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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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Already Gone – Video Download

Available for free for one week only!

Already Gone – Video Download

by Ken Ham

The trends are frightening, but this DVD shows how to win back our families, our churches, and our world!

The next generation is already calling it quits on traditional church. Next Sunday, look around, two thirds of the young people in your church are already disengaged from the message they are hearing. And it’s not just happening on the nominal fringe; it’s happening in the most solid “Bible-believing” churches.

In this important DVD, Ken Ham discusses the profound cultural changes taking place in our Western world, as God’s Word is rejected and man’s fallible ideas are welcomed. Ken relates some of the shocking statistics presented in the book Already Gone that reveal the reasons why young people are leaving church and abandoning the faith of their parents.

The church is failing to give children real answers to their questions. We are losing our kids long before college. But this is far from a hopeless situation. Ken explains how we can fight back for our children, and what we can do to ground our children in the faith and prepare them for the challenges of the secular world.

HT DEFCON


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Youth Groups – When Will the Church Notice The Problems?

We are in a church now with no youth group, at least nothing beyond a few youth sitting together at a table for lunch. It is nice to not be having to worry about what is being pushed on the youth in order to be relevant, hip or cool. Previously we attended a church that did have a youth group, although my children were not a part of it, I was still concerned about the other youth and the effect the youth group would have on them. So often when I voiced concerns with leadership they were shrugged off as being just silly ideas from that “silly, over-protective homeschool moma.” Funny thing is the secular media has started voicing the same concerns over and over again about church youth groups.

DefCon has posted some more of the secular media articles about church youth groups. I think it is well worth reading what the world is seeing in our churches. Sometimes it takes someone else to point out the obvious to us. 🙁

The state of the youth of the church.

When we decry the current condition of the youth in our churches (and the church as a whole) we are usually met with angry resistance. Now the condition of the youth (and the church) has gotten so bad that even secular news outlets are sitting up and taking notice.

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported on the sad state of the youth in American churches in an article aptly titled The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity.

But what sort of Christianity are they being converted to?

Truly is what you see in most youth groups Christianity? or is it World?



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Are You Sure You Want to Be “Raising Cain”?

Raising Cain” is an expression I’ve heard all my life and typically it was said in a negative way to express causing mischief or disorder.

But imagine my surprise that when I read the local paper filed under the religion articles was an article about an upcoming, now over,  “Raising Cain“!

Sideline Sports Academy ‘Raising Cain’ Saturday

“It’s something that Moody has never seen,” Sideline co-owner Shane Sharp said. “We just want to do something that impacts kids, something better than going out and getting into trouble.”

The concert, which is co-sponsored by North Valley Church in Margaret, will feature multiple acts. The most notable is DPB, a Christian rapper known as a regular at The Basement.

Saturday’s event will also feature a three-on-three basketball tournament, inflatables and a shrimp boil. The tournament and shrimp boil cost $10, but the concert is free.

Read more: stclairtimes – Sideline Sports Academy Raising Cain Saturday

I said something to my husband when I read this and he responded back with:

Jude 1:11 (ESV) Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.

See he was sitting and reading through Jude because our church is doing a study on Jude right now.

How fitting!

The whole section in Jude applies here.

Jude 1:10-15 (ESV)

10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.
11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;
13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,

15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 

Do they really just not know what they are saying?

Dictionaries have a definition for “Raising Cain“; here is one.

To be ‘raising Cain’ is to be causing trouble or creating an uproar.

The rest of the definition here is interesting to read.  Especially the portion about the older English use of “to raise”.

People are devoid of understanding!  Sorta like calling down a Consuming Fire?



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Churches and Families

This whole article is worth reading whether or not you have children.  Here is just a portion of the article.

View church ministry through ‘family lens,’ conference speakers urge

…  Lance Crowell, an SBTC church ministries associate, shares Ross’s conviction that at least a generation has grown up largely seeing the church ministers as the experts. Crowell said, “One thing has to happen. We have to answer the questions, ‘Are people really growing in the Word, and is that happening in the home? Are students growing up in the Word? Or are parents lost as to what to do to help that?” 

Three resulting ‘disconnects’

More and more vocational staffers and ministry specialists have in many churches led to one type of disconnect—extensive segregation, according to Waylan Owens, dean of the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries at Southwestern Seminary. While Owens agrees that some segregation is useful, he also cautions that dividing all ministries according to age or life situation or preference serves to dishonor parents, dishonor the senior citizens, and dishonor the children and what they can add to the faith experience of adults. 

Speaking to the conference, Owens said, “Many times I go to churches and it seems there is always someone who wants to take my children from me. They take them to Sunday School, then to children’s church. The youth have their own Sunday School, their own worship, and their own Sunday night thing. I have gotten in trouble for wanting to keep my children with me.”

In a breakout session on home-based student ministry, Ken Lasater, Crowell’s colleague at the SBTC whose job title includes student ministry, noted a second disconnect: “Our students are not developing lifelong connections to the church.”

In recent years, research has indicated that between 70-90 percent of churched students leave the church after high school. While LifeWay Research numbers from 2007 indicated a minority of young adults who leave the church eventually return to their faith roots, Lasater said that the most recent statistics indicate that about 90 percent are leaving, not to return.

According to Lasater, their reasons for leaving vary and they seldom go away in anger. Without responsibilities to fulfill at their church or someone expecting them to be there, they stay away, and eventually fade away lacking any deep connection. Lasater said it’s important to note that most of these students are good kids from all socio-economic levels, achieving great things academically, and that their absence is not due to some great rebellion.

“Some have suggested that churches fail to do little more than entertain them, until they are tired of the entertainment. Others suggest that the current church model is entirely wrong, due to not having parents as the singular leadership role for students, and that this has been the sole cause of the falling away of the student population,” Lasater explained.

Another disconnect comes as parents of each successive generation generally become less and less grounded in their beliefs, thus lacking in passion and devotion as well.

Crowell encourages churches to think about how their families would answer these questions: “How equipped do you feel? Do you feel that you can go home and have spiritual conversations? Would your children ask questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering? Parents, are you growing in maturity at home and becoming more like Christ?”

“Muscles that are not used quickly atrophy,” Ross told the TEXAN.

He added, “Parents who depend on the church for the spiritual development of their children tend to atrophy as well. Our churches are packed with parents who are just ‘good ol’ Baptists,’ but are not deeply in love with Christ, do not adore him at the beginning of the day, and who think little about his kingdom purposes as they move through life. That never was God’s plan. When one generation always is focused on spiritually leading the next, both stay more spiritually alive.”  …

Here are a few ways my church is trying to address this issue.

1)  Families worship together.

2)  Children and youth are active participants in the church.  This is not the typical occasional participation in a special service or in a youth group, but every Sunday with the congregation.  Children and youth are encouraged to use their talents by playing hymns or special music.  The young men are encouraged to help with tables and garbage.  The young ladies are encouraged to help with the meal preparation, serving and cleaning.  Sound, projection, website design, bulletins, videoing, etc. can be delegated to the young men.  When they don’t know how to do these things we can be willing to teach them and not worry about perfect services.

3)  The bulletin includes some Baptist Catechism questions and a hymn of the month for families to work thorough with their children at home.  Who knows, parents may learn a thing or two, also, as they help their children.


Is your church losing their youth once they begin to drive or else when they graduate? 

Do the adults stop coming as often once the children are grown?

Do you even notice the trends in your church or denomination?



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Passionate Youth Groups

Pyromaniacs has written about the topic that I discussed in Youth Groups – Losing Your Inhibitions Is a Good Thing !?!  He shares some interesting points about being passionate Christians.  

What is the difference between true Christian passion and artificial passion induced by outside activities like music and activities? 

Worth contemplating!

Peanut-butter Passion by Phil Johnson

‘m a passionate person. People who know me will affirm that. I think Christians ought to be passionate about truth, passionate in our love for God and for one another, and (above all) passionate about the glory of God.

But raw passion is not the point. Passion is valid and edifies only when it’s the right kind of passion, based on legitimate affections for the right things. I’m concerned about the unbridled passions frequently turned loose by people whose only religious affections were cultivated in evangelical youth groups.   (And if I can speak freely: that includes a lot of of our so-called young, restless, and Reformed frends.)  Continue…

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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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Already Gone – Ken Ham

For years I have noticed that the churches I have been a part of have regularly been losing their children sometime around upper high school and especially after high school graduation. It was so noticeable in recent years that I pointed it out to church staff and questioned some of the activities and teaching directed toward the youth. Needless to say that didn’t go over well.

My older two children left Sunday School as middle schoolers but not to leave the church. They both independently at a certain point pointed out that the Sunday School was nothing more than the same stories over and over and they weren’t learning anything. My daughter was also bothered by the rude way the Sunday School children treated the teacher. Both my children found jobs in the church that took the place of Sunday School for them. Either doing the sound, working with the baby nursery, or playing instruments for the service took the place of the typical insipid Sunday School material. They both loved their Sunday School teachers but not the lesson material. Presently we are worshiping in churches where we can worship together as a family with more serious Bible study.

Well here is more research to point the problems we found even better than I could to others.

Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis has written a book called Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it.

This book looks at the way the church is losing their youth and why. The idea of Sunday School isn’t lost but we need to look seriously at what is being taught. Our children deserve more than watered-downed, warmed over “milk”; they need the “meat” of the Scripture or they will never grow. Imagine feeding your children just a diluted bottle until they are teens!

Ken Ham

“Because of the way in which they’ve been educated,” Ham said, teens come to believe “that what they are taught in school is reality, but the church teaches stories and morality and relationship. Bible teaching is not real in the sense of real history.”

A Shock to the Church

Over 40% in the survey had decided to leave the church by the end of middle and elementary school, and another 40+ % by the end of high school. These people–now young adults—were already having doubts about Christianity through elementary, middle, and high school. It wasn’t in college where most of them were lost—it was before that.

The second chapter in the book is one of the most shocking—we call it the “Sunday School Syndrome.” We found that those that went to Sunday school regularly as kids were worse off than those who didn’t—that Sunday school overall has been detrimental to a child’s spiritual health! Now we don’t advocate eradicating Sunday schools, but do advocate radical changes for teachers and the curricula. But you can’t deny the statistics—they are overwhelming. For instance, those who went to Sunday school were more like to defend abortion and pre-marital sex than those who didn’t attend Sunday school …

Already Gone – Book

The results are shocking:

  • Those who faithfully attend Sunday School are more likely to leave the church than those who do not.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are more likely to believe that the Bible is less true.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend that abortion and gay marriage should be legal.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend premarital sex.

Below are two different interviews with Ken Ham concerning this issue.




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Consuming Fire

I really don’t understand how people will pick a verse for their theme verse and have no clue what it means. Does no one tell them? What about their own pastors?

Youth being reached for the Lord at ‘The Furnace’

They came up with the name ‘The Furnace’ from a verse of scripture in the Bible.

“Hebrews 12:29 says, For our God is a consuming fire,” said Kay. “If people start living for God and doing things for God, it will spread just like a fire. That is an awesome thing for God to spread out like that in this community, this county, this state and however far God wants to take it.”

Here is the full sentence.

Hebrews 12:28-29
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
ESV

Is that a good thing to want God to come as a consuming fire? Only if you are righteous and holy.

Isaiah 33:10-16
10 “Now I will arise,” says the Lord, “now I will lift myself up; now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
ESV

Still not convinced how about these:

Exodus 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” ESV

Exodus 33:3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” ESV

Joshua 24:20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” ESV

2 Kings 1:12 But Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. ESV

Psalms 21:9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. ESV

Ezekiel 15:7 And I will set my face against them. Though they escape from the fire, the fire shall yet consume them, and you will know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them. ESV

See these for more information:

The first one has several more verses about God being a Consuming Fire.

My God is a Consuming Fire

My Favorite Quote from The Holiness of God Conference

Ligonier National Conference – R.C. Sproul (II) – A Consuming Fire: Holiness, Wrath and Justice

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Input Equals Output – AKA Garbage In, Garbage Out

A certain young boy grew up in the church. When he was a baby, they gave him juice and crackers in the nursery. When he got older, they gave him cookies and punch in the children’s program. Then, he finally got to the youth group and graduated to pizza and cokes (or I guess Krystal and cokes now). See Can You Believe This? Youth Pastor

This boy grew into a fine young man and went away to the finest college in the State. During his first day in his first class, the professor began to deride the Christian faith as a crutch and defied any student to defend their faith to the class.

Our young man, having been in church, rose up and said “I’m a Christian, and nothing you could ask could shake my faith.” So the professor asked him one of the pointed questions so common to skeptics, agnostics and atheists. You know the kind: “If God is a good, kind, and loving God, and if God is indeed all powerful, then why are there little helpless children suffering in the world?”

The young man opened his mouth to try to answer this question which he had never even heard of before. And do you know what came out of his mouth? Crackers and juice, cookies and punch, pizza and cokes.

Seriously, I think the worst advice we give anyone in regards to being able to witness for their faith is the old line “But no one can argue with your own personal experience.” Oh yes they can. And they will. The church needs to be a place for equipping the saints to be able to cogently defend the faith. And the church should have a goal in this equipping of the saints – help them reach maturity.

Ephesians 4:11-14

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
(ESV)

Berean Husband


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