We Need the Children
Russell was mentioning the children a few minutes ago. That’s something we’ve found worthy of discussion in virtually every country we’ve been in—bringing the children into our daily lives.
We’ve got this idea, and I don’t know where we got it, but it’s in every country. The idea is that the children are over there someplace and all of us big, important adults are over here. We talk about big, important, spiritual Bible topics and meanwhile the children are over there raising themselves. Maybe we put one adult to be in charge of the “ministry of the children.” Is that concept in the Bible anywhere that you can see? I have never found it. I’ve read that book many, many times, backwards, upside down and in different languages.
I don’t see in the Bible the children being pulled away from the adults. That doesn’t mean we never could or never would, but you wouldn’t do it in your home, right? Would you say, “Children, you all stay in that room over there whenever we have discussions of any importance”? You wouldn’t do that! They are part of your life. They of course don’t understand everything that adults in your home might say, but you don’t expect them to. That isn’t a reason to push them into the other room just because they don’t understand everything. Children actually do understand more than we think they do, anyway.
For twenty years in the church that we’re a part of, the children have been a part of our family and the church, every day and in every situation. When we live that way, guess what happens? When Jesus was twelve years old He got a little bit separated from His mother and father and ended up in His Father’s House. Do you remember His discussion with all the religious experts—all the pastors and the Bible professors? It says they were amazed at the great learning and great wisdom in this little twelve-year-old’s life.
We tend to mark that off as, “Oh well, that was Jesus after all.” But in this New Testament, in this New Covenant, doesn’t Jesus live inside of us? He was with us, but He shall be in us. “I will come and make My home in you.” He said, “I’m not just going to teach you about Me any more. Now I’m going to live in you and through you.”
In twenty years of living this way—daily in public and from house to house (Acts 2) where all of our lives are intertwined every day—there is no one in the church at all that “attends something.” You don’t attend your family, right? Your children don’t attend you—they don’t attend their mom and dad. Why, if we’re the family of God, do we think it’s even possible to attend church?
Read the New Testament! Find me one example or one phrase in the Bible that suggests anybody ever attended church. We’ve had this discussion with Bible professors in Bible colleges, scholars and language scholars of Hebrew and Greek. No one has ever found an example in the New Testament of attending a service, listening to a speech and everyone going back to their lives. It is not in the Bible.
We can read the Bible together, but that’s not the same as living the way they lived with the priority system that they lived in. That’s the message that God is now calling His people to worldwide. I think that is the stirring that’s in your heart too which has you sitting here right now. It’s spreading like wildfire around the world right now and that stirring is that we want to be God’s family and not attend meetings anymore. That doesn’t mean we’ll never have times where everyone is together. Of course we will. But “attending church” won’t define us and it wouldn’t even be possible to say the words “come to church with me.”
Our children have grown up in the way we’ve been speaking of in Acts 2:42-47. Some of them have grown up and had children of their own who are now growing up this way too. If you bumped into one of our children on the street and asked them, “Where do you go to church?” they would have no idea what you’re talking about. That’s because for twenty years they’ve never “gone to church.”
If you instead asked them, “Who are your mothers, brothers, and sisters?” they would say, “There are many people who follow Jesus who love me and lay down their life for me. There are a hundred mothers, brothers, sisters. I have a hundred mothers.”
“Where do you go to church?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I do have a hundred mothers, brothers and sisters…people who lay down their life for me every day and teach me about Jesus every day.”
“Where do you attend? What time do you attend?” They would have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s not because we told them they shouldn’t answer that question. They just honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.
“Where do you attend? What time are your services?” They won’t understand. That’s like asking your children, “What time do you love your dad?”
Laughter : )
It’s like asking a husband, “What time do you kiss your wife?” That’s silliness, right? You have an organic relationship that is real, so that would be silly. We don’t try to fake it during a time slot where we act like we’re family for a little while and then go back to our own lives.