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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 23, 2012
Over the last four months I have focused our study of Proverbs on issues related to the family. The first eight sermons were spent on examining God’s purpose and design for marriage and finding solutions for the foolishness that too often arises which erodes and destroys. I spent a lot of time on this because there is a lot more at stake in marriage than just the happiness of the couple. Marriage is beginning of the family and the foundation of society. Strong marriages result in successful families and stable societies. Weak marriages result in dysfunctional families and decaying societies. As Proverbs 14:1 states, “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” The same principle applies to men too. If you are married, be sure that you are making it the proper priority and putting the time and energy into it to build it according to God’s design. At the same time, actively combat the foolishness that would seek to destroy it, and that begins by being humble to examine your own foolish actions and attitudes and repenting of them. If you are not married, then be supportive of those that are while preparing yourself to be a godly spouse if that is a possibility in your future. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7
I have spent the last two months dealing with issues of parenting. It is the parents’ responsibility to instill godliness into their children through their own example of love for God and diligently training them to know Him and His will. God has placed upon us responsibilities which we are to fulfill ourselves and train our children to do likewise. There are responsibilities toward one another in the immediate family – father, mother, child, sibling – and to the extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and various cousins. We also have responsibilities toward the other people in our communities including fellow believers, those in positions of authority, those who are older, peers and the poor. These in turn also place upon us responsibilities toward the property of others, and since ultimately God owns it all, then everything including our own bodies are the property of someone else. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15)
All of this can be simply summarized by saying that we are responsible to treat everyone and everything with proper respect because it all belongs to God. I am to view and treat other people as precious because though they are horribly marred by sin, they are still also made in God’s image. I am to love others, including my enemies, because they belong to Him and that is His command to me (Matthew 5:44). I am to treat their property properly out of respect for them as fellow human beings sojourning on this cursed earth. If I am not sure what it means to treat them and their property properly, I can follow Jesus’ simple command in Matthew 7:12 which we call the Golden Rule. Treat others the way that you would like them to treat you for that is the Law and the Prophets.
Last week I was able to cover teaching your children the proper treatment of property including tangible possessions, time and reputation, but I did not get to nature. I want to briefly address that topic before focusing in on Biblical discipline of children.
I could spend a lot of time on this subject if I wanted to expand into detail in countering the foolishness that is part of the modern environmental movement, but our focus today is much more limited. In addition, the vast majority of those issues can be dealt with by simply pointing out two simple facts. First, all of nature belongs to God because He created it (Genesis 1). Any sense in which nature is worshiped or attributed divine qualities is blasphemous, yet that is at the heart of modern environmentalism. Neither nature nor the earth is our mother.
Second, God has made man a steward of the earth and all animal life on it (Genesis 1:28). God has given man the right to rule over and use the resources of the earth for his own benefit, and that includes eating animals according to Genesis 9, but God will hold man accountable for how he has used those resources. This is also contrary to a large portion of modern environmentalism in which man is at best only co-equal to the other life forms on this planet. Some of these groups consider man a parasite.
How then should man use nature and what should you teach your children? First, use the earth’s resources wisely as stewards accountable to God. Second, treat everything with thoughtfulness and respect for the other people that will be coming behind you. This principle again goes back to the “Golden Rule” in treating properly the property of others. Nature does not belong to you individually, but to everyone else that will use it too, and ultimately it all belongs to God.
One simple way to teach this principle to your children is instructing them not to litter because it is rude to everyone that comes behind them. No one enjoys looking at your trash. Teach them to instead pick up trash, even that of others, so that other people can enjoy the beauty that would be there without the trash.
The dominion over the earth that God has entrusted to man allows him to change the environment to enhance its beauty and usefulness though such things as in gardening, landscaping, farming and ranching. It is also acceptable to harvest what is useful from nature such as in hunting, gathering, fishing, forestry and mining. At the same time, cruelty and wanton destruction are sinful actions of the wicked. As Proverbs 12:10 points out, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” Responsible stewardship will not destroy the potential for future harvests, or in the case of mining, damage to the land is minimized or the land restored to usefulness after the minerals are extracted.
God has also given man the freedom to change the environment by building homes, cities, roads, etc. and engage in manufacturing and commerce. Again we find these activities are limited by proper use of property and thoughtfulness and respect for others. Benefits for all must outweigh harm. Pollution is minimized as much as reasonably possible and those effected are compensated fairly. All of this again goes back to being stewards before God of what He has entrusted to us and being good neighbors. Teach your children those two principles and they will be able to make godly decisions in their use and treatment of nature.
We have now covered the general responsibilities we have before God and which we are to teach our children. I have also given many specific examples of practical ways to teach those principles to your children. For the rest of this morning I want to examine the Biblical principles of discipline. I warn you in advance that though these were once the dominant principles of training children in the United States, they are now in stark contrast to the foolish practices that now dominate modern society.
The first thing to understand about Biblical discipline is that it is multifaceted and covers both the positive and negative aspects of rearing children. The root word translated as discipline in the Hebrew Scriptures, yasar, means to teach, to train (Proverbs 19:18). This word and its cognates are used to refer to training that ranges from oral instruction (Deuteronomy 4:36) to physical chastening (Proverbs 22:1 – / masar). It is translated in the Septuagint as paideuw / paideuo which means to “bring up a child” and translated variously as teach, discipline and punish. We will talk more about these different aspects of discipline and related words in a minute.
The second thing to understand about Biblical discipline is that its purpose is to bring about wisdom and godliness. Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.” Hebrews 12:5-6 quotes from Proverbs 3:11-12, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” The purpose of this discipline is stated in verse 10, “. . . but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.” These purposes of wisdom and godliness must be kept in mind in all aspects of discipline.
The Positive Side of Discipline
Discipline begins with teaching and training those without knowledge or understanding. Remember that Proverbs 1:2-6 states the purpose of the book which includes, “To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion” (Vs. 2-4). Children arrive in this world ignorant. They do not have knowledge or wisdom and so will also lack prudence and discretion. It is the parents’ responsibility to see to it that their children are taught and trained. That begins with the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of knowledge and the instruction for wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 15:33). That is the point of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. You must love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and strength and then diligently teach your children about God and His commands in the various situations that arise in life.
Throughout Proverbs we see this same theme repeated of parents teaching their children. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8). “My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments” (Proverbs 3:1). “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction” (Proverbs 4:1-2).
“My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And reproofs for discipline are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:20-23).
This call to instruct and to learn also occurs throughout Proverbs in general terms. In other words, it is not just parents that teach and train their children, but there is also a general responsibility for the wise to teach and for the naive to learn. Proverbs 16:23, “The heart of the wise instructs his mouth And adds persuasiveness to his lips” Proverbs 19:20, “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.” That is the shout, call and invitation of wisdom in Proverbs 1:20-33; 8:1-36 and 9:1-12 (See: Wisdom’s Call). It is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children, but wise parents will take advantage of what other people can offer in instructing their children in the various skills and lessons they need to learn in life. In addition, all of us need to be active in teaching others in those areas in which God has given us wisdom.
Learning is also something that will continue throughout life. You first need to be careful not to forget what you have already learned, Proverbs 4:13 – “Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.” Then you must also go on to learn more. That learning may come from your own observations and experience, Proverbs 24:32 – “When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.” It may come from others. Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.” The truly wise will seek out others to learn from them. Proverbs 1:5, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Regardless of the source or the initial motivation, those who are wise will value the instruction they receive and will heed it. According to Proverbs 8:10, instruction is more valuable than silver and knowledge is more valuable than gold. In Proverbs 8:33 wisdom issues the call to “Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect it.” Those who heed instruction are on the path of life (Prov. 10:17).
Childish is a good word to describe the actions of those who are ignorant or have not yet developed the needed skills. Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it,” uses the Hebrew word / hanak to describe this training. This word refers to rubbing the palate of a young child in teaching him to eat and so refers in general to training the inexperienced. You grow out of childishness as you are taught and trained. It is a normal part of growing up. Paul even commented on this in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
A baby cries when he is hungry because he knows of no other way to communicate his needs. That is normal and to be expected. As the child grows, you teach him to communicate his needs in appropriate ways. It is common for a toddler to spill his cup because he has not yet developed the physical skills to hold it and move it around well. That is why we give them cups with lids with small opening through which they can sip their drink. Young children will reach for a hot pan or try to put things into a wall outlet because they do not yet know the dangers of their actions. It is up t
o parents to safeguard them from those dangers as they teach them the needed lessons and self-control. An eight-year-old begins to play sports, but he can’t hit the ball with the bat or make the basket because he has not developed the needed hand-eye coordination. A high school math student gets the algebra problem wrong the first time because he does not yet understand the concepts.
All of these things are marks of childishness, and childishness is overcome by teaching and training. The Hebrew word translated in Proverbs as teaching is / torah which is also translated as “law.” You instruct the child by giving them the needed knowledge and especially what God has commanded them. You train them by giving them opportunity to put into practice what they are learning. The way in which you treat childish behavior is very different from the way you would need to respond to foolish behavior which arises out of rebellion. You need to be positive and encouraging as you help them gain the knowledge, strength and skills needed. Praise them as they learn new lessons and gain new skills. You may even want to give them a reward of some type to encourage the development of new skills. We did this as part of potty training and used the same principle along the way in encouraging development of musical talents and earning trade certificates. It is also okay to give an occasional unexpected treat for good behavior just as a way of showing you are glad they are doing so well. There should never be any punishment for childishness, but that is not true when it comes to foolishness.
The Negative Side of Discipline
Foolishness is the rebellion that is in the heart of a child that prods him to do things his own way regardless of instructions and warnings received. A toddler that is told to stop playing with his cup, but then continues to do so and spills it is foolish. A child that strikes out because he refuses to hold the bat as instructed by the coach is foolish. A child that is warned about the danger of a hot pan and still tries to grab it is foolish. A student that fails the math test because they refused to do the homework that would have enabled them to master the needed concepts is foolish.
Because foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15), the positive aspects of teaching and training will not be enough. There must also be warning, correction and even chastening. The failure to be aware of and implement the negative side of discipline can be catastrophic. As Proverbs 19:18 states, “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.”
The word for discipline in this verse is once again the general term / yasar, so it would include everything from oral instruction to physical chastening. The emphasis in this Proverb is that discipline needs to be carried out before bad habits are developed and a bad character is formed. To fail to do so is to desire the death of your son because that is where his foolishness will eventually lead him. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” You are to teach your children the fear of the Lord for that is a fountain of life and that they may avoid the snares of death (Proverbs 13:14; 14:27).
The negative side of discipline begins with the warnings that should be included with the instructions given as part of teaching and training. By explaining the reason for your instructions you help them understand the principles by which they will be able to make their own decisions in the future. By warning them of the possible consequences of not following those instructions, you are helping them to understand the connection between their actions and what results from them. For example, from the positive side you instruct your child to take good care of their bicycle by putting it away after they are done riding. If the love of righteousness in being a good steward was strong enough that would be enough instruction and motivation to properly care for their bike. However, foolishness is also present so you must also add the negative side by giving them a warning. If they leave their bicycle outside, it will get rusty or possibly stolen. When the bike gets rusty or is stolen, the connection between their failure to obey and the negative results are easily understood and the natural consequences are sufficient punishment. Warnings are given before anything negative happens as a means of prevention. Proverbs 19:27, “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
Most of the discipline of your children should actually be on the positive side of teaching and training as you instruct and encourage them in doing what is right. Warnings are included to increase an understanding of the reasons for the instructions and to prevent foolishness before it takes action. I cannot emphasize enough that you need to make sure your child understands what has been taught and is expected before bringing about negative consequences. You will violate the command in Colossians 3:21 and exasperate your children and cause them to lose heart if your expectations of them are so unreasonable. First, teach and train them to fulfill the instructions and then hold them accountable for obedience to what was taught. However, also understand that while this may take a day or two, it does not take more than a week. Don’t give your children excuses for their disobedience either.
Let me give you an example of how Diane and I taught our children first time obedience when they were just old enough to walk and talk. We told them that when we called their name, they were to answer “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” and then come to us immediately. We then made a game of it. We started by being in the same room and calling them back and forth and giving them praise and hugs when they came. We then stretched this into adjacent rooms and then to opposite sides of the house. By playing this game several times a day for a few days, they were well trained to first time obedience. In the week that followed, we would still give them lots of praise when they came, but it would escalate to higher levels of negative discipline if they did not.
When a warning is not heeded, the next step up on the negative side of discipline is a verbal rebuke that points out the disobedience. If this is a new instruction or the child is generally characterized by obedience, that rebuke may be enough. In the example of the bicycle, it may be enough to simply remind them they must put the bike away and restate the warning along with an additional related consequence for continued disobedience. Hopefully he will be like the first part of Proverbs 10:17 and not the end, “He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray.”
If the rebuke and additional warning are ignored, then the negative consequences escalate to include a related punishment. If the child was already characterized by disobedience, it would go to this level without additional warning. In a case such as the bicycle, it could mean losing the privilege of using it for a period of time. The length of time would be dependent on the level of disobedience and what efforts are made to demonstrate responsibility afterward. Another related consequence could be having to clean all the rust off the bike before they can ride it again. It would be hoped this would be enough for them to learn the lesson and be like the first part of Proverbs 13:1 and not the end, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Strive to make sure that consequences of disobedience have some logical connection to the problem area. It makes sense to lose the use of property that is not treated properly. The same is true in being isolated from other people for being mean or rude to them. It makes sense to ground a child that squanders their time in being with their friends to the point they do not get their homework done. It does not make sense to
ground a child from extra church activities because they lied about eating all the cookies. The loss of a privilege must be related to the offense for it to be effective. If there are natural consequences to the foolishness such as a broken toy, skinned knee or loss of a friend, no other correction is needed except explaining the correlation between their foolishness and those consequences.
What do you do if there is defiance or if there is not either natural or related consequences that can be brought to bear? You will have to include the consequence of physical chastening depending on the age of the child. The idea of physical chastisement – spanking – is viewed as a great evil by many psychologists and sociologist. On what basis? The foolishness of their own world view even when contrary to fact.
Proverbs makes the case for physical chastisement in no uncertain terms. First, chastisement is not an option of last resort, but an important tool in reaching and training the heart of a child. Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” Second, physical pain is part of chastening, but such pain is temporary and necessary to prevent something that is permanent. Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.” Continued disobedience and defiance does put the child on the path to death. Proverbs 20:20, “He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness.” Proverbs 30:17, “The eye that mocks a father, And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it.” Third, such chastening is an act of love. What is cruel is to fail to adequately discipline your children. Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
These Proverbs reverse the tables on modern parenting practices. It is not cruel or hateful to properly spank a child, but it is cruel and hateful to withhold it. Frankly, a lot of the modern methods of correcting children are cruel such as isolation and other consequences unrelated to the problem, yelling and screaming, threatening, psychological manipulations, bargaining for or withholding affection, drugs and the worse ones – indifference and letting the child get their own way.
Do not discipline your children, especially physical chastening, in your anger for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19). Calm down and make sure of your reasons for chastening and that you do it properly. The discipline needs to be related to and appropriate to the offense considering factors such as the child’s age, general behavior, frequency of the offense and the particular circumstances. Young children tend to commit a lot of hand offenses, so it is appropriate to warn them not to touch the object, and then when they do it anyway, slap their hand. If that does not deter the behavior, you will have to progresses to a slap on the thigh or even chastisement on the buttocks with an appropriate instrument which would need to be something firm yet flexible like a strip of leather that is thick and wide (1.5 – 2 inches) and not something rigid like a wooden spoon or paddle. Why? Simply because the goal is to cause a sting painful enough to deter the behavior without causing physical damage to the child. If you are causing bruising, your hitting too hard or with the wrong instrument.
Gaining control of the behavior of young children is the easy part, but your goal must be to train the heart in wisdom. That is why discipline begins with teaching and training about God and His commands and includes the reproofs that give the moral reasons for the corrections and chastening. As the child gets older, outward behavior and defiance should be brought under control so that physical chastisement become less frequent and other types of correction as already mentioned become dominate.
If you train your children properly, in general terms, you can have their behavior under control by around 5 or 6 years old, and by the time they are 12 or 13, they could be controlled internally by their own heart for the Lord and keeping His commandments. Such children can become friends and peers by their late teens or early twenties and that is a joy to the parents (Proverbs 23:24). Those are worthy goals, but more important in your motivation in training your children is that their lives will reflect godliness and so glorify God no matter how long it takes. If it takes longer to develop these characteristics in any of your children for whatever reasons, then do not fret or become weary in well doing. Resolve to continue on in properly disciplining them so that they will become a blessing to themselves, to you, to others and to God.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how man times “discipline” is mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about how you can better respond to their discipline
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why is so important for the husband and wife to fulfill their roles in marriage? What responsibilities has God placed on you in dealing with other people? How should you treat your property? Why? How should you treat the property of other people? What is wrong with attributing any divine qualities to nature – including names such as “Mother nature” or “Mother Earth”? What responsibilities has God placed on man concerning the earth and the animals on it? How does the “Golden Rule” direct us in the proper use of nature? What do you teach children about others in requiring them to throw away trash and not litter? To what limit can man change the environment around him for his own purposes? Explain. What are the problems with modern environmentalism? What is the purpose of Biblical discipline? Why must children be taught and trained? Who is responsible to ensure that training is accomplished? Who can be involved in it? Why is learning a lifetime endeavor? What is childishness? What is the solution to childishness? Why is it wrong to punish for childishness? What role does encouragement have in training children? Why must there also be warning, correction and chastening as part of disciplining children? What is a warning? Why is it necessary? What is its place in teaching & instruction? Why must there be a verbal rebuke if warnings are not heeded? What are natural consequences? What are related consequences? What is wrong with applying a punishment that is not logically related to the problem caused by the disobedience? What is physical chastisement? Why is it an important tool in training the heart of a child? What is worse than physical pain of chastisement? Why is chastising an act of love and withholding it an act of hatred? Why must discipline never be given in anger? What should you need to discipline but you are angry? What are the qualities of a good implement for physically chastening? What is the goal in physically chastising a child? How do you know if you have reached that goal? How do you know when you have gone too far? At what age can it be expected for children to have their behavior under control? At what age can it be expected that they will be internally motivated toward doing good? What must y
ou do if your children are not under control or internally motivated by those ages?
Sermon Notes – 9/23/2012
Principles of Parenting, Part 8
Introduction & Review
_______________ is beginning of the family and the foundation of society
The _______are responsible to instill godliness into their children through their own example & teaching
We are responsible to treat everyone and everything with proper respect because it all belongs to ______
All of nature belongs to God because He __________ it (Genesis 1)
God has made man a ____________ of the earth and all animal life on it (Genesis 1:28)
Use the earth’s resources wisely as stewards _______________ to God
Treat everything with thoughtfulness and respect for the other _________that will be coming behind you
Teach your children to not _____and even pick up other people’s trash for the sake of those coming after
God allows man to _____________ the environment to enhance its beauty and usefulness
Cruelty and wanton destruction are __________ actions of the wicked (Proverbs 12:10)
Teach your children to be good stewards and good neighbors and they will treat __________ properly
Biblical discipline is ____________and covers both the positive and negative aspects of rearing children
The Positive Side of Discipline
Children arrive in this world __________. They must be taught and trained to become wise (Prov. 1:2-6)
___________ are responsible to teach and train their children (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:1-2; 6:20-23, etc)
The wise are to _____________ the naive (Proverbs 16:23; 19:20; 1:20-33; 8:1-36; 9:1-12)
Learning is a _____________ endeavor (Proverbs 4:13; 24:32; 9:9; 1:5; 8:10,33)
______________describes the actions of those who are ignorant or have not yet developed needed skills
You _____________________ of childishness as you are taught and trained (1 Corinthians 13:11)
Instruct children by giving them the needed knowledge. Train them by putting knowledge into ________
Teaching and training are accompanied by __________________
The Negative Side of Discipline
Foolishness is the _____________ that prods a child to do things his own way regardless of instructions
Because _______________is bound up in the heart of a child, you must also warn, correct, & chasten
Avoid catastrophe by disciplining _____bad habits and character are developed (Prov. 19:18; 14:12, 27)
______________ of possible consequences are given as part of the instructions of teaching (Prov. 19:27)
Be sure your child understands your teaching & expectations _________applying negative consequences
Teach & train to fulfill the instructions and then hold them _______________to obey them
When a warning is not heeded, then a verbal __________ must be given pointing out the disobedience
When the warning and rebuke are not heeded, a related ______________ consequence is in order
Consequences of disobedience must have some logical _________________ to the problem
If there is __________or there are not sufficient natural or related consequences, then physically chastise
Physical chastening is an important __________in training a child in wisdom – Proverbs 22:15; 29:15
Physical pain is _________, but the consequence of failure is catastrophic – Prov. 23:13-14; 20:20; 30:17
Physical chastening is an act of ___________, to withhold it is hateful – Proverbs 13:24
Do not discipline your children in _____________ – James 1:19
The goal is to bring about enough pain to _________the behavior without physically damaging the child
Gaining behavioral control of the child is the easy part, but the goal is training the ________in godliness
Physical chastisement _________________ as the child matures in behavior and attitude
______________ to diligently & properly discipline your children no matter how many years it takes.
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