Why Keep the Whole Family Together for Church?
A great misconception in local churches today is the result of a consumer-mentality that suggests "the church" ought to offer "something for everybody." Kids should have their groups, singles theirs, and once you are big enough, you can even specialize with groups like "Single Parents Who Like Mountain Climbing."
At Grace Fellowship Church we work against this way of thinking because we do not believe it represents the Lord's teaching on the church.
The old slogan, "the church is the people, not the building" is quite true. And it is a group of people of massively diverse ethnic, economic, and educational backgrounds. The Lord likens this diversity to a human body - a toe is distinct in many ways from an eye, yet both are essential to the proper functioning of the human body. In the same way, the varied people that Jesus makes a member His Body all serve different purposes and varied roles. A local church expresses the great reality of the universal church that "though we are many, we are yet one."
We are not against age-appropriate or experience-appropriate ministry. The seven year old girl does not learn in the same way or at the same rate as the typical 37 year old mother of 4. What we are avoiding, however, is the shift toward defining all ministry as taking place within these kind of isolated groups at the expense of the corporate ministry of the whole church.
Our belief is that the 7 year old girl needs to know and be known by the 37 year old mother and the 92 year old bachelor. Over-division of the church hampers this kind of relationship, even worse, it exponentially increases the potential church members will begin thinking in very selfish ways.
Although it is true that the 42 year old, divorced single mom is able to relate quite easily with other church-goers in similar situations, this is not what defines her as a person.
If she is born-again, she is a new creature in Jesus, set apart to do "the good works which He prepared beforehand" for her to do. She has joined a new family (the church) and has responsibilities to all its members. As a believer, she is to die to herself, serve others first, do unto other people what she wishes they would do to her, remain morally pure and upright, and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
If all she is concerned about is meeting other people with similar experiences, she has fallen down the slippery slope of self-interest. and what is more antagonistic to a cross-carrying, self-denying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, God-exalting life of worship than this?
There is a dire need for every Christian to look at all his brothers and sisters in Christ and ask Himself, "What can I do? How can I serve? How can I decrease and Jesus increase in my life?" This is not "super-saint" Christianity - it is normal Christianity.
By aiming to keep many of our church meetings as "inclusive" as we can, we hope to see the Spirit of God create a local body that better reflects this cohesive and integrated picture given to us in the New Testament.