Our church worships in a setting known as Family Integrated Worship. This means that, in our worship services, all ages are welcomed and integrated into the service. We believe that this practice is both pleasing to Christ (as revealed in His Word) and effective for training up the next generation.
The children of members are an important part of the church. But before personally making a credible statement of faith, how do children fit into the church? Find our answer here:
Many believers are wondering what level of government intrusion should be allowed in the church. Our response can be found here.
If you come visit our church you may notice that we do not have any Sunday school classes or a nursery. Since this is different than the vast majority of churches, we would like to explain our position on ‘youth ministry’. We do not have, nor do we intend to have, any age based Sunday school classes or youth groups. We prefer to meet, both for our Lord’s Day worship and our Wednesday evening prayer and study time as a whole group of all ages combined. And while this has the appearance of lacking a “youth ministry,” the reality is that we have chosen a different model of ministering to youth based on convictions from Scripture.
To begin with, we as the elders of Gloria Deo Baptist Church believe that the gospel of Christ must be the foundation and core of every aspect of life to those who are called by His Name. The most important aspect of any church is how they define the gospel and how they live it out. Therefore, we do not desire the issue of ‘youth ministry’ to overshadow or obscure the gospel due to bickering about secondary things. We desire the gospel of Christ to be the central focus of this church, and we desire to be united with all members of the true church by upholding this one true gospel together.
That being said, the gospel is both doctrine (that which Christ has done for us) and action (that which we must do in response). The actions of the gospel flow out of the doctrines of the gospel. In other words, those bought with the precious blood of Christ ought not only to bask in the wonderful grace of God, but also walk in joyful obedience to all that He taught. With this in mind, the Word of God is our only authoritative and sufficient source to inform us of His will, in not only what we do, but how we do it. Youth ministry, as with all activities in the church, is one activity that must come under the authority of Scripture.
While youth ministry does not stand at the pinnacle of issues we face as a church, it is certainly worthy of our attention, as we will give account of the souls entrusted to our care, including the children. And while we are wholly dependent on the Spirit of God to accomplish any work of regeneration and sanctification, we are compelled to seek the counsel of God’s Word as our guide, a testimony of our faith in Him. We believe that this is both the prerogative and responsibility of all church elders in relationship to their own church bodies – each must reach their own conclusions to form a Biblically based youth ministry.
Having given this issue careful consideration, we find that age segregated youth ministry (the model embraced by most modern evangelical churches) is not clearly commended in scripture, but neither is it clearly condemned. We can even affirm that God has at various times and various ways even used such ministries to advance His Kingdom. However, we also believe that age segregated discipleship, though not expressly unbiblical, is certainly unnecessary, and in our opinion, potentially harmful to the degree that it is driven by worldly philosophies or works against Biblical principles (such as enabling fathers to abdicate their God given role as the primary discipler of their own children). This is not to say that all age based teaching is necessarily guilty of such, nor is it our intention to bind any man’s conscience in this regard. But we do feel that such concerns warrant caution.
For this reason, we have selected family and age integration as our normal pattern, whereby we gather together in our worship and discipleship meetings as whole families and individuals of all ages – not for family centered worship, but for Christ centered worship of all ages together. Fathers are expected to be the primary disciplers of their children in the home, and we feel that the children will profit from learning to sit directly under the teaching and preaching of the elders in our gatherings. It seems to us that there is at least modest scriptural evidence that this was the practice of the New Testament churches, and was certainly the typical pattern of most churches prior to the last 150 years. Furthermore, we feel that this model is better suited for developing life-long worshipers of Christ who are lovingly committed to a local church, encouraging fathers to take more effort and initiative in discipling their children, and developing multi-generational relationships. That being said, we acknowledge that there are potential hazards with this model as well, and ultimately we need the Holy Spirit to accomplish any meaningful work of God.
Q. Are the children of a family included in membership if their parents have covenanted with the church?
A. The children of members, regardless of age, are certainly under the care of the church through the representation and headship of their father (or mother in the case where there is no father). However, while they are in this way welcomed into the fellowship as beloved of the church, sought out as lost sheep, and subject as necessary to appropriate correction and discipline through their parental representation, they cannot truly be members of Christ’s body until born again.
Q. Can children of members become members individually?
A. As we have considered this question, we have decided that this is unnecessary. We affirm the full membership of children, who have professed faith in Christ and have given evidence of regeneration in their lives, through the membership of their parents. Children who have not professed Christ cannot be full members of the church because they are not members of the universal church, but are, as stated above, the beloved of the church. Upon a child’s profession and demonstration of faith, a child will be welcomed immediately as a full member through the membership of the parents.
A Quote from Scott Brown at the National Center for Family Integrated Churches
We acknowledge that many family members, though they are under the care of their parents and come to the meetings of the church, remain unconverted. They are part of the church only in that they come to meetings of the church, listen to the preaching of the church, relate to the redeemed members of the church and participate in the discipleship experiences of the church. Children may attend church but not be part of the church as converted members of Christ. Yet, they are still in the church in the sense that they have been sovereignly placed among the people of God. They are blessed by its members, message and ministry.