I think a lot of people who have decided to meet in homes as the church have, to some degree, grasped the concept that we – people – are the church, not that place where we meet. We don’t “go to church”. We are the church. And we get that we are the church throughout the week. We cannot be Christ followers on one day, and busy worldly self-centered people the rest of the week. If you follow Christ, then it consumes everything you do, no matter what your occupation. Like I said, I think most people who are meeting in a simple church way are starting to get these ideas.
When applied to how we raise our children, this means that we must be purposeful throughout the entire week.
In our American society, we are trained to hand over responsibility of our children in almost every area. And we do it! It’s amazing – or frightening. All week, someone we barely know spends more time with our children than we do, in the name of educating them. We are told that this is the best way to do things, for us to maintain our lifestyle and for their own good. After all, they are the professionals. Then on Sundays, children are taken to children’s church or Sunday school, because again, it’s more convenient for the parents and they will be taught by the “professionals”.
If people are told something long enough, they tend to believe it is the truth, or at least the way of life (That’s just how it’s done, right?). Parents have slowly had their responsibilities taken from them, until the majority of them accept it (while still complaining about the results).
So what do you do when you’ve made the mental shift that we are the church, the temple, the body of Christ, and these responsibilities are given back to you? The answer: live purposefully.
God told the people following the Old Covenant to teach the laws to their children: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut 11:19; as well as 4:9-10; 6:7; Ps 34:11; 78:5;). We see more in the New Covenant. Eph 6 and 1 Timothy 5 speaks of training and instructing your children; bringing them up in the Lord.
If you are responsible for bringing up your children, then how are you being purposeful about this great responsibility? This is a topic that we spent some time on in our house church. Everyone had some great ideas and viewpoints and I’d like to share some of them. First off, we decided as a group that we were doing so much during the week that if the littlest ones went and played while the adults talked, then this would be fine. This has varied over the years and ages of the children. Each family is different and is going to have different needs, according to their home lives and strengths and weaknesses.
One idea for younger children that we have implemented in our home throughout the week is book time each night. Every night, each child picks out a story book, and a picture bible is read and discussed. My husband does this because I get to be with the kids all day. This has always been a very special time with the children and we have gotten into great discussions! We have been through the Bible a number of times already.
We also make sure we sit down for a meal together at least once a day. For our house this happens at night. A different person prays before the meal each night, and then my husband goes around the table asking each person what their best thing was that day and then what made them upset or mad. They have no shortage of things that they want to share.
Since I educate my children at home, I have the opportunity to teach them about Yahweh and his creation in every subject. I am very purposeful in how I approach everything. There are many “teachable” moments throughout the day, whether it be character related, or asking the deeper questions my 6 year old likes to ask (like why God allowed germs to exist and make us sick, or if I thought Jesus would come back on Easter morning, just because it would be really cool).
My husband also prays with each child after they climb into bed. Lately they have been repeating after him so that they get more comfortable praying.
In order for these things to stay a high priority throughout the week, we have had to say no to other things and make sure we do not get too busy (a big thing). But by Sunday when we meet as the church, we do not stress over having to give the children a lesson of some sorts because we are being purposeful throughout the week. I’m sure we could improve as parents in lots of ways, but I feel that at least we are trying and making them a priority. Trying and praying…again, the best things we can do. Pray and God will take it from there.
I’d love to hear some of the things you do as a purposeful family.