View Full Version : God then family then church??

07-28-2001, 02:14 PM
Is this a good priority listing?

God first
Family second
Church third

Or should church be second??

07-28-2001, 02:19 PM
God instituted the family long before the church. Churches are made up of families. If families fail, the church fails (local church), just like the society fails when families fail. Putting the church ahead of family is not the same thing as putting God first.

08-01-2001, 12:48 PM
We are to put God first, I think we all agree on that. But what should come second?
The church is as much, if not more, our family as our physical family. Going by this alone than they are equal, both are second, but this wouldn't be truthful. When we get married we make an oath as to what we will do for each other, an oath that we don't have with the church. So, yes God family then church

08-01-2001, 02:32 PM
Good question.

I have heard some (preachers of course) claim that the church has a position of greater authority in some cases for several reasons, here seem to be the two primary reasons for this view

1. In this dispensation, the church is God's primary tool

2. Peter was given the keys to the kingdom

I do not agree at all with this, for one thing, As Joy said above the family structure is God's primary unit of organization. A church is not made up of a large group of individuals who happen to also be part of a family, it is made up of families.

Also, Peter was given other authority as an apostle that we wouldn't think of attributing to the Local church. When Ananias and Sapphira lied, he spoke and God struck them dead, I personally haven't seen that demonstrated too often. The family is the primary authority. Meaning a wife/child obeys the husband/father even if the instructions clash with the desires or preferences of the church (clear cut sin is a whole other ball of wax), and an unsaved husband has this same authority by the way. Here is my Biblical basis for this position:

*The wives' submission to her husband is unequivocal
I Cor 11:3 "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God."
Eph 5:22-24 "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing."
Eph 5:33 I Cor 11:8.9 Gen 3:16 Col 3:18 I Peter 3:5-6 - all same principle no caveats or exceptions
*Disobedience is as great a sin as cursing God. - Titus 2:5 "[To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
*Wives are to be obedient even when their husbands do not obey the word - I Peter 3:1 "Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"

As far as priorities, I think it is vital to the success of the family that church be a major priority. That means go to church, whenever possible. Don't stay home from church for "family time" Don't go to church and not allow your kids to go to their own classes or activities because you want "family church", don't decide you don't need church when you can have "home church" (don't laugh, some people have taken home schooling that far!!!), Don't allow your kids to play sports if it means they will miss church regularly (OOOH, stepping on some toes now Superdave, good thing I'm the Baptist of Steel) Things like that. Priority and Authority are totally different.

I apologize (without being sincerely sorry of course :D) for the length of my post

08-01-2001, 02:41 PM
Instead of making my other post longer, I will make a new one to clarify a little bit.

When a family joins a church they give up some of their ability to make choices. They ought to place their family into the programs of the church as the church intended them to be run. That was my comment about putting your kids in their classes. If you disagree with a church's philosophy, and think kids should always be with their parents for example, than find a church that agrees with your philosophy, instead of causing division in one that does not.

The administrative and procedural guidelines of the church are agreed to when you join. You lose the ability to do as you please.

The Church makes decisions as a body, and the body is obligated to follow, unless there is a major problem with it, in which case, you have to choose whether to stay in that church or not.

My comments about the authority of the family are mainly aimed at issues within the family. Some churches believe that they have the right to tell you what personal standards you must have in your home, how you ought to be raising your family, etc. when that really is not under the control of the church. They have every right to tell you what to wear, listen to, drink, etc. when you are at church or at church sanctioned events, but outside of that, the parents, especially the father is ultimately accountable to God for the decisions made for his family. With that responsibility comes the authority to make the decisions.

Pastor Larry
08-01-2001, 03:47 PM
Is family/church even a legitimate dichotomy when it comes to priority? Where does the NT teach or imply that family is to have priority over the church?

Barnabas H.
08-01-2001, 04:34 PM
Q: What is the church made out of? A: Families! smile.gif

Eaxample: Jesus corrected some of the misguided folks of His day when they neglected their families in favor of their "church" in Mark 7:10-13.

Pastor Larry
08-01-2001, 06:19 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by B. J. Halo:
Q: What is the church made out of? A: Families! smile.gif

Eaxample: Jesus corrected some of the misguided folks of His day when they neglected their families in favor of their "church" in Mark 7:10-13.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

So does that imply you should neglect the church in favor of the family?

I am neither affirming nor denying the priority structure. I am thinking outloud about the biblical support for such statements. I am simply questioning if such a dichotomy is a biblical one or is it a modern invention/capitulation that denigrates the importance of the local church.

The listing above is common but I am not sure it is biblical. For instance, God first then family?? Is not God put first when the family is taken care of? After all the one who does not care for his own family is an infidel and the father is supposed to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And does not the family suffer when a member of it is not in a right relationship with God? Is not the family best served by faithful and prioritized attendance at the local church? After all, what is more important than the public teaching and preaching of the word and the mutual encouragement and fellowship of the saints? In other words, I am not so sure there is a priority structure that is biblical. Someone convince me with Scripture.

[ August 01, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]

bro dave
08-01-2001, 06:57 PM
now pastor Larry you know better than that. You know as well as i do that the Lord was rebuking the pharisees for "full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Mk 7:9. a copout for greed and selfishness.
However Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, (ch.5:8) does state;"But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel". God is gracious and has provided us with 100% of what we have and after we give him back 10% the 90% left is plenty to provide for our own house and those of our local body that have need. That is if we are being good stewards of the resources the Lord has provided.

bro dave
08-01-2001, 07:03 PM
pastor larry: forgive please, for some reason your whole post did not appear when i pulled it up just your first comment after the quote
again i ask your for givness

in His service

bro dave
08-01-2001, 07:35 PM
convince with scripture: God first: Matt 10:37 "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me".
Luke 14:26 "If any (man) come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple". Now we know that this hate is not literal but comparative in that our love for God must be to such a degree that our love for all others seems like hate when compared to it. Our love relationship with the Lord must be paramount in our lives. When that relationship is as it should be, all other love relationships flourish and we fulfill our duties and responsibilities to all around us.

in His service

Barnabas H.
08-02-2001, 12:02 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry: So does that imply you should neglect the church in favor of the family?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ouch! Stop throwing rocks at me Pastor Larry. It hurts. ;)

To answer your question, of course not. It only shows an order of priorities. Example: An average pastor often neglects his own family because he is so busy and wrapped up in church work that he has no time left for his own. That is why there out to be an order of priorities: God first, then the family, and lastly the work. But they are all important! O.K?! smile.gif

Pennsylvania Jim
08-02-2001, 12:21 AM
The whole concept of "God first" seems out of place to me. God is GOD. The Creator of the Universe, the Holy One, the Saviour. He does not belong on a priority list, first, middle, or last. He should permeate everything on the list, but is FAR higher and mightier, and far more than simply being "first". He is THE FIRST AND THE LAST, the ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, the BEGINNING AND THE END.

I agree that we take care of our families as priority over Church...though not to minimize the importance of church.

PA Jim

08-02-2001, 10:42 AM
Healthy families make healthy churches. As a family grows closer to the Lord and to each other, they become stronger as a unit, which makes them more useful in a church as well.

In the qualifications for pastors and deacons, it clearly states that their households must be in order first, before they can even be considered. There is a reason for this. Check it out in I Tim. 3 !

Pastor Larry
08-02-2001, 12:04 PM
Well, as much as it might surprise you, I disagree with you guys here. First, I agree that “God first” is a bit of a misnomer. God is and he is to be the center of life. Perhaps this is a semantic issue but one nonetheless.

I realize that if a man is not willing to leave his father, mother, etc. he cannot be my disciple. So when God commands us to be an active part of a local church and our family is against it, preferring to stay home and watch TV, go to soccer or baseball games, go on weekend trips to the beach, etc. who comes first? God who commands us to go be in church or the family who wants to take us away from church? When little Billy has a soccer game on Sunday morning, who comes first? The church or the family? When we have a week’s vacation, do we plan it to come back on Saturday so we can be in church on Sunday or to come back on Sunday so we can be at work on Monday? How often it is that we will treat the house of God and our attendance at it so lightly when we would never treat the office of our employer and attendance there in so cavalier a manner.

You see, the priority of God first means that we do what God says first. The best thing my parents ever did for our family was insist that when the church doors were open, we were there. If we had a week long evangelistic crusade, we were there every night and homework got done around it and sports got put aside (which was very painful to me). We didn’t play in sports leagues that had games on Wednesday nights. We didn’t have to ask if we were going to church on Wednesday night or Sunday night. If it was church, we were there. We traveled only very, very rarely on a Sunday because we just didn’t miss church. We planned vacations around God, not God around vacations.

I simply think that this preoccupation with family that denigrates the local church to a secondary position is without biblical support and no one has offered any biblical support to the contrary. In fact, the only verse that was offered dealt with the priority of God and therefore the priority of church. 1 Tim 3 addresses a man whose priority in life is the calling that God gave him. Don’t misunderstand me. I believe the family is important and most families are bad families. However, they are bad families because their priorities are messed up. I was in a church once where a family missed every Sunday night (with 3 or 4) exceptions for the 3+ years I was there because Sunday was “family night.” The “priority of family” prevented his children (who desperately needed to be in church) from receiving the teaching of God’s word. If we agree that God is first or center, then surely we must agree that the teaching and preaching of his word is the best thing I can do for my family.

I do not believe there is a conflict between family and church. If a man in the ministry is ignoring his family he is sinning. Let’s not say he needs to change his priorities; let’s just say he needs to repent. It is often said of pastors “if you lose your family you’ve lost your ministry” as Joy alluded to. However, if you lose your ministry you’ve lost your ministry. Family and church never conflict. As I previously said, the best thing a dad can do for his family is to have them in church when the doors are open without exception. I had a family who recently complained that the evening service was too long and on the next week they left before it was over. The reasoning is that the boys (4th grade and two highschoolers) have to get supper and get in bed. (Church lasted until about 7:45 or so). I went to lunch with the father/husband that week and said, “What message do you think you sent your boys about the importance of church when you walked out last night?” I think the issue was clear to him. When we put something in front of church or put limits on how much time church we will allow for church, we are making a statement about what we think of God’s institution in the NT for the fellowship, encouragement, spiritual growth, and ministry of the family. Simply put, the family is the best building block for the church and the church is the best building tool for the family. In fact, the only reason to have a family is to raise a generation of ministers (lay and vocational) for the local church ministry. I guess the question, what in this world is more important than learning about God and participating in the fellowship of the body of Christ? Maybe I am wierd, but I can't think of anything.

Joy says, “Healthy families makes healthy churches.” Did you ever stop to think that healthy churches make healthy families? The reason why so few families are healthy is because church has taken a back seat. They are not exposed to biblical teaching about the family and the roles of husbands/wives, parents/children, etc. They are not exposed to godly teaching about life in the home. So the homes are weak. I understand what Joy is saying, but I think we need to consider the converse as perhaps the more instructive relationship.

Anyway, just food for thought.

[ August 02, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]

08-02-2001, 12:32 PM
I'll clarify myself a little, so that you can see where I am coming from. I think there is a parallel line in both of our lines of reasoning.

I in no way meant to imply staying home from church. Part of being a healthy family is being in church! I agree with you there.

There are times when time itself and activities and responsibilies must be prioritized. If a man or a woman is spending so much time in a particular ministry(s), that the family priorities of teaching character, spending quality and quantity of time together, and nurturing family relationships suffer to the point that the family suffers, they have no business in that ministry till they get their family in order.

For practical application, perhaps one or two ministries are good enough to serve in, but when you get involved with so many that you are at the church building or working on church business nearly 24/7 and neglecting family duties, you need to prioritize.

Why is it when a man or woman out in the world spends too much time at work or in civic duties, we call them workaholics, but when a Christian does the same thing in a church setting, we call them "fit for the kingdom?" Everything is fine until the children become wayward or the wife leaves-

I'm seeing one verse, taken out of context, to support this lifestyle, and I haven't found one yet that commands us to be in the church building everytime the doors are open.
There are dozens and dozens of them about family responsibilities of child rearing, worship, marriage and the like.

08-05-2001, 10:26 AM
i would like to base my point on Matt. 6:33. Seek ye first the kingdom of God... surely it means putting God first, no arguments about that so far, but let's look at the remaing verse, and ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED ONTO U!... so the ideal picture that i see is Christ is at the throne of our lives and all the rest of our priorities are well controlled by God. Just like a spocket wheel will roll on a floor in continous motion. but this can only be achieved if the wheel is circular or in other words balanced.

so i think that as long as God is the no. 1 priority in our lives. the rest doesnt really matter, as we'll be living spirit controlled lives. the problem starts when the no. one priority changes.

08-22-2001, 03:12 AM
I have a stronge stand on this. I have heard by some that by putting God first in your life means that you must be in church. Please keep in mind that the church is not God, the church is us, we christians are the church so putting church ahead of family, you are actually putting other believers ahead of your family. If you are putting your family ahead of your daily worship and love of God then you are experiencing bad priorities, but to support your child at a Sunday morning or Wednesday night game or such is not in my opinion putting family ahead of God...who says you can't worship God in the car on your way?

It is one thing to totally ignore the assembly of believers to congregate on a regular basis with family lounging around watching tv cause there's nothing better to do, but another if your kid is asserting themselves in activities. I wouldn't of course totally book up your entire week for other activities and hardly ever attend services ....but I think ya'll get my point.

Just another little note...I have seen where it is a bad testimony to consistantly put your family aside to attend church because it is the "Christian obligation".


08-31-2001, 03:42 PM
Very good points.

My statements about both the primacy of the local church, and also the separate authority structures were not meant to lower the priority of the church in family life. Just to negate the sometimes oppressive view of Church authority assumed by some in the role of church leadership.

If you are staying home from church all the time to have "family time" or letting your kids play sports during services, or even youth activities, or if you do not follow the programs of the church because "you know better" than you are violating the guidelines for interaction with the church.

Conversely, if you are always at church, and do not have time to meet the needs of your family, (I'm not talking money here) than you are not maintaining a healthy home life, and it is a wrong priority. Many people in ministry fall into this trap. "I have to do it, it's God's work" Well, tell that to your kids when you have a nervous breakdown, or you pull out of church altoghether burned out. It is a balance, just like any other area of our lives.

God is our priority, and he has commanded certain things of us regarding our families as well as our responsibilities to church.

09-02-2001, 07:12 PM
If you have a particular position at church that you must obligate your time to then you need to be there to fill your duties, however I do not fault those who do not accept duties due to wanting to keep that time free for family. I personally don't think I would deligate my time to church activities but more into my family. I suppose it is where God leads you personally.


09-22-2001, 12:20 AM
Pastor Larry,

Praise God for your insight. This priority concept has disturbed me for many years. Its seems like a PC shiboleth and is so often used to "judge" people inappriately or to "justify" neglect.

The bottom line is that if you neglect your responsibilities, you are neglecting God.

I think we should make our families a priority because of our greater obligation to the cause of Christ (the church). We do this out of love for God.

BTW - equating "the church" with "the work" (as one did) is not really a fair equation. While this definition highlights their concern, I believe we should think in terms of our "calling" and our "cause" instead of viewing ministry as a side job. Ministry is a word that we use to describe how we serve God and men and it should not be separated from the God and family and then relegated to some "professional" or "extra-cirriular" status. If we are not ministering, we are in sin (as you stated well).

09-24-2001, 04:06 PM
Good, interesting question and insights.

One comment however, if God is truly first, He'll lead us in the prioritizing of our life.

I have seen neglected families within the church all my life, and generally it is due to one losing sight of what's truly important. When I stand in front of God one day, I want to hear weel done, thou good and faithful servant. If I neglect any, I don't feel I will.

09-24-2001, 07:54 PM
I think we're still confusing God with church. Folks we can serve and love God without being obligated to enter into a church EVERY TIME the doors are open. God is not church and church is not God, church is the believers gathered together in worship to learn. God is who you serve every day of your life with your actions toward others and your heart of love. I don't think there even needs to be a question of putting God first in going to church because God is everywhere, you worship him in your heart. The fellowship is great but its not putting God first.


Dr. Bob
09-25-2001, 02:00 AM
Is this a fair summary of the thread thus far?

God #1, but don't confuse priority of God with the mundane (earthly) activities of the church

Wife #2

Kids #3

Work #4

Then "Rest of life".

And second aspect of summary: If #1 isn't right, neither will be #2-5

09-25-2001, 08:36 AM
That's right Brother Bob! smile.gif

Pastor Larry
09-25-2001, 06:26 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
Is this a fair summary of the thread thus far?

God #1, but don't confuse priority of God with the mundane (earthly) activities of the church

Wife #2

Kids #3

Work #4

Then "Rest of life".

And second aspect of summary: If #1 isn't right, neither will be #2-5<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

What if you blow out of work everyday at 3:30 so you can watch your kid play soccer with the result that you lose your job? In that case, shouldn't work take priority??

What if you ignore your kids every night so you can take your wife out on a date??

What if you ignore time with your wife so you can spend it in solitude praying and reading your Bible?

What if you get a job working Sun-Thurs so you can have Friday and Saturday off for family time?

I think all of the above are wrong.

Obviously it is not quite as simple as it might appear. I still do not see any NT justification for the exaltation of anything over the NT church. Think of it this way: Which will last longer -- the family or the church? Obviously the church will. That is why I think the ideal for the family means being an active part of a good local church. It seems only in recent times that church has been relegated to the status it now holds -- something dispensable if something else comes up. I am still a big believer, from both experience and theology, that the best thing a father can do for his children is have them in church when the doors are open. If the activities in your church are earthly, perhaps you should try a new church.

True priorities do not conflict. With all due respect to Dr. Bob, I still think it is very simplistic to make priority lists such as these. While there is plenty of social justification for it, I simply see no NT justification for it. We must be careful to let God drive our priorities, not our social circle.

[ September 25, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]

09-25-2001, 09:51 PM

Problem is its not God driving it. Once again, God is not church. No Church will not last over the family since families are what make up the church. Tell me if it is the best thing for the father to make his family be in church when doors are open then why do so many familes fall away from it once kids grow up? I was raised in that where I had to be there all the time and now I am so far from that concept. I really believe that a family with poor priorities will consistantly place church ahead of family and I've seen first hand where that very thing is a lousy testimony and is actually turning my husband's family away from God. They see my mother in law and her husband putting family way down the line and when so much as even a church picnic or eating get together they ignore family totally because in thier words "Church comes first", and the unsaved family has looked at that and said if they love church so much over us then why should we believe that they really do love and care about our souls?

I don't believe we should forget about church as we need the fellowship and teaching but I really don't believe its wrong to also go to Johnny's baseball game on a sunday or wednesday instead.


Dr. Bob
09-26-2001, 12:56 AM
First obligation after relationship with God (NOT church) is wife. Then family, etc etc. It is simply a matter of priotizing, not conflict.

My job means missing some of my son's football games. We talk about that, that my love for him (he is above job or football) is unchanging, and that we must have some give-and-take of Dad will lose his job. Kids catch on and know when you love them or when you're blowing smoke.

But your irrational equation of God and Church is genuinely bothersome to me, brother! I assume you are a landmark-type to put that much emphasis on a fallible group of humans v Almighty God. I appreciate your attempt to explain it, but guess we will have to simply disagree on that issue.

Heard that some threads never get settled and that folks just disagree. Or was it the other way around and NONE of them get settled and NOBODY agrees? :rolleyes:

09-26-2001, 01:10 AM

I couldn't agree with you more actually :eek: wow!!! hehe :D

Something else to consider is that a comparison of job to church is a bit different. God doesn't pay us to go to church but our jobs pay us to work and put food on the table.

Obviously God has much better benifits though ;)