PO Box 3425
January/February Issue 2012 - Volume 31 Number 1
Fathers...Bring Them Up
“And these words which I command you today shall be
in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall
talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you
lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy
A few years ago I attended a meeting of
various church leaders from throughout the USA. There was concern about the
future for the congregations represented. Some congregations had been
consulting various church growth experts on what they could do to grow the
church. The advice the experts gave had prompted them to move in directions
that some of the other congregations felt were not scriptural. I was among
the more conservative attendees who thought that the experts may have known
quite a bit about what people want, but that they may have fallen a little
short on what God’s word requires. However, I was a little surprised at
one of the points raised during the meeting. Some of the speakers questioned
the wisdom of dividing congregations into age groups for the purpose of
teaching. They pointed out that the generations need to be kept together and
not separated. I remember thinking at the time that this was not really a
new idea. In fact, the arrangement for teaching the church when it comes
together as given in the Bible calls for all the generations to be together
(1 Cor. 14:26-40).
The Bible clearly states that the
primary responsibility for the upbringing of children rests on parents, and
not on the church or any other organization. Paul writes, “And you,
fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the
training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The modern practice of
Sunday Schools, and dividing the church into age groups for the purpose of
teaching, had at least some of its origins in England in the eighteenth
century. Robert Raikes started his first school for the children of chimney
sweeps in Sooty Alley, Gloucester (opposite the city prison) in 1780 (http://www.infed.org/walking/wa-raikes.htm).
Sunday Schools were not practiced in churches of Christ in America until the
early twentieth century.
I recently received an email that directed me to a link
that relates to this matter of generations and parents’ responsibilities
for teaching their children. I will give the Facebook link later, but my
search led me to an article posted by USA Today entitled “Some Churches Cancel Sunday School, Put Parents in
Charge.” Here is some of that article:
Don't look for children's Sunday school classes at
Ridgewood Church in Port Arthur, Texas. And forget about scavenger hunts and
water park trips: the youth ministry is no more. Sound like a dying church?
No, it's a family-integrated congregation, whose
leaders wanted parents — rather than Sunday school teachers and youth
ministers — to spiritually train their children. Driven by statistics
about youth leaving church after high school, they've turned to the Bible as
their sole educational text and shunned age-segregated structures.
"Nobody disagrees that there's a problem,"
said Ridgewood's Pastor Dustin Guidry, whose church started the transition
seven years ago. "What do we do about it? It's just going back to the
basics, relying upon the sufficiency of Scriptures."
Guidry later learned other congregations were doing the
same thing — shuttering classrooms, demanding parents — especially
fathers — take on more of a spiritual leadership role and sometimes
canceling Sunday schools.
a controversial video circulating online and a related book called A Weed in the Church, the movement's leaders warn that
"unbiblical" age-segregated activities can lead youth away from
the church. Pastor Scott Brown, director of the North Carolina-based
National Center for Family-Integrated Churches and author of the book, said
many of its close to 800 affiliated churches have either stopped or reduced
traditional Sunday school classes.
"When Jesus gathers people together, he gathers
the generations," said Brown. "He doesn't segregate people by age.
He's famous for saying 'suffer the little children to come unto me' because
his disciples wanted to banish the children. Jesus wasn't that way."
Pastor Paul Thompson of Eastside Southern Baptist
Church in Twin
Idaho, was influenced by Brown's book when he presented a resolution to his
church in April calling it to "repent and cease" its past age
segregation, acknowledging that "few in our city, state, region, or
nation may understand."
Brown and Thompson say the disappearance of youths from
their pews was a catalyst for change.
"Probably the hard, hard questions were 'Where are
the students and the children who have grown up in this church?"
Thompson said. "A lot of them live still here in Twin Falls, and they
don't go to church at all and they don't live what we taught them when they
Pastor Josue Raimundo of Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia
(Grace Bible Church) of Arlington, Va., agrees with the principle that
Brown's movement espouses but thinks churches can apply it differently.
There's still Sunday school at his church but youth and parents sit around a
big table together, taking turns reading and discussing the Bible.
"The issue is for the parents to have the charge
of instructing their children," he said.
The family-centered movement is part of a broader trend
of churches struggling to respond to statistics that claim a youth attrition
rate of 40-88 percent. Christian
director of the National Study of Youth and Religion, said there is cause
for concern but those statistics are sometimes wildly exaggerated.
Smith has found that 14 percent of youth ages 13-17
identified as "not religious." That number nearly doubles five
years later. And he notes that those numbers could change as these young
adults marry and have children.
Yet he doesn't consider Brown and others'
age-integrated approach extreme. While it's not the "silver
bullet," it fits his findings about the key role parents play in
influencing children's lives.
"Parents are so crucial that if you just split
them up from their kids and the parents think that some ministry
professional is taking care of it, that's not going to be very
effective," he said.
A range of ministries are responding to the research
with books, lessons and conferences. The third conference of D6, a movement
that explores how churches can encourage parents to spiritually train their
youth, will meet Sept. 21-23 in Dallas, expecting more than 2,000 people
from about 700 churches. It's named for the sixth chapter of the Book
which is also cited by the family-centered movement for its admonition to
teach children God's commandments.
"I do believe there is an overbalance of
age-segregated programming and that overbalance must be corrected,"
a D6 presenter and professor of student ministry at Southwestern
Baptist Theological Seminary.
"But it is throwing out the baby with the bath to suggest that those
groupings should never happen."
Daryl Nuss, chief ministries officer of the National
Network of Youth Ministries, also thinks the family-centered movement is too
strict. "That may work in a small segment of churches but what about
all those students who do not come from a healthy family, do not come from a
nuclear family?" he asked.
(USA Today Posted 9/14/2011 5:42 PM http://www.facebook.com/dividedthemovie)
is encouraging to hear that people want to
upon the sufficiency of Scriptures.” In fact, rather than trying to
determine what people want or listening to what experts say people need, the
Scriptures should always be the first place we look for information and
direction. The early church
assembled together and all the generations were together with men only doing
the teaching. There were plenty of teachers and rooms could have been
arranged so that the church could have divided the assembly into age groups
for teaching; however, by inspiration Paul instructed the Corinthian church
to have one man speaking at a time while the others listened and judged what
he taught. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote these things
to the Corinthian church. Did the Holy Spirit not understand that the
teaching could be better accomplished by dividing into age groups and
placing teachers over each group? It appears that the Holy Spirit directed
Paul to instruct the Corinthians on the best way to accomplish this task of
course, in the assembly of the church is not the only place that teaching
occurred in the early church. Paul told the elders from Ephesus that he
“…taught you publicly and from house to house” (Acts 20:20). There was
teaching that took place in an assembled capacity and teaching that was done
outside the assembly. As the Deuteronomy passage suggests, a parent teaches
not just with lesson plans and lectures, but in the daily activities of life
around the house. Perhaps the greatest lesson that a parent can ever teach
is the influence of a Godly life lived out in front of their children.
children can very often reel off the entire lineups of football and baseball
teams; they remember the lyrics to countless songs; they are techno savvy
and they have the ability to memorize everything from telephone numbers to
menus. Let’s be sure that they know the stories and characters of the
Bible just as well. Above all let’s be sure that they know Jesus and what
it means to be called children of God.
is the Church Headed?
have a file at home filled with scores of publications, articles and so
forth addressing the divided class arrangement.
Such authors as J.M. Keele, G.B. Shelburne Jr., Pat Ethridge, Ralph
Gage, George Gray, Irvin Barnes, Alva Johnson, J.L. Cutter, Lendal Wilks
etc. all stood together in opposition to this movement, a movement that
ironically divided the churches of Christ as it encouraged congregations to
divide themselves into what it believed to be a more effective arrangement
of teaching. And, of course, the
use of women to teach these classes was at the heart of the debate.
it is not my intention to address this issue.
Instead, I would rather address what this practice is leading to.
Years ago, defenders of the one assembly arrangement argued against the
divided class arrangement and the use of women to teach those classes
because of what it would lead to. “The
Sunday school” they said, “is one step away from the pulpit.”
They feared the Sunday school would lead to a female ministry.
And it is indeed heading that direction as more and more churches
allow their women to ask questions, make announcements, lead singing and
even teach from the pulpit, both men and women, in their public assemblies.
No longer are they tucked away in separate rooms somewhere teaching
just children but they have stepped out of the closet, so to speak, and onto
believe this to be, to say the least, a very confusing trend. The word of
God says: “God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1
Cor.14:33). A few verses
later He said: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (v.40).
first look at some of the things that were causing disorder in the church at
Corinth. From Paul’s illustration in 1 Cor. 12, and the context
surrounding it, the members all seemed to desire the
same spiritual gifts.
the whole body were an eye, he said, where would the hearing be?
If the whole body were an ear, where would the nose be, and so forth?
Yet we see from that same context that the most coveted gift was that
if the whole church comes together in one place and all speak with tongues
and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say
that you are out of your mind?” (I Cor. 14:23)
This was very confusing.
according to 1 Cor. 14:26- 27, all wanted to be heard.
But Paul specifically limits speakers of tongues to two or at most
three and puts limits on the number of those who prophesy as well. (v.29)
Otherwise, this created confusion.
Third, they all wanted to speak at the same time
and, needless to say, this confused everyone.
Therefore they were admonished to speak “in turn”. (v.27)
tongue speakers did so without the aid of a translator.
Anyone who has traveled to a foreign country certainly understands
this. To dispel the confusion,
Paul wrote if there was no interpreter present they were to remain silent.
they seemed unwilling to yield to others
who wanted to speak. “…if anything is revealed to another who sits by,
let the first keep silent.” (v. 30) So how did they know if the person
next to them was really receiving a revelation?
They didn’t, but to avoid confusion God insisted they yield to each
other. (Love does not seek its
own) Yield to that person and
“let the others judge”. (v.29) Otherwise
confusion would abound.
they practiced little if any self control.
It seemed some were so eager to be heard that they would interrupt others
and this also compounded the confusion of the entire service.
Therefore God said: “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the
the women were permitted to speak and ask
This was not only confusing but shameful as well.
Such behavior was seen as unsubmissive and disrespectful.
Therefore God said: “let your women keep silent in the churches,
for they are not permitted to speak, but they are to be submissive as the
law also says. And if they want
to learn something let them ask their own husbands at home for it is
shameful for women to speak in church.” (v.34-35)
first six points appear to be clearly confusing practices in any culture or
in any age. However, the last
point seems neither confusing nor shameful to most folks today.
this restriction of women’s silence given only to the Corinthian church?
If so, was it due to the fact that it had so many other serious
problems? After all, they were
cliquish, immature and carnal minded; they winked at incest; some had no
qualms about suing each other and, perhaps worst of all, they turned the
Lord’s Supper into a common meal!
did this restriction apply at other churches as well?
Paul wrote to Timothy and commanded, “…let a woman learn in
silence with all submission. And
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be
in silence.” (1 Tim. 2:11)
then, where was Timothy preaching at the time?
According to 1 Tim. 1:3, he was working with the church in Ephesus.
Yet this restriction was not just limited to Ephesus and Corinth for
Paul said: “For this cause I have sent unto you Timothy who is my beloved
son and faithful in the Lord who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ,
as I teach everywhere and in every church.”
(1 Cor. 4:17)
was not an isolated practice. Instead
it was a universal restriction. Yet why was it deemed “confusing” for
women to speak in church? Why
was it deemed “indecent” and “disorderly”?
it may not seem like it to some. Instead
most see it as “normal”. They
see it as an enhancement to their worship.
It is thought of as necessary; something that creates an atmosphere
that is “worshiper friendly”.
God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my
ways, says the Lord. For as the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa.55:8)
made a similar statement once: “…For what is highly esteemed among men
is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk.16:15)
What we deem acceptable or normal or “trendy”, could be something
that God deems an abomination. I’ll
admit, this practice is no where referred to as “abominable”; however,
God does refer to this practice as “confusing”, “disorderly”,
“indecent” and “shameful”. If allowed to continue unbridled and
unchecked, it very well could one day become an abomination.
I’m of the opinion that God means for women to remain silent in the
church. (i.e. that time and place of assembly designated by the leaders of
the congregation for the purpose of public worship)
then is silence required to show submission?
Why not require the woman to sit at the feet of her husband during
the time of worship? Or, why not
have the women sit on one side of the building with the men on the other?
Or why not have them sit at the back or even lay on the floor
prostrate with their heads covered? Wouldn’t
these work just as well to show their submission?
you are a married woman, a widow or a single young lady, your silence in
public worship is God’s design whereby you demonstrate submission to God,
“…they are to be in submission as the law also says.” (I Cor. 14:34)
In the same manner, God, by design, put restrictions on how the Ark
of the Covenant was to be transported. It
was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests.
But when David attempted to move it by a more modern means, an ox
cart, God showed his anger by taking the life of Uzzah.
the law was nailed to the cross, it did not include a wife’s
submissiveness, just as it did not include adultery, murder, fornication,
lying etc. (i.e. the moral law was carried forward; only the laws of
redemption and the ceremonies associated with them were “nailed to the
cross”) A wife’s submission
was carried forward – “as the law also says.”
To do otherwise would be “shameful”. (v.35)
we will just read we can see the reasons why a woman should still be
submissive. “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,
but to be in silence. For Adam
was formed first, then Eve. And
Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into
transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:11-14)
#1, “Adam was formed first then Eve.” (v.13)
Someone might say, “What’s that got to do with being
submissive?” Well, let’s
just keep reading. “For man is
not from woman, but woman from man. Nor
was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” (1 Cor. 11: 8-9)
God said I will make for him a “help meet”, a “helper
comparable to him”. (Gen.2:18) She
was, again by design, given a subservient position even before the fall.
#2, “Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived fell into
transgression.” (v.14) Eve was
deceived, Adam was not. He was
simply persuaded by his wife. “He
heeded the voice of His wife.” (Gen. 3:17)
After the fall, God reinforced her position of submissiveness by the
curse He brought on the woman. “Your
desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16)
Therefore, “let a woman learn in silence, with all submission.”
church assembled is more than just a collection of Saints and prospective
Saints. It is a type of our
gathering together when Christ returns. (Matt. 24:31; 2 Thes.2:1)
If you will, it is a kind of rehearsal where we prepare together the
praise and adoration that is due to Him when He, at last, will return.
Why do we think Paul admonished us to “forsake not the assembling
of ourselves together”? If we
miss the assembly we’ve missed rehearsal!
church assembled is more than just a time to remember the death, burial and
resurrection of Christ. It is an
opportunity for both men and women to preach, in unison, the glorious Gospel
of Christ without ever saying a word. “For as often as you eat this bread
and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
(1 Cor. 11:26)
church assembled is more than just an obedient body responding to a lot of
curious commands. It is, as well, a yielding spiritual Bride in submission
to her spiritual Head. In Eph.
5:22-33 Paul speaks of the Church metaphorically:
“The husband is head of the wife as also Christ is head of the
Church” (v.23) and “as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives
be to their own husbands.” (v.24)
part, it is by the silence of the women in the congregation that this
submission is achieved. The
other is achieved when the men do their part to lead the congregation
through the process of public worship as the New Testament directs.
a woman willingly violates the Lord’s command (“if anyone thinks himself
to be…spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you
are the commandments of the Lord” 1 Cor.14:37), and speaks from the floor,
or even from the pulpit, and declares she is only “honoring” God, it
reminds me of what King Saul once said.
After returning from battle and a great victory, he proudly declared
to the prophet, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” when he
knew full well he hadn’t. (1 Sa.15:13)
same can be said of Elders who allow such a practice as this.
It is as shameful for them as it is for the women.
And while it may not seem confusing to anyone else, have we ever
stopped to think that the most confused person may be the Lord:
“Do they love me or not? I
can’t tell. I told them, ‘If
you love me you will keep my word,’ but I just can’t tell.”
Does He ever think, “I’m confused”?
“I clearly told the women to remain silent in church as a sign of
submission; at least I thought I did. Why are they still talking?
content to abide by our Savior’s simple request, His bride, the Church,
“pushes the envelope” as they say. She
tests the boundaries. It’s
like in the Garden of Eden; God said, “Of every tree of the garden you may
freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not
and woman had access to an untold number of delicious fruits and yet the one
most desirable was the one that was forbidden.
Women have ample opportunity to teach and preach in the private
sector as much as they want. They,
as mothers, are more influential upon their children in the formative years
than their fathers ever hope to be and yet despite all this, their desire to
teach and speak publicly is the one command they try to get around.
congregations already have. Therefore,
what is keeping others from ordaining women as Elders, or Deacons or
Evangelists? Some congregations
are on the verge of doing this as they look to the denominational world for
their cues. Once the church
moves beyond what it sees as one “road block”, what is to prevent it
from ignoring the rest of them?
Do we ever think about where the church will be in another
generation, even two or three generations?
Will it have veered so far off course that when Christ returns the
church will be unrecognizable? Will
he then say to those expecting an “enter thou in” to instead hear
“Depart from me, ye that work iniquity, I never knew you.” (Matt.7:23)
Is this what Christ meant when he asked, “When the Son of Man
comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:8)
West Monroe, LA
- Number 1 -
Jan/Feb 2012 BC
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