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.