Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Controversial Post - The Family-Integrated Church

Here goes...

Let me just point out that I am
aware that many will not agree with
the positions I am about to take in
this post.

I am sorry.

You can feel free to disagree with
me as long as you are respectful in
doing so.

I want to tell you about my feelings
about the Family-Integrated Church.

To do that, I need to define what it is.

The Family-Integrated Church operates
differently than most modern churches today.

In a Family-Integrated Church you will not
find long halls of Sunday School classrooms,
you won't find Children's Church and there is
no Youth Group.

There are none of these things in a
Family-Integrated Church.

There is a reason.

In the Family-Integrated church the children
remain with the parents through the entire
Sunday School and Worship Time. The information
shared is designed to be understood, to a certain
degree by all ages. What is not understood is to
be explained at home during the week. Church is meant
to be the "jumping off" point for family discussion
and study throughout the week.

Those of us who have felt ourselves called to
worship in this way are enjoying the following
benefits:

1. After church discussion is relevant to the entire
family because we all heard the same things.

2. The Dads are the primary spiritual leaders and remain
so since that authority is not handed off to Teachers and
Youth Leaders at Church.

3. The youth of the church begin to participate and grow
in responsibility in the congregation and therefore do not
desire to leave as they grow older and have that option.

4. The generations do activities together so that you have
the older mentoring the younger... and the younger encouraging the
older.

5. The parent who wishes to remain in the service with their child
does not have to feel badly or peer pressured into placing that
child into a nursery with strangers or potentially sick children.
(Personal note: Every week we would seem to pick up something
from church when the kids were babies.)

6. The fellowship in the church is balanced. It is family centered.
The nights out running are cut significantly because events are scheduled
to include the entire family not just one here and another there.

7. Singles in the church have an instant family...or several. We make it a priority to include the singles into the family activities and at meals in our homes.

8. Broken families have support and love. The whole families come along beside and include those who need some gaps filled in. (Another personal note: As our church has made this decision there was resistance and fear from some who did not see themselves worshiping as a whole family...due to a spouse not attending or being a broken home...these individuals and families have been encouraged to let us come along beside them and encourage, uplift and mentor where it is needed. This is what the Body of Christ is all about! Jesus ministered to all kinds of families and He showed a lot of LOVE for the children.)

These are just a few practical ways that the Family-Integrated Church makes sense in today's hurried, tense, fractured family society. I know that it is not popular. All you have to do is look at Vision Forum's Family Integrated web site to see that most of these churches are quite small and far between. I think this is changing. Over the past few years I have been struck by how business-like most churches have become. In the quest to bring in the multitudes they have compromised and have lost the ability to truly disciple and care about those that come in. The sermons are often feel good messages that do not require a Bible.

I am painting with a wide brush, I know.

Your church may not be like that.
Not all large churches are.

However, I have been observing.

I have been listening to those around me.

We have been praying and seeking God's face for His will for our family. This is how He has led us. I hope that if you are struggling with any of these issues you would seek the Lord's Will for you and that you would find it.

Just as we homeschool and know it is for us...I do not pretend to think that everyone should homeschool. I also know that not every Christian would be content
in a Family-Integrated Church.

Those who are called to this, though,
need to know that it is available to them.

That is my sole purpose in writing this post.

If you have been longing for something different,
it may be a God-placed longing in your life.
Seek. Pray. Act.

18 comments:

BittersweetPunkin said...

Hi Becky..I enjoyed your post today....I can tell it was written with passion. I ADORE all your blossoms and blooms in your flower garden...especially the hydrangeas!!
Hugs,
Robin

lady jane said...

We do not attend this type of fellowship but I do see the wisdom behind it. Thank you for sharing!

Our church does have a youth group. It is biblically focused rather than fun focused and amazingly this style is *not* well received by all. Some folks think youth group should be fun-fun-fun rather than delving into the Word of God and growing in Him. There is fun to be had, but everything in its proper place and time. Our foundation needs to be established.

Mrs. Rabe said...

I appreciated your post Becky. You clearly explained Family Integrated church. I know it is not for everyone, but those who church this way really appreciate it.

KJ said...

Hi Becky K: I totally understand your heart and there is no offense. My church, to a large degree, follows this philosophy by incorporating many of our activities. The teens are required to attend the main services and often, our Pastor will decide the the younger children will remain in the service, too. I do see the merits.

I still need prayer for my voice. My speaking voice is froggy and my singing voice is nil. I am supposed to rehearse tomorrow night and sing on Saturday. I will definitely need a touch from God if I am to do it. Thanks for asking and for your prayers.

Hugs, KJ

Sharon said...

I always liked it that my children went to their own class that was taught at their level. At our church the tiny children go to their class room and the middle school and high schoolers sit with their parents during worship and then they go back to their class. This has worked great for our family. We also public schooled our children and that was the right decision for us. I think each family has to pray and ask God for wisdom and chose what is right for them. I'm glad you are happy at your church.

:) Sharon

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

I dear. I do like that idea, in fact, my husband and I just went to a church planting boot camp! My husband and I are in all likelihood starting a church soon, we have started a couple in the past as well. There are so many new churches popping up with traditional values but taking in the needs of the modern culture. This is one of the ideas out there, that church should include children as much as possible.

Thanks for sharing your heart! Blessings!

Melissa

Bethany Hissong said...

What I like best about this is that it is family centered. I think our culture has put too much emphasis on everyone doing their own thing and fathers have lost the authority as head of the household, friends are more important than family and time together only comes once in a while. While we attend different churches, we do the same thing with our family... it was our choice as not all families in our church teach their own children but then not everyone feels capable of doing that. I really appreciate your thoughts on this!!! It made me think :)

Evan McElrath said...

"In Essentials, Unity; in Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity,"-Hoffmann von Fallersleben

This is Paula's son. You know I was interested in the whole Family Integrated Church idea. Now I don't necessarily agree with it all. At the same time I don't disagree with it. Because that kind of thing is a non essential.

I just have a couple of concerns. First off I went to your church's website. It said something about Like-minded people being welcome. Are non like-minded people not welcome? And if not why are they not welcome. The last thing you want a church to be is an exclusive club. You should want anyone who wants to worship be welcome. Ok maybe it was only one concern. But I am concerned about it. In fact I don't think this post was controversial at all. The only thing that I see that may be controversial is the reference to Vision Forum. I have my opinions on that. But that is for another venue.

I know that this is two months after you wrote the post. But I saw it on the sidebar and I was curious about it. So I thank you for posting it.

Evan McElrath said...

Ok so after a little research. The person I named giving the quote is the wrong name. I actually have read several different names for that quote. So I don't have a correction for that. It could be the right name but I can't be sure. Also don't read into it that I am attacking anything or anyone because I am not. Ok so thank you for allowing me to contribute to the conversation

Becky K. said...

Evan,

You make my day!

I love to have feedback and sincere discussion!

Let me explain a little bit of the thinking behind "likemindedness".

First, We would likely agree that churches have personalities. Every one is different. As long as the focus is on Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth, and The Life the number of hymns sung, choruses, drums or no...all pretty much a matter of preference.

Secondly, we are aware of families in our area who are completely turned off of the segregated church to the point that they have shunned all church fellowship. This is sad. In an attempt to reach out to them the word likeminded was used to allow them to connect.

It is not our intention or desire to draw every person from other church pews who are dissatisfied with unimportant issues...it is our intention to reach those who wish to worship as a family and who will be open to this style of worship.

We continue to have those within our congregation who are not enirely sold on the no Sunday School concept. They are not causing problems and are taking a "wait and see" approach. However, in general, it is healthier for a church if those who worship there are of that same worship personality. Not attempting to change the fundamental structure of the church at every possibility.

Those are some of the reasons behind the phrasing on the web site.

It is in no way intended to be an exclusive club. We hope that some will come out of curiosity and be led to stay. We hope to find those who are not in fellowship and help them to make a connection.
Finally, we strive to be an active Body of Christ serving Him in our church and our community.

Thank you, Evan.

I like that you are studying and thinking!

Becky K.

Mrs. Rabe said...

I would add, in answer to the like-minded issue, is that you would not want someone to come who doesn't prefer this kind of worship and would perhaps keep trying to make the church into what they want it to be. This does happen occassionally.

Evan McElrath said...

Thank you for explaining the phrasing. That does make sense. And thank you for allowing me to contribute to the discussion. I have tried to contribute on other places and when I wasn't a yes man to them they wouldn't allow the comment. So I truly appreciate this.

If I have other questions. I know I will be able to get an answer here.


on a side note. on your churches website, the mission statement(assuming) on the home page. Something is up with the font color as it is invisible unless highlighted.

Becky K. said...

Thanks Evan!

I'll check out the font on the web site.

Becky

AllyJo said...

I am a friend of Lady Jane and found your blog through her. I found this link on your sidebar.

I have been a member of a church, who for generations upon generations have the "family integrated" type of worship service. There are sects of us who have no Bible class and some who have them. Some have no youth groups and some who do.

Our church has Bible class for children, but kids, always, always, always sit with their parents during the very long worship. They learn to behave at a very young age and become very spiritually minded and they sure know their Bible. There are several families at our church who do not like Bible classes for their kids and take them to adult Bible class in the morning and evenings. We all get along and no one every fights. In fact, my daughter is in our Bible class now.

We have no youth group and never will. Children all the way up to the oldest of our elderly are a FAMILY and age segregation, we feel is not healthy for God's kingdom. We have taught our kids to go fellowship with the older people. They need encouragement. It keeps them focused on others, rather than themselves or entertainment or worldly things.

They do have parties occasionally off the church property, but there is no church sponsered activity. We feel the Lord's money is better spent sharing the gospel in America or around the world.

I could go on forever. I love seeing how other people worship and what they think about these things.

Miss Paula said...

What is your church doing to reach the lost in your community, how are you embracing the community to see Jesus?

Becky K. said...

Hi Paula,

Great to hear from you...I am glad you asked...

We are not a huge presence in our community as some are, however, we do have several active outreaches in process. From a community standpoint we offer a Book Club, a Ladies Tea and this year for the first time a Christmas Walkthrough.

We continue to have visitors and new attenders who come into the church because of our web site and sign, which is very visible by all who go to the local library.

We have individuals who pick up and bring unchurched young people and grandchildren who are much loved and love much.

A couple of our families are involved in foster parenting and adoption.

We are very involved in missions, locally and abroad. Several mission trips involving members of our congregation are scheduled.

We are a church focused on descipleship. Teaching the Word of God and applying it to daily life.
We are a hospitable church, welcoming the needy and travelers into our fellowship.

The Lord has blessed us and used us over this past year. We may not look like every other church out there, but we are attempting to serve Him and reach others for Him.

I was pleased to see your Baptism video and remembered that we are in the process of scheduling a Baptism here. We won't have the numbers you do, but God is just as pleased at those who are taking this stand for Him whether they are one of three or one of eighy three.

Just a few thoughts in response to your question.

Becky K.

Mrs.Rabe said...

Becky,

This is a good discussion. If I can jump I just would like to say that all of us, everyday, come into contact with the lost. As we walk with the Lord He gives us many opportunities to share Him with a lost world.

I know for our family, we do out reach through hospitality. We have interaction with people from Tim's work - sometimes for a meal in our home, or sometimes because some of the family go with Tim to help them out. They are always amazed to see a family that is working together, and enjoy each other. This gives many opportunities to share Christ, because it is all because of His Grace in our lives.


Psalm 68:6 (New King James Version)

6 God sets the solitary in families;

He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;

But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

I have always loved this verse. It shows that God would desire for us to be in "families." Also I find it an awesome opportunity for my children to participate in outreach but in the context of our family. My children will reach out to others because we do, they will pray and share prayer requests because that is what they see the church do week by week, etc...

I have seen the fruit of worshipping together as a family in a bigger family. My children know they are a part of the church family - they are valued, and loved, and they value and love others. They are blessed by the older members of the church and they are a blessing to the older members of the church.

We have quite a few widows and single women and couples with grown children in our church family. The children of the church are a blessing to them. One of the older men, who has no children said Friday night that he was blessed hearing Sarah singing Amazing Grace. He was struck by hearing her sing "that saved a wretch like me!" He said "she is seven years old and she is singing that she was a wretch who had been saved!" I said "well, she was a wretch scarred by sin, until Christ saved her!"

Anyway this has turned into a novel. I simply wanted to say that the Family Integrated Church works. It works for our family. It is a viable way to be outward reaching, to the lost, to the hurting, to the lonely - we just do it the context of families.

Elena said...

Wow, I whole heartedly agree. Though I was not raised in a church like this, my family practiced this concept. My parents were always talking about the Lord and his word and I didn't feel a huge generation gap between my parents and I. The Lord was very real to me as I grew up. I plan on homeschooling my daughter. We didn't put her into a class until she was 2. Before that we just kept her with us. She loves church and being an only child she loves to go be with the other children. My husband and I are always talking about our relationship with the Lord, usually at breakfast and our little one wakes up to the voices of her parents talking about the Lord. Thank you for sharing this. It sounds great to me!!