The truth out of balance is often a bigger spiritual danger to a person’s soul than outright error. It is not enough that a teaching is true according to the Bible, it must always be held in its biblical proportion.
The family is an area where truth can get out of balance. In the past generation there has been a flood of emphasis about the importance of the family. This has come from the radio, books, and pulpits across our land.
While many dads were concentrating on their careers and their wives were working harder outside of the home than inside of it, the message came through––God created and blessed the family, focus on that.
To the people that believe children are a hassle that they’d prefer to let day-care raise, the truth revived that children are a blessing from God and parenting is a noble and important responsibility. It’s your job to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord-equipping the next generations of soldiers for Christ. (Of course, some parents are in situations or seasons where day-care is essential. My point is that there is a worldly kind of attitude that doesn’t want kids to get in the way of the parents’ lifestyle.)
As a result of these teachings, in the past fifteen years the message has become even more refined toward husbands and fathers. It’s time to step up to the plate. It is not enough to work hard to support your family, or even bring your wife home from the workplace; you must take responsibility for the spiritual well-being of your home. You are the spiritual leader of your family––start acting like it.
It has been wonderful to see men get off of their couches and into the spiritual battle. Instead of just being dragged to church, husbands and fathers are leading the way. These guys are reading the Bible for themselves as well as reading to their families around the dinner table. Their spiritual growth is inspirational to other men, and the direct answer to many women’s prayers.
I have even tried to contribute to this good message in sermons, through newspaper columns, as well as through my books Mighty Men: The Starter’s Guide to Leading your Family and Craftsmen: Christ-Centered Proverbs for Men. Can such a good message turn into bad thing? A good message always turns bad when the truth gets out of balance.
The same Lord that created the family also created the church family. While perhaps most men and women still very much need the message that the family is more important than they thought, others have gone too far. The family has become the beginning and end of their Christian lives.
These families relate to churches in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are in churches but only on their family’s terms; others drop out of church and become a church unto themselves; and sometimes they gather with others to reshape a church based on family ideals.
The families that are part of churches usually stay on the fringes. They don’t let church meetings interfere with family time. They don’t let opportunities to serve others in the church get in the way of serving each other under the privacy of their own roof.
Church is great as long as it serves my families needs and wants, but it had better not go beyond our boundaries. The pastors and leaders are fine as long as they don’t offer input I don’t like, since I am the spiritual leader of my family.
An entire church culture has been raised up by churches catering to people’s felt-needs in order to reach them. People who attend churches have been taught to become church consumers. Now that cultural wave has been caught by well-intentioned families that think churches are all about meeting their families’ needs.
Some of these families drop out of church altogether. Because a church didn’t measure up to their standards or meet their felt needs they decide to do their own thing. The man of the house finally assumes spiritual leadership––“We’re going to forsake the church!”
Many intend to get plugged in to another church, but sometimes no church seems to measure up to their standard. They end up having their own make-shift meeting on Sunday mornings.
Some families have sought out others in their same boat and pooled their resources to become a new family church. All of the messages are designed for the whole family. All of the meetings include everyone.
Starting a new church can be a great thing-there is certainly a need for more solid biblical churches. Having a church meet in a home is also perfectly fine-that seems to be the way it was done in the book of Acts. But starting a church based around families’ wants and needs can be dangerous. Certainly, questions must be asked.
Is the church led by biblically qualified elders-men of godly character who have a thorough knowledge of the Bible (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1)? Are the messages covering the whole counsel of God or consistently focusing on family matters? Are the messages only being brought down to the level of the children? Is evangelism and missions taking place or is the group just trying to be better husbands, wives and parents? How supportive long-term will the founding families be if they feel like their families’ needs aren’t being met by the new church?
God created the church. Jesus is building his church. Jesus died for the church. Jesus expects all Christians to be an active, contributing, growing part of the best and most biblical church they can be in. Yes, God established the family. Yes, good churches are built on good families. Yes, men are to be spiritual leaders in their homes. But all of these things are true and must be kept in biblical balance. As we do so, God’s glory will be spread in our homes and in the neighborhoods and to the nations.
By John Crotts