Children and “Big Church”

Dr. John Piper – original source South Carolina writes in to ask: “Pastor John, I’m wondering if there are situations in which a separate children’s time — in Sunday school rooms, completely apart from the Sunday gathering — are necessary. Our church is wrestling through this issue, as many families have infants, some have wandering and noisy toddlers, there are rambunctious 5 year olds, and we have three children of varying ages with special needs (like autism and Down Syndrome). The struggle is: Most parents want a break and thus desire the separate time for children while the adult service is going on, yet the children workers wish they were in the adult service and feel limited in their ability to control the behavior of the children. What should we do?”

I hope there is a strong leader in your church because weak leaders will never be able to stand up against the onslaught of criticism that is going to come if you try to do what I am going to suggest. When I came to Bethlehem as a pastor in 1980, one of the first issues I had to deal with was about the children in worship. We didn’t have a lot of them, but they were starting to come. And the people all wanted to know, what are we going to do? Are we going to have children’s sermon in the middle, the little three-minute delay where the children walk to the front? Are we going to have children’s church and then they come back in, maybe, if they don’t disappear when they are 13? Or what are we going to do?

So, my wife, Noel, and I teamed up. We haven’t done this quite like this since. We teamed up because we both felt unbelievably strongly about this, and we staked our lives on it. We teamed up and wrote a paper for our people arguing that we not have children’s church and that we not have a mini-children’s sermon in the service, but that parents or other responsible adults — if kids don’t have Christian parents — bring their children to the service after about four years old. We provided a nursery until then and eventually those nurseries, I put it in quotes, “became very God-focused and nurturing times to help get little children oriented on God and ready to go with mom and dad to the big service.”

That article that we wrote is at the Desiring God website. It is called, The Family: Together in God’s Presence. And I am going to quote from it, but I am going to leave off the very thing everybody wants to know; namely, how do you control kids? And that is the part my wife wrote. And so, if what I say here is at least provocative enough to get your interest, then go to the website and search for the article and read what my wife had to say about that. But I think really the big issue is concepts of worship and concepts of parenting and concepts of how things are transmitted to kids. Continue reading

Spiritual State of the Nation

Ken Ham, from the 2013 Answers Mega Conference on the State of the Nation (and much of the western world):

Ken Ham’s final presentation at the 2013 Answers Mega Conference addresses the fact that two-thirds of our children are walking away from the church—as explained in the book Already Gone—and what must be done to avoid losing our children to the evil one.

Rescuing our kids:

Quotes to Ponder

Phil Vischer, co-creator of Veggie Tales:

“…realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, ‘Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,’ or, ‘Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!’ But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.”

“We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.”

“I no longer use the word dream as a noun describing a goal. We misinterpret passages from the Bible like, “For lack of vision the people perish.” From that we run off and go, “Oh, we’ve got to have vision, we’ve got to have dreams!” … when we interpret that verse to apply to our ambitions, we’re completely misinterpreting it. A better, contemporary translation is, “For lack of revelation the people throw off restraint.”

We’re not called to be a people of vision, we’re called to be a people of revelation. God speaks and we follow. We’ve completely taken this Disney notion of “when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true” and melded that with faith and come up with something completely different. There’s something wrong in a culture that preaches nothing is more sacred than your dream. I mean, we walk away from marriages to follow our dreams. We abandon children to follow our dreams. We hurt people in the name of our dreams, which as a Christian is just preposterous.”

Let the children praise Him

“From the lips of children you have ordained praise…” Psalm 8:2

Jotta A from Brazil has taken the world by storm with his powerful, uplifting Christ centered performances.

O Happy Day

Amazing Grace

Here he sings Agnus Dei

Michely Manuely joins Jotta on stage for possibly the most awe-inspiring performance yet. Watch as they sing Hallelujah.

Introducing Guido de Bres

Guido de Bres is not a name that most people are familair with, however, thanks to a recently released children’s book, a new generation are being introduced to him. He is the main character behind the Belgic Confession, a wonderful outline and statement of biblical Christianity. His life story is certainly a fascinating one.

The following is a lengthy quote by Kevin de Young, but something well worth the time to read:

Guido de Bres was born in 1522 in Mons, on the border between France and the part of the Lowlands which is now Belgium. He was the fourth child in a family of glass painters. As a young man he was apprenticed to a stain glass artist, but his life’s work was not to be in glass artistry.

While a teenager, he obtained a copy of the Bible (which was not nearly so easy to do in those days) and read it for himself along with some of the literature coming out of the Reformation. Before he was twenty-five, he converted to Christ and embraced the teachings of the Reformers.

He then moved, for a time, perhaps because of the threat of persecution, to London, which had become a haven for religious refugees. In London, he found a Reformed Walloon congregation (French-speaking citizens from the Lowlands). Here he studied for the ministry and heard great Reformers like a Lasco and Bucer.

In 1552, at the age of 30, he returned to the Lowlands and became an itinerant preacher. He ministered to a group of Christians meeting in secret in Lille (about 35 miles from Mons). The fellowship there called themselves “The Church of the Rose” and many of them would be martyred when Philip II came to power in Spain and called for a crack down on the Protestant heretics.

Much of the congregation fled to Frankfurt where there was a Flemish congregation. De Bres met John Calvin while in Frankfurt and from this meeting, he wound up spending two years studying Hebrew and Greek with the Reformer Theodore Beza, and then another year in Geneva studying under Calvin. Continue reading