Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Family Integrated Church...A long post.

I just felt like giving an update
of what is happening at our church.

The Lord has been blessing us so much.
We have new families coming,
people are coming to know the Lord,
and ministry is happening.

Let me give some background
for those who are newer here.

It was about three years ago that
the Lord started moving our church
in an interesting direction.

Warren and I, as parents, were having
issues with the whole youth group concept.
I am not categorically opposed to youth
groups but do think that it is a very
tricky path. In our case there was a
lot of emphasis on outreach to troubled
teens and our personal experience was that
this did not have a positive impact on,
I'll just say it, our boys.
Some of these troubled kids were girls
who immediately grabbed onto our boys
and troubles began. 
Attitudes, phone calls, etc.

For others in the church, such as our
Pastor, books were being read. One that
impacted him greatly was The Last Christian
by Josh McDowell.
Others in the church were struggling
with issues with grown children who lived 
out the scenario discussed in this book.
Young adults who had been raised in the church
but had walked away as soon as the opportunity
arose.  They had no commitment to the church.
It was their parent's church.

So one by one the Lord moved on our hearts that 
there might be a better way for our congregation.
Now understand that our congregation size was 
just about twenty people.  Not exactly an influential
church in the community.  But, you know, God was 
with us.....even then.

I began to speak with my friend, Mrs. Rabe, 
of Creekside Cottage... just friend to friend.
As far as I knew they were happily attending 
and serving in another church. 

Little did I know that the Lord was preparing 
them for a change at the same time.

As I told her that we were moving toward
a worship style that included the children from 
start to finish and the elimination of a "youth group"
she informed me that this type of church had a name.
I was shocked.
You would have thought that we would have known
that this was a movement, but frankly the changes
that were happening within our hearts were so consuming
that we were very tuned in to that and weren't really 
looking around at that time.

So, armed with this new information we explored the 
support that was out there for those who were thinking
so strangely as we were.

This led us to Vision Forum(networking)
and Voddie Baucham(teaching),
Both have proven to be encouraging and
uplifting resources for our itty bitty congregation.

It has not been an easy road.
Some left us.
Remember there were only twenty or so
to begin with.  I believe that when we 
changed our name and moved into our new
building there were about fifteen regulars.
But soon the Lord sent those that were hungry
for this style of worship.

What is our style of worship?
Well, we have a family Sunday School which
Pastor Mike teaches.  It can be a series on 
Apologetics, Creation Science, How Jesus Viewed
the World, or what we are studying now, The Missionary
Journeys of Paul.  The children are with us and it is amazing
how they listen.  We know this because of questions they 
ask either then or later. 

There is then about a fifteen minute break and we begin
our Worship Service.  This runs about an hour and a half. 
The children are with us for this as well.
Singing, scripture, prayer and preaching.

Every other week we enjoy a Fellowship Meal together
after the service.  This is so very important to our congregation.
Not just because we like to eat....lol...
but because it allows us to really share and get to 
know each other.  There is little opportunity 
in a church such as ours to just come and go
without establishing genuine relationships.
There are a few who choose to stay on the 
fringes but in general we are a very close
group.  We are aware of the joys and struggles 
within our congregation.

This allows us to be in prayer, make a phone call,
send a card or even make a meal or visit someone
who might need that extra care.
So many times in churches we have attended in 
the past it was easy to show up, worship and leave.
Never really knowing anyone with whom we worshiped.
That may have been our fault.
I am willing to carry that....
but I don't think it is unusual.  

Our Friday evenings are usually reserved for church
events.  Sometimes it is a Bible Study in a home, 
other times it is a activity for the whole family
and once per month is music night.
We are working with our young people to 
involve them in music.
Those who love music or play instruments
have been very receptive to getting involved.
You see, this is not just their parents church.
This is their church.
It is their responsibility and honor to participate...
in cleaning, music, taking the offering and more.
They serve along side the adults in many aspects
of the daily life of the church.
Our young people are hospitable.
They are quick to welcome new young 
people who visit.
It is never long before all of them,
and some of the Dads are out in the 
yard playing ultimate frisbee.

So, what is exciting me lately?

A woman who has come to the Lord.
Counseling and Ministry to her marriage.
Seeing she and her husband come in
early each week with huge smiles
and enthusiasm.
Blossoming friendships for her 
within the congregation.

An unmarried young couple with a new baby
who are attending together
and whom I can't help but believe 
will come to seek HIM together.
It brings tears to my eyes to see them walk
in with the baby carrier.
It is just a preview of the joy and healing
that is to come in their lives.

A grandmother who started by bringing her
own grandchildren and ended up bringing
a neighbor boy as well.
This led to prayers of salvation by the children and the 
addition of the neighbor boy's Mom and 
siblings.  She is a very young widow
and we delight in her dedication to do
what is right for her children.
We are praying for her salvation.

A new family who drive for more than an hour
who report that their children begin asking on 
Monday if it is time to go to church yet???!!
They love it!

Ministry to a woman who was in an abusive
home situation...not always easy but God 
placed her in our lives for a reason.

Bible study with women who are in a 
halfway house
after being recently released from prison.

An upcoming series on the role of the 
father within the home.
What does the Bible say about this?

An upcoming Ladies Tea.
Always a fun and time of ministry
during the Christmas season.
A reminder to keep Christ at the center of 
our holiday traditions and activities.

Praying and supporting missions at home and abroad.

There is just so much
to Praise the Lord for.

Not everyone would thrive in this 
style of worship.
But, for those the Lord has called to it
the benefits are huge.

The past couple of weeks our attendance has
been around sixty.
Not a huge church.
Some would say that we are too small to 
make a difference. 
I could not disagree more.
Every child, parent and marriage
that is touched is important.
If God knows when a sparrow

We have seen the difference 
in our own children.
The young children of the congregation 
will never know anything
different...this is THEIR church!
They love it!!!

I chronicle this as much for my
own benefit and encouragement as 
to share with you.
But, I do hope that you'll be encouraged
to see God at work 
and give HIM all of the glory!
He is good....
all the time!


Persuaded said...

Hmmmm Becks, do you think the commute would be too long for my family? ;-}

Seriously, I would love to attend this type of church. There is one nearby us, but there are doctrinal differences that I cannot reconcile myself to. I have come to feel that even Sunday school is not really productive for our children... and believe me, that is not a popular view, lol!
I'd love to hear more!

Bee said...

Sounds like a great church!

Mrs.Rabe said...

Becky, you know I say "AMEN!"
It is such a blessing to see what the Lord is doing at church...so exciting to be a part of it.

God is at work...

Mrs.Rabe said...

I am going to link to your post today!

Vickie said...

Becky - this sounds like a wonderful way to include the whole family. We do have a youth group at our church and I have to say that our youth minister has been so very good at keeping them involved in all aspects of the church including serving in the service. I'm glad that this is working for you and your families and that your church is growing by leaps and bounds. Sometimes I long for that "smallness" that grows the "ties that bind" from within. THanks for sharing with us!

Karen said...

I am so in agreement with the idea of family integrated worship-for some of the very reasons you posted.

We really enjoyed our Sunday at your church when we visited. You guys have a great thing going and I know God is blessing you for following His leading.

Vee said...

How very exciting to read what's happening in your church family. When you think that you've grown by 200 or more per cent, you begin to understand what the Lord is doing even better. The concerns that you raised here exist everywhere. I can remember it existing years ago when I was myself in youth group and we had a very disturbed young woman. Most of us kids did not have the maturity to deal with it at all. Thank you for sharing this...much to think about.

tea time and roses said...

Hello Becky,

What a wonderful and inspirational post. It is certainly exciting what God is doing for your church! Family sharing services together, a wonderful thing. Oh how I wish I were just a bit closer, I would certainly pay your church a visit. Sounds like lots of love abides there.

Thank you so much for sharing this Becky. Happy day to you!



Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Very exciting to read about your church and all that God is doing there!! Many blessings to you all!!


Miss Sandy said...

Amazing and encouraging, when you follow His call He blesses and it certainly seems He is in the midst of the plans for your church. Praying for continued blessings.