I decided I was tired of thinking about politics. So I decided to write about something that I stumbled onto years ago, but haven't thought about in depth until recently. This new (to me) idea is family integrated church. This is one thing that worries me about our congregation. Everyone is so separated. Our kids never see us worship. I know one family that goes against the flow keeps there kids for the whole service (as opposed to sending them with the other kids to kid worship). Honestly, I don't think I am to the point of conviction to do that. Our kids love being with the other kids. I do think that the Family Integrated Church might have a point. I found this blog that has a very interesting FAQ section. Here are the ones that interested me the most (I added the bold):
Why no traditional youth ministry?
In our church we say we have the greatest youth ministers in the world – our dads. Our dads do all the planning for recreation. The children never have anyone other than their father to be a major impact player in their life and teaching them God’s Word. We say that we don’t have a youth ministry, but we do have a youth group. It’s just like we have a lot of children in our church, but we don’t have a “children’s ministry.”A lot of youth ministries today look and act a lot like the world, in the way they dress, talk, etc. Statistics are indicating that 85% of students from a typical church will fall away from the faith within three years after finishing school. So if you have an 85% failure rate, then why do you keep doing things the same way? We are not! We do have activities for all ages of kids, but most of our recreation is planned for the whole family. However, all activities are driven by the parents, and the parents are the activities directors.
This really speaks to something that has been on my heart for a long time; parents need to take responsibility for the spiritual development of their kids. It also speaks to the whole pew warmer mentality. I am coming to the conclusion that the more ministers there are the harder it is to get people to volunteer. I think in part this is because "someone is getting paid to do that". It is also in part because what you can volunteer for is largely meaningless in the sense of being able to make decisions or actually change anything. For example, our church has something like 30 or so full-time ministers. The volunteers mostly do the busy work. The ministers make all of the decisions. So if you, as a parent, think it is a waste of time for the toddlers to watch Barney as a time filler, there is not much you can do about it unless you can figure out which of youth/children's ministers is in charge of such things. If you volunteer to teach, everything (activities, crafts, schedule, script for Bible story, etc.) is laid out for you. It is easier that way but also less meaningful somehow.
What about membership?
Membership is being a believer. This is quite the contrary to modern day church structure. We have looked at the process that many modern day churches do membership and it simply does not have a biblical foundation. Thus, we do not follow the secular methods employed by many other churches. We simply want families and people to attend the worship service and be encouraged by the Word of God and take that home with them. You can come for many years or a few months or even weeks. The church is the believer in Jesus Christ, thus we are all members of His wonderful grace. Since we do not vote or have committees there is no need for membership.
While this is more about this particular congregation and not so much about family integration, it does beg a question I have often thought about. What is the deal with "membership"? I think they are right. I understand that in some churches that there is a whole covenant type agreement. Why can't the agreement be just between you and God?
Now back to my original Famiy Integrated Church (FIC) thing. I was surprised to find that there is a directory of FIC congregations here. From there you can find a link to this post by Scott Brown. Here are the opening lines:
I believe that we are involved in the greatest evangelistic opportunity before the church today: the salvation of millions of children under the evangelistic and discipleship ministry of fathers and mothers in the home. This is not the only mission field, to be sure, but it is perhaps the most neglected mission field before the church in our time.
Now this I totally agree on. We (born again evangelicals) are losing about 65-85% of our kids after the first year of college. That is evidence of a major failing. If we are incapable of discipling our own children, how do we expect to disciple new comers?
Further down he makes this statement:
Sadly, our churches are filled with young people who have “walked an aisle,” but who have never really understood the full breadth of the gospel message. For them, the gospel has been trivialized and reduced to simply “accepting Christ.” In contrast to this, the daily diet of a father’s gospel teaching gives a detailed understanding of the gospel. It provides both the context and content that is necessary to become a true follower of Christ.
That is a profound comparison. Again, I feel myself agreeing.
Then I found this confession on the Vision Forum. Here is the opening paragraph. I added the bold.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe that the family is a holy institution, ordained and established by the Sovereign Triune God Who created the heavens and the earth. God’s infallible revelation, the Bible, reveals that the family is an integral part of the unfolding of His eternal purpose for the redemption of sinners. This great and gracious salvation—purposed by the Father, accomplished by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit—is in great measure passed on to succeeding generations as parents faithfully disciple the children God gives them. Therefore, the biblical order and unity of the family are crucial to the stability and health of the Church of Jesus Christ. In light of this, we recognize that the family—and especially fathers—are the focus of a fierce and unrelenting attack by the world, the flesh, and the Devil. This has escalated to the point that Christians must rise up in defense of the family in uncompromising biblical warfare.
You can totally see men and fathers being marginalized in this country. How many kids don't even know who their real dad is? How many dads are driven from their kids because of no fault divorce. My kids are so blessed to have a great dad who takes this fathering business seriously.
Well, I guess I better call it a night, but I will keep this rolling around in my head. I would love to hear any comments.