Thursday, October 02, 2014

Why I come to dislike family oriented churches

Christianity places a huge emphasis on family, and of course traditional society does that too. The family is the basic social unit of society. God works through families and that is why pedobaptism is correct (Take that, Baptists!). But increasingly, I am beginning to dislike the idea of family oriented churches, of which most non-contemporary churches are to some extent.

As per my previous post concerning structure and small groups, I have mentioned that people leak through the social circles in church. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of older singles (i.e. not children and teenagers) in family oriented churches. Whether those singles ought to get married or not is besides the point; it is a separate question altogether. The church needs to be there for her members as they are, not as she wants them to be. And Christian singles, even if they wish to get married one day, do not want to go to church for matchmaking services! Do these families know how to interact with older singles? Or are they are a social anomaly that conservative Christians pray will cease to exist? Out of sight, out of mind! Is the impression given that they will only be treated as full members in a family-oriented church only when they get married?!

Yes, families are important. But the church does not consist only of families. How would the Apostle Paul, who was obviously not married, be treated in all these family-oriented churches? Will they try to pair him off as soon as possible?

The church is to embrace all who believe in Christ. That is another reason why I think small groups should be considered, in which all are free to join, a setting in which singles and married people can mingle. There are no second class Christians in the Kingdom of God, yet sadly that seems to be the case in many family-oriented churches.


Jenson Lim said...

Hopefully, you will change your mind when you get married and have children. Trust all is well with you.

PuritanReformed said...


so are you saying that if I'm not affected, I would change my mind? Do you really think I write this article just because of my experience? Are you suggesting that when I stop being in the "single" caste, I will now relegate other singles to second-class member status?

Jenson Lim said...

Quite the opposite.

When you get married and have children - you would wish you were "relegated" into obscurity.

Zac Wyse said...


I sympathize with your concern, and it's one I'm trying to take into account at WRC. Gimme your thoughts on these questions, if you don't mind:

- As you mentioned, the family is the basic unit of society, and God has included that institution in the administration of His covenant of grace. I think you'd agree that it is the *predominant* (not better!) state that adults find themselves in, as well. Given the above, do you think a small group system (where adult singles and families interact) suffices to meet the relational needs of those that are in both states? If not, what else might you recommend?

- How are you defining a "family oriented church"? It seems like this is entirely up to my own imagination. And we don't want to confuse "family oriented" churches with churches that have a *predominance* of families, which seems to me to be expected (though not better!) situation of churches.


PuritanReformed said...

So, you're telling me that fellowship is offered only in conjunction with the call to serve, and serve a lot? You don't see anything wrong with THAT?

PuritanReformed said...

@Zac, I agree that families generally predominate, but I wouldn't be too dogmatic about the "preferred" ratio of singles to family.

I don't want to give the impression that small groups will Definitely cater to the relational needs of everyone. ISTM that families probably prefer to be with other families. But I think small groups do help, and might even help visiting families as well to better connect with the church members.

I'll define "family-oriented churches" where almost everything is catered to families: married adults, children and youth, and nothing for adults who graduate from college unless they get married, which seems to be the predominant pattern in America (ie. get married quickly after college). Adult singles are not recognized as a distinct group alongside families (married adults, children and youth), and treated as an anomaly that will disappear in time as they get married. Thus, any member can be known either as "child of this church member X," or "spouse of X."