Saturday, January 06, 2007

What Does a Family Integrated Church Look Like To Me - PT 2

I have changed the name of this series because at the end of the day my goal is to work out how I think God would desire me to lead a church that is a Family Integrated Church (FIC). Since I see the Family Integrated Church, in it’s many forms, as a leading back to how God intends church to function I wanted to rename the series. I may not get to the Family Integrated part right away and that is by design. While I see the integration of all of the family into the church as important it is not the most important as there are many other aspects that if not done correctly will in the end take away from the family integrated aspect of ministry.

While in part one I started with the idea that a local church should have “Biblical” elders and deacons this does not mean this is the most important thing a church should do as a church can appear to have elders and deacons in place and still not be fulfilling the role the local church is to have.

Also, with elders, I do think that an elder led church is preferable over an elder ruled church and I see this in scripture. In Matthew 18:15-17 when he speaks of church discipline the final action is towards the church as a gathered body of believers. We also see the involvement of the church body in Acts 6:2-5 in the choosing of what is often seen as the first deacons. Another place where we see the church as a whole involved in the actions led by the elders is in 1 Corinthians 5:4-5. The church is even held responsible for the teaching that is before than as we see in Galatians 1:6-9. So it would seem clear that while elders are to lead the church this does not negate the responsibility of the church membership itself from being part of what goes on in the church. This said I do see where an Elder ruled church can also be biblical, as one that is ruled correctly will know the heartbeat of the congregation and do what is right in light of that and above all God's leading. Thus, in this way an Elder ruled church is doing so in a way that indirectly involves the congregation.

In the end the whole area of elders and deacons is just part of the whole. Mark Dever wrote a great book called Nine Marks of a Healthy Church where he speaks of nine marks, there are undoubtedly more, a healthy church needs to have. Here are the nine things he mentions, with my comments:

1-Expositional Preaching – This is in short preaching that takes the point of the passage and has it as the point of the sermon. Expositional preaching takes the word of God seriously and, to me, reveres the word of God as just that, THE WORD OF GOD.

2-Biblical Theology – This is not simply theology that is Biblical but theology that sees all of scripture as it was intended and as a whole. For a better understanding of Biblical Theology read this article at 9Marks Ministries entitled What is the Discipline of Biblical Theology?.

3-The Gospel – A right proclamation of what the Gospel is is imperative. I would also suggest John Piper’s book God is the Gospel.

4-A Biblical Understanding of Conversion- Understanding how one is converted plays a large part in how one lives ones life as a believer and greatly influences how one does evangelism, see mark 5.

5-A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism – How we approach the great commission not only says much about what we understand of the Gospel but also affects the one we are being used to lead to Christ and to disciple.

6-A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership – Today the whole idea of committing to be a member of a church seems to be out of fashion but scripture seems to be clear that we are called to participate in a local body of believers and covenanting with that body is important.

7-Biblical Church Discipline – Here is one mark that is missing almost everywhere, both because it is simply not done and because with so many places one can go people simply just disappear so as to avoid discipline.

8-A Concern for Discipleship and Growth – These both need to go together because it seems that today we have focused so much on growth that ‘true’ discipleship is missing.

9-Biblical Church Leadership – We are not simply called together as a disjointed group of believers but as a local organized body of Christ and a correct model of leadership is necessary and called for by God.

So these are simply nine marks that I feel are necessary in a healthy God honoring church. What is great about this is that regardless of where ones church is or the form it takes the nine marks mentioned above are still viable, necessary and I think required. This is important because all too often we get so caught up in the mechanics of church or some singular aspect of church that we neglect things that are required for the church to be the true bride of Christ it is called to be.

From my perspective even in a Family Integrated Church it is important not to neglect the above principles and practices. While we do need to seek to help restore the family to its biblical moorings and design we need to do it is such a way as not to neglect any one of the other aspects of the church. In truth it is when we are a truly healthy church and following God’s guidelines that we will best fill the role of a Family Integrated Church.

I was intending to have moved onto how ministry works in the church but found as I thought about things that it is important that we have a firm foundation before one even seeks to do any particulars. If there is no foundation we are liable to be so focused on particulars that we will miss what we are truly called to do.

(Note: Some links in my last post were incorrect and they have been fixed)

No comments: