Monday, December 13, 2010

With My Family With My Church Family

Although the title of this post is a little awkward, it is also accurate.

Now that we gather and fellowship with other believers in our home, something amazing has happened: I actually get to be with my family (Alice, Caroline, Mary, and Bobby) while I meet with my church family. For as long as I can remember we have been separated for one reason or another during church gatherings. When I served as a paid pastor, the situation was at its worst. On Sundays I was so busy that I hardly saw my family at all. This was one of the big factors in my resignation.

During our home gatherings everyone is together. As we sing, pray, talk, etc., I'm not only in my family's presence, but I also get to talk with them, hear from them, learn from them, and be encouraged by them. Kids really do have a lot of great things to say and do. Too often we act as if spiritual gifts "kick in" when a person reaches the teen years or later. Scripture never teaches or even implies this. For the church to be healthy, all its members need to use their gifts for the good of the entire body. This should occur both during and outside of gatherings.

Not only do I want to be with my entire family, at a spiritual level I need to be with them. We build one another up in Christ as we see described in Ephesians chapter 4. It is exciting to hear either Alice or one of our children point out something significant from scripture, tell what the Lord has done in their lives this week, or speak a word of encouragement. And what better way could there be for me to disciple them than by doing so right there in the gathering?

When we look in scripture we never see age segregation of any type when it comes to church gatherings. Instead, everyone was together. This was more than simply a cultural decision. It allows for all of the church to minister to all the church. It also gives the more spiritually mature ample time to disciple (and be discipled by) those less mature.

On top of all this, the children can watch the adults as we interact with one another. Through this, they learn what it is like to be an active participant in church life. This extends beyond structured meetings to all of life.

I love to be with my family. I love to be with my church family. Now I get to do both at the same time.

11 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

A few weeks ago, while we were meeting with the church, my daughter Miranda said something that seems rather simple. She said that we are like lemons, and God is the lemon juice. When we are squeezed, lemon juice should squirt out of us.

Now, like I said, that seems simple and perhaps a little humorous. But, do you know, people are still sometimes referring back to what she said. Just last week someone said that they did see enough lemon juice squirting out of their life during the previous week.

Yes, we need to listen to and learn from all of God's children when we meet together.

I'm excited for you and for them!

-Alan

Aussie John said...

Eric,

Your articles have always impacted me positively. As much as I've enjoyed, and appreciated them thus far, today's blog is of extreme importance when it comes to the matter of the traditional position of "pastors".

Our five children were P.K's throughout their most important formative years, for which I have great regret. As I observe them bringing up their own children, I am conscious that they reflect their own upbringing. I am very proud of my children,morally, ethically, etc., but I clearly see the impact of a father who took on a work load, which no one on earth,no matter how "trained", or "skilled" they may be,and bearing the handle "pastor", is equipped to do.

Our first calling from God is to be a husband and father, our traditions demand otherwise.

I have heard far too many "pastor's" children commenting about their fathers, who had an ambition that didn't include the children.

Tim A said...

..let the little children come to me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of heaven...

I feel so sorry for the saints who will NEVER experience a little child (some one else's child even) run up and give you a bear hug or jump on your lap to sing the hymns with you.

They will never experience a child saying " I want to sin Man of Sorrow. Then you choke back the tears as you sing at their request
Man of sorrows what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim
Hallelujah what a Savior!
as they hold the hymn book with you.

They will never experience a child quote one simple verse that the Holy Spirit pounds into your heart that stays with you for years and helps you pass it on to others who need it's comfort and correction.

These saints are clueless about the power of God manifest through His children.

reformedlostboy said...

Now Eric you know that women aren't supposed to speak in the church and children should only speak when spoken to...jk... I love having my whole family together as we gather together on Sunday. It is as it should be: a family of families.

runningwillis said...

So, since your wife is engaging everyone else in conversation, I AM wondering how you follow 1 Cor. 14:33-35? "As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."

Also, it's interesting the language Paul uses: "in church" or "in the churches" implying that they are meeting somewhere (perhaps even a building!) and calling themselves A church (i.e. a local church) and not simply the church.

Eric said...

Alan,

It's been great so far. We are all getting used to participating in this fashion. I'm excited for the growth in my kids, in my friends, and in myself. This week we had a great discussion of what it is to serve others. We concluded by saying that we need to just do it - in the name of Christ.

Eric said...

John,

I'm excited for our kids. It may take some time for all of us to adjust to this (and detox from man-made traditions). I'm thrilled that they still have a few years at home to experience this under our guidance. I'm certain they will grow in Christ through it, as will the rest of us.

Thanks for your encouragement.

Eric said...

Tim,

I agree. Kids have a way of saying things simply yet profoundly. I have no doubt that we will all benefit from not only their presence but also from their participation.

Eric said...

Bobby,

I'm so happy that you all are getting to experience this as well. God is so good and faithful to us. What a gift His church is! May we continue to grow up together in Him.

Eric said...

runningwillis,

I believe that in context the I Cor. passage applies to the judging of prophets. Women should not do this. However, they are free to participate in many other ways.

I agree that there were local churches all over the place. In fact, Paul write his letters to them.

Tim A said...

runningwillis
1 Cor. 14 must be interpreted in light of the whole NT. It does not stand alone and nullify or trump every other scripture that calls for everyone to participate verbally. Eph 5 declares that the "filling of the Spirit" is demonstrated by "speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs..." Are the women to be exempt from demonstrating the filling of the Spirit? Are there certain times and ways a woman should be careful not to speak? Yes.

The Spirit is to guide us in developing how these spiritually discerned dynamics play out with us saints. Setting hard sweeping rules will kill what the Spirit seeks to do among us. Can you trust the Spirit to do this? Are you afraid that if a woman violates what the Spirit is trying to do that all will be lost and the gathering will degrade into flesh works? As far as being quiet goes, there are many times when I need to not speak and be in submission to the saints, including the sisters. Feel free to give a reply.