The Lie They Tell at Your Church

Lies are so prevalent in these times that sometimes we repeat them at church.

Repeated enough times, a lie starts to sound like the truth. There is a lie repeated regularly in churches across the land. I’m betting you’ve heard it in yours.

On its surface, it appears to be a benign deceit but I have come to believe it is, as are all untruths, insidious, dangerous, and paralyzing wherever it is believed.

The lie is this:

“Children are the future of the church.”

Often accompanied by a companion lie: “Without young families, the church will die.”

Now, this lie perpetuates because we have seen it happen. The young families stop coming to a church and the church withers on the vine.

Brace yourself. I’m going to lay some Latin on you. Post hoc ergo propter hoc meaning “after this, therefore because of this.” Church death does sometimes occur after the departure or loss of the young families but it’s not because of the loss of the families, it’s because the remaining members believed the lie.

Jesus loved children. Children belong in the church and we should do all we can to encourage them in their love of the Lord and their understanding of God’s word. Children come with families and they benefit when their families are also embraced by the church. Children, young parents, and Jesus – love, love, love. It’s never wrong to love and care for them. However, that’s not the issue.

Here’s my problem with the repeated lie:

  1. Children are not the future of the church, they are the church NOW. We should encourage them to participate in the faith now and to view themselves as loved by God and vital to His current work.
  1. Jesus is the future of the church, not children. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He doesn’t rely on a biological breeder system for the existence of His bride. Jesus can create followers from stardust; He doesn’t need us to give birth to them.
  1. But the worst damage done by the church’s over emphasis on children and young families is that it leads to devaluing single people, couples without children, seniors, or middle-aged adults whose children have left the nest. And those believers then learn to undervalue themselves! Churchgoers falling into those categories are often viewed as the supporting cast for the “true stars of the show” – children and their young parents. Understandable confusion – but unbiblical and disastrous for kingdom building.

Paul warns us to keep our minds from being polluted by the world. Some of the worst pollution results from lies dressed up to sound like appetizing truths. Who’s going to argue that children aren’t important, special, and worthy of significant church ministry? It’s a natural byproduct to then outreach young parents. It not only sounds holy, it conforms well with the fleshly desires of the church to add to their numbers, to appeal to what the world values, too, and to cultivate congregants who will likely remain loyal for years to come.

Meanwhile, people who don’t fit into the desirable demographic languish beside the narrow road wondering if anyone cares if they take another step forward. And just as bad, they function at a diminished capacity of their gifting and calling potentials.

Are you single? Childless? Middle-aged? Older? Have you passively allowed this lie to marginalize you or push you to the sidelines? Stop waiting for others to recognize your value and your responsibility to be active in building the kingdom! Look around at your peers. Don’t they merit a ministry directed at them? Don’t they deserve to be told the truth about Jesus? Aren’t they edging closer and closer to an eternity without Christ?

Put down the polling data telling you most people make decisions for Christ in childhood or as college students. Polling data will also tell you that a field of dead bones isn’t likely to rise up into a living army but polling data often discounts the movement of our Lord in a situation. He can build a living and active church with middle-aged or elderly disciples. He can grow a fellowship through single or childless adults. Or have you forgotten that he started out with a handful of misfit disciples?

And what about you? You’re not the ugly, unwanted stepchild of Christ. You are a child of the king – gifted, equipped, called, and fully loaded with love. You’re an army, a force, a fellowship of kings who have been neutralized by the agent orange of a beautiful deception. Ingest the remedy and let the truth awaken your mind, restart your heart, and pump blood to your limbs so you can be about the work of the kingdom.

Go tell a single, middle-aged man Jesus died for Him, too. Go tell a childless couple that God has a vision for their life. Go tell a room full of older people they not only matter to God but God wants them to join Him in active ministry that will make an eternal difference. This is a harvest wilting in the field for lack of workers. Jesus blessed the children but He didn’t say the world revolves around them.

Seriously, loved ones, cast off the lie and go out and save some old people. Help some empty nesters see God’s vision for them extends beyond their wildest dreams. Look in the mirror and see a soul Jesus wants to mobilize onto active duty.

And as you go forward in faith, know that all those children and their parents will be watching and seeing the dusty bones of His church rise will minister to them, too.

Have you felt marginalized or devalued in the church? Have you believed you were less valuable than the young families worshiping around you? Do you need your heart and mind to be healed from this? Leave a comment on the post or contact me privately and let’s talk about it. Together, we can walk into the truth.

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    The Conversation

  1. Sharmel O'Neill says:

    This is so true Lori. As a divorced, middle-aged lady whose children are out making their marks on the world, I often felt that I had no real worth. Our Lord has shown me over and over and over that he has many plans for me. I had to ignore the real or perceived (experienced some of both) ostracism and fixed my gaze firmly on HIM and HIS WORD and HIS LEADING and .. well just KNOW that there have been so many wonderful opportunities that now I am having a slight problem deciding which to give the most time and attention to.

    Now that he has me rolling, well.. I have been praying about getting others motivated. I guess that is why I love your blog so much, like Elijah, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because the response from those I was poking was lukewarm but you showed me that I was not alone in desiring to get more of the team off of the sidelines. Thank you and Our Lord once again!

  2. Merle Jeanne AL ert says:

    Though I am now “old”, but don’t feel it, I have always felt strongly about this and see it everywhere. Thank you and God bless you.

  3. For years I’ve taught women who are divorced, single, or whose husbands are nonbelievers. These women are often tossed aside in our churches. You wouldn’t believe the opposition I get when I want to create a new class for them. I’m fighting that perception now in my new church. We focus way too much on couples and children and devalue those who don’t fit that mold. Jesus doesn’t create molds for people, He shatters them and recreates the person into His image.

  4. Sharon T. says:

    Lori, this may be the most important blog post you have yet written for the body of Christ! Thank you! I cannot WAIT to share it! <3

  5. Maxine D says:

    Wonderful and provocative – as ever thanks Lori. Yes I have heard it – that particular lie is world wide!! I will be forwarding this to several folks!

  6. Kathy U says:

    Thank you for your honesty and insight about this topic. My husband and I have just found a church that is not filled with young families. It isn’t that I oppose young families (together we have 5 children and 8 grandchildren!), but I am weary of feeling like my usefulness is done.

    I’ve always had to defend my reluctance to not work in children’s ministry. When I had young children, I helped. I’ve put in my time, and I don’t care for how children are raised (backtalk, tantrums, generally ruling the roost) these days. Better that I look elsewhere to serve … but where is that?

    I work during the day, so “women’s fellowship” at 10 am is out. I do not craft, so “Women’s Crafty Corner” at 10 am is out (I’m okay with that). I rely on parachurch ministries like Bible Study Fellowship who are so progressive that they offer evening classes.

    Can you tell I’m somewhat frustrated? I won’t even get started on churches that focus on sports and exercise … but then again, I work so I can’t attend Church Zumba or Christian Yoga at 10 am. Free childcare (so who are they geared toward?)

    These things sound trivial but they are barriers to my participation in fellowship. It’s hard to feel like you just don’t fit in. Oh, and since I still work, we can’t even attend the Senior getaway day trips to local attractions. We are in-betweeners who can’t seem to find our niche.