Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Small Groups" vs The Family

"The best way to learn God's Word is through small groups"

"If kids are asking questions then they are learning"

"We need each other to properly grow in our faith"

"We were made to live in community"

I kept hearing these statements from the leadership of our church. As Sunday School teachers to teenagers, we were being told by the staff something new. That the best way for young people learn and get close to God is through intimate, close relationships with us and other kids. We began to be skeptical but went along and gave them the benefit of a doubt saying, "well, okay I guess". But as time went by the push for relationships got more intense and louder from the staff. Finally small group time replaced Bible teaching. So, we expressed our concerns and objections (in love) then left. Our objections fell on deaf ears.

Today in many churches that have fallen for modern day trends of church growth, the family worshipping together is almost extinct. Families that sit together in a church service are instantly noticed and seen as odd and unusual. A father who requires his teenagers to sit with him and their mother in the pew is almost unheard of.

I remember a previous pastor of ours. He was always thrilled to see families together at church. Families like mine were considered to be an asset to our local church body. But as time went by, with new leadership at the helm, family friendly attitudes began to fade. But small group friendly attitudes began to abound.

I have six children. My brothers and sisters combined with my kids makes up a family of 18 kids. Imagine that, all in the same church. Wow! A church's dream; to have so many young faces brightening up the hallways. You would think. But today, that kind of make up of a family in some churches is actually considered a threat. Especially in the churches that are presently obsessed with the small group paradigm.

In this new paradigm, the group is honored, not the family. Pastors will often make mention of this group or that group and talk about how they pulled together or how they helped the poor. But rarely, if ever, will you hear of a pastor who compliments a family where the mother and father are sacrificing their time, their love, their dreams, their everything for the poor? No, for the homeless? No... BUT FOR THEIR CHILDREN! When was the last time you heard of the church leadership talk about the first small group ordained and established by God, the family?

The visible family unit is being overshadowed by popular philosophies of community and unity which often ignore the strains put upon a family who is trying to go along with a church program that expects their members to join up with a small group to the detriment of Sunday family time (if that even exists anymore).

The family is fighting for its very life in every arena in society. And yes, even in the modern church.

Small groups can be helpful, but let's put the family first. And if small group time interferes with family time, tell small group time to take a hike. You got your small group already, your family!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of small group driven churches "say" that they are for the family in their promotional materials and verbally, but in practise, they are NOT.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks for the post. I have been concerned for some time that disintegration of the family is aided by the church. In the attempt to meet everyone’s perceived needs and grow church numbers families are split up and there is in many instances little if any interaction. I posted on this some time ago: Post 1 , Post 2. Often I feel like I am alone in thinking this way. When one has view of family that says we need to worship and learn together it is many times categorized as wanting to go back in time. However that is not the issue at all as I simply desire to see families glorify God and I think they do this best when they spend time together and this includes worshiping together.

Again thanks for the post.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comments Tony. I agree!


9:14 AM  
Blogger Peter Zefo said...

Can't we do both? This is like the proverbial "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

12:17 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

Peter Zefo,

I think you can do both but it's sad to see the small groups emphasis in churches being promoted over and above the family unit.

The family with the father as the spiritual leader is the ultimate method God will use to strengthen children. This is what should be stressed and for the families who do not hve that, men in the church should step up to the plate and be supportive of single moms helping them with their kids.

The small group push just seems to be yet another church trend and everybody jumps on the bandwagon before taking some time to consider the pros and cons of this and how and if it effects families.

12:28 PM  

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