What do you think the role of the local church is in the life of a family?
The role of the local church is this… Look with me at Ephesians 4:1–16. In particular, let’s examine v. 11–13.
“And he gave himself some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.”
Let’s notice what it says:
- Jesus gave the church some positions:
- Apostles—which there are no more of these.
- Pastor and teachers
- To do something… what is it that this group of people are to do?
- To equip the saints for the work of ministry
- To build up the body of Christ
- For a period of time…
- Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s son
- Growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness
Now, notice what it doesn’t say:
- To be the primary disciple-makers in the lives of our children.
Notice with me the word saints… Saints, refer to what?
Paul refers to saints as those who are born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. His reference to saints here is to those who are in the body of Christ. There is a difference between a saint and a sinner. While we are all sinners, those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus for the salvation that he offers are now called saints.
So, if the church is called to equip the saints to do the work of ministry, how can the church spend all of its time (speaking of course with children) equipping children, who are not saved?
In its most biblical form, the local church is not a place where abdication of one’s parental responsibilities as the primary disciple-maker in the life of a child is accepted. There is a level of expectation in the New Testament that the parents are the responsible party of leading their children to Jesus.
Please hear me. We will and do attempt to do everything we can to disciple children under our care as a local faith community. We do everything we can to show them Jesus and point them to him. We will never stop doing that. But, and a big but, we cannot allow parents to take a back seat in this journey. For far too long the local church has allowed this abdication to take place, for whatever reason. Many times, the reason has been “look at the lostness among people between this age and that age.”
And, yes, the lostness of this generation is staggering and continues to grow. However, the church has missed the real reason behind this. Parents have missed the real reason behind this. The real reason centers on parents who do not fully understand the biblical mandate of Scripture to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
We believe that raising our children in the ways of the Lord looks like this:
- Church Attendance
- Sunday school/group attendance
- Wednesday night attendance
- VBS attendance
- Church camp attendance
- Allowing them to give at the offering time
Basically, be there when the doors are open and maybe give them some money to put into the offering plate when it comes around.
Is this what we have deemed to be “bringing our children up in the ways of the Lord?” When did everything hinge on attendance?
When we see the apostle Paul here in his letter to the Church at Ephesus, we find that he gives a clear description of what the church is supposed to do in the life of a believer. The role of those whom Christ has appointed to be the leaders of the church is to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.
What is equipping?
Equipping in the strictest sense is: preparing. Preparing someone for a task or mentally preparing them to accomplish something.
If we take the definition, we find that the role of the local church is to prepare people—saints—to do the work of ministry. We as a church are to prepare each other, those who are in Christ to do the work of ministry.
So, what is the work of ministry???
The work of ministry is the Great Commission. The work of ministry is Ephesians 6. The work of ministry is Deuteronomy 6. The work of ministry is feeding the poor and hungry. The work of ministry is evangelizing the lost. The work of ministry is providing for orphans and widows. The work of ministry is being disciple-makers.
Do we start to see that when parents abdicate the role of primary disciple-maker, the lines become blurred and the roles soon become mixed up?
If we continue the track or pathway that we have taken, we will continue to see what we are already seeing. To be blunt, while reaching children is absolutely what we need to do, we have failed and failed miserably at reaching their parents. If the home is the hub for the ministry and mission of the church, then we have completely missed the mark. When we choose to only go after one section of people, then we miss the opportunity to go after an entire family unit.
The message of Jesus rang throughout homes and families in the first and second centuries. It needs to continue to ring through our families today. This is how we accomplish the mission that God has left to his people—the church.
The role of the local church in the life of a family is to equip mom and dad, or whoever are believers to do the work of ministry. That means we equip those who know Christ to go and make Him known to those who don’t. In our setting today, we equip you and me to go and make Christ known in our homes to our children and then see them taught the ways of Jesus.
It is not the responsibility of the local church to be the primary spiritual guide for your children. You are responsible for it. I am responsible for it. We must not abdicate the responsibility given to us by the Lord Jesus. We must embrace it and run with it.
Does it mean that we will equip our children perfectly? No. Continue on with the understanding from this text. The role of the church never ends. It goes on and on and on—Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s son and growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
The same with our kids. We won’t stop. We are committed to proclaiming the gospel to them, calling them to repentance, and seeing them join the Kingdom of God. We will never stop equipping them to be the people God has called them to be.