Programs at St. Peter's Presbyterian

Here is an interesting post from R.C. Sproul Jr. of St. Peter’s Presbyterian that I’m quoting in full. Please note that I recognize that nothing that R.C. says necessarily follows. But, it’s interesting nonetheless. How much do we really need programs?

My friend and co-laborer Laurence Windham is good at what he calls “diagnostic questions.” These are questions that on their face seem rather innocuous, but that have a shocking ability to reveal our souls. Be careful when you’re with him.

As I am typing, not far from me, another friend and co-laborer, Mark Dewey, is speaking at our Pastors Camp. His title, which to be fair I imposed on him, is “The Anti-Christ, How Programs Destroy the Church.” He has been arguing that whatever the good intentions that bring into our churches nurseries and Sunday Schools, Awana and the Golden Agers, Youth Group and Women’s Circle, that these are destructive in the end.

I’m not here going to reiterate his argument. Instead I’m going to ask you a diagnostic question. But first, some information about Saint Peter Presbyterian Church. At present we have roughly 250 souls under our care. These are divided into two parishes. One lives and meets in Bristol, the other in Mendota. We have roughly 45 families. Which means, in turn, that we have a whole lot of children in our church. I’m guessing we have between 100 and 150 children who are members of our body. We have no programs for them. We do not have a school. We do not have Sunday School. We don’t have a scouting program. We do not have a youth group. All we have is each other.

So here is my question. Do you know the names of all the children in your congregation? I have not studied our church directory. I worship, more often than not, in Mendota rather than Bristol. I’m not a terribly good memorizer. But I know the names of our children. I know them, I believe, because they are our children. They are not a part of a set of programs of the church. They are instead a part of the church. We are one body together.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I decide how much TV should be watched in their homes. I don’t set the modesty standards for each child. They have parents for that. The point isn’t that it takes a village. The point is that we are to not only discern the body, but love it. How can we love that which we do not know?

The children of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church are not something to be used. They are not something to be herded, or processed. They are instead the object of our love, and the recipients of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t create programs for them. Instead learn their names. Instead have a conversation with them. Instead, be the church.