Families & the Gospel
Church as Family: God calls us his sons and daughters because of the work of Christ (Gal 4:6; John 1:12). We call God Father. God "sets the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6) and his church is called the "family of God" (1 Peter 2:17). Many people have families that reflect the brokenness of abuse, generational sin, or simple (and pretty "normal") dysfunction that mar all relationships post-Fall. One of the ways that we express the reconciliation of Christ is living in intentional community that is intergenerational as a church family. We celebrate the fact that we are not all the same, and believe that our different-ness is a gift from God—for the good of our family.
1. Children and the Gospel
In Matthew 19, Jesus welcomes children to himself. He not only calls his followers to be like little children, but also calls children to be his disciples. One of the richest truths of Covenant Theology is that in infant baptism, we recognize that God's gracious promises are for us AND our children (Acts 2:39). Therefore, we don't treat our kids as pagans until they reach an "age of accountability." Rather, we treat them as those who have been given the promise of the gospel, and call them to faith and repentance and obedience—to keep the covenant.
2. Children and Community
We believe in and practice the sacrament of Infant Baptism. Infant Baptism points us to the fact that we are passive in our salvation—just like a helpless infant. When we put the sign of God's covenant love on our children, when we pour water over them, we are praying God's promises for them. This has great implications for Families and for our Church Family:
For Families: We are placing our hope for their salvation not in our perfect parenting, but God's grace. We are declaring our need for God to work in the life of this child and entreating the community to come with us as we seek to show and tell the gospel to the next generation (Psalm 78:4). Our children's ministry at Trinity is not designed therefore to take the place of the parents, but to encourage and supplement and help parents point their children toward Christ.
For Church: When children are baptized, they are baptized into the Covenant Community. Therefore, we believe that they are not satellites to the "main" ministry of our church. We don't just age-and-stage our kids in programs to keep them out of the way so that parents can be encouraged. The ministry to our children on Sundays is vitally important—as important and significant a ministry as what happens in the worship gathering. And our desire is that as children grow, they both are transitioning into the worship service as well as transitioning into using their gifts in the church body, just like their parents. This is messy, not-programmatic, and a gift that will bear fruit in the discipleship of every young person as they grow—they discover that the church is not for their entertainment but they are vital parts of Christ's body.
3. Children and the Kingdom
We live in a time in which families tend to be either parent-centric or kid-centric. Parent-centric families revolve around the desires, hobbies, interests of parents. What the parents want comes first. Child-centric families make kids into trophies—and family life revolves around the demanding schedules of sports and arts and kids' activities. But God calls us to have God-centered homes: where we worship God not just on Sundays but in our daily schedule and in the way that we order our priorities. But that is so hard: the entropy of our culture toward parent-centric or kid-centric homes is so powerful. It takes a community to live any other way.
Psalm 127 holds up a vision for family life that neither centers around children nor parents. Instead, it holds up to us a vision for family life that views our children as future Kingdom citizens—like arrows to be shot out into the world to extend God's fame and proclaim his Kingdom. This is our vision for living as Kingdom citizens with regard to our families: not that our kids would be perfectly behaved, have all the best education and opportunities, but that they would know and live with distinction and excellence for Christ and his Kingdom.