Church, Parenting, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church

Originally published January 30, 2015

churchmanship-behave

they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2015, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service. We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child to control himself and behave appropriately during church, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:
If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, adult fellowship, and hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:
Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

 

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have 6 children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?

 

¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91

This article was originally published under a different title at Satisfaction Through Christ.
Church, Parenting, Throwback Thursday, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church

Originally published January 30, 2015

churchmanship-behave

they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2015, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service. We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child to control himself and behave appropriately during church, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:
If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, adult fellowship, and hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:
Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

 

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have 6 children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?

 

¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91

This article was Originally published under a different title at Satisfaction Through Christ.
Parenting, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Anything to Get the Kids to Read?

Originally published December 9, 2008.anything to read

This seems to be a new mantra that has sprung up among parents and educators over the last few years. I’ve heard it many times– said with an almost religious fervor –as though a child who doesn’t read is in the same immediate danger as a child who doesn’t eat.

And whenever I hear this statement made with such intensity, I can’t help but think, “Anything to get the kids to read? Really? Anything?” Just how far are we willing to go for the sake of reading?

Most recently I heard this statement made in response to a topic on my local talk radio station. It seems a high school English teacher assigned his class a book to read that contained a significant amount of profanity. Parents complained. The principal intervened and the assignment was terminated. Many who disagreed with the principal’s decision repeated the litany, almost in unison: “Who cares if there’s profanity? The kids were reading.

On another occasion, a Christian father and I were discussing the new movie and book, Twilight. He was planning to allow his “tween-ager” to see the movie in hopes that she would then read the books. He had made this decision, not because he thought the subject matter of the books or movie would be good for her (in fact, he indicated that he had decided to allow her to see it against his better judgment of the content), but because he wanted to do something that would get her to read more.

Now, granted, I haven’t read the book series or seen the movie, so my comment stems only from the several reviews and articles I’ve read about them, but has reading become so important even to Christian parents that they feel the need to OK a book/movie for their children that gives at least the appearance of nominal approval to vampirism?

Don’t get me wrong, I think reading is very important. I’m an avid reader, as are my children who are old enough to read independently. I guess I’m just a little perplexed that in a country with freedom of the press, where we have access to a bountiful supply of good books, both Christian and secular, that don’t contain questionable material, we are getting sucked into the mentality that the only way to get kids to read is to present them with books that contain and normalize profanity, occultism, gratuitous violence and gore, inappropriate and explicit sexuality, and any number of other things that we wouldn’t want them exposed to in real life. Why choose books like that when there are so many other better choices?

There are better ways to turn your kids into readers of good books:

  • Start early- Read to your kids from the time they are infants. Make it a normal, habitual part of life. I used to read to my babies when I was nursing them. I just read aloud from whatever book or magazine I happened to be reading at the moment myself. (That was actually a lot more interesting than reading Green Eggs and Ham or Go Dogs, Go to them a zillion times a day!)
  • Make it part of the daily routine- Just as you set aside time for brushing teeth, naps, daily devotions, homework, etc., set aside time every day to read to your children, or require your older children to spend a certain amount of time reading every day. One thing I have found that works well with my children is to occasionally allow them to stay up fifteen or twenty minutes past their bedtime, but only if they will use that time to read.
  • Make reading something to look forward to– Several years ago, I began a practice of reading my older children a book series every summer. We started with the Little House on the Prairie books, then moved to the Narnia books and others. As we near the end of the school year each May, one of the things I have them do is start looking around the library and the internet for the book series they want us to read that summer. They look forward to this each year. Finding an appropriate author or a topic your children like and having them watch for the latest book to come out is another way to build excitement.
  • Reward reading– Because I love to read so much, it is hard to for me to imagine anyone needing a reward for reading; it’s kind of a reward in itself! Some kids need a little more motivation, though. They might enjoy participating in reading contests such as Pizza Hut’s “Book It” program. Also, check out the programs at your local library. Our library sponsors a reading contest for both kids and adults every summer. It allows the reader to set a goal for the number of books he thinks he can read over the summer and then awards prizes for those who reach their goals. Or, if your kid is dying to see a movie that is based on a certain book, make seeing the movie a reward for reading the book.
  • Set an example– Be a reader yourself. Find an interesting book and curl up on the couch with your kids while they read their books.
  • Limit the electronic pacifiers– This is a good idea even if you’re not especially interested in getting your child to read more. Unlimited time in front of the TV, computer, gaming system, or hand-held video games is hazardous to your child’s intellectual health. Conversely, having your child read in order to earn “screen time” can be a good motivator.

As with everything else, it’s important to abide by Biblical principles when choosing reading materials for ourselves and our children. Reading is important, but not as important as filling our kids’ minds with Godliness.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

Church, Parenting, Worship

Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church

This is the second installment of our series Churchmanship 101.
(You can find the first here.) This article was first published
under a different title at Satisfaction Through Christ.

churchmanship-behave

they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2015, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service. We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child to control himself and behave appropriately during church, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:
If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, adult fellowship, and hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:
Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

 

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have 6 children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?

 

¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91
Family, Marriage, New Testament, Parenting, Sunday School

All in the Family ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-21-14

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These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 51 ~ Dec.14-20
Acts 27-28, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians,
1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter

All in the Family

Background

This week we looked at seven New Testament epistles, all, except 1 Peter, written by Paul. All were written to encourage and/or instruct churches and pastors in doctrine and practices as they lived out the Christian life in the church, at home, and in the world. Four of these seven epistles specifically instruct family members on their roles in the home. Today, we’re going to take a look at God’s instructions to wives, husbands, children, and parents.

We’ll be using Colossians 3:18-21 as our outline, fleshing out each role with passages from the other epistles.

Colossians 3:18-21

 

Wives- Submit

Interestingly, in each of the four passages we’ll be studying today, the roles in the home are addressed in the same order: wives, husbands, children, parents. It’s of particular interest to me that wives are always addressed first. Although Scripture doesn’t tell us why this is the case, I would speculate that this might be for two reasons. First, it follows the order of the Fall (Genesis 2). Eve fell first, then Adam, and God gave her consequences first, then Adam’s. Second, wives -then and now- normally have the most responsibility for the day to day, “in the trenches” management of the home. We have an enormous impact on the emotional and spiritual tone of our marriages and family life.

Colossians 3:18- Submit for the Lord
We are submit to our husbands because it is “fitting in the Lord.” Not because they deserve it. Not because they’re awesome (and when they’re not we don’t have to submit). Not because we want to be the perfect wife. Because it is “fitting” in God’s eyes. This is the role God has ordained for us, and it honors Him when we obey Him.

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33b- Submit for the church
We are to submit to and respect our husbands as a picture of the church’s submission to Christ. In the same way that Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a picture to Israel of God’s faithfulness to His adulterous people, our submission to our husbands should be a picture, especially to the church, of how the church is to be faithful and obedient to Christ.

1 Peter 3:1-6- Submit for our husbands
We are to be subject to our husbands to win them to godliness– to salvation if they are lost, to obedience to Christ if they are saved. Notice that this is accomplished by our example and behavior, not by nagging or talking them to death. Our “respectful and pure conduct” and our “gentle and quiet spirits” are attractive and winsome and can smooth the way for our husbands to desire to be more godly men.

Titus 2: 3-5- Submit for the world
We are to submit to our husbands “that the word of God may not be reviled.” Lost people are watching us. Will we live in obedience to God’s word and show them that it proves true? That they can trust the same Christ we trust?

Husbands- Love

Colossians 3:19- Love for your wife
Husbands are to love their wives and treat them kindly. The Greek form of the phrase “do not be harsh” means not to be bitter or resentful. Wives are imperfect, sinful people (just like husbands) and husbands are to be merciful and forgiving when their wives fall short, not hold bitterness or resentment against them.

Ephesians 5:25-33- Love for the world and the church
Husbands are to love their wives as a picture of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. Christ gave both His life and His blood for the church. When husbands daily love their wives in a self-sacrificing way, they are showing the world -and the church- Jesus.

1 Peter 3:7- Love for your own spiritual life
Husbands are to be understanding with their wives and honor them because they are brother and sister in Christ. Just as a rift between two fellow Christians can hamper their worship and church unity, sinning against his wife by failing to love her as Christ commanded will hinder a man’s relationship with the Lord.

Children- Obey

Colossians 3:20- Obey for the Lord’s pleasure
Children are to obey their parents. In everything. They are not to be allowed to back talk or do as they please in defiance of their parents. Why? It’s so simple even a child can understand it: this pleases the Lord. When children obey their parents, they are fulfilling the role God has ordained for them.

Ephesians 6:1-3- Obey because it’s right. Obey for your well-being.
Obedience to parents is right because God says it is. It is His very first “horizontal” (our relationship with others) Commandment in the Decalogue (the first four are “vertical”- our relationship with God). It is also the first Commandment with a promise- that things will go well for those who obey it.

Parents- Train

Colossians 3: 21- Train for their emotional well-being
Whom does Paul address in this statement? Fathers. While mothers have a huge responsibility to train their children in godliness on a daily basis, the buck stops with Dad. God has been holding dads responsible for their families since He called out, “Adam, where are you?” in the Garden. Fathers are not to rule with an iron fist, but encourage and grow their children in the ways of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4- Train for their spiritual well-being
Paul again addresses fathers. Fathers are to take seriously their responsibility for the spiritual health of their families. They are not to act or treat their children in ways that frustrate them needlessly. Fathers are to train their children in the Scriptures and discipline them biblically.

Titus 2:4- Train out of love
This is the only part of these passages where Paul specifically addresses a mother’s relationship with her children. She is simply to love them. Of course, it is not loving to let a child do as he pleases. We have already seen that God commands children to obey their parents. So a mother is to lovingly train her child in God’s word and in obedience to God and to parents.

In His wisdom and goodness, God has ordained certain roles and responsibilities for each member of the family. We show our love and honor for God when we seek to obey Him by fulfilling our roles as He empowers and enables us to do so.