Monday, February 05, 2007

What does a Family Integrated Church look like to me - PT 6

One aspect of the Family Integrated Church that is often missed is that it is just plain simple. I am not saying it is easy as any ministry is difficult because it deals with sinful people but it is easier because the focus is not spread all over the place but is more focused. With less worry about how one has to divide up children and adults and any other of the various affinity group ideas that are out and about there is more time to truly focus on God. The church all too often gets so engrossed in how to do ministry that ministry does not get done. Then when something is not a success, whatever that means, they look to try something else rather than go back to the basics of simply worshiping God.

The Family Integrated Church does need to deal with the culture and such things as singles, youth and single parent families. However, this is done in the context of the church as a whole rather than sending those groups off on their own and separating them from others who can help them to grow in the Lord. How is a single mother or father to learn to have a family as God intends if they are deprived of having it modeled for them? True, the single father or mother is to first turn to God’s word but in the end they also need to see how it works out in real life. I am sure in the first century church that as they met together there was a common strength they gathered from each other that would not have been the same if they had met as singles, young something or others, College or career groups and so on.

I truly think that the more we divide up people the more they will seek to be divided. They will grow to see themselves as either superior or inferior or at the least simply different to the point of not gaining any benefit from other groups. How much more beneficial is it for a young single to actually see how a godly family deals with issues of life rather than to just read about it or hear about it from a “single pastor.” Often when I bring up the idea of a multigenerational church to people they balk at it simply out of reflex. We have become so ingrained with segregation in the church that anything that is contrary to it is seen as wrong or even detrimental.

So, back to the idea of simple. Why not simply have church, the gathering of believers, where the only focus is God and this being done in the context of all generations meeting together to encourage, exhort and even correct when needed. Why spend so much of our resources, not just money but also time, on extraneous things that in the end I think are detrimental even if they for the moment seem reasonable. The other aspect of this simplicity is that it allows for the family to have more time together, even while in church. Also, I think over time there will be more organic growth in fellowship outside of the church because it is not done in the context of a program or even ministry but flows out of a common worship experience.

Simple does not negate other meetings outside of the Lord’s Day but it does see other meetings as an outgrowth of the regular fellowship of believers. Also it is done in such a fashion so as not to infringe on family worship which in and of itself has been lost on the church for far too long.

As I continue to work through these things I realized I had even more questions from how to actually move ahead in starting a church to what church would look like once it started. I had some time ago thought about visiting Grace Family Baptist Church but had not really done more than think about it. Well a few weeks ago Bo Prather at The Kettering Fellowship wrote on his visit there and it got me to thinking that what better way to work though my thoughts than to go to a church that is actually ministering in the way I see ministry to function. So, that said my wife and I are off to Houston the end of this month. In the mean time I have been in contact with one of their elders, Matt Bullen (Matt also has a ministry called Blessed Family Ministries), and he has been very helpful. In Matt’s answers to my questions I can really sense his desire to see people worship God in a manner that most glorifies God and most edifies His people and that manner is in a multigenerational church setting. After reading what Bo had written and conversing with Matt through e-mail I am very excited about visiting Grace Family Baptist Church and seeing how God can use this visit to help me move ahead in a starting a Family Integrated Church in the North Orange County area of southern California.

Past Posts on Family Integrated Church:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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