What do you think is the value of the children’s ministry at your church? In your estimation is it a ministry that simply keeps the kids from tearing each other apart for an hour so parents can hear the sermon? Is it just baby-sitting or something more?
Here’s what John MacArthur said to his Children’s Ministry workers at one of their events last year:
…you (Children’s Ministry) are doing the greatest and most consistent evangelistic ministry this church has. This is the primary evangelistic emphasis in this church…You (Children’s Ministry) are an evangelistic force and in my mind you are the greatest evangelistic force we have at Grace Community Church.
In Acts 2:42 we are told that the believers in Jerusalem were devoting themselves to fellowship among other things (i.e. – the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, and prayer). When we devote ourselves to fellowship – enjoying Jesus together, sharing with one another, serving the Lord together – we encounter God’s grace in and through each other to the point where coming into contact with a member of the body is to be reminded (almost instantaneously) of the Lord.
In my life this has played itself out in merely seeing another member of my local church. In specific, there have been occasions in my life when my heart has been insensitive to the Spirit and plagued with sinful desire, and simply seeing another brother walk into the room begins to help me think of things that are “true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…commendable…worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Thoughts of who these people are (representatives of Christ and siblings with me in God’s family) and how they’ve ministered to me personally (with loving care and faithfulness) seep into my mind and begin to wash away the hardness of heart at these times.
My conclusion: devote yourself to the family of God and let them devote themselves to you to such a degree that to merely catch a glimpse of them will cause you to remember the grace of God and praise him for it!
In his book, True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia, Jerry Bridges has a great quote concerning the experiential aspect of Christian fellowship. In it he illustrates what should characterize the body of Christ whenever one of its members is suffering – we should behave like our physical bodies do:
Can you imagine the ear making the following comment to the eyes, “Say, did you hear about the serious trouble the foot is having? My, my,isn’t it too bad? The foot surely ought to get his act together.” No, no, our bodies don’t behave that way at all! Instead the entire body cries out, “My foot hurts! I feel awful!”
Why does the body hurt when only one part is injured? It is because all the parts of the body make up one indivisible whole. And when one part hurts, no matter what the reason, the restorative powers of the entire body are brought to bear on that hurting member. Rather than attacking that suffering part or ignoring the problem, the rest of the body demonstrates concern for the part that hurts. This is the way the body of Christ should function.
In his book, Suburbianity, Pastor Byron Yawn addresses the damage suburban Christianity has done to the gospel and the church. But he writes not simply as a critic, but as one who has a heart for suburbanites. With all of the emphasis these days on church planting in cities and urban areas, I fear that many Christians have thrown up their hands and given up on the suburbs, but I appreciate Yawn’s heart for the people who live there and his desire to help them get back to biblical Christianity. Here’s a quote from the introduction:
It’s important to understand that my target audience [in wiring this book] is the Christians wandering aimlessly out in the American suburbs, unaware that they are currently imbibing a designer religion that has no essential relationship to Christianity. I’m writing to soccer moms and white-collar dads. What we count as Christian was made in America. It is not the faith once imported from the streets of Jerusalem. The seeker movement, which reaped its bounty in the materialistic wonderland of the American suburbs over the last several decades, has left behind a biblically desolate landscape behind it. Those who now wander through its vestiges Sunday after Sunday are unaware of the magnificent truth contained in the true message of the church of Christ – the gospel. Much of what they have been told Christianity has to offer, it doesn’t. But what they actually need, it does. My heart hurts for suburbanites. I want them to see it. It is glorious.
As a young pastor, I cherish the members of the older generation in our church who have a vibrant relationship with Jesus and are spending their latter years in faithful service to their King. There is something so crucial that older saints bring to the life of a body of believers and I pray we see more of it at Calvary Bible Church. I agree with what John MacArthur says in his book, The Master’s Plan for the Church:
I like young people because they are energetic. But it’s sad if the energy comes only from its young people… If you’re a Christian but don’t apply God’s Word to your life, you’ll eventually become one of those inert older people. You’ll reach fifty and want to retire spiritually. You’ll say, “I’ve been going to church for many years. I don’t want to get involved in evangelism; I’d rather leave that thing for younger people”… Today, the church is deriving its energy mostly from younger people. We need the energy that younger people have, but we also need the power that seasoned believers have developed from their long, obedient lives. An older believer should be ready to “blast off” into heaven from the energy he has built up.