Churches need Families and Families Need Churches

Christians should champion and defend the family because it serves as foundation for all civic institutions. At this juncture, Christians find great commonality with the advocates of natural law who assert that the family is the foundational building block of society. A quick scan of the Scriptures reveals that the family existed before any other human institution. Adam and Eve walked about the Garden of Eden, petting animals thousands of years before Paul started sailing around the Mediterranean planting churches. Similarly, the philosopher John Locke believed couples mated and formed families long before tribes, cities, and nations began to dot the English countryside. Both worldviews proclaim that the family is the most basic, simple, or natural societal unit. To quote the great Puritan Pastor, Richard Baxter, “The Life of religion, and the welfare and glory of both the Church and the State, depend much on family government and duty.” The family sets the trajectory for both all of society. When family units break down, the church descends into chaos and society falls into anarchy.

Following this thinking many in the church have assumed that the church was birthed out of the family. But while this line of thinking aligns with the naturalistic understanding of the universe, it proves incongruent with narratives of creation, fall, and redemption found in the Scriptures. Christians need to reexamine the purpose of the family in light of the church.

The Fall Reshaped the Family

When God created Adam and Eve, he did not stick them on a desert island. He placed them in the garden of Eden in community with God, indicating that God sustained the family through tabernacling with them. The creation mandate to be fruitful and multiple was a mandate to bring all the earth under the glorious and full rule of God. Adam and Eve were not expanding human society apart from God. They were expanding the tabernacle to encompass the whole earth. In short, they were to turn the globe into a grand church, a grand garden.

Sadly, the first couple never fulfilled their mission. They listened to the snake and plunged the world into death. The effects of Adam and Eve’s sin radical altered every aspect of the natural order from economics to gardening. As expected, the family unit fell under the corruption. In Genesis 3:16, God tells Eve, ““I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” Redemption could not be found through genetics, marriage, and procreation. A new family was needed.

The Spiritual Family

Jesus came as the new Adam to be the first born of many brothers and sisters. He created a spiritual family that called men and women to be “born again” by the spirit through faith (Jn. 3:7). In Mark 3:35, Jesus defines the spiritual family according to belief proclaiming that, “whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” This exchange proves more than permissible This new family picks up the creation mandate of the first Adam. The new Adam has commissioned his new family, the church, “to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16).” In the church, the new spiritual family once again resides in community with God for the purpose of glorifying him through kingdom expansion. The keys to God’s kingdom have been given to the church. 

The Family Church Relationship

The nuclear family still remains the important foundational block of human society. From the family arise culture, society, and government. Civil society cannot exist without mom, dad, Jimmy, and Sally.

The institution also works in tandem with the church to support spiritual flourishing. A faithful marriage provides both the husband and the wife countless opportunities to experience God’s sanctifying power as they learn to love one another. Children remain a blessing from the Lord providing couples with social connections and economic security.

The fruits of marriage also facilitate evangelism. To perpetuate the gospel, Christians need to reach children. Procreation, adoption, and foster care all beautifully facilitate the great commission through family framework. The goals of the Christian family align with the mission of the church, and the mission of the church should align with the goals of the family.

Lastly, the family serves as a good gauge of the a culture’s health. When families descended into relational chaos, both society and the church should take note for the gospel is not going forward and chaos stands ready to invade our culture (Micah 7:6).

The Limits of the Nuclear Family

But for all of its benefits, the biological family cannot rightfully claim to be the foundation of the church. Though the family and the church support each other, Jesus is the bedrock of the church. A wife can come to faith apart from her husband and a husband apart from his wife. The arrival of children also does not instinctively produce faith in either the parents or the children as seen in the legacies of Cain and Nimrod. Salvation comes through the preached Word administered by the local church in coordination with the sacraments. As Baxter noted, the church through the ministry of the pastor upholds “the world, to save it from the curse of God and to perfect the creation, to attain the ends of Christ death 112).” The church supports and redeems souls.

Thus, Paul can encourage singles “to remain single, as I am (1 Cor. 7:7).” Both the married couple and the single adult can glorify God through worship and love of neighbor. Moreover, in the new heavens and the new earth, family structures will pass away. But our identity in Christ will remain. The church sustains the family which in turn helps to sustain both the church and the culture.


The new covenant established by Christ’s death and resurrection has fundamentally altered the definition of God’s people. The family of God is no longer defined by biology. It is defined by the Spirit. The church is the bride of Christ. We should not neglect the local church for our families. Rather, we should locate our families in the church, hoping to guide them all into Jesus’s family. The garden came first and then Adam and Eve.

To fix society, we must advocate for health churches, which in-turn will produce healthy families that produce healthy churches and healthy societies. In other words, those who are Christians must recognize and teach that the Christians understanding of family differs from the natural law view of family.

Memo: Summer Schedule and Interns


Today, ABC will be shifting away from its summer intern program. ABC has cherished its relationships with its past interns. Last year’s interns, Katelyn and Elyse, have a special place in our hearts because they loved both our ABC church family and the Witkowski family well, writing notes, playing, and sharing the gospel. I can say with certainty that Katelyn and Elyse were true encouragers and rightfully hold a special place in the hearts of many of ABC’s members.

ABC began 2019 with every intention of continuing the Summer Internship program. April and I and many others of worked tirelessly to recruit interns for this summer, posting the position to several universities job boards and reaching out to contacts and potential interns in Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, New York, and Minnesota. We also shared the position repeatedly on social media. Though a handful of college students expressed initial interest, none have been able to commit to the internship. Consequently, ABC has decided to suspend the internship program for the summer and will reevaluate the program going forward. Ultimately, ABC would love to host one to two pastoral interns during the school year (September – May) believing a yearlong internship would foster deeper and longer relationships that would both bless ABC and the intern. The intern would work with the families of ABC, preach, visit, and study the Word and hopeful receive seminary credit through Southern Seminary or one of its sister’s institutions.
Though this summer has not played out as ABC planned, we know it has played out as God intended. Even in our disappointment, we can be sure of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We know Summer 2019 will be the best possible summer that we could ask for because our loving, gracious and good God reigns! We are excited to see God work in the days ahead!
In place of the ABC Kids program, ABC will be launching Wacky Wednesdays. On June 19, July 10, July 17, July 31. On those fours Wednesdays, our families will meet at ABC at 9:30 AM and will head out to Jump four really cool locations! For more info, click here

We also will be investing in the lives of our adult members, launching a new Bible Study! More information will be coming soon!

Church family get excited summer 2019 is almost here!

Why Don’t My Kids Go To Church?

KIDSWhy don’t my kids go to church? We could easily replace kids with spouse, friends, parents, neighbors, and host of other people. And then, we could ask the question again. Why do those who have been exposed to the gospel, ‘raised right,’ and know all the Sunday school answers drift away from the church?  They talk about getting back into church. But their alarms never go off, their cars never start, and their spot on the pew next to your’s remains empty. Why? Why don’t our kids and our loved ones come to church anymore?

Now before we dive into the topic, I want to acknowledge that this article has apathetic Christians in view. As the never ending news-cycle makes clear, some men and women leave their local church because their church ceased to be a biblical church. The local assembly went from sharing God’s love to spreading sin, caring little about those who were spiritually harmed and/or physically abused by its leaders. This article is not about those who have suffered under evil pastors and church leaders.  Rather, I want to prevent further abuse and will discuss that more below. Our focus is those who drift away.

God takes on the hearts of our apathetic children and loved ones in 1 Samuel 7. In the previous chapters, we read that Eli and his sons had sent the Ark of the Covenant, the judgement seat of God, into battle. The Ark was captured by the Philistines who obliterated the Israelite army. But the Philistines do not keep the Ark long. All the cities who hosted the Ark experienced plagues and death. After suffering under the hand of God for seven months, the Philistines send the Ark back to Israel. The people of Israel celebrate and then desecrate the Ark. Seventy men in Beth-Shemesh die. And the Ark is once again sent away. Little national thought is given to the worship of God for the next twenty years.

First Samuel 7:2 says, “From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”

What does all this have to do with our kids and loved ones who don’t attend church? Everything!

The Israelites grieved for 20 years. But they never worship God; they were worshiping their idols. In verse 1 Samuel 7:4 we finally read, “So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.” Though they had grieved much during those 20 years, they had not repented.

They same is true of our indifferent kids. They feel guilty about their lack of attendance stickers. They talk about returning to church. But they do not act on their guilt because they don’t love God. They are serving other idols, idols of the heart (Ez. 18). They live for money, houses, cars, vacations, the success of their kids, and the next thrill. They care little for God because God is not their master. Those who worship things other than God naturally have not time for worshiping God.

Those who have repentented, worship! After they Israelites repent they do church! In verse 6, we read,

So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.

When men and women repent of their sins. They worship God. They assemble together and pursue God with a unified zeal. Notice that the people of Israel have gone from worshiping idols to enthusiastically worshiping God. The are fasting and praying. And this is not an isolated act. Read the Gospels and the Book of Acts! Those who repent have an unending appetite for worship!

Those who love God do not come to church to get a favor from granddad, to impress a girl-friend, or to make mom stop nagging them. No, they come because they love God. They want to come. Bind believers in chains, and they will pull at them till they are once again free to worship with the people of God. Jesus affirms this passion in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

On the flip side those who have not repented, will not love church. They will find church judgmental, irrelevant, and boring. They will mourn their feelings of guilt but will never come to worship because their hearts serve another master.

If we or our loved ones care little for church, can never find time for the people of God, and think all that religious stuff is a superfluous nicety, we and they have a faith problem. We have a repentance problem. We have loved ones who claim Christ but do not know Him. 1 John 2:19 clearly states,

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Those who willfully and intentionally leave church because they are busy are not saved.

Now some of us our slow, to label our kids and loved ones as unbelievers. We saw little Johnny get baptized; we went on mission trips with Sally; and, we sang in the choir with Phil. Yes, they have absent from the church for 5, 10, 15 and even 20 years. But they lost a child, they went through a tough transition, and they are just so busy. Shouldn’t we seek to win them back into the church? Shouldn’t we try to reengage them by getting them to help with the ushers team or to serve as the Sunday school event planner?

No, friend we should not welcome those in unrepentant sin back into the church as if they never left. We should like Samuel call them to repent and then invite them to worship. Notice that the worship services resumed after the people turned from their idols and not before. If we neglect the doctrines of repentance, faith and sanctification, we will destroy the very churches we seek to save.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

When churches embrace cheap grace, they implode. Our churches are filled with evil men and women who stir up conflicts, who silence gospel preaching, and who abuse children and teenagers because we have embraced cheap grace. We have welcomed both those who hate sin and those who love sin into the heart of the church. Instead of practicing church discipline to help lost know they are lost, to protect the glory of God, and to defend the defenseless, many church leaders let both good and evil people come into the church and stay in the church. As a result, our churches are wrecked by all types of evil. Did not Paul write in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

The same tragedy occurred in ancient Israel. Eli refused to discipline his wicked sons. Because Eli looked the other way when sinners entered God’s house, God’s house became of place of physical abuse, sexual immorality, and drunkenness (1 Samuel 2:12-3). Eventually, Eli’s ministry and family were undone by sinners masquerading as the servants of God. Can we repeat Eli’s failures and hope to escape his judgement?

Instead of wishing for a reality that does not exist, we need to treat our children like unbelievers they profess to be by their works. We need to lovingly call them to repentance at every divinely appointed opportunity. We need to mercifully warn them that their works point to damnation and death. And if they refuse to hear us and are members of our church, we need to practice church discipline.

Our kids and loved ones don’t come to church any more because they don’t love God. Are we ready to deal with this reality? Are we ready to pray for them, to evangelize them, and to discipline them?