Family Visitation (concluded)

The interrogation of family visiting must cover every phase of life. In addition to the civil and social sphere, discussed in our last writing, the following should be considered: 

(2) The Family Life: “Dwell on the condition of family life. Begin with the head of the family and then you might ask whether family worship is faithfully maintained, family prayers uttered, the scriptures read at stated times each day with the family and its truths commented upon and considered. If the answers to these inquiries is negative, there is room for admonition. Bind upon his heart his calling in this respect and encourage him as much as possible to fulfill it.” (G.M.O.)


Family Visitation (Method)

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the work of family visiting is the selection of the proper and most effective method. On the one hand, careful attention must be given that there is some definite system and order followed in this work with a view to attaining its spiritual objective. Unless this is done, the work, haphazardly done, will prove to be fruitless. On the other hand, however, the same caution must be taken to avoid making this work a matter of formal routine. The members of the family are then simply confronted with a list of prepared questions; answers are hastily heard and the visit is considered completed. Such formal legalism, however systematic it may be, affords little spiritual benefit. This method is no improvement over the complete lack of system. Both are extremely dangerous and must be scrupulously avoided in selecting a proper method for the performance of this work. To find a method that is entirely free from both errors is not the simplest matter. 

Family Visitation (Objections to Family Visiting)

Frequently, even among those who are members of Reformed churches, there emits rather strong sentiments of discontentment with the venerable practice of family visitation. In some circles these dissatisfactions are catered to, resulting in either the complete abolition of the practice or in its being substituted with something less poignant and official. Since generally the objections that are raised are tendered by those who for carnal reason detest any form of spiritual investigation of their faith and walk, such a surrender on the part of the church characterizes her as spiritually weak and more willing to appease men than to unstintingly perform her spiritual duty. Thus the flesh prevails and the communion of saints is reduced to a common society. Order and decency as maintained by spiritual rule are lost and each member does without restraint as seems good in their own eyes. The salt hath lost its savor! 

Family Visitation (The History)

The twenty-third article of our church order states that one of the duties of the office of elder is “to visit the families of the congregation, in order particularly to comfort and instruct the members, and also to exhort others in respect to the Christian religion.” The original rendering of this was much more explicit. It read as follows:

“They (the elders) shall faithfully investigate whether they (the members of the church) manifest themselves uprightly in walk and conduct, in the duties of godliness, in the faithful instruction of their households in the matter of family prayers (morning and evening prayers) and such like matters; they shall admonish them to these duties with consideration; but also in all seriousness and according to conditions and circumstances; they shall admonish them to steadfastness, or strengthen them to patience, or spur them on to a serious minded fear of God; such as need comfort and admonition they shall comfort and admonish, and if need be they shall report a matter to their fellow elders, who together with them that are appointed to exercise discipline; and besides these matters they shall correct that which can be corrected according to the gravity of the sin committed; nor shall they neglect, each one in his own district, to encourage them to send their children to catechism.” 


Post Tags

On Twitter

Follow @reformedfreepub