Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
In a somewhat intense discussion with one church leader I recently made a statement that was met with shock and denial. In the context of conceding to the “bigger must be better mentality,” and with little or no focus on biblical accountability I said, “It appears some Church leaders are more concerned with butts in the seat and dollars in the plate.” If we truly love God and the people we serve then shouldn't we be concerned with true biblical discipleship? Are we in fact doing things in the Church by God’s design? About three years ago I read “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna which challenged my own thinking about how we “do church” today.
I wasn't raised in a Christian home, and so when I entered the ministry I assumed a lot of the way we do things in the Church to be biblical. I don’t believe those I looked to in the early years meant to mislead me or anyone else. I do believe, however, these leaders simply followed the patterns others before them had followed.
Through the modern era we have systematically separated the family within the Church by age and preference. In order to experience a greater sense of “worship” we place our children in “Children’s Church,” and our youth in a “Youth” program. We've developed a mentality which is destructive to the family and Church by adopting the belief; “Our youth are the future of the Church.” The reality is that children and youth who have accepted Christ are part of the Church today.
The Scriptures indicate a family integrated form of worship, yet the Church seems to have taken a different direction. In order to be seeker sensitive and “family-friendly” we've incorporated many worldly customs in order to draw a crowd rather than equip the Church to carry out one of Her first missions – biblical education in the home.
I think we've placed our youth in a precarious position by providing separate worship experiences, meeting places, times, and event driven activities which appeal to a more secular mindset. By segregating our young people from their parents we've created an atmosphere which is more destructive than helpful. The Church has taken a position of leading our children that does not rightly belong to her. The greatest teachers a child should have are Christian parents and in particular Christian fathers.
How was I wrong? I was wrong because at one time I supported the bigger is better and multi-program ideas without giving them much thought.
The video below is entitled, “Divided the Movie”, and is fifty-four minutes long. I highly encourage you to watch this video, or simply listen to it while you surf the web. I truly believe you’ll find it beneficial and eye-opening.