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Home/Church Cooperation

by Steve & Carol Ryerson

Frequently we are asked by home schooling families how to handle various situations they find themselves facing regarding their local churches. It is our desire to help people work out these situations in a way that is godly and ethical. We do not want to in any way bring division into local assemblies.

Each family must examine their own situation and their own convictions. They must pray, and humbly act according to the leading of the LORD.

God has established three main institutions to order our lives: government, church, and family. God’s plan for each of these aspects of life is unique. If we do not have a Biblical understanding of the roles of these institutions, we cannot know how they should interact, nor can we know how we should interact with them.

The role of Civil Government:

II Samuel 11:1; II Chronicles 20:15-16 ~ fight against enemies
Psalm 33:12 ~ be submissive to the LORD God
Matthew 22:17-21 ~ collect taxes
Romans 13:1-6; I Peter 2:13-15 ~ enforce laws which should be obeyed as long as they are not against God’s law (Acts 4:19-20)

The role of the Church:

Psalm 107:2; 150:1-6
~ corporate praise and worship. Of course, we are commanded to do this individually everywhere
I Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25 ~ encourage each other when you gather with believers
Romans 12:4-18; I Peter 4:8-11 ~ help each other with physical needs, encourage each other, and have other members of the Body into their homes, among other things. The Church is a family and should function as such on a daily basis
Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 19:10; I Corinthians 14:23-25 ~ evangelize the lost
Ephesians 4:11-16; II Timothy 2:1-2 ~ leadership is to train the Body for the work of ministry, that is, the evangelizing, teaching, and discipling of others.
Hebrews 13:7; I Timothy 5:15 ~ members of the body should obey church leadership (to the extent that leadership does not overstep the above listed bounds and go into the realm of the family as listed below), and give double honor to those leaders who rule well

The role of the Family:

Many of the above listed items apply to the family, such as obeying rulers, both civil and spiritual, caring for members of the Body and having them into our homes, allowing leadership to train us for evangelizing and discipling others.
Ephesians 5:22-25 ~ establish godly order in the home
Genesis 1:28; Psalm 127:3-5 ~ bear children
Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:4-7; 11:18-20; Ephesians 6:1-4 ~ training of the children God has given to us
Titus 2:1-7 ~ mentoring of those younger than us in the Body, in addition to our own children

God ordained these three institutions ~ civil government, Church, family ~ to complement each other. As long as each does what God intends for it to do, God’s people prosper. But when one institution oversteps its bounds, then all suffer.

If your local assembly is working within Scriptural guidelines and your family is thriving spiritually as a result, thank God every day and be sure to let your church leadership know how much you appreciate their wise leading.

Several common areas of pressure that home school families experience in their local churches:

1. Time Pressure ~ expected to be at the church building for services or meetings so much that there is not time to properly train one’s family.
a. The husband and wife should pray together about the family’s schedule. God may lead you to give up an area of commitment.
b. The husband should prayerfully and humbly talk with the pastor about the family’s need to scale back on commitments. Offer to finish any project commitments before leaving the area of responsibility.

2. Peer Pressure on the Wife ~ not as common for the husband. Other women who work outside the home and have their children in public (or Christian) school sometimes look down on the home school mother.
a. The husband and wife should pray together about the problem.
b. The husband should instruct the wife to direct any questions about their lifestyle to him.

3. Youth Groups and/or Sunday School ~ problems that can arise include peer pressure from other young people to do what is displeasing to the parents; bonding with other young people to the point that time with family is no longer desired; activities in these times that are contrary to what is being taught at home.
The causes of the problems in these areas are varied, as are the results of those problems. However, following are some general guidelines.

a. The husband and wife should pray about the situation. If a chld is upset about what is taking place at the function, then he should be included in some of the prayer.

b. Analyze the problem.
1. Is the child okay with the situation, but the parents see the child’s values being changed by being part of this?
2. Is the child upset and resisting going?
3. Is the problem temporary (an argument with a best friend that will blow over in a few days or weeks), or is it long term (the activities go against what is being taught in the home, peer pressure is intense on the child, etc.)

c. The husband (alone or with his wife) should attend the function or meeting. If they are told that parents are not allowed because it will hinder things, that is a red flag. It may mean that the church is overstepping its bounds, but it may not. Again, make sure you have been communicating with the pastor. What good reason might there be for excluding parents from an activity?
Ask the LORD for direction. Possibly seek wise counsel from a trusted friend. DO NOT GOSSIP ABOUT THIS. THAT IS WRONG. AND, DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILDREN THE IDEA DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY THAT YOU MISTRUST AUTHORITY. Your posture here is not one of an adversary, but as one who is seeking truth.

d. The parents might become involved regularly with the children in the activity so they will be there with them.

e. If the parents deem it necessary, they might need to talk with the appropriate leader (youth leader, Sunday school teacher, Sunday school superintendent, pastor) about their concerns.
1. This should only be done after much prayer and with a humble spirit. The husband could do this by himself, or if his wife is with him, take the lead in talking.
2. The husband should be sure he has clarified in his own mind exactly what the problem is so that he can communicate it to the leader.
3. The husband should preferably have a desired solution ~ his becoming involved, keeping his children with him in the adult Sunday school class, not allowing young people to attend the particular youth activities in question, etc.

f. If the parents choose to remove the children from the program, they should encourage their children that this is done for their benefit, not as punishment. If the children or teens are with the parents in Sunday school, prepare them in advance for the lesson and encourage them in how much they are learning. Again, do not tear down leadership as you are discussing this iwht your children. That is divisive and will harm your children permanently.
Some cautions:
1. It will be misunderstood by some in the assembly. They will think that you think your children are better than theirs or that your family is more holy. Guard your spirits.
2. Don’t forget that the LORD may want to accomplish something in your children’s lives by taking them through the situation instead of your removing them from the situation. Working through a less-than-ideal situation may be better than removing the children from it.

g. If the husband is in a position of leadership in the local assembly and the situation is very serious, he may need to pray about giving up that position, even if it means getting a job outside the assembly.

Final Admonition

The above advice is not given lightly. It is with great prayer and concern that we make these statements. We must remember we are not playing games. The decisions we make affect not only our own children, but many others for eternity. God’s leading in everything we do is vital.

There are many voices in the American home school movement. This home/church relationship has been the cover topic in many home school publications. Many home school conferences have at least one workshop dealing with age-integrated church or how to start your own “home school church.” Some of those, with varying degrees of strength and urgency, are encouraging home schoolers to leave their churches and just “fellowship” with other home school families. Others say that you might want to stay home and have your own “church” with just your family if there are no like-minded home school families near you. Sometimes these people make valid observations about the structure of most churches today.

Often the idea will be stated or implied that families should lay aside “doctrine” and just focus on what the Bible has to say about family. While many churches are weak in their teaching on the family, and the structures of the assemblies are often very unbiblical, we are jumping out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire if we leave and gather with other families without adequate foundation. We are aware of “home school churches” where there is not even agreement on what constitutes the plan of salvation. When they can’t agree on how a person is saved, everything else suffers. A local assembly must have solid, biblical doctrine covering all major questions of life. “Fellowship” surrounding common family practices is not adequate. We have personally talked with some well-known people involved in these groups and have received very unsatisfactory answers regarding salvation and evangelism. In other cases, home school families are coming together to form a “church” in which every father is equal in leadership. They call it an eldership, but that is not a Biblical eldership.

We received calls from several families from as far as two hours away from the city in which we pastored who were desperately looking for a “home school church.” They were attracted by our age-integration and were willing to drive that length of time to be with us. Yet, when they found out that we taught what the Bible says about salvation and evangelism, they were no longer interested.

We have talked to many apostolic parents who are desperate as they see their children being confused by conflicting voices between church and home. Some of the well-known home school speakers are saying things that on the surface sound good. Many articles may make some sense to you. If you are in a tough situation in your local assembly, you may not be thinking clearly. It may sound attractive to meet with other home school families who share your lifestyle convictions, thus avoiding the problems you are currently facing. You might have thought to yourself, “Maybe I can teach salvation at home, and we can just fellowship with other home school families. We just won’t get into ‘doctrine’.” Doctrine means teaching. It affects all areas of life. If we are worshiping in spirit and truth, we will become fully apostolic. However if you join with people of different persuasions, you are by your actions teaching your children that your family-oriented lifestyle is more important than adhering to Biblical salvation. Some have taken that route with disastrous results. Both are necessary.

We are convinced that if you will be faithful to the Lord Jesus, and stay with the message of salvation as the Apostles taught it, God will provide for your needs. It is paramount that you act slowly and pray.


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