Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More Thoughts on the Family Integrated Church

As I further work on the new church start, Soverign Grace Christian Fellowship, I am part of I am still surprised by those that do not see a Family Integrated Church as being a good thing. The struggle that many seem to have is the idea of having children in the service or the idea of there being no youth group. Have we so bought into the age segregation myth that the way out is so hard? Are we so used to a form of comfort in corporate worship that to change things is too much to ask? Are we so afraid to disciple our own children that we cannot change?

These are important questions to ask as more and more churches are being segregated by age and not just with children and youth. You have the 20 somethings church over there and the 30 something church over here and this church more for seniors and one over there for artists and you name some other special group. The end results are disjointed and less than complete, in my opinion, local church bodies. I have even read of one church that fully expects to lose its members as they grow older because the churches goal is a certain age group, something seems wrong with this. This sounds more like a Madison Avenue advertising campaign than a healthy church growth endeavor.

I find it hard to justify all of this age or life situation focus by scripture even though I have heard some who would try. The usual reason seems to be that this is the best way to reach people and since the end goal is numbers then we should do whatever is necessary to get those numbers. I think this is short sighted and misses the point of the great commission in that we are called to make disciples and not simply converts. It would seem that the New Testament example of discipleship that we see in scripture, especially in Acts, involves the whole community and not simply some special segment of it.

When we worship with children in our midst we can learn from them, as Jesus often used children as examples to His disciples, and they can learn from us, or at least they should. Leave out this dynamic and there is a serious hole in the process. When we separate out the youth and then move them to some other group they begin to not really be a functioning part of the local body, except when it is somehow convenient. What better way for a youth to learn to be a vital part of the church body than to be one from the start.

Now I realize some could say that a Family Integrated Church is no different in that its focus is the family. Well this is definitely a danger but the fact it is a danger does not negate its validity. The goal of the Family Integrated Church first and foremost should be to exalt Christ and grow in His grace. One of the means of this is to try and help families regain the biblical view of family and thus worship God in doing this. So while families may be more attracted to a FIC this is not necessarily the goal. The goal is to disciple the generations in the most biblical way and I think this is done by first preaching the word. But, also a part of this is the training of existing families to disciple their own families and to help in raising the next generation to be ready to reclaim the family as God intended.
These are just some more thoughts as I spend time in prayer and thought on this adventure God has my family and I being a part of.

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