Blessing of children
The world increasingly sees children as a liability instead of a blessing. Birth rates in Europe are down to the point where the population overall is decreasing. God is judging Western culture generally by removing the desire and appreciation for life. This is what leads city zoning people to figure no more than 4 people per parking space, when our average is closer to 8 or 9.
Ps 127 – “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” On the other hand, Proverbs speaks of disobedient children being a curse and frustration to their parents. The goal is not just a lot of children, but a quiver full of obedient children. Most men can biologically father a lot of children; it takes a real man to be a father to them all. It takes more than large families to make disciples of Christ. As with the practice of home-schooling, the solution is not an automatic, external one, but comes from faithful obedience to the Lord.
As far as how many is a lot, this will differ from family to family. 3-4 may be a lot for some parents, while others with 8 are just getting started. Leave room here for grace – we don’t have to be very different from the world in numbers here to consider ourselves spiritual. You don’t have to feel guilty here when you tell others that you have 2 or 3 children. On the other hand, discovering the joy of well-disciplined children does make more children more feasible. And when we see large families, we don’t raise our eyebrows or crack jokes, or ask if you are Mormon or Catholic. We have no Scriptural warrant to judge those who decide that they have enough children. Though our first reaction would be, “Why stop now?” there are answers to it that are not always sinful. On the other hand, we can raise more godly children than we think we can. Bring out more jars, that the Lord may fill them with oil. Susannah Wesley, teaching and spending individual time with her 10 surviving children, is not a tragic figure, but an example to celebrate and strive to imitate.
We want to live and act as households, and not segregate church activities by age. Children, we want your time at church to be with your family, not a chance to get away from them. At the same time, we are not dogmatic about keeping our families together all the time. There are times of fellowship and fun when a youth or childrens’ gathering is natural and healthy. But our emphasis at CHRF is that the household is a unit before God, with a representative head who is primarily responsible before God for that unit’s health, beliefs and practices (Joshua 24:15).
Children in worship
So instead of the common church practices of nursery or children’s church, we believe our children should worship the Lord with us. This is not so much because of strong familial feelings – "these are OUR children; not with MY children you don’t." Not so much that, as the fact that these are God’s children, and so they should be among God’s people.
Verses that speak of little ones in worship – Joel 2:16, Deut 29:10-13, 2 Chron 20:13; Joshua 8:35. Jesus Himself: let the little children come to Me – Mark 10:13-16. We ought not systematically deprive our children of coming into God’s presence in worship. On the other hand, little children were not universally required to be in public worship, either. Neh 8:1-3 – all those with understanding were there. Three annual feasts – men commanded to go, not women and children. But these dealt with less-than-weekly worship. So there are times when it is prudent not to have our little ones present in a meeting, whether b/c of subject matter, or length, like for a multiple session conference. While our children can handle sitting and listening longer than the world assumes, they do have limits, and we ought not exasperate them unnecessarily. The clearest indication we have of children in weekly worship comes in Col 3:20; Eph 6:1, when Paul speaks directly to the Ephesian and Colossian children, assuming they are in worship where his letter will be read.
The necessary discipline involved in teaching your children to worship God must necessarily be conducted outside the place of meeting. For much of this, the kids need practice. For those of you in the military, who know about simulation exercises, put it to use in your families. Worship is spiritual warfare. There is a battle going on in this room right now. Did you prepare your family for it ahead of time?