Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More thoughts on the Family Integrated Church

Back in March I finished a series I was writing on “What does a Family Integrated Church look like” ( Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 ) and in July of this year we started Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship and are approaching our 8th Lord’s Day service this week. The start has been a growth experience and has stretched me in ways I was not expecting but as with all things God moves us to do I am confident this is the direction God is leading .

I would have to say my views on the church have not changed since starting SGCF and I would credit this to having tried from the beginning to see what God would have His church to look like. One of the areas that I think we fail, and I have failed here before, is all too often we think about church from what we would like rather than what God desires. This usually stems, or it did for me, from wanting to be comfortable but if we read scripture closely Christianity is far from comfortable. If we come together each Lord’s Day to worship God and to exalt His name should not how we worship be more focused on Him than us? If this is so then it would seem that we should to the best of our ability seek guidance from scripture as to how we are to worship rather than what people prefer. This may be uncomfortable for people and probably in our culture with its focus on comfort and individualism will not be popular.

I say all of this because while a fair number of people are seeking out churches that teach from a more reformed perspective the road block SGCF would seem to offer is that we see God desiring all people to worship together and not to segregate. While I firmly hold that first and foremost in the gathering of the local church is the teaching of the word I also believe we are called to do so in a manner that does not fragment families, in whatever form they may be. So I do not see it as enough to simply have good doctrine taught, as important as that is, but it needs to be taught in a community that most exhibits God’s call for the gathering of the local church.

Up until not too long ago, probably around 100 years or maybe less, the concept of children and families being separated to worship God would have been foreign to the church. We have been so ingrained with this philosophy that I admit it will be hard to break out of the mold but I believe for the church to grow we will have to do this. The issues we now face with such a large percentage of youth leaving the church or going in wayward directions is in large part due to a segregating mentality. The motive for initially segregating children and youth and any other group was to supposedly better disciple them but the model in the scriptures of Older teaching the Younger and families being the primary discipling centers of the church is lost in this mentality.

So I pray that people will be drawn back to the way God designed us to worship and that people will struggle through the change and initial discomfort that comes with any change. I pray that in the future one would not have to have monikers like “Family Integrated Church” because it will be the norm rather than the anomaly. I pray that people would be so instilled with a desire to worship with their children that they would do whatever was necessary to do so and that youth and singles would see the call from God to worship with others outside their own comfortable group setting to enter into multigenerational worship at all cost.

I pray that SGCF will remain steadfast in this God given vision

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