Dear Church Family,
This week end, and then in February, our church starts a new phase of our discipleship program. For many years we have had no nursery and no Sunday School for children and no discipleship specifically driven for youth. That doesn’t mean that we have not loved our children and youth but building on a good base of discipleship in our church, we now hope to put some clear biblical instruction specifically catered to help our young ones have an even better grasp on the truths in God’s Word.
As we move our discipleship in this direction, it’s important that we explain both how a move like this does not disrupt the physical family but is actually both better for the church family and for individual physical families in our congregation.
God’s Word is clear that God’s people are no longer a family of families situated around the centrality of the temple. While Israel camped in family groups around the temple, the idea of generations of God’s people was the idea of physical descendants. We also find in the Old Testament that while there was a physical seed of Abraham, this did not make you a spiritual seed of Abraham. All through the Scripture we know that God’s true seed are those who come to him by faith. Jeremiah was looking for the day that everyone in God’s family would know him (31:34). In Galatians, Paul shows Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the seed and all those in Christ are Abraham’s seed. All those in Christ are all who truly know God.
The Church is God’s family by regeneration through faith in Christ. The New Testament family of God are only identified as believers. When we think of God’s family in the New Covenant, we must consider it with New Covenant thinking and see it with New Covenant eyes. The Christian family is the church. The word “Christian” is an appropriate adjective only when there is regeneration. Does this make physical families unimportant now? By no means. Throughout the New Testament there is a call for Husbands and Wives to imitate Christ and the church. Parents are to love and not provoke their children to anger. Fathers who cannot keep an orderly household cannot be elders in the church. We should also understand that God has no age limits of who he saves. Little children can legitimately come to faith in Christ, even a simple faith, and be our brothers and sisters.
What does children’s discipleship do? Discipling our younger ones develops a sense of church family that is essential if we are to act as the new covenant people that we are meant to be in Christ. In passages such as Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 5 we are reminded that the church acts like a family as the older encourage and train the younger (in the church family) as they grow in the Lord. The apostles often use the terms of fathers and children, brothers and sisters, in the faith. As we have a dedicated discipleship in our church, we are helping our young ones see that the church is a family. We care about our children and want to see them know and grow in the Lord. Therefore, just like Christian parents desire to train their children in the Lord and specifically apply Scripture (geared to their understanding) to their lives, spiritual parents in the church show that the church is indeed God’s family where children can be trained in him just like this. If our children, especially those in the faith, are not taking part in this, it will be harder for them to understand what Jesus meant when he said that his mother and brother and sisters were those who believe in him. We want our kids to know that when they trust Jesus, the church is actually a family. Under the leadership of the elders, we trust each other to help each other. Even parenting comes under the authority of the church as the elders seek to equip parents in their role. It truly takes a church to disciple a child.
How does this help our physical families? As we grow our church family to care for the discipleship of all people in our family, part of that discipleship is to help parents fulfill their very important God given task in raring their children unto the Lord. Keeping Moms and Dads together in our gatherings under the teaching of God’s Word helps them to be equipped to impart these truths together to their family during the week. Allowing others to serve in a nursery helps tired Moms and Dads to refresh under the word of God. It is an act of love that, let’s face it, Moms really need. It allows us to humble ourselves to be served in a safe environment.
One other thing that we will be doing in our nursery is training our children to advance to church. Our nursery will be from 6mths – 4 years old. Each week in the nursery we will be teaching our children respect and gentleness. We will be having a little worship time with singing and music. We will have some time where a Scriptural truth is read. The teachers in nursery will help our children with disciplines that get them ready for sitting with Mom and Dad in Church when they are able to understand. Our discipleship program for young ones is actually both about developing togetherness in our families and promoting the beauty of the family of Christ. Our rotation system for nursery will also ensure that most ladies will only be serving around once every two months in this capacity so the regularity of being in church is a maintained priority.
During our Sunday School hour, we are holding our Kid’s discipleship from the ages of 4-12 starting in February. This will be teaching from God’s Word applied in a way that can specifically help our kids to grasp the truth of Christ in their lives. We thought long and hard about a curriculum that would most align with the preaching of our church and help our kids see how all of the historical reality of Scripture points to Christ. We have chosen “The Gospel Project” curriculum. Our Sunday School is not during our main service time because we also desire all those who are able to comprehend truth from our main time of teaching and fellowship to be involved. We even want our service to look like a family. Each week our Sunday School teachers are going to ask a simple question about the sermon or worship time from the last week. Over time we believe our kids will learn to be more engaged in our main Church service through Sunday School.
This week end, our nursery begins. We are excited for the training of our little ones to know and love the idea of what Church is. We are excited to serve Moms and Dads as they are refreshed and equipped as parents for the week ahead. If you have little ones between the ages of 6mths – 4 years old, please consider allowing your sisters in Christ (who have all been background checked and well known in character to our leadership) to serve you.
We are a discipling church. We are a family!