Sunday, September 21, 2008

Family Integrated Church – 1 Year Later

It has been a little over a year since we, by the grace of God, started Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship. We have seen God temporarily bring one family from Tennessee as they cared for the husband’s mother and they will soon return home but it has been a blessing to fellowship with them in the time God has had them here. Another family started coming and has recently left to move to Alabama. One of the families that had been at SGCF since the beginning left two months ago due to God’s leading them to move back east. We have recently had a new family begin to come regularly as well as a few visitors which has all been a joy. God has been working in our midst and that is all that we can ask.

In the midst of this it has led me to review a few things. First of those was to rid myself of one of the less than ideal things that seminary had left me with, even though I would not have thought it did. That issue is the idea that numbers reflects success and God’s blessing. I have never believed this and I do not know if those teaching in seminary intentionally spoke this way but the sentiment still was underlying much of what was taught. So in starting a church I have had to fight back the thoughts of whether this is what God desired after a year and not being larger than we were a year ago. I have had to repent of this way of thinking. As we went through Hebrews and I preached on contentment and also read Jeremiah Burroughs’ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment God revealed that to truly be content is not to seek out more but to seek out God and His will and design. So, while my desire is for more families to come and worship with us I am content where God has me at this time. This does not diminish my zeal and desire to help others realize the great joy in worshiping God multigenerationaly but allows me not to look at things from a faulty man centered perspective but to look at things from God’s perspective.

I have noticed some other things that do not directly relate to our church start but invlove the model of worshiping multigenerationaly. I may write more on these at a later date but for now here are some things I have noticed:

- While I understand that the term Family Integrated Church is not owned by anyone so people may, and do, define it as they see fit it is a wonder to me why people use this term when they are not what I would consider family integrated. I don’t know the reason one would use the term at all as it is not the draw, at least in our area, that would make it seem a desirable term if one was not truly family integrated.

- I have talked to a number of people who seem to see the biblical aspect of worshiping multigenerationaly but struggle with actually doing it. More often than not the struggle these families have revolves around children sitting still during a service. My encouragement to those parents is that we all have to start somewhere and sometime if we are going to raise children to worship with everyone else. The truth is that, at least in our church, the children will initially bother the parents more than the others that attend. The mindset that worship needs to be controlled so as to be of worth to the adults, thus the removal of children, is hard to change. It is once we realize our coming together is first and foremost for Him, and not us, that minds will be changed to see what I think is true worship, multigenerational worship.

- As I look around the internet I am amazed at the number of people that seem to see only one thing when it comes to Family Integrated worship. While there are probably churches that may overly focus on families that is not necessarily the case for all. But that said there is a focus on families and especially fathers leading families for the simple reason the church has neglected this aspect of God’s plan for His people right along with the cultures neglect of this aspect of life. Teaching biblically to those that are obedient to His word, leads to life changes that may be seen in larger families, revised views of education, and corrected understandings of family order. This is not because of an over focus on families but is instead a result of biblical teaching that does not negate families.

These are just a few things I have observed but it has at the same time helped me to see that being a church that truly worships multigenerationaly is a church that pleases God. One can have the correct model of gathering and still be displeasing to God so do not get me wrong worshiping multigenerationaly is much bigger than just who sits in the chairs. It is also about preaching of the word, about equipping people and about believers being able to live in a manner that glorifies God.


Scott Head said...

A very good post, Tony, thanks!

Yes, the perception of many on the internet about overly focusing on families is disappointing. Personally, I believe there are other factors at work in that opinion, but it is very much the major charge against our FIC churches. The reality, in a healthy FIC, is much different I believe. Most FIC churches seem to be well rounded, well balanced, preaching expositionally, and doing church as a true community rather than an institution. Perhaps there are some out of balance churches out there, we are humans after all, but by and large, I do not understand the opposition's stated charges, but I can understand the opposition's implied consequences if they were to embrace the FIC model.

Blessings to you and your family and fellowship! Congratulations on one year!

Jamie said...

Amen brother, keep plowing for His glory. The Lord used SGCF as a wonderful tool in our time of transition and will continue to use SGCF in many ways to impact more families to come.
Glory to our King of kings!
Love in Christ,
The Titchenal's

Tony said...

Thanks Scott and Jamie for the encouragement.