8 Ways to Make Herding the Cats to Church Easier

In the dictionary worship comes right after worn, worn-out, worry, worrywart, worse and worsen. Sometimes on Sunday mornings worship follows the same sequence. Getting children and young people to the worship place is too often as far as we get in helping our offspring to worship. As the dropout rate of older kids indicates, there has got to be a better way! … Recently I listened to a group of parents share their frustrations with Sunday mornings. These were parents whose lives are given to Christian ministry–parents steeped in Scripture, parents committed to rearing their children in ways that honor the Lord. Even though I understood, my heart just broke as Sunday morning was described as “the worst morning of my week.” One mother confessed, “Sometimes I’m relieved to stay home if one of the kids is sick.” Another shared, “I’m just exhausted by the time I get to church.”           –Robbie Castleman, Parenting in the Pew

Getting the tribe to church can be an exercise in herding cats, but with the added task of getting the cats dressed and fed! Still, this herding is important since the last thing you want your kids to think is that the light yoke of following Jesus is really heavy on Sunday morning. If anything should be joyous, it’s  worshipping the Maker of heaven and earth. Joyous, however, doens’t mean easy. Here are 8 ways to make church, and getting there, better. Continue reading

Can’t Take it for Granted

She [the church] has felt that it is a very good thing for people to be within the home of the church, that she may protect them from the temptations of the world. But the tragedy is that so often she takes it for granted that these people are truly Christians. The church has addressed, to such, messages which are quite appropriate for the true Christian, but are not of much value to those who lack the essence of the faith. Thus, I say, it comes to pass that the church can be a very dangerous place. It may be that because these people are in the church they will never have addressed directly to them some of the primary, fundamental questions which all true Christians must be able to answer. There is a real danger of our assuming that we are Chrsitians for wrong and false reasons, and I do not hesitate to say that it is a very real and great danger.

-D. M. Lloyd-Jones, True Christian Discipleship

Tyndale, Chesterton, and Sitting on your Bible

William Tyndale is known, though not enough, as one of the first translators of the Bible into English. In 1521 he left Cambridge to return to Gloustershire where he began tutoring the children of Sir John and Lady Anne Walsh at their home of Little Sudbury Manor. This is a curiosity to biographers, since years before he had already earned an M.A. from Oxford, and then spent some time at Cambridge. Why would he leave for a humble position tutoring two young children? This would make sense if he was preparing to translate the Bible into the vernacular and received little support at the universities to do so. The stories about him at Gloustershire confirm this.

The Walshes showed hospitality to priests  from time to time, and would also invite Tyndale to join them for dinner. At these occasions Tyndale would astonish and offend the priests by his knowledge of  the Bible, so much in fact that they stopped coming to dinner.

It was around this time that a priest told Tyndale that with the laws and decrees of the Pope available, it was not necessary to have the Bible in English. Tyndale famously replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life, I will make the boy that driveth the plough know more of the Scripture than thou dost.” His goal was not to just to get the book into English, but to provide it in such a way that the average person–the plowboy, grocer, bank teller–could and would want to read it. This is why his translation, a major part of the King James and therefore of most modern translations, is so phenomenal. You can get a great copy Tyndale’s New Testament for a little scratch. Or you can just read the one you have.

It’s encouraging that the Bible was first given in English with the intent that everyone read it in a humble and easy way. The ploughboy didn’t have a study full of books, a Bible dictionary, internet access and probably even lacked good preaching. He could pick it up and read Tyndale’s poetic, rhythmic but accessible translation for a few minutes a day, and there by making progress slowly, would gain more knowledge than the distracted, superstitious and religiously employed priest.

This has particular relevance for parents. Moses tells Israel to take his words, their very life, to heart, “that you may command them to your children” (Dt. 32:46). When interest in and reading of the Bible is limited to “quiet” and private times, love for the Word isn’t likely to spill out very much. Kids learn by imitation, and what they don’t see, they don’t imitate. It isn’t the only way, but in this context, it’s an important one, revealing the heart.

It has been said of G.K. Chesterton that he didn’t just read a book. He sat on it, ate with it, slept on it, traveled with it, thoroughly possessed it and allowed it possess him. I imagine his 300 pounds of jolliness destroying a book in love. What author wouldn’t want his work enjoyed this way? There’s a lot to be said for reading the Bible like this. A little here, a little there. Five minutes at lunch and ten on the couch in the evening. In the car, on the bus, in bed, during the commute, early and late. Chapters are short, right? Even epistles. Whole books. Six pages from Paul to Ephesus. Four to Colosse. The greatest red-hot smoking love poem every written in less than ten pages. These are the things that should fill the cracks of Christians’ lives. Sure, we should set aside some time to read regularly. But shouldn’t we let it intrude at other times as well? Shouldn’t you spill something on the minor prophets?

 

One Church at One Table

This is a table of unity. The Apostle Paul urges us to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” He says “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father over all and through all in in all” (Eph. 4:3-6).

We should not fail to notice that there is also one table. Christians often lament the Church’s lack of unity as we experience division and strife. This does happen sometimes when there is a real conflict, but it does not occur simply because we meet in different buildings in different parts of the world. We lack unity when we can’t eat this Supper together, when we separate from others like Peter and Barnabas did from eating with the Gentile Christians in Antioch.

Eating this meal deals with our sins, and not just our sins against God. It maintains the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace between one another. We all partake of one Christ, his one body broken and blood shed, and in him we are one church. Our unity is not seen in our denomination or network or latest cooperative effort. It’s far too important to be left to that. It’s demonstrated, maintained and given here to encourage us. God sets the lonely in families, in his family here. So anyone baptized and trusting in Christ is welcome, and those who are not are not asked to partake under compulsion but to consider the gift of God offered to them.