally disagree with the suggestion of God’s impotence as well!

    I think that Heather pretty well expressed my thoughts, that God allowed Satan to reign partially and for a time, but God was never w/out power. He was waiting.

    “Any belief that the premillenial view requires a failure on Christ’s part or saying that God does not reign is a misunderstanding of the premillenial position.”

    Like I said it depends on how you define “victory” and “failure.” You look at sin overcoming the world and the greatest retreat in divine history and say “victory.”

    People like Leah and I say that looks like “failure.” We say that having the godly and the meek inheriting the earth and claiming it as co-heirs in Christ, spreading his good news over all creation, and regeneration over all creation and say that that looks like “victory.” And as we’ve shown, our position is biblical (and may I point out that I’m not seeing any premill Scriptural defence on this board). And the old order was cast down and God’s wrath was poured out on the old order (the Beast etc) as promised.

    You say that you “disagree vehemently w ithe the idea (expressed above by some covenant theologians/postmillenials in this comment section)” but haven’t even bothered to deal w/ out claims specifically (and that would include specific quotes and not just attempts at reiteration).

    I’m not here to convince you of my position of this any more than my position of churching. I’m here to say what I believe is scriptural (and in some cases, what is not). I’m here to offer my hope, and the whole good of the “good news.” So few people have heard thid position properly described (as opposed to being characturized by the opponents), and so much grief has been caused by this false interpretation of Scripture and history.

    It’s like the Jews who still wait, tragically, for their Messiah, since they don’t know or don’t believe that He already came, in part because the Kindom He ushered in dosen’t look the way they planned.

    I think perhaps you’ll understand better why this is so important to Leah and me (if you’re interested) if you’ll read the two posts I linked to earlier (subtle effects of bc culture and how diapers and dishes will change the world).

    I’m just here to offer hope, the hope that is within me.

    Yours truly,
    Lori

  120. Lori says:

    “so much grief has been caused by this false interpretation of Scripture and history”

    “this” referring to pre-mill dispensationalism. Wow, you can always tell when I skip breakfast.

  121. Leslie Viles says:

    I know I am a bit late on this, but I just wanted to add some thoughts on our personal experiences with children in worship and our “middle ground”. My littlest one goes to the nursery. He is 3. He goes to church with us on Wednesday nights because this is a shorter service. We let our kids draw in church. I have found from teaching them at home, it is easier for my little ones to pay attention if they are coloring. And they do pay attention. My 7 year old will ask questions about what the preacher is saying all through service. he notices when something we have taught him already is being re-inforced by the pastor. He recognizes the songs and can participate in worship with us.

    On Sunday school, it is interesting to note that one of the objections the church had to Sunday school was that an effect of it might eventual be that children that were not destitute would end up coming and it would replace the father in his role to disciple his family. That being said, we do Sunday school. I don’t know if we are right or wrong, but I get ALOT out of my Sunday school class that I believe helps me in my walk and some of the topics are not appropriate for children. I know I got off the OFF TOPIC, but the original one is one that deserves study and prayer. It may be there is a happy medium. Also, realize God blesses us anyway, in spite of our own efforts. How much more would we be blessed if we were following his model for family and church to the T?

  122. Heather says:

    Lori (red)

    Far as I know, I’m the only “Heather” in this convo. I was hoping I hadn’t given you the impression I was arguing or “straightening you out”.

    At this time, I don’t really have a well-defined millenial perspective although I’m somewhat acquainted with all of them.

    And I’m not covenantal in my understanding of Scripture. Well, not in the way it is often presented, anyway.
    I firmly believe that God made a covenant with Abraham concerning salvation, and an inheritance for himself and his descendants. Actually, I see this as a re-iteration of the promise of salvation He’s made from the beginning.

    And, I believe that this is the covenant into which we gentiles have been grafted (adopted). If someone wants to describe it as a covenant of “works”, I suppose they can. But the two parties involved in this covenant are the two persons of the Trinity we know as the Father and the Son. Genesis 15 describes Who passed through the butchered animal halves as security for Abraham’s end of the deal. Basically, when this sort of agreement was made, both parties were saying “If I don’t keep my end of this mutual promise, you (the other party) may do this to me (kill and walk through the blood).

    In order for any man to be able to enter into this covenant, he must be perfect. Spotless and blameless on all levels before the God of the universe. Adam proved that even when conditions are perfect, we still need God’s direction. And the Law that was given to the Israelites reveals how woefully incapable we are of meeting God’s standards in our current wretched state. Also, though, the Law contained a built in reminder (in the sacrifices and feasts) that a Deliverer was coming who would completely fulfill God’s demands for perfection.

    The requirements of (and the punishment for failure to keep) man’s end of this agreement have been 100% fulfilled by Christ the God-man. Our belief in God’s provision and Christ’s finished work is what is required of us. Granted, this recognition ought to result in a change of behavior in the professing Christian since we now love our Rescuer and don’t want to continue to add to the pile of sins that His blood covers. But, the covenant itself was “signed” on both sides by God Himself. The “work” of fulfilling the demands, as Christ said on the cross, is “Finished”.

    You are right! Christ has never failed. He alone has endured to the end in perfect trust and obedience and in Him alone we place our faith and hope.

    God has always reigned from Heaven. And the the second person of the Trinity, the God-man, Jesus Christ, now rules at the right hand of the Father–ever interceding for His people as eternal High Priest. It is He who has inherited the earth. All of it.

    And, somehow, He is in the process of making all things new, beginning with the current harvest of souls and threshing out of the chaff as we continue to live in this world, awaiting His return.

    Regardless of what we believe is being revealed about the “millenium”, we need to encourage each other to always be pressing on to better know Christ and be willing to submit to whatever personalized discipline and training God sees fit to mete out in order to prepare us for eternity with Him.

  123. Heather says:

    The spam filter here hates me!

    Lori (red),

    I did respond to your thoughts. Hopefully I’ll receive clearance later.

  124. Lori says:

    By the way, if anyone is interested in learning more, they are very welocome to e-mail me. I will respond to the best of my ability to respectful e-mails, as I have time. I have said as much as I wish to say here, and have waited and waited to respond to formal, scriptural positions, from those who are interested in the topic. I will not be commenting any more on this thread.

  125. Lori says:

    I do understand the postmillenial perspective. I just reject it. I know that is difficult to believe, because we often think that if the other person understood our position, they would have to agree with us. However, rest assured that I do understand the postmill perspective, although I don’t share it. I have not read any “propaganda” related to it, either pro or con. My understanding is based on approaching the Bible with an open mind and heart and praying for the Holy Spirit to give me the ability to understand what it says.

    I didn’t think to quote directly, but here we are, from Leah:

    “The very fact that people believe Satan is able to or will reign is the denial of Christ’s present Lordship and what He did on the cross. That is serious business. It’s like people don’t understand fully what happened when Christ defeated Satan that day and overcame death. They get the sin part. But they don’t understand the actual transfer of power, (sorry, that sounds like Star Wars terminology). Jesus took back that day what Satan gained at the Fall.”

    This is really problematic to me. It almost sounds (or does sound, actually) like Leah is saying that Satan somehow robbed God of His power at the Fall. This is not true. God has always retained His power, has always been omnipotent, and anything Satan has done, God has allowed! This continues to be the case. God has absolute dominion over His creation, reigns, has reigned, and will reign forever, but He has chosen, and revealed in His Word that He has chosen, to allow Satan to work in our world for His glory (as incomprehensible as it may be to us).

    We know that even in the church age, there is still an Enemy who stalks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9). The Holy Spirit gives us the power to resist him, but this is not a description of an entity who has been stripped of all his power, who has been cast forever into a lake of fire.

    1 John 5:19 tells us, “We know that we are children of God, and that THE WHOLE WORLD IS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE EVIL ONE.”

    This letter was written after Christ’s death and the establishment of the church.

    Although Christ has conquered death and reigns in heaven, God has allowed Satan to have continued influence in the earth, for God’s own glory and His own purposes. When Jesus returns, He will vanquish His enemies for good, casting death, hell, and Satan into the lake of fire. However, I think 1 John 5:19 speaks pretty clearly to the continuing influence and control that God has allowed Satan to have over the world. Christ is victorious (indeed, if God exists outside of time, He has been victorious forever since He was slain from the foundation of the world), but temporally, on earth, we must wait for Him (not us) to demonstrate that victory.

    Hopefully I’m making sense, even if you can’t agree?

    God bless y’all!

  126. Trisha says:

    We love having our family worship together during church. Yes, it’s more challenging because you’re training the Littles, but how rewarding it is to see, by the grace of God, the fruit of your sacrifice and labors. Our two year old sings loudest during worship and is the first to grab the hymnal when we sing at home. Watching a little one raise her hands to God when singing “The Gloria Patri” is quite moving.
    My only frustration with FIC is the seemingly lack of sensitiviy to little ears in the audience. I know the pastors much teach the word to a wide age range, but surely there can be discretion about very mature topics. I simply don’t agree that my 6 year old needs to know about r*** or other details about sexual immorality. I’d love to know how others handle this problem or if they even encounter it in their FIC.
    And, yes, our children take in so much more than we give them credit for. Just last night, our 4 year old prayed we would all be “clothed in humility.” Oh, how wonderful is the grace of God!

  127. Heather says:

    Trisha said: “but surely there can be discretion about very mature topics. I simply don’t agree that my 6 year old needs to know about r*** or other details about sexual immorality.”

    Perhaps you and your husband could speak privately with your pastor about this concern. I agree that there is no reason to have such details expounded in corporate worship and a pastor/teacher ought to be aware that not all parents wish for their children to be taught of such things by anyone other than themselves.

    You could ask your pastor if he wouldn’t mind “toning down” the language or at least if he could give fair warning so parents can cover their young children’s ears or something.

    This is just my suggestion, based on personal experience and my understanding of Scripture. You definitely should talk this over with your husband and lay it before the Lord (if you have not done so already).

    Those servants of the Lord who have been entrusted with the care of Christ’s flock ought to be open and responsive to suggestions on how they can better serve the body of Christ.

    Obviously, some requests are unreasonable and it is impossible for any one pastor to please every parishoner equally. However, I don’t see your particular concern as being unreasonable. God has given you and your husband primary responsibility for the care of your children and if your conscience as a steward of little souls is being compromised by the Sunday sermon, you need to take that before the Lord and ask Him what you need to do about it.

  128. ycw says:

    Um, I haven’t studied Revelation enough to come to a concrete view other than “God wins,” but I had an interesting thought.

    Kelly (word warrior) has written quite a few times about raising and discipling and disciplining one’s children with the knowledge that while they are children now, they will one day be men and women.

    The same is true of other people’s children.

    So in effect, those who evangelize children are evangelizing future heads-of-household, and if their commitment to Christ holds, their children and those who come after for many generations may end up with the blessing of growing up in a Christian home.

    I would be interested to see the results of a study of children from non-Christian families who came to faith, and whether that faith led to long-term obedience to God or was strangled out by the world, especially their family’s indifference or opposition.

    In my own experience–which I offer as nothing more than an anecdote–
    (that just turned into a four-page monstrosity, so I will post it on my blog. http://reconciledtogod.blogspot.com/2010/02/history-of-my-conversion-to.html ).

    I agree that feelings and seemings are not a way to judge a thing’s truth, but I will say the “things getting better” model is more compelling than the “things getting worse” model. But I don’t think that the church, being made of sinful believers like ourselves, could possibly be unblemished.

    A couple times this week we tried family worship, which I have wanted to have for some time. We read some Scripture, talked about it, and then played a song and sang along.

    I tried to have Hannah sit with me for the reading part.

    Then for church, my goal was to have her stay through the opening songs, scripture reading, announcements, and children’s message. The children’s message takes place in the sanctuary; all the children go to the front of the room and sit in front of a man or woman who gives a short lesson based on the Scripture reading.

    Hannah did not like the sitting still, and when allowed to stand, did not like staying nearby rather than running around. During the annnouncements (which ran particularly long) I had to take her to the back room because she was protesting sitting so loudly. I had given her the bulletin (order of service) to “read.” I made her sit on my lap when she was back there, and kept that up till she stopped fighting me (mostly). Then I realized she was a little wet and needed to go into the nursery to change her diaper (her bag was in there with her brother; I didn’t think I could handle both of them, and Daddy had powerpoint duty)–but I did not put her down to play. We went back in and had missed very little of the children’s message. She did not sit still well for that either–she was the youngest up there by at least 6 months.

    I had chosen a rather open row of chairs, but the open portion ended up taken by a family I did not know. I saw them talking to someone downstairs later about where their daughters should go for Sunday School, so presumably they were new. But the father, who had sat next to Hannah, seemed very understanding. We got lots of comments on how beautiful and cute she is, and none on her behavior. Daddy didn’t seem to be embarrassed. Grandpa and Grandma didn’t come due to an incident with the turkey as they tried to prepare for lunch.

    I got very little out of the part of the service I had Hannah with me, except some of the songs I sang while I was holding her.

    I do plan to do it again next week–and we will keep Peter too as Daddy will be able to help. Or he might be doing sound. But I need to concentrate on Hannah which would mean not nursing Peter.

    I am sure it will be easier as she begins to understand the expectations, and regardless of whether we choose to keep her with us or send her to chldren’s church, I do want her listening to the children’s message. I also need to care less about what others think of my worship style, and more about worshiping God with abandon the way He has called me to, for the sake of my daughter. (I move a lot more during the songs than anyone else at our church–it helps me focus on the lyrics and on God.)

    By the time we were done Peter was very ready for me. And he proceeded to be distracting during our Sunday School class (Hannah stayed in nursery; Daddy and I attend a Sunday School class for “young adults” (college through 29) with a topic of evangelism.

  129. Leslie Viles says:

    trisha,
    I am probably very dense, but what it is r***? I need a hint. :)

  130. Heather says:

    Leslie Viles,

    It’s what happened to Judah’s daughter Dinah in Genesis 34

  131. ycw says:

    Leslie, it rhymes with “grape.”

    (And Kelly, I have been moderated).

  132. Leah says:

    Lori, you said “It almost sounds (or does sound, actually) like Leah is saying that Satan somehow robbed God of His power at the Fall.”
    – Definitely not what I was saying, nor do believe that God ever gave up His power. Like Lori said, at the fall God did extend Satan’s leash a little bit. At the cross, that leash got really short again.

    Here’s a quote from an article that sums up what I was trying to point out about what happened at the cross:

    “Satan’s limitations have been multiplied since the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

    The Bible shows us that if we “resist the devil he will flee from” us (James 4:7). The only power that Satan has over the Christian is the power we give him and the power granted to him by God (2 Cor. 12:7-12). Scripture tells us that Satan is defeated, disarmed, and spoiled (Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:7; Mark 3:27). He has “fallen” (Luke 10:18) and was “thrown down” (Rev. 12:9). He was “crushed” under the feet of the early Christians, and by implication, under the feet of all Christians throughout the ages (Rom. 16:20). He has lost “authority” over Christians (Col. 1:13). He has been “judged” (John 16:11). He cannot “touch” a Christian (1 John 5:18). His works have been destroyed (1 John 3:8). He has “nothing” (John 14:30). He must “flee” when “resisted” (James 4:7). He is “bound” (Mark 3:27; Luke 11:20). Finally, the gates of hell “shall not overpower” the advancing church of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18).[2] Surely Satan is alive, but he is not well on planet earth.”

    The full article addresses the question “Is Satan the God of This World?”:

    http://www.americanvision.org/article/is-satan-the-god-of-this-world-/

  133. Heather says:

    Personal (and subsequently corporate Church) victory over sin and temptation does not necessarily translate to a building of a physical kingdom for God on the earth as it appears today.

    The RC church of the Middle Ages and previously, national Israel, made the same assumption about ruling this present world in the name of God.

  134. Lori says:

    Leah, I’m so relieved to see you articulate a position different from the one I thought I perceived in your earlier comment…I couldn’t find a way to reconcile that with the Bible at all, but what you’re saying now makes more sense (though I’m not sure I agree with the conclusions you draw from them, I of course cannot quarrel with the Scriptures you have quoted). I’m glad that we now understand each other (or at least that I now understand you), and thus I’m satisfied to end my participation in this comments section.

    Blessings, Lori #3 the Premillennial Dispensationalist :)

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