by Joel Comiskey, Summer 2012
As I travel around the country, I rejoice to hear stories of children following Jesus because of the godly example of their parents. Pastors and leaders agree that the parents first ministry is their children. Paul tells parents to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). There’s one huge problem. What about the children who don’t have godly parents? How will they find Jesus?
The answer is that God has established the church to be an alternative family. The church also has brothers, sisters, and spiritual parents (1 John 2:12-14). Paul says in Ephesians,”For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14-15). Earlier in Ephesians, Paul talks about the church as “God’s household” (2:19).
The early church understood their role in ministering to the children. Some of the early historical writings about the ministry of house churches declare that these house churches “welcomed ragamuffin children” and as an extended family evangelized, taught, and cared for the neglected and orphaned children (A Women’s Place: House Churches In Earliest Christianity, pp. 76-78, kindle edition).
In the cell church today, many non-Christian children will chiefly be discipled in the household of God, the church of the living God. Intergenerational cell groups, after-school cell groups, children’s church on Sunday will all contribute to the team effort in reaching out to children and welcoming them as part of God’s family. In this sense, the church today is an extended family, just like the primitive church of the New Testament period.