Home Uncategorized What’s a Family For?

What’s a Family For?

by Kelly Crawford

As Christians ask the question after this election–“What now?” The answer reverberates loud and clear:

“Build your family”. Because a strong nation is built by strong families. Our nation seems to be coming apart at the seems, socialism is viewed as our only hope (“who else will fix this mess?”), and Christians are discouraged. Remember the stone wall…and build!

I thought this archived post needed to be revisited:

Yes the very basic idea of family is under attack. And just like every other destructive notion, it is slowly creeping into the church unawares.

(Just yesterday, visiting a church, we were met at the door, and before it had even closed behind us, we were invited to usher our children over to the “children’s building–it rocks”. After a polite decline, she was insistent that they at least needed to go check it out because “it’s so much fun they’d be sure to want to come back”.)

I’m not going to dive off into the ins and outs of children’s ministry, but there is a subtle, well-meaning advancement of family separation in the church that I don’t see as a positive thing.

What does it all mean? What’s the whole purpose? What does it mean to be different people but functioning together under one agenda?

Obviously, we must first be convinced that families are God’s idea. I heard someone touting the “hyper-family” model not long ago. The accusation was that some circles put too much emphasis on family.

I’m left scratching my head on that one. To me it’s the same as saying we put too much emphasis on breathing.

Family is the framework on which all else if built. Strong families lead to strong churches. Then to strong communities, and then strong nations. If we miss the foundation, the rest will crumble.

From the foundations of the world, family was established. Even if a person is single, he was always a part of a family. Widows are a part of a family. Paul referred to Timothy as his son. The very language of Scripture teaches us the importance of family. (Christ is the Groom, the Bride is His church…God is our Father, and the Bible is full of parent/marriage analogies.)

I think it’s an understood that whatever we are given to do from Scripture is worked out through the family.

Why else the serious qualifications of church leaders in Timothy? A man is not to even be considered eligible to lead in the church if he hasn’t first successfully led his family.

But we’ve lost this. The church wants to divide the family, even in the realm of ministry. We want a ministry for each individual member, and we want Mom here, and Dad there, and children over there…we really need to try to see the importance of carrying out the Great Commission through the obvious structure of family.

Our agenda then? What is the chief end of man? “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. Then that’s also the chief end of family.

What is the greatest commandment? “Thou shalt the love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Then we do that as family.

What are we given to do?

  • “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Family.
  • “Be given to hospitality…distributing to the necessity of saints.” Natural family work.
  • “Go out and make disciples of all men.” (Discipleship is a walking alongside of people. There is no better way to do this than within the context of family. Because at any point one member of the family gives himself to discipling others on his own, he is no longer discipling/being discipled himself.)

We must see ourselves as members of one body, first as related family members, and then our families as an extension of the body of Christ.

It makes sense then why the father is to be the head. The wife his helper. The children extensions of that “command team”. We must all be on board with the same purpose and goals.

Financially, when families are operating under a team model, everyone is contributing to the making and saving of the family’s economy. Children are no longer viewed as leeches or liabilities. They are seen as assets who ultimately serve to improve the family’s economy.

Children should be viewed as “ambassadors” of their parent’s vision. And the vision is what holds it all together. When I know I am an integral part of a unit, I am valuable; I have purpose and am not just an individual out to fulfill my own selfish desires.

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style; that our barns may be full, supplying all kinds of produce; that our sheep may bring forth thousands in our fields…happy are the people who are in such a state; happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” Psalm 144:12-15

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The Editrix November 10, 2008 - 8:13 pm

Wow – great post. So true, everything that you said. . .

Keri November 10, 2008 - 10:40 pm

Great post!
We are one of the few, that bring our children to the ‘adult’ service. The children’s service seems to have alot of twaddle.
Family togetherness is so important.

amy November 10, 2008 - 10:50 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. We visited a church once, and at the time we had a one year old and seven year old. We went in to the sanctuary, sat down together and waited for the church service to begin. An usher came up and asked me to leave with the one year old. He told me they didn’t allow children five and under in the sanctuary, but there was a “nice mother’s room” I was welcome to take her to. We were shocked. While I regularly make use of mother’s rooms, I couldn’t believe I HAD to go there if I wanted to stay with my baby, not to mention we HAD to send any other children five and under to a separate class. We chose to leave instead of separate our family. The usher followed us out and said “I’m sorry, that’s just our policy.” My husband kindly replied that he understood, but it was our policy to be together. This was years ago, but it is still fresh in my mind, an experience that, unfortunately, is becoming more and more common. Thank you for your words.

Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 3:47 am

I’ve always attended churches that encourage the whole family to worship together. There is a Sunday school class (all ages) but it’s at a different time than the service. No children’s church.

There is a nursery available for babies/very young children if you need to nurse, change a diaper, etc.

If my family went to a church and they told us the 2-year-old wasn’t welcome, I’d leave too!

The Mangerchine's November 11, 2008 - 12:01 pm

I agree. The way that many churches are approaching comparmentalized worship is similar to the way the world tells us “you can have it your way”. Not to say that God doesn’t take all of our polluted corrupt mess of His pure, diverse church and use it for his good (Romans 8:28). I believe that He uses all of these things, but they weren’t His idea/ plan (just as Israel having a king wasn’t his idea). They aren’t representing His full, diverse, dynamic love that crosses socio economic statuses, ages, races etc.

I spent the last year attending a home church/ Bible study/ life group/ cell group (whatever you want to call it) that included ages 80 down to age 5. It was wonderful and we were all blessed by sharing meals, prayer, worship and study of God’s word together.


Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 1:52 pm

While I agree it is important to nurture, respect, and honor the family, I don’t necessarily think children’s church undermines this.

At our church, children are invited to attend children’s church if they desire (most do, but not all). They praise and worship with the adults, but when the sermon begins, the children’s pastor takes the children to the children’s church area, where he preaches an age-appropriate sermon. The children are expected to sit still and behave in the children’s church service, and they get the benefit of a message that is developmentally appropriate for them. On Wednesday nights, the children also have a separate prayer, praise, and worship service, and it’s often more beautiful and intense than that of the adults. They take themselves very seriously, and they should. God’s no respecter of persons, after all.

It’s not about separating the family in worship, per se. It’s about planting the Word into these precious children in a way that they can understand, which isn’t always possible with an adult message. You wouldn’t feed tough meat to a baby or breastmilk to an adult. Preaching from the Word should be developmentally appropriate for the hearer, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), and we have no business putting up roadblocks to that process. In our church’s estimation, preaching a complex message to a mind not yet capable of comprehending is, in a way, hindering the little ones from coming. That’s why we split services…not because we don’t love and value children (of course we do), but because we value them enough to make sure they are fed the Word in a form they’re capable of digesting. I know this is largely a matter of a church’s personal opinion, but I just wanted to remind you that there’s another Biblically sound side to this debate, and that split worship isn’t necessarily wrong, sinful, or a sign that a church does not value children or the family.


Lori November 11, 2008 - 2:10 pm

Jenna, while I don’t necessarily think you’re wrong, I ask, don’t these children have parents who can discuss the sermon after the service, and clear up misconceptions in language appropriate for their child? Or for that matter, pre-teach the text lesson, as many preachers give the following Sunday’s scripture in advance,and even message topic. Children’s church is just superfluous. And many churches that supposedly only “offer” those services breed attitudes among the congregants that suggest that children’s church is the unwritten rule. For instance, so many children go to children’s church that the remaining congregants get really antsy when a baby blows raspberries druring the sermon, or a child squirms or whispers to loudly. Or or sings “Bob the Builder” instead of “As the Dear”. 😉 But children’s church worse, trains a child to think that worship should be catered to him/her ahd his/her interests (fave music, movies, etc), and then those children leave their church and the people who helped raise him and go to another, hipper, church that cateres to their needs. Even if it means there’s not a retiree in the crowd, and the preacher resorts to tickling the ears. Most churches I visit seem to be horribly age segregated. Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t elders, be, just occasionally, elder?

Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 2:56 pm

I was just about to write something similar to Jenna’s comment, when I read Lori’s.

Kelly, to say that “The church wants to divide the family,” seems to be a rather broad, sweeping statement.

I attend a Reformed church with solid teaching, and we also have sound biblical teaching in the children’s ministries. Sorry, but if your baby is blowing raspberries (see Lori’s comment) or singing “Bob the Builder,” that’s not cute, it is a distraction and an impediment to hearing the Word being taught. To me, that smacks of selfishness in your quest to be together as a family.

What about at a wedding? Is it OK to allow your kids to disrupt it in the name of being together? This doesn’t mean that your children aren’t well-behaved, but babies at any age, are likely to make noise. I have ten kids who are mostly grown now, and, although they were polite and well-behaved, they could still be a distraction.

It’s OK to have an opinion, but some of the comments are so dogmatic, you’d think that God commanded families to attend church services together. To intimate that having a children’s program is a “polluted corrupt mess (see Shannon’s comment)” is a pretty strong indictment of the church–and, from my perspective, somewhat extra biblical.


Mrs. Lady Sofia November 11, 2008 - 4:03 pm

I know I will be in the minority when I say this but I’d have to agree with the comments presented by Jenna and Cathy.

I don’t think that having certain “ministries” in a church mean that the church body has a goal of separating families. I see nothing “evil or sinful” about ministries for children or adults. Individuals can choose or not choose to attend these ministries and should not be forced or made to “feel guilty” in their decision, regardless of which route they choose.

However, I must agree that it is wrong for a church body to “automatically” dismiss children from the sanctuary area just because “they are too young.” With this line of thinking, it’s wrong for a church body to discriminate against any age group for any reason. If there is discrimination inside the church, this makes us comparable to the world’s standards and that is something I know God would not approve.

Furthermore, those that choose to participate in ministries are not looked down upon by God more than those who choose not to use them (compare: 1 Samuel 16:7 and Romans 2:11). The most important thing about church should be about growing in strength as a Christian as well as learning the Word of God so we can use what we learn about Christ and apply it daily in our everyday lives.

In summary, I think that having “special ministries” is a choice, not a mandate or rule. If you like them fine, if you don’t, fine. The most important matter should be to focus on God’s Word.

Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 6:10 pm

My kids have made plenty of noise in church over the past 4+ years. We make a quick cover of a grown up hand over the mouth with a “shhh” with the lips directly over the ear so it’s not too loud. We do leave for crying and an overly “talkative” baby. But my children learn to be quiet in church by practicing being quiet in church. Imagine that. They get to watch their parents worship together, and my preshooler loves to follow along, copying us when he’s lost, and participating with what he has memorized. And I admit to being a little selfish. AND I am lighthearted about my then 18 month old singing Bob the Builder. COME ON! Moms have to have a sense of humor, or we’d never be able to show our faces in public from absurd senses of shame. I thought that the moms in this place would identify with that – you know- our kids doing normal things in absurd situations; I guess you have to S-P-E-L-L Everything out. Anyhow, he only got as far as “Bob the -“, but he thought he was singing with us. He is over 4 now, and knows several of our church’s hymns by heart, and prayers, and Psalms, and the Commandments, and on and on. Know where he learned them? Mmmm Hmmm. Right with us in church, with just a little help from Mom and Dad at home. He does very well now(thank-you-very-much), most though not all Sundays, with the sitting still and coloring and a little listening to the sermon.
A lot like your kids, Anon – “I have ten kids who are mostly grown now, and, although they were polite and well-behaved, they could still be a distraction.” Funny how you assume the worst (selfishly trying to keep my family together in the name of togetherness)when I was trying to keep the mood lighthearted. Because I didn’t spell everything out. But then again, maybe you do consider me and my kind nuisance even after my spelling it out. In which case, you’re the perfect example of how children’s church breeds contempt of family chirch worship.

The churches often start programs with good intentions. I agree with that. But they don’t always work out very well.

Furthermore – most parents have NO idea (of course I’m not talking about ANY of the megamom with 10 angels here) of what their kids are even doing in children’s “church”. Like learning “Santa Clause is Coming Tonight”, or doctrines that might even be contrary to what the parents believe. All Mom and Dad get is a coloring page. That’s comforting.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…” Heb 10:25 T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R Umm, that means, like, all of us in the body of Christ, right?

Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 6:11 pm

Sorry, forgot to pub my name, Lori. I’m the prev Anon, with the “Bob” kid

Mrs W November 11, 2008 - 6:22 pm

I wish we could discuss these issues without automatically assuming the absolute worst about people who disagree with us. That goes for just about every commenter, and Kelly too.

Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 8:30 pm

WOW, Lori, I guess you were referring to me, but I’m not sure why you went after what I posted. I’m sorry you were offended. I didn’t realize that I was being rude. In your first comment, you used lots of generalizations with regard to church, e.g., that those kinds of churches train “a child to think that worship should be catered to him/her ahd his/her interests (fave music, movies, etc), and then those children leave their church and the people who helped raise him and go to another, hipper, church that cateres to their needs.”

I simply disagree. Isn’t that OK? I meant nothing personal, and as women, we should be able to discuss these kinds of things on a philosophical level without going sideways on each other. I’m not sure what I said that was so offensive. Please forgive me. I obviously upset you.

Finally, I was speaking in general terms, Lori, as I thought you were.


Mother of Dog November 11, 2008 - 11:10 pm

Wait – forgive me, I’m Jewish so I have to ask – why would it be wrong to tell kids that Santa Claus is coming? Is there no Santa Claus in your faith? I’m curious. It was definitely hard to grow up without one in mine, lol!

By the way, we had Junior Congregation at my synagogue, but it was simply in a different place so we could be more raucous. Jews have a very strong notion of family too – in fact, if you were to talk to Hasidic Jews you’d find they have much in common with you: Women staying home and raising many children, home-schooling, modesty, courting, etc.

I love reading your blog and hearing different voices and opinions – it’s always thought-provoking, although I AM a proud Liberal, Feminist and Socialist! 🙂

Anonymous November 11, 2008 - 11:57 pm

Cathy – re:"we should be able to discuss these kinds of things on a philosophical level without going sideways on each other."
So, what's not "going sideways at each other" about "Sorry, but if your baby is blowing raspberries (see Lori's comment) or singing "Bob the Builder," that's not cute, it is a distraction and an impediment to hearing the Word being taught. To me, that smacks of selfishness in your quest to be together as a family."
I was trying to be lighthearted, and you called me/my practices out as "distraction…impediment…selfishness" Again, I accept my share of the fault by not spelling out my intentions. I thought it was belaboring my point. My point was simply that children MAKE MISTAKES. And they can learn from them in my lap. But some people aren't willing to allow that. Kind of a "seen and not heard mentality". Some (lots of) people want to see kids, not hear them. Unless they act like perfect little adults (like we're so perfect). I admit. I'm a VERY flawed mother. Of a willful, naughty boy. But a boy who loves God, and I believe that he, or my baby, should be allowed & Encouraged to worship with the whole body of Christ. He won't understand it all at first. But while you don't "give tough meat to a baby" you don't avoid it for years, either. They will accept doctrine even before they are able to understand it. That's what Jesus was talking about when he talked of "faith of a child".
-And I am on no "quest to be together as a family." God made us a family, no quest involved. We'd just like to stay that way. Our quest is daily service of God. Together. If you want to send your child to a separate facility, that's o.k. with me. I just don't want to become part of the practice or doctrine of the church for reasons already stated.

-re:"I was speaking in general terms" No, you specifically reffered to me by name. Be brassy or be gentle, but at least own it.

Let me be more specific about children's church, so I don't unnecessarily offend (is it possible?). If children's church is just a segment of the sermon directed at children in a certain part of the sanctuary, like the pastor's feet, that's fine. That's not was I even have been reffering to. MY fault. I am not reffering to nursery. I am specifically thinking of churches that remove children from families for the bulk of the service. Year after year after year. Long after a child can be taught to listen and participate.

I agree with Kelly: "there is a subtle, well-meaning advancement of family separation in the church that I don't see as a positive thing."

Lori November 12, 2008 - 12:01 am

Darn it! I did type in my name, Lori. My computer must have gotten stressed! Yep. I’m the Bob-boy mom.

Lori November 12, 2008 - 12:18 am

Mother of Dog – I teach my boy about Santa Clause. I teach him that he’s a fun, but pretend, story, based on a wonderful man named St. Nicholas, and then I tell him about the saint. It’s not a big issue for me. But it’s certainly “beside the point” of children’s church. * * *

“Anyone who wears a red suit and has a beard remarkably similar to Karl Marx’s is not to be trusted.” 😉 Gary North (being tongue in cheek) here: http://www.dailyreckoning.co.uk/economic-forecasts/santa-claus-economy.html

Anonymous November 12, 2008 - 2:21 am

Lori, the only reason that I referred to you by name was that I was referring to what you had written, not to you on a personal level. There is a difference. I apologized for offending you. I thought that you were speaking in generalities, as in, babies (all babies) “blowing raspberries.”

I’ll restate: I attend a solid, biblically based church. My daughter attends Masters College, I love Piper, Begg, Sproul, etc. (I sound like I’m writing my resume! JUST KIDDING.) There are churches that are Reformed that offer separate classes for kids that are age appropriate. If you (you being generic) want your kids to sit in church w/you, please, by all means, do so. Just be careful (again, a general goal) not to deem churches that offer children’s programs, lightweight in their teaching. I help in the kindegarten program at church, and I love to hear those kids pray and worship God. It is awesome to hear their love for God in their child-like way. Presently, the program is going through the Old Testament. Last Sunday, the teacher emphasized that when God makes a promise (as in His promise to Abraham to make a great nation through him), He never lies. BTW, the teachers attend a church service, as well, where the Word is exposited for upwards of a hour. Last Sunday, was a glorious exposition of Job.

Again, I don’t want to offend anyone, but Hebrews 10:25 is not referring to being together as a family in church. In context, it is a warning against apostasy.

Kelly, I sure don’t want to create hard feelings on your blog. I seem to have done so, but aside from apologizing more than once, I have no idea what to do at this point.

Mother of Dog–I am proud of my Jewish heritage. My grandmother, now deceased, was Jewish, and from an early age, I was made aware of my ancestry. I have accepted Yeshua as the Messiah. The Jewish culture is a cool one.


Word Warrior November 12, 2008 - 8:12 am

Cathy & Others in this thread,

I think everyone is OK now, right? We women–it's a very tricky thing to espouse our opinions and convictions and maintain "non-offensive" or "non-offended" 😉

Truth with grace…and sometimes offense comes. I've learned that a lot with this blog.

Iron sharpens iron…I imagine the sharpening can be painful at times, unessarily so at others.

Thank you all for your attempts at being gracious.

Jamie November 12, 2008 - 9:20 am

This reminds me of something I read before, maybe it was here, but I don’t remember for sure.

This goes to the discussion of whether or not a child should have age appropriate teaching or is the regular sermon good for them.

When a baby is born, are you careful to only speak in baby gurgles and cries around them, because that’s all they can understand? When someone visits do you inform them to do so as well, so that their baby can understand what they’re saying? Would a baby ever learn the language if everyone around them spoke to their “level”?

Would we even as adults, ever learn anything if everything was presented at our level?

I read my kids books that are probably over their head for the most part, but every now and then I hear them use a word from that book, that’s not common English today or here them discussing something that happened, and I realize that when they hear it enough, it becomes their level. They learn it. It becomes part of them.

And I personally would rather they be working hard to digest something over their head (with my help along the way), than just sitting there being spoon fed something more age appropriate.

Of course, that’s only my opinion. I realize others do things for many reasons, and I do not condone them at all. I just wanted to explain why some may feel it important to have their kids in the sermon with them. At least that’s why it’s important for my husband and I. We have many other reasons for keeping them out of age divided classes, but this is the reason why we want them in the main sermon.

With love

The Mangerchine's November 12, 2008 - 11:15 am

I’m terribly sorry if I offended anyone at all! My words were strong, and it’s hard to get everything across in writing without being able to convey expression and emotion. I didn’t mean that children’s church is a polluted corrupt mess, but I feel that the way we do church in general, life, and love is a corrupt version of the true Gospel and sacrifical love of Jesus. I could elaborate more on this, but will refrain from fear of of rambling on in too much space or offending anyone else.


Anonymous November 12, 2008 - 3:15 pm

I don’t like children’s church because it takes adults out of the service who really need to hear a good Biblical sermon geared for adults.

Civilla, I’m not quite sure I’m following your logic. The only adult who is removed from the service due to children’s church is the children’s pastor, at least in our church. Also, the children’s ministry at our church began not as a convenience to the adults, but as a help to the kids. It was born out of a desire to plant the Word deeply inside them in a way they could understand. I’m closely acquainted with our children’s pastor, and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that children’s church at our church was started with the kids’ best interests in mind, not the adults’. That said, no child is EVER required to attend children’s church and we do have several children who sit in regular service with their parents.

We have still other children who ride the bus to church, whose parents don’t attend but will allow the bus to take them. As a child, I didn’t come from a Christian home, and I can’t imagine going to church and sitting through the adult sermon without any adults. If there weren’t a children’s program, I doubt that kids would come to church without their parents (it’d feel weird). From that perspective, this comment: “Maybe we shouldn’t care?” seems kind of callous, but I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way.

All Mom and Dad get is a coloring page. That’s comforting.

I guess maybe children’s church is a lot different at our church than it is at other churches? Because in our children’s church, the kids don’t color (maybe in Sunday school, but not in children’s church). They listen to a sermon just like the adults, but it is presented in a simpler fashion.

I admit. I'm a VERY flawed mother. Of a willful, naughty boy. But a boy who loves God, and I believe that he, or my baby, should be allowed & Encouraged to worship with the whole body of Christ.

But this is the thing. At our church, the kids DO worship with the whole body of Christ. They leave after corporate praise and worship but before the sermon is preached. They are not excluded from corporate worship…in fact, they’re some of the most worshipful participants. It’s just that when it’s time for preaching of the Word, our senior pastor believes that the children should receive it in a way they can digest, that adults should receive a message that is meat rather than milk, and that parents should have the choice of whether their children sit in the main service or attend children’s church. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

I’m not saying anyone’s church is right or wrong for having a children’s ministry with children’s church. What I am saying is that there isn’t necessarily a right-or-wrong blanket answer for every single church. Such decisions should be left to each church body, and to suggest otherwise is assigning authority extrabiblically.

When a baby is born, are you careful to only speak in baby gurgles and cries around them, because that’s all they can understand? When someone visits do you inform them to do so as well, so that their baby can understand what they’re saying? Would a baby ever learn the language if everyone around them spoke to their “level”?

No. In education psychology, it’s well known that in order to learn most effectively, a learner needs a challenge, but not too much of a challenge. I wouldn’t only cry and coo to a baby if I wanted him/her to learn to talk, but then again, I wouldn’t stand over his/her crib and conduct a doctoral-level discourse on antidisestablishmentarianism, either. I would teach my child the language simply, in a way that is a slight challenge but not so much of a challenge that it becomes frustrating. The children’s pastor doesn’t preach in gurgles and cries. He preaches in simpler language than the pastor, sure, but I think that’s warranted because of his audience.

I’m pleased that civility seems to have been restored in the comments to this entry. I was becoming a little anxious just reading them. Let’s love the Lord our God and love each other. If we don’t do those two things, nothing else matters!



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