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Family Integrated Church

What is a Family Integrated Church? Many people have no clue since very few have experienced them.

Is Challies’ definition correct?

These leaders claim that the Bible clearly teaches that we must not age segregate. Ever.

… the claims of FIC extend far beyond Sunday school. The film even suggests (not too subtly) that allowing your children to participate in any kind of program led by someone other than the father is a way in which you turn their hearts away from the father and toward someone else.

… making family integration the pivotal and central doctrine for the church.

… It’s a destructive message

Does this describe a FIC?

By no means.

Family Integrated Churches come in all types, many denominations and there are sound Biblical ones and there are ones who peddle a false gospel.

The only accurate definition for a FIC is that worship and Bible study is characterized by all ages being together.

But does that mean they can never have separate activities?

Of course, not. If that was the case then they would be guilty of legalism. There is no real time frame that fits every FIC. Some always meet together; some usually meet together and a few just offer the option of meeting together.

Just as being a Family Integrated Family is a matter of the heart being a Family Integrated Church is a matter of the heart. It isn’t a set of dos and don’ts that bind us. It is actually the freedom to worship the Lord with your family.

FIC typically means that when the church is gathered together, the whole body of the church is gathered. No one portion of the church is shunted off to separate classes or separate worship services. But if there is a need there might still be individual classes or studies. For example: There might be a men’s meeting or a ladies meeting where the topic is not deemed suitable for young children. But that would be rare, can’t think of any we’ve had. Typically if we are having a special women’s meeting the women and all the girls over 12 are welcome. Twelve is just a general age range of transitioning the children to the adults. The younger children and the boys would then be with their Fathers. Then the same for the Men and older boys as needed. The idea though is that the children are still with a parent and under their authority.

The film even suggests (not too subtly) that allowing your children to participate in any kind of program led by someone other than the father is a way in which you turn their hearts away from the father and toward someone else.

Really now, if you take that to the logical conclusion then the mothers wouldn’t be allowed to lead their children in school or home. Grandfather wouldn’t be allowed to teach the boys to fish. Grandmother couldn’t teach the girls to quilt. However, when youth are spending more time with a youth leader than with their own father, you will risk some serious problems. This similar thing happens often in divorce situations. Maybe the father has the children one weekend a month. Often he takes the kids to the movies, out to eat, to the park, maybe buys them something they want; yet he rarely deals with the tough issues; the discipline, the school work, chores. Mom is the one left with the tough decisions and she can’t cater to the children each weekend. See how Dad could easily become the favorite while mom is complained about. Now apply that to youth groups. The youth leader takes the kids places, feeds them their favorite food, and supplies opportunities for friends to be together while requiring nothing in return.

I have no vested interest in converting others to a family integrated model of church. It is not a salvation issue although essentially it can be related to one’s theology. However, it is important to share with others so that they can study the issue themselves. If a person chooses then to reject it, that is between them and the Lord. But most have not even considered the issue or worse rejected it based on flawed information.

There is a wide range of ecclesiology represented in FIC. There is no one view of church that can be pegged on every FIC. Generally though all do subscribe to the father’s being the spiritual leader but even in that, how it is lived out is totally different in each church and even in families of the same church.

There are several “loud and belligerent” women who have left some seemingly extreme FIC and attack any semblance of the idea everywhere. They are busybodies (1 Timothy 5:13) running to and fro leaving comments and writing diatribes against FIC. Challies had a few of those folks comment on his post. Some have rejected Christianity and many have divorced because they rejected an extreme FIC, patriarchy, quiverful, dominionistic “cult” with false teaching for lack of a better word. The same extremes of false teaching happens in segregated churches also just often not as “loudly”. However, they may not have even been in such flawed churches after all. You never know. When someone rejects the faith they often exaggerate problems and issues to validate their rejection.

There will always be extremes to watch out for. As long as a person continues to go back to the Scripture comparing everything to that one plumb line we may stray at times but we will always come back to the center at some point. Sometimes it takes the extreme to see where just a little skew in the direction at one point can lead us way off track in the future. Think the airplane flying .5 degrees off course and how far off course they will eventually be.

Just as all age-segregated churches would not want to be characterized by Peanut Butter Evangelism non age-segregated churches should not be characterized by the worst of FIC. FIC does not necessarily include what is characterized by the terms Patriarchy or Quiverful. There are some churches that combine all three but the majority do not at least to the extreme level. Yet the average person would lump my church in that mix. Because we do have family integration, fathers are the head of the home, and a majority allow God to direct their child bearing.

While many FIC homeschool, homeschooling and FIC do not have to go together. Our church has homeschool children and public schooled children. The even more surprising fact to some is that our FIC church has young single adults, senior adults, and young marrieds without children. Many people think that FIC’s tend to only have large homeschooling families.

We have older couples, single youth, married childless couples, working wives, homeschool children, public school children, large families, small families, divorced families and we welcome any combination of the above. Yet no matter what, fathers will be encouraged to lead and disciple their families. We do not have separate classes. We meet together for Bible study prior to the worship service. Yet we have two elders and one of them does not homeschool and his wife works fulltime outside the home. Most of our church activities are family oriented. We have our cookouts together. The elders playing football right along with the youth and children. The whole family goes to Six Flags together as a church group. Birthday parties are family celebrations. The children are studying the formation of the English Bible right along with the adults. They ask good questions and are filling out the study sheets. They aren’t learning Noah took two animals into the ark for the 100th time.

I know many other churches that are FIC. Some are churches that meet at homes. Others are churches which strive for a more Acts type model with everyone sharing together and no actual preacher preaching a sermon. One church I know has an integrated SS and worship time yet offers children’s catechism classes.

… making family integration the pivotal and central doctrine for the church.

I’m sure there are churches that have made family integration the main focus; however, I haven’t seen any. Family integration is the means to an end. It is not the end itself. Our goal as a church should be to worship the Lord in a manner He desires, to teach the believers and to go and make disciples of all nations.

I’ve been in both age segregated and FIC types of churches, even grew up in youth groups. Neither model is perfect nor will they ever be perfect here on earth. Nothing we do will guarantee that our children are among the elect in the last days. I am confident in God’s Sovereignty and that He will do what is best for each of us. However, even so, I will work diligently to be obedient and do the absolute best I can to have my children taught God’s Word in a sound Biblical manner. That for me means homeschooling, being home with my children, supervising outside influences (media, internet, friends, and teachers), a family integrated church and a sound Biblical church. FIC in a sound Biblical Church is the best church model I know for my children to hear God’s Word outside the home and if it is ever not sound we are there to hear it and to discuss the matter with our children.

 


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Divided The Movie & Challies

Divided, the movie is available to view for free.

Modern Youth Ministry is
Contrary to Scripture

Will you take action to change that?

Divided the Movie Tim Challies’ response:

Your church is heavily influenced by evolutionary thinking. It is founded on principles created by pagans and for pagans. You have succumbed to hellish thinking and imposed it upon your church. At least this is the case if your church has a nursery or a Sunday school or any other kind of program that involves dividing people by age. That is the rather audacious claim of Divided, a documentary that is being heavily promoted by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC). Divided is a film about youth ministry. Kind of. At its heart it is a movie that promotes Family Integrated Church (FIC).

What do you think?

Does it really matter what we think?

Can we back it from Scripture?

Not that I’m a pragmatist but really what does the evidence show?

Is the movie and the response both done in an inflammatory manner which negates the value by causing an emotional response?

Added: Odd, after watching the movie I didn’t find it as inflammatory as I was led to believe it would be from Challies’ initial post and response. 

 


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Health Is Not Contagious… – Friends

Previously when we were in a church with separate Sunday School and children’s activities, we had to limit the interaction of our children with others due to the poor example set by the other children.  I know that is mighty judgmental of us and we should be “ashamed” for putting what is best for our children above other children, blah, blah, blah….  I’ve heard the arguments all before.

I have also been told that we should be more willing to have our children socialize in the loose children’s groups such as can be found in many churches.  You know the average class of one teacher and 10 plus students of varying backgrounds and family life.  We’ve been told “That these children need to be around obedient children so they can set a good example for them.”  That sounds well and good except that is not how life works.  It actually works in reverse, the obedient children learn from the more disobedient children more often than not.

Now don’t get me wrong, believe me I know how truly disobedient and sinfully selfish my children are.  We work on that daily.  But in the overall scheme they are more obedient than the average child even though we have a long way to go.  This also doesn’t mean my children can only be around “perfect” children – like those actually exist!  But the goal is for a parent to be available to supervise the children’s interaction with others so that problems can be dealt with immediately.  If you know my children you would realize they aren’t lacking for socialization nor are they shy and withdrawn.  But I do strive to supervise their interactions with others especially foolish children.

Proverbs 13:20 (ESV) Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

I like the warning J.C. Ryle gives young men about friends.  We as parents need to heed whom we allow our children to befriend.

Never make an intimate friend of anyone who is not a friend of God.

Understand me, I do not speak of acquaintances.  I do not mean that you ought to have nothing to do with anyone but true Christians.  To take such a line is neither possible nor desirable in this world.  Christianity requires no man to be discourteous.

But I do advise you to be very careful in your choice of friends.  Do not open all your heart to a man merely because he is clever, agreeable, good-natured, and kind.  These things are all very well in their way, but they are not everything.  Never be satisfied with the friendship of any one who will not be useful to your soul.

Believe me, the importance of this advice cannot be overrated.  There is no telling the harm that is done by associating with godless companions and friends.  The devil has few better helps in ruining a man’s soul.   Grant him this help, and he cares little for all the armor with which you may be armed against him.  Good education, early habits of morality, sermons, books, all, he knows well, will avail you little, if you will only cling to ungodly friends.  You may resist many open temptations, refuse many plain snares; but once you take up a bad companion, and he is content.  That awful chapter which describes Amnon’s wicked conduct about Tamar, almost begins with these words, “Now Amnon had a friend, a very shrewd man” (2 Samuel 13:3).

You must remember, we are all creatures of imitation: precept may teach us, but it is example that draws us.  There is that in us all, that we are always disposed to catch the ways of those with whom we live; and the more we like them, the stronger does the disposition grow.  Without our being aware of it, they influence our tastes and opinions; we gradually give up what they dislike, and take up what they like, in order to become closer friends with them.  And, worst of all, we catch their ways in things that are wrong far quicker than in things that are right.  Health, unhappily, is not contagious, but disease is.  It is far more easy to catch a chill than to impart a warmth; and to make each other’s religion dwindle away, than grow and prosper.

Young men, I ask you to take these things to heart.  Before you let any one become your constant companion, before you get into the habit of telling him everything, and going to him with all your troubles and all your pleasures–before you do this, just think of what I have been saying; ask yourself, “Will this be a useful friendship to me or not?”

“Bad company” does indeed “corrupt good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  I wish that text were written in the hearts of all young men.  Good friends are among our greatest blessings; they may keep us away from much evil, remind us of our course, speak an appropriate word at the right time, draw us upward, and draw us on.  But a bad friend is a burden, a weight continually dragging, us down, and chaining us to earth.  Keep company with an unsaved man, and it is more than probable you will in the end become like him.  That is the general consequence of all such friendships.  The good go down to the bad, and the bad do not come up to the good.  The world’s proverb is only too correct: “Clothes and company tell true tales about character.”  “Show me who a man lives with and I will show you what he is.”

I dwell upon this point, because it has more to do with your prospects in life than first appears.  If you ever marry, it is more than probable you will choose a wife from among your circle of friends or their acquaintances.  If Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram had not formed a friendship with Ahab’s family, he would most likely not have married Ahab’s daughter.  And who can estimate the importance of a right choice in marriage?  It is a step which, according, to the old saying, “either makes a man or ruins him.”  Your happiness in both lives may depend on it.  Your wife must either help your soul or harm it.  She will either fan the flame of Christianity in your heart, or throw cold water upon it, and make it burn low.  She will either be, wings or handcuffs, an encouragement or an hindrance to your Christianity, according to her character.  He that finds a good wife does indeed “finds a good thing;” so if you have the desire to find one, be very careful how you choose your friends.

Do you ask me what kind of friends you should choose?   Choose friends who will benefit your soul, friends whom you can really respect, friends whom you would like to have near you on your deathbed, friends who love the Bible, and are not afraid to speak to you about it, friends that you would not be ashamed of having at the coming of Christ, and the day of judgment.  Follow the example that David sets for you: he says, “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts” (Psalm 119:63).  Remember the words of Solomon: “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).  But depend on it, bad company in this life,  is the sure way to procure worse company in the life to come.

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J.C. Ryle – Thoughts for Young Men



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Sunday School Helps

Are you in a church that uses the LifeWay Sunday School Curriculum?

Are you disappointed in the material but are unable to convince the church that there is better material available for teaching the Bible, like maybe the Bible itself?

My husband never cared for the LifeWay Curriculum but we have been in churches before that only used that material. He would often just look and see what book the curriculum was doing that quarter and then would proceed to do his own Bible study from his personal Bible study resources.

I found that Founders has LifeWay Curriculum helps available online, both Explore the Bible or Bible Studies for Life. Founders Sunday School Helps might be helpful for those SBC teachers that find they are having to utilize a rather weak Sunday School curriculum or as my husband called it “insipid.”



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What Do You Do About Sunday School?

Does your church have a Sunday School?

Does your family attend a church with the typical age divided Sunday School? or is it designed differently?

Does your church have “children’s church” or “youth church”?

Have you given any serious thought to the advantages or disadvantages to Sunday School?

What type material is used in the Sunday School? Is it the typical LifeWay lessons or something different?

My husband and a few people we know such as Mark & Kelly prepare their Sunday School lessons basing them on the Bible more than any canned lesson material.

We have been visiting smaller churches and if they have Sunday School the adults are typically together in the worship area so our children have stayed with us. One church we visit doesn’t have Sunday School but the worship services have a question and answer period at the end where individuals can ask questions and clear up confusion. Sometimes this time period can last a while when the lesson concerned a difficult passage.

The reason I ask about your Sunday School is due the post yesterday – Already Gone – Ken Ham. I found it interesting that my children and Terry‘s children as teens opted out of Sunday School for similar reasons.

How much thought have you given to Sunday School and the lesson material? Or do you participate because it is expected?



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