Picture a big family get-together where everyone is happy to encourage others. This is what church is supposed to be like and Scripture teaches us how. The church we’re talking about is not organized religion. That’s a formal ceremony rather than a joyful family gathering. Formal ceremonies and children don’t go well together.
This is part of a discussion about the contrast between organized religion and the highly relational home churches described in the New Testament.
In our next discussion, we’ll be talking about the differences between meeting in homes and meeting in buildings; totally different atmospheres. Here we’re talking about meeting together v. dividing into age groups. Our last discussion was about parents teaching children v. anyone but parents teaching children. These topics are all closely related.
The Bible says the church is a family that is to be devoted to loving one another just as Jesus does. In a highly relational home church, all age groups learn how to respectfully interact with and relate to all age groups.
Deuteronomy 31:12 says that men, women, and children were to assemble to hear the word of the Lord. Most children understand a lot more than many people give them credit for.
According to Psalm 127:3, “Children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.” This idea has been aggressively attacked. It is common for people to sacrifice their children for reasons ranging from convenience to careers. Add some disastrous parenting philosophies and you have a recipe for children being regarded as nothing but a nuisance.
Luke 18:15-16 tells how the apostles rebuked parents who were bringing their babies to Jesus. The apostles were accustomed to organized religion. But Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Permit the children to come… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. (Luke 11:17)
Dividing Into Age Groups
The child evangelism Sunday school movement is only a couple hundred years old. A natural extension of organized religion, it has evolved into youth groups, camps, children’s church, vacation Bible school, etc.; and is commonly used as a marketing ploy.
Youth programs are often entertainment driven. God says that bribes corrupt the heart (See Ecc 7:7), and yet bribing has commonly been used to increase attendance, compliance, and participation in class activities.
Competing in today’s religious climate is a tough business. Maintaining manmade traditions has often taken highest precedence. Desperate to find victims willing to teach a group of today’s untrained children, guilt has been used and immature and otherwise undesirable teachers have been used. Those who’ve had their arm twisted to get them to take their turn don’t make very desirable teachers, and neither do child predators who can easily fill the void left by parents.
Recipe For Disaster
Organized religion has invented a new entry level position that’s often called youth minister. Youth ministers are typically young and responsible for entertaining hormone-raging teenagers. Has your town, like so many others, been touched by one of the almost inevitable scandals?
After considering just these few points, it’s not surprising that so many children raised in organized religion reject it when they become adults. They’re Biblically illiterate. They haven’t learned to interact well with other age groups. They’ve been entertained all their life, and entertainment is what they continue to pursue.
What’s More Biblical?
Let me remind you of the reality that everyone’s eternity is at stake. Christians are supposed to teach the whole message of this life; everything pertaining to life and godliness. Parents have been entrusted with a stewardship for which they will be judged. Children grow up and make decisions based largely on their upbringing.
Why don’t we do what God says and teach parents to raise their children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord? Offering all of these unscriptural youth programs enables parents to think that someone else is doing their job so they can continue to neglect their parental responsibilities.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. I have just scratched the surface of this issue. What else should be considered?