One of our defining affirmations of faith at Bethlehem is that we believe the Bible is the very word of God. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Belonging to Bethlehem as a covenant member involves believing this.
If this is true, how much teaching of God’s word do you need? If this book, the Bible, is God’s word over against all the words of TV and radio and newspaper and advertising and novels and magazines and conversations, how much time should we devote to understanding it?
Or, to put it more pointedly for parents, what pattern of life do you want to build into your children so that they feel the conviction that listening to the preaching and teaching of God’s word is a very important part of life? They will learn what to think of Bible teaching and preaching at church by the attitude and attendance they see in you during their years at home.
The Bible teaches that God has given teachers to the church for the equipping of the saints (Ephesians 4:11). This means that personal, private reading of God’s word is not enough for most people to be healthy, dynamic Christians. God tells us that most of us need human teachers to open the word to us and help us understand it and apply it to our lives.
So the question you must wrestle with is: What pattern of attendance and attention to God’s word will you establish for yourself and your family? The new fall schedule gives you an opportunity to answer that question in a fresh way. You may want to build some traditions into your family that will go deep with the children and strengthen your own grasp of God’s word.
I would like to suggest to all of you that you pray earnestly about building three gathering points into your life as a single person or a family. These precious routines will stick with you and your children and bear fruit long after they have left home.
Gathering point #1: Sunday morning. Say to yourself, “This is the Lord’s day. He rose on the first day of the week to hallow it as the new day of worship and rest. I will set aside the Lord’s day morning for holy exercises of worship and the word. I will give myself to the hearing of God’s word in preaching and teaching (Sunday School).”
Gathering point #2: Sunday evening. In the new fall schedule, we have made every Sunday evening available for small groups to meet. We believe that meetings more frequent that biweekly are important. These times of small togetherness are crucial for becoming ministers to each other the way the Bible teaches us to be. The basis and substance of that ministry is the Word of God.
Gathering point #3: Wednesday evening. In the new fall schedule, Wednesdays are taking up some of what we lost on Sunday evenings for the sake of small groups. The central adult session is worship/story/teaching from 6:45 to 8:00. The children and youth are with us for part of that time and then together for their own teaching. Pray earnestly about building a new midweek routine into your lives. I believe it will make a great impact on your children and on your soul.
I love the church. It is the one people-institution that the Lord ordained. I believe it exists to enjoy and to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all people. Paul calls it “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14). It will be that as long as the Word of God is central.
Loving the Word and learning with you,