At The Gathering Church we believe that family is God’s idea, and it is a beautiful and necessary one, springing ultimately from the love and relationship that God has with himself among the members of the Trinity, and also between Christ and his bride, the Church. The notion of family as God has ordained it is massively under attack in our culture today, and we want to see our families shaped more and more by what the Word of God says; to joyfully champion God’s design for husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children. We also love and embrace children as gifts from God (Ps. 127:3-5; 128; Pro. 17:6). The Word of God always speaks of children as a blessing and never a curse and yet we live in a culture that often sees children as optional, a burden, a hindrance to flourishing, and ultimately as disposable. We reject that view of children entirely. Parents, especially fathers, bear responsibility to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4). As a church we desire to equip and encourage parents towards that end.
On Sunday mornings at The Gathering Church our service is age-integrated. We desire to see the entire church praying together, worshiping God together, and sitting under the preached Word together. As a matter of hospitality, we provide a nursery for children ages 5 and under during the sermon. The purpose of the nursery is to allow parents and adults to sit under the Word of God with minimal distractions and there is certainly no pressure for a family to put their child in the nursery; we leave this decision up to the discretion of parents.
The discipleship plan of children is incomplete without the local church. When we come to Jesus, we gain mothers, brothers, and sisters a hundredfold in the church (Mt.19:29); we gain a family, for the church is the family of families (1Tim. 3:15). Our expectation is that the young adults at The Gathering Church would be integrated into the body life of the church. It is the expectation of all members of The Gathering Church that they would be involved in community groups and discipleship triads. We expect no less from the teenagers of our church – we desire every teenager in our church to be actively involved in a community group and a discipleship triad; we encourage families in the church to welcome in those who may not have a family of their own. The elders of the church believe that the best discipleship process for anyone in the church – whether teenager, widow, young mother, empty nester, etc., is to be an integral member of the local church (Eph. 4:15-16).