The Door-Step Evangel

Family Separation within Churches
Dr. Ronald L. Tottingham

There is a longstanding "tradition" which though not directly Bible based, has become so rooted into our modern fundamentalist and Baptist churches that I almost hesitate to "call the question." It is Sunday school plus.

To most reading this the reaction is negative to this thought, and likely produces instant criticism toward me. However, this tradition is one that might be criticized as dividing our church families or family groups - and inside our churches. Is this tradition as ordained of God as we immediately think it must be?

Traditional Sunday school, and children's ministries, and other "age" or "need" group ministries which are group divisions throughout our churches, are these as ordained within the scriptures as we surely think or assume? Could some of that which actually divides our churches against itself and perhaps against the central ministry of preaching, a ministry given its charge by the Lord Himself and empowered by God (Titus 1:3), could some of these things be becoming traditions to misuse? Or spiritual hindrances? Could "need group ministries" be doctrine by craft which bring no small gain to the product "craftsmen?" (Acts 19:23)

The "tradition" of dividing families or family groups inside our churches via age or need groups, even during preaching (or "worship") times, could this actually be separating our membership rather than unifying? Today we have Sunday schools, seniors groups, singles groups, Awana, women's unions, young marrieds, etc., etc., etc. After several years of Bible study I'm not finding the desired scriptures for dividing up the family group. However, I have found numerous scriptures which teach unity in the church body, knit togetherness, etc. There does not seem to be any verses that teach division, dividing, or separating the church, except when strife and personalities (I Cor. 3:3-4) divide and separate.

I Cor. 12:20, 25, "But now are they many members, yet but one body. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another." These verses teach us that such separating, which has become an accepted tradition, going on in fundamental and Baptist churches for several decades may even oppose God's will.

It seems also that in the beginning during the time of Acts the families were together. And I like the implication of Acts 16:34, "And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." And Acts 2:44, "And all believed were together, and had all things common;" . We read of commonness. I wonder if this teaches us anything applicable to this thought? I Cor. 11:18, "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it." This verse seems to teach against dividing our churches. Coming together or "assembly" is what a church means and that includes families, and would it not include all ages and need groups? We are told not to divide but to assemble.

The Door-Step Evangel is published in the interests of Evangelism and information as a Church paper, sincerely devoted to the cause of Jesus Christ. We are in favor of everything that is right and opposed to everything that is wrong.

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