Jerry C. Brewer
A fundamental problem in the relationship the home and church sustain to each other is a blurring of the lines between each institution’s distinctive responsibilities. For instance, there are many folks in the church who do not understand that educating children is the function of the home. As a consequence, not only do they abdicate their parental responsibility in education, but also turn that task over to the church through unscriptural means.
As noted in Luke 2, Jesus grew mentally, physically, socially and spiritually under the guidance of His earthly parents. Mental growth involves secular education and that is the responsibility of parents. But many parents today have the mistaken notion that the church has colleges—often called “Christian colleges”—in which their children are to be educated. But the college is neither the church, a work of the church, a part of the church, nor an adjunct of the church. The college is first, last, and always, an adjunct, or extension, of the home. The Bible knows nothing of “church schools.”
“Secular education is not the work of the church. But Christian men and women have the same right to conduct such schools as they have to engage in the mercantile business, farming, banking, publishing houses, or any other honorable business. They also have the right as individuals to teach the Bible in such schools as in any other sphere of individual life. Such schools should not derive their names from the Bible any more than from science, mathematics, philosophy, and other knowledge it imparts. In choosing the atmosphere in which to educate their children, it is not only the right of parents, but their duty, to choose schools in which the influence of the home will be continued. The teacher assumes the responsibility of the parents and the school supplements the work of the home. It furnishes no parallel for institutions and organizations which supplant the church” (Foy E. Wallace, Jr., “Concerning Colleges,” The Bible Banner, Sept. 1938, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 2, 3).
The same thing is true within the church. The church has no Scriptural right to directly employ anyone to supplant the parents in the spiritual nurturing of their children. While most churches would deny the charge, that is precisely what they are doing in employing so-called “Youth & Family Ministers.” Such a title and work is unknown in the New Testament. In the employment of such persons, the church not only usurps the function of the home, but also becomes an adjunct of it. Again, the church has no adjuncts or auxiliaries. The only “Youth Ministers” known in the New Testament are parents. It is the home—not the church through “Youth Ministers”—which is charged with all four phases of a child’s development—mental, social, physical and spiritual. The church is not in the recreation business. Jesus did not die for a recreational institution, yet that is precisely what the church has become in many places today. Parents have abdicated their places of responsibility and many elders and churches have assumed those roles.
Young people need the same thing older folks need—the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:1617). The gospel is still God’s power to save and the word of God is still bread and water for the soul—for the young as well as the old. It is still able to edify (Acts 30:32) and give life (John 6:63). Children need homes where the word of God is revered and Christ is honored. Only in that way will they be equipped to meet the trials which shall surely come in their lives. The late G. K. Wallace painted a picture of his own young life in which spiritual matters needed no gimmicks or recreation to hold his interest.
“Church life was important. We did not know that there was such a thing as an alternate plan for Sunday than to go to church. We were taught to start planning on Saturday, shining shoes, etc., for Sunday. We traveled to church in a wagon, or on horseback. The older boys rode a horse, except me, and I rode a mule named Peanut. …For two years I attended church in Belcherville, Texas, and worshiped in the home of Joe Reeves. There were only six for worship. When the Lord’s Supper was over, sister Reeves would clean the table and we would have lunch. I was the only young person there. I was the young people’s class, and no gimmicks were needed to keep me going to church”(Wallace, G. K., Autobiography And Retirement Sermons, High Springs, FL, Mary Lois Forrester, 1983, pp. 4, 5).
Without gimmicks provided by the local church, G. K. Wallace went on to become a faithful gospel preacher, an educator, and defender of the faith. Twenty-first century youth need the same thing youth needed when Paul penned the Ephesian epistle in the first century—parents who will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
But lest it be assumed that there is no relationship between the local church and the home, let us understand that the local church owes the home what it owes every man, woman, boy, and girl of accountable age within its sphere of influence. It is obligated to preach the gospel to them and to encourage them to live by it.
On the other hand, the home has an obligation to the local church. Parents must teach their children to love God, His word, His Son, and the church for which Jesus died. They must teach them fidelity to the Lord and His church and the importance of worshiping and working according to the New Testament pattern. Young people’s interest in the local church will parallel that of their parents. Mothers and fathers who allow worldly things to take precedence over spiritual things in their lives will have children who do the same. Parents who believe it is the local church’s responsibility to “provide something” for their children will raise children who also believe that. But, if we “fiddle ‘em into the church,” they will “fiddle out” when the music ends.
Let the church be the church and let godly elders watch for souls as they who must give account to the Chief Shepherd at the last day. Let them shepherd the young, as well as the old, who are in their care, and let parents be what God intends for them to be. Let them lead their children in righteous ways, so that it may be said of them as it was said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment…” (Gen. 18:19).