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  • Writer's pictureJonas Croissant

A Family Integrated Church in Maricopa & Biblical Verses

Updated: Jul 11


We are a new biblical church in Maricopa with the desire to reach our community for Jesus Christ to the glory of our sovereign God and Savior. We evangelize several times per month to call people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


At the same time, we also want to serve the Christian community in our area by offering to God and to you a family-integrated church service and church life. You may not be aware of what this type of church looks like and why the Bible presents this pattern. Thus, let us first consider what a family-integrated church is.

 


What is a Family-Integrated Church?


A family-integrated church is a local church where (1) children stay with their parents during the worship service, and (2) no systematic age-divided ministries are programmed by the church. The families with young and old people worship Jesus Christ together during church meeting on the Lord's Day. Children of all ages sing, pray, listen to the sermon and participate in all the activities occurring on Sunday with the other members of the church.


You may be surprised to learn that the universal church has always been family-integrated for 1800 years until the rise of the modern Sunday school movement. Our current church tradition of children leaving the worship sanctuary for Sunday school is a modern invention.

There can be youth-specific activities mid-week, but the youth also meet and fellowship with the saints of all ages at other times so as to unify the church. Of course, there can also be age-specific or people-specific outreach ministries for instance as the Pastor-Elders see fit with Christian freedom and prudence.


During the rest of the week, families also gather together to pray and to study the Bible. This practice builds a generational church (1 Timothy 5:1-8) where the young learn from the old, and the old are encouraged by the young to be zealous for good works. Sadely, in many churches, children rarely ever talk to older people and vice versa, unless they are part of the same family, although we should all be part of one spiritual family in Christ.



A Family-Integrated Church: Biblical and Historical Perspectives


You may be surprised to learn that the universal Church has always been family-integrated for 1800 years until the rise of the modern Sunday school movement. Our current church tradition of children leaving the worship sanctuary for Sunday school is a modern invention. In fact, more than a historical tradition, the Bible itself exemplifies and commands children to be with their parents to worship God during the worship services.


Biblical Christians and churches proclaim the inspiration, perfection, and sufficiency of the Bible for all of life (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Psalm 19:7-8; 2 Peter 1:3). We believe that the Bible is the sole rule for our faith and practice. We believe in truths because they are taught in the Bible, and we reject other doctrines and spiritual practices if they are not taught in the Bible. Thus far, this should come as no surprise.


However, you may not expect that if you were to search in the Bible for Sunday School verses, then you would find none. You read that right, what most churches practice as a major ministry philosophy decision, that is to separate children from their parents during the Lord's Day church meeting, is foreign to Scripture.


If we really applied the sufficiency of Scripture to church life, this would be the end of the discussion: Sunday school is not in the Bible, therefore we will not do it during the Lord's Day church service.

If we really applied the sufficiency of Scripture to church life, this would be the end of the discussion: Sunday school is not in the Bible, therefore we will not do it during the Lord's Day church service.


Note that this is not a minor point of discussion because 80% of children attending youth ministries in the United States fall away from Christ. Eight out of ten children raised in the modern age-divided church will leave the faith when they leave their homes. This is in part because we have disobeyed Christ by removing them from His special presence in the church meeting (Matthew 18:20; Revelation 2:1) and from the means of grace, chief of which is the preaching of the living Word of God that creates faith (Romans 10:17).


Besides, parents have largely abdicated their spiritual responsibility to train their children with daily family worship, outsourcing it to the youth ministry professionals, unlike the divine mandate for parenting (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Ephesians 6:4; Psalm 78:1-8). Note that the Bible never speaks of youth pastors, but only of pastors who are the leaders of the whole church (Hebrews 13:7,17).


That being said, here are some biblical verses regarding family-integrated churches:



Family-Integrated Churches: Selected Bible Verses


Firstly, when Jesus was teaching and preaching, the children were present and our Lord desired their presence, unlike some well-intentioned but mistaken adults in His day:


"13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”" (Matthew 19:13-14, bold emphases here and below are mine).


The feeding of the four or five thousand men (not including women and children present) along with other gospel passages describe Jesus teaching regularly with children and whole families listening to Him (Luke 18:15-17; Mark 6:34,44; Matthew 14:21,18:1-3).


Secondly, the Holy Spirit addresses children in the church services through sermons, as shown by the letters of the epistles which were read to the congregations on Sunday (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27), and contained Paul's admonitions to the children present:


"18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord" (Colossians 3:18-22).


"1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land”" (Ephesians 6:1-3).


the only biblical pattern shown in Scripture [...] consistently demonstrates that children were present with their parents in solemn assemblies

Thirdly, the only biblical pattern shown in Scripture regarding the worship of God through prayers and songs and the preaching of the Word, consistently demonstrates that children were present with their parents in solemn assemblies (Exodus 12:21-27; Deuteronomy 16:9-14; 32:46; Joshua 8:34-35; 2 Chronicles 20:13; Ezra 10:1; Nehemiah 8:2; 12:43; Joel 2:15-16; Acts 21:5).


All the above verses are important, but consider at least the following:


"While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly" (Ezra 10:1).


"When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed" (Acts 21:5).


"So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month" (Nehemiah 8:2).


"And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away." (Nehemiah 12:43).


"Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber" (Joel 2:15-16).


The Old Testament pattern is an example for us (1 Corinthians 10:6,11) which has not passed away since only the ceremonial and civil aspects of the law ceased (Colossians 2:16-17). Sacrifices have ceased because Jesus is our One and only sufficient sacrifice for salvation (Hebrews 10:1-18). But those who need a sacrifice have not ceased, including children, who come by faith before God singing and praying in both the Old and New Testaments, and also hearing the Bible read and preached.


Finally, children are part of "the whole church [coming] together" (1 Corinthians 14:23) to worship God who is "in [our] midst" (1 Corinthians 14:25). In Jesus' day, "the children [cried] out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”" and the Lord quoted the Psalms saying that God ordained praises for the Son of God from children (Matthew 21:15-16). In our day, we can follow the pattern of the Bible as well and have our children learn to be in the presence of Jesus and to worship Him with all their hearts, confessing His holy Name in the assembly.


God's wisdom is higher than man's wisdom, we should thus follow His pattern. Indeed, this is how we train our children in the way they should go: we do with them what we want them to do on their own when they leave the home. And what more could we desire than to see them worshipping God in the church of the Redeemed for their whole life? Therefore, we worship God with our children every day at home in family worship, and we also worship God with our children every week on Sunday with the gathered church, because this is the way that they should go. May it be so, and may God help us to please Him in every way.


To conclude, we are thankful for God's work and partnership in Christ with other churches in Maricopa. Indeed, there are several biblical churches in our town, and family integration is not the most important doctrine. As we embrace this practice near and dear to Acts Church of Maricopa, we would like to mention that we are an independent non-denominational church which is a part of the Family-Integrated Churches (FIC) network.


You are invited to visit us on Sunday at 4PM for our service in the city of Maricopa. More information: order of worship, location and time.


To learn more on family-integrated churches, here is a recent sermon:



Blessings in Christ,




Jonas Croissant

Pastor-Elder

Acts Church of Maricopa

Contact & Sunday service information: https://www.actschurchmaricopa.com/location

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