Congregation and Friends,
We are committed to ministries of worship and education and evangelization at Redeemer Reformed
Presbyterian Church. As I write this blog post I am looking forward to a 9:30 meeting this morning, Saturday, March
24th, of the education committee and the Sunday School teachers of RRPC. Liz Kelsey, our Chair of the Education Committee
called the meeting to discuss education programming, to look ahead to next year, consider space issues etc. We are blessed
to have a committed corps of teachers to bring children, teens and adults into a consideration of God's Word in a way that
connects with the particular age groups of RRPC.
At RRPC we believe that there are many things it is best
to do together ! We do not segregate children from adults during the morning and evening worship services. We
do provide a nursery for babies and the youngest of children. And we also provide a "cry room", a room with a large
plate glass window just off the sanctuary, where mothers, fathers and children can sit to watch and hear the service if someone
is particularly restless during the service, including restless dads who just can't stop squirming. :~) But
we believe that faith in the one true God has always been a faith that has involved families, families who are committed together
to worshiping God, serving God together, learning about God together in a committed relationship of promise called the covenant.
Worshiping together on the Lord's Day embodies that covenant commitment in critical ways that flow into the rest of the week.
I believe that as children grow up they pick up more and more of the truth found in expository
sermons from God's Word. I am amazed at what I actually learned as a kid from the preacher, as I doodled away on the
bulletin in the pew. My mother let me doodle because she felt it helped me actually listen and not squirm - - I had
to cover the squirming part in my family because my father was up front doing the preaching. As I got older, I started
reading along in the Bible more, and I always loved taking part in the rest of the service, other than the sermon, like
standing up for the Doxology and the Gloria Patri. As a toddler my mother let me stand on the pew so I could see what
was happening up front, and I can still remember balancing myself by putting my arms around my mother and brother. Eventually,
I always had every hymn and responsive reading marked in advance in the hymnal with little pieces of paper I ripped off of
the corners of the bulletin. That marking of the hymnbook happened while mother and other adults bowed their heads in
prayer before the service, preparing individually to worship God together.
But alongside the corporate
worship of God we believe at RRPC that we should provide age appropriate education in the truths of God's Word in the church
setting. So we have Sunday School for pre-schoolers, elementary age children, middle schoolers, and high school students.
College age students gather with our adults in the sanctuary during the Sunday School hour.
We also have discipleship/evangelistic
programs twice a month to help girls grow into godly women, and to help guide boys into Christian manhood. These are called
Pioneer Girls and Brigade. New to us, just one year ago was the introduction of Building Lives Around Scriptural Truth,
BLAST, a youth group for 8th through 12th graders which meets once a month for teaching and another time for a social activity
of some type.
We believe primary responsibility for training of children lies with parents, as is described
in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 - "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall
teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when
you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets
between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Churches should be equipping parents in their own personal paths of discipleship as adults so they can minister to their children.
And the church should provide tools that parents can use to guide the teaching and training of their own children. Take-home
papers from Sunday School, Redeemer Verses of the month, sermon outlines from Sunday bulletins are all teachable moment opportunities
that families can use in their daily devotions at the supper table, or during the evening, or at bedtime, to guide children
in the paths of Christ. Each family will also want to use its own pattern of reading God's Word together, using the
Bible, or in the case of young children, using a story Bible that is faithful to the original text. We have bible reading
guides for the New Testament in the foyer of the church to help you if you want to use that.
The overall picture
is "Families and Churches Rowing Together" Parents are rowing one oar and church leaders like the pastor,
session, Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders are rowing the other. Together, with both sides rowing, we seek
to keep the boat headed in the right direction. There has developed in some circles an extreme view of this subject,
wherebye, the responsibility of parents, which is rightly seen as primary, has meant that some churches have abandoned or
marginalized Sunday School and any specific programming for children. Unfortunately this neglects the scriptural example
of Paul addressing children directly in the church (Ephesians 6:1-3), and surely, children are part of the church where elders
are meant to teach (1 Timothy 5:17). For more teaching on this, look online for the article "Families and
Churches Rowing Together" in the April 2012 issue of New Horizons Magazine, published by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
This abandonment or marginalization of Sunday School and other traditional programs also tends
to "leave out" the children who have no Christian parents at home. How are they to be reached for Christ and
trained at all, if there is no adult who would take a personal interest in bringing the message to them at their age
appropriate level in Sunday School or in one of youth programs? The local church is responsible for the evangelization
of the lost in their geographical area, and the Sunday School and youth programs play key roles in that evangelization process.
Finally, RRPC has developed under the leadership of Pastor Mark Bell and the session that served with him, the
practice of an annual teaching conference one weekend each year. This is a major boost to our educational focus at RRPC,
being grounded in God's Word around a particular topic or book of the Bible. Because of our anniversary in 2011, we did not
have the conference, but I am pleased to report that Dr. Gareth Edwards has agree to speak to us again this autumn on September
28-30 from the book of Nehemiah. More details will be forthcoming, but I alert you now so that some of our out of town
friends can make arrangements possibly to be with us that weekend !
God bless you this weekend, and I pray that
you will be worshipping publicly with God's people !
With Christian love from all the leaders here
at RRPC, concerned that you and "all the little children" know the truth of Christ, I remain faithfully yours in