FIC in Tennessee - HA, it even rhymes!

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by southkogs, Nov 10, 2011.

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  1. southkogs

    southkogs Puritan Board Freshman

    I've put this post up to provide a basis for another thread I'm entering into ( I'm glad to answer any questions, but if you'd like to challenge something maybe start a new thread. Mods if I've got this in the wrong spot, please move it - and apologies for the looonnnggg read.

    The Family Integrated Church "movement" is gaining some traction within the modern church. However, it's also gaining some criticism. That's not hard to fathom at all considering the nature of the movement as a whole, and the various flavors of "family integration" that brings with it. What I mean by that is there is no centralization within the "movement" even though there are people who are identified as leaders within it. It makes it a little tough for one particular person to speak for the whole of the churches that place themselves as family integrated. For that reason, I thought I would type out this post as a reference regarding my specific church as I enter into discussions on this board. Forgive the length, but I though this might be the best way to make some general information available.

    I am a teaching elder at a small Reformed CredoBaptist Family Integrated church in Middle Tennessee. We identify as part of the Family Integrated "movement" but (as you can see by the quotation marks I use) we're a little careful about how. What I mean by that is we keep a little saying in front of us at all times, "we need to make sure we're a church that's family integrated more than we need to be a family integrated church." It's a quick way of reminding us that the Church is about Christ and His Gospel, and that is paramount before even the families we so dearly love.

    Some facts about us:
    1.) We're independent - mainly because most of us were Southern Baptist, but through prayer and outside counsel can't find a reason to join the SBC.
    2.) We're reformed - 1689 London Baptist Confession is our foundation
    3.) We're CredoBaptist - I've got enough paedobaptist brothers out there to keep me in check, but I'm bound in the end that the Bible shows credo-baptism. (another argument for another thread)
    4.) We're elder led
    5.) We rely on multiple shepherding elders - 4 bi-vocational guys to share teaching and pastoring responsibilities. We don't deny the office of "pastor," but we organize it based on a few rather than on one.
    6.) We are expository in our preaching (with an occasional tryst into topical, but not too much)
    7.) We recognize the regulative principle and weigh our worship services in mind of it

    Why the family integrated model? - this is not a manifesto, but rather a sampling of what we've found fits with Scripture. It's by no means complete.

    First - to call fathers back to the roles of discipling their families. Not the youth group (whose leader may or may not share one's view of the scripture), not the Sunday school teacher (who very probably the only person who didn't turn the director down) and not even the pastor (who can't possibly keep up with discipling all 500 people in his congregation) can have the impact on a person like two godly parents bringing a child up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD. We encourage men to lead their families, wash their wives in the water of the Word, disciple their kids all day long and effectively pastor their families. We encourage strong biblical marriage, home education (or at least Christian education) and regular family worship outside the church.

    Second - Most examples of Sunday school are mildly effective at best, and counter productive at worst. It's a secondary product of the church that get passed down to under prepared (and often untested) people and is built operationally off of the same model as the government school system which employs philosophies of Darwinian evolution. Barna has published some horrifying details on post-Sunday school word views and it's completely horrifying. We've opted to put Sunday school to the side, and redirect our efforts until we can see a program that isn't overbearing to run and produces good fruit.

    Thirdly - church programming as a whole tends to do two things: separate families and keep a handful of people in the church overdrawn in trying to organize it. Worse yet, we see that most of it is a pathetic failure. 80% of kids between 18 and 25 are falling away from the faith. Some will return to it, but HOLY COW - 80%. All of these programs that the church has, and that's the result? We've whittled things back at our church - Apostles doctrine, breaking bread, fellowship & prayer. That's all we're going to worry about organizing. The rest of it will come ad hoc. We do have meetings outside the LORD's Day - but not very many are regular scheduled ones.

    Fourth - Keeping all of the age groups together to learn allows for two things. 1.) Fathers can interpret, uphold or correct teaching to their own families. While God puts believers in the church, he places children in the home. If the pastor preaches something that the father disagrees with (Biblically, mind you), the father can disciple his child in the manner he sees fit. 2.) Intergenerational interaction has a fantastic dynamic to it. Surely, during the preaching of the Word it doesn't have that great an effect on too much more than training children to listen to preaching (and that takes some training). However, when you have a church full of people praying together and young and old discuss concerns and praises together - and then go before their mutual LORD and Savior together - there is an impact there that doesn't happen otherwise.

    Fifth - Keeping our children in the main worship service (no children's church - or even nursery in our case) maintains that the whole Body of Christ is in the Assembly. A child who is elect is not denied the preaching of God's Word, or the sacraments because it was time for children's church.

    HOWEVER … there are some admissions that must be made about the Family Integrated Church movement:

    As a whole, we've got to be on guard against idolatry. As I mentioned above - sometimes there can be a tendency to elevate the family over even the Gospel. I've seen it. I know it's out there.

    As a whole, we've got to guard against legalism. It's an easy trap to fall into, and many do. Scripture is the sufficient testimony of God's Law and Jesus' Gospel. We have to balance everything out against the Bible.

    As individual churches, we've got to be careful about our leadership. The Bible defines who may and may not teach and preach, and further governs all of the church. There are many flavors of "crazy" floating around in this very decentralized movement.

    We can't become a separatistic mass that tosses the rest of Jesus' church in with the pagans. We aren't the Holy Spirit. We can comment, we can discern but we can't be judge. We have to be engaged and even in relationship with the church at large.

    I hope that helps give a little "flavor" as to where we're coming from at least at our little fellowship.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  2. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    Erik, it is good to have you on board. Thanks for sharing about your church.
  3. southkogs

    southkogs Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you Lawrence, I think I ran across your blog last year when I was looking at areas where the Tornado's went through. Glad to make some contact!
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