The Congregation of Sweet Tomatoes

We like to go to Sweet Tomatoes, a casual salad bar eatery, after church. (My Sabbatharian brothers would rebuke me for eating out on Sundays) Judging from the way many people there dress, there’s no doubt that a lot of them are from surrounding churches. There, on Sundays, you can find people from many nations and all ages sit under the same roof to feed on the earthly food of salad, soup, and pasta.

I often think that in a small sense it presents us with the foretaste of Heaven where the elect people of God from all nations throughout all ages will gather together to worship God and to enjoy the everlasting feast of the Lamb of God. I often find it amusing that this foretaste of Heaven is hard to find in our churches nowadays, especially in North America. Should not our churches reflect, in a smaller replica, the age to come? Today most churches in the US are divided along ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Most churches compose of people of the same ethnic background and of the same socioeconomic status. And now many churches have “churches within a church” when they segregate the people by age. Many “evangelical” churches and all mega churches have contemporary service for people in the 20’s t0 40’s, traditional service for older generation, youth service for youth, and children sunday school for small children. In the January/February 2008’s issue of Modern Reformation, Dr. Michael Horton wrote, “Where it used to be said (and is still the case) that America’s racial divisions were most evident on Sunday, it is increasingly the case that even families are more divided up into their market niches at church than anywhere else. Today, there are resources for every conceivable demographic and ‘Christian’ versions of anything can be found in popular culture……..”

In my own experience growing up in a Christian family I can count how many times we sat together in the church. When I was small, I went to the children church while my parents went to the regular service. I then moved up and joined the youth group. Hardly did we sit together in the church.

I am thankful for our church where we have people from various ethnic backgrounds, traits, and ages. I’m thankful that the church doesn’t segregate families when we come to church. Children stay with their parents throughout the entire service. We believe that it is consistent with the practice of the Israelites as commanded by God and with the practice of the early church. This sounds foreign in the evangelical ears who entrust the spiritual training of their children entirely in the hands of someone else, i.e. Sunday School teachers. I wonder how many families in a typical mega church with 1000+ membership catechize their children at home. While many people come to church to be entertained, to unwind from the busy week, and not be bothered with crying children, I consider it a great privilege to be able to listen to the faithful preaching of the Gospel every Sunday with my wife and 2-year old Tryphena. She does not yet understand the sermon, but she knows that it’s time for church, time when God summons His people for worship.

I found a good article on this in the January/February 2000’s issue of Modern ReformationClick here to download the article. 

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