Thursday, April 16

Five Things Every Family Needs From Their Local Church

While looking for a church away from home, my husband Sean and I have had this ongoing discussion about churches, the gospel, and families.
Waiting for the sunset and doing this: 1. We need the gospel.
We don't need self help talks or Bible story morality lessons.  We need the gospel repeated as the center and end-all hope of every Sunday morning sermon because when families are taught to live and breath the gospel message in their homes, home life begins to be transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. We need community.
Families need older friends for encouragement and to be the voice of experience, we need younger friends to keep us active in encouraging others and we also friends who are navigating this parenting gig just as we are.  Our isolationist society tends to encourage us walk into church five minutes late and scurry out for the next thing as soon as it is done.  Churches, thank you for hosting old fashioned pot lucks, dessert nights, barbeque picnics and the like.

3. We need practical tools for gospel centered marriage and parenting.

Maybe this looks like older, humble couples giving a few informal talks and answering real life questions at a dessert or coffee night and maybe this comes in the form of offering childcare for moms (and dads too!) while they sit around and glean from a panel of older women (men) or work through a gospel centered parenting book together.

4.  We need support in our prayerfully sought out educational and parenting choices, whatever those may be.

We need scriptural encouragement from the pulpit. If it isn't a gospel imperative, please don't make it one in your sermon.  Thank you to the churches who support home educating families, offer practical guidance to parents with children in public school, and venture out into doing or supporting private education done well.

5. We need encouragement, accountability, and grace.

I read that catechisms were developed as an early tool of doctrinal training, keeping fathers accountable in fulfilling their Deuteronomy 6 parental duties.  Somewhere along the line of church history, the roles of fathers as spiritual leaders in the home disappeared, and accountability in the realm of church family became associated with controlling instead of encouraging.  Whether we are families jointly parenting or singly parenting because of divorce, widowhood, or emotionally or spiritually absent spouses, we each need encouragement and accountability in our parenting struggles and goals. This encouragement can be done with joy, with gospel centered teaching and goal setting from the pulpit, and perhaps best and most practically in small group settings.  I love that our pastor recites from the catechism and encourages families to learn it and my role as mother has been best encouraged within the small, eclectic group of moms that has been meeting now for a few years.

Along with this, we need grace for where we are in our walk with Jesus, for our special needs kids that may not fit any preformed parenting ideal, and for our varied individual life situations.  Encouragement and accountability can not be done well without a covering of grace.

Finally, a huge thank you to the churches who serve selflessly and lovingly convey the gospel message to individuals and families.

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