Where have all the godly families gone? They are disappearing rapidly. They are disappearing from society due to the high rate of divorce, “dead-beat” dads, child abuse (emotional, physical and sexual), and juvenile delinquency. Godly families are also disappearing from local churches of Christ. I see more and more parents attending by themselves without one or more of the children. When you ask the parent where the child is, they offer up some flimsy excuse as to why they could not come. I see more and more disinterested teenagers staying at home or going out with their friends instead of attending a local gospel meeting. I see more and more grandparents bringing grandkids because one parent or both parents have left the church. I see more and more single parents and divorcees in the Lord’s church.
The faithful, family unit is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Today, families with their busy schedules find themselves living separate lives and doing less and less together. They have two or more jobs, two or more cars going in different directions, and various electronic gadgets laying around the house that occupy their attention (T.V.s, cell phones, DVD players, x-box games, computers, internet, instant messaging, iPods, etc.). Rarely do families eat together, talk together, read the Bible together, worship together, attend a gospel meeting together, visit together or do good works together.
Who Got Involved Together
In Bible times there were godly families who stayed together and served God together. We certainly need families like this today! I think of those families in the days of Nehemiah who worked together and worshipped together. There is a family mentioned in Nehemiah 3:12, Shallum and his daughters, who worked together in rebuilding a portion of the wall. Some parents today cannot (or will not) get their children to help them do the Lord’s work in the local church. The children are too into worldly activities to get involved. But this does not have to be. There is room in the kingdom for family members to do their part. Families are also mentioned in Nehemiah 8:2-3 who came together to worship God and hear the reading of God’s word. These families stayed from early morning until midday, and were attentive at the same time. Can you imagine such a thing? Some families today do well just to sit together through a one or two hour service.
When we come to the New Testament, we find Bible families in the days of Paul who supported gospel preachers together. Luke tells us in Acts 21:4-6 that Christian men came together with their wives and children to pray with Paul and bid him farewell to Jerusalem. These families showed up together in order to encourage Paul and hold up the hands of a gospel preacher. I’m sure this meant much to Paul. All families today can be more sacrificial in getting out, leaving their comfortable surroundings and busy schedules, and doing something together to encourage gospel preachers and other brethren in their service to God. Later in Acts 21:8-9, Luke records that Paul stayed in the home of Philip the evangelist who had four virgin daughters who prophesied. We do not have the gift of prophecy today. But, how encouraging it would be to see more fathers whose daughters or sons are faithful Christians and who would open their homes and be more hospitable to brethren.
What Can Godly Families Do
Together in the Local Church?
Godly families can worship God together (Heb. 13:15) and attend a church service together (Heb. 10:25). They can sing, pray and study the Bible together. They can prepare their Bible class lessons together (1 Tim. 4:13). Parents, make sure all of your children – who are old enough and able to – open their songbooks and sing out, open their Bibles and read along, take notes, and bow in prayer when it is time to do so. Like Abraham’s family (Gen. 18:19), families today can make sure that each family member learns God’s word. Like Cornelius’ family (Ac. 10:24), families today can assemble together to hear God’s word proclaimed.
Families can contribute together to do the work of the local church (Eph. 4:16). They can volunteer together for work in and around the church building (Tit. 2:14; 3:1,8,14). They can come together to encourage brethren (1 Thess. 5:12-14). They can respond together to those who visit our assemblies (1 Cor. 14:23). They can be benevolent together toward needy saints (Ac. 11:29). Parents, there is plenty to do in the Lord’s kingdom. Do it together with the whole family! Pick one day a week and do one activity together in the Lord’s work. Like Joshua’s family (Josh. 24:15), families today can serve the Lord together.
Godly families can visit the needy together (Jas. 1:27). Parents, do you want your children to practice “pure and undefiled religion” also? If so, include them in your visitation. Take them with you. Teach them to help others, and speak to others. Don’t leave them at home in front of the T.V., on the computer, or on the phone. It will do your children more good to get out and visit the needy. Families can offer hospitality together (Ac. 2:46; Rom. 12:13; 1 Pet. 4:9). Hospitality teaches kindness (Lk. 10:33-37), and it teaches sharing (Heb. 13:16). Parents, include your children in your hospitality. Tell them to do some things around the house to get ready for company, or go to the home of a shut-in together and serve them. They will grow up to be giving people, not selfish, self-centered people.
Families can do evangelism together (Ac. 8:4). They can all sit in together on a home Bible study or host a Bible study together. They can pass out flyers together around the church building before a gospel meeting. They can work together to invite their neighbors to hear a lesson.
Finally, godly families can work together to qualify men for godly leadership and service. The Lord’s church greatly needs elders and deacons today (Ac. 14:23; Phil. 1:1). A part of the requirement for a godly elder and a deacon involves the family (1 Tim. 3:2,4-5,11-12; Tit. 1:6). Fathers, make becoming an elder or a deacon a goal in your life and work toward it. Bring your family together and talk with them about this important place in the local church, and then work together with your family to qualify yourself to fill this role. Read the verses above and see what you have to do to with your family so that your family requirement is met. Then you will be on our way to being qualified for this great work.
One educational slogan that I hear often today is “No Child Left Behind.” We need to apply this slogan to the Lord’s church. As a spouse and parent of four children, I want my wife and children to be a part of serving the Lord together with me. I don’t want my spouse and children to be left behind. Do you? We can certainly have godly families in the local church who get involved together. But, you have to make it happen. If you really love your spouse (Eph. 5:25,28,33; Tit. 2:4), and you really love your children (Tit. 2:4), and you really love your Lord (Mt. 22:37), you will make it happen.
POSTSCRIPT: On the very day that the author composed this article, he witnessed what he had been writing about. That evening, during the Wednesday evening mid-week service of the local church, he noticed one of the members missing who was a father. His wife and children were present, but he was gone. He could have been there, but chose not to be. The sad thing is, the night before, the author saw this same family all together at the movies and spoke with them afterward. This father had taken his family together to the movies on Tuesday night, but wouldn’t come together with them to worship the Lord on Wednesday night. Clearly, this father had his priorities in the wrong place. Brethren like this can and should do better before they lose their families.
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