Singles within the Family of Families?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by ubermadchen, Oct 19, 2009.

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  1. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    I don't know if this is the correct forum for this topic. I have a question about the "family of families" model that seems popular these days within the reformed camp. I was recently told that I, being single, am a family of one. How exactly does this work? I know some of you follow the FIC model, how are singles incorporated into your church?
  2. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    This is an excellent question.

    -----Added 10/19/2009 at 09:45:14 EST-----

    If I may add a question:

    Ought it work differently for a single man and a single woman (because of the headship of her father, even though he may not live in the same city)?
  3. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, excellent question. I'm interested in seeing the responses. I grew up in a "Family Integrated Church," so I could recount my experiences, but I'm hoping that they were atypical.
  4. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    Yes, especially in a case like mine where my biological father is unable to be my head and my stepfather, being an unbeliever, is unwilling.
  5. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm single and CERTAINLY would never consider my father as headship over me. He has his own house and I have my own. I do consider myself my own "family" within the church. As such, I'm under the headship of the governing church in matters of biblical principles only. Otherwise, I'm headship of my own household and those who desire to live in my house (i.e. my mother).
  6. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    What is FIC and Family of Families?
  7. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    FIC = Family Integrated Church.

    "Family of Families" is a phrase that describes the function of the church as a group of varying families that make up the larger Church. Essentially, the building blocks of the Church is made up of family units (one block per family) with singles/widows/divorcees making up individual blocks (or incorporated into someone else's block; it's not yet clear to me). It also sees the primary evangelistic role of the Church executed through the family within their home. In addition, marriage and family are seen as the ideal state of the Christian life. I hope I have that interpretation correct but that's how it's been explained to me.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  8. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    The scriptures talk about the family and the scriptures talk about the church, so it might make some intuitive sense to put the two together. The only trouble is, the Bible doesn't put them together. You even have Paul saying that it is more practical to be single and ministering to others.

    So if someone wants a church to be a Family of Families, you end up with people who don't fit -- namely the single folks. This is painful and useless distinction. Yet you see all types of people functioning effectively in the New Testament church.

    No doubt, there is hope that the gospel is passed on from generation to generations within families, as we see Abraham's family expanded through history. But making artificial distinctions in the name of the church seems dubious to me.
  9. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Some churches seem quite uncomfortable with older singles. Early to mid 20s - fine. Mid 30s? not so much so.
  10. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    What do you mean?
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Not ducking your question; I'm thinking about how to word it. If I don't get back to you in the next day or so, remind me again.

    Answered by private message.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2009
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not sure I'm understanding your question.

    I don't see there is a difference- people are at different stages of life and in different situations. While marriage is the "norm" and commended by, indeed instituted by Scripture, being unmarried is also commended by Scripture.

    People are single for several reasons, there might be biblical bearing on someone not marrying, or "unduly delaying" marrying in some (not all, not even most) cases, there is no less a place in the church for those in that situation.

    There's a couple sides to this:

    1) We don't want to unduly complain about the Body not focusing on single status, and
    2) We wan't to make an effort to be accomodating and hospitable to the needs single people might have also

    It's a two way process, but in all the focus must be on God- not resenting others because they don't minister more to us in single status.

    I don't see there being much biblical limitation based on this status- in my experience a single man can even be qualified for officer (one of our elders was single 24 years). I don't see limitations at all.

    There were times before I was married where I wished families would have invited me over for dinner, particularly holidays. But I quickly resolved it was best not to focus on that, but rather serve to the maximum and direct efforts that way (even if it appeared marriage to the right person was not going to happen).

    One should not in any way feel inadequate in single status is what God has called you to, not at all, it gives some freedom to serve God others don't have, and Scripture acknowledges that. But, we also all need to be aware of the needs of people around us- particularly in the household of faith, including those who are single.

    Am I answering your question and the aspect you asking about?
  13. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    Scott - Are you in/speaking of an FIC? The approach/view that you take seems to me to be pretty common in the PCA, but my sense is that most PCA's are not FIC's. Is that correct?

    My interest is more in how most FIC's view singles -especially since I grew up in one that did not really tolerate singlehood.
  14. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    What do you mean by "did not really tolerate singlehood"? Did they encourage eunichs to get married? Were they too pushy when someone wasn't yet ready to be married? Were single people not allowed to become members? Or, did they simply encourage the marriage of those people who didn't really have any good reason not to marry since that is the ordinary pattern.

    The first three are inappropriate. The last should be encouraged in every church.

    -----Added 10/20/2009 at 06:45:10 EST-----

    What I am getting at is that in this day and age, many are probably guilty of undue delay of marriage (see Scott1's reference to WLC 139 above). I include myself in this. In such cases, those folks really should be encouraged and helped in this issue. I hope that such encouragement should not be taken as intolerance, but I will have to wait to see what you mean by intolerance.
  15. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    Exactly. I'm talking about the churches that are associated with this movement: Welcome to - Promoting Biblical Harmony Between Churches and Families

    Even if a church isn't officially associated with this network, I know of several reformed folks that follow its tenets and seek to see them embraced in their own churches.
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks for the link.

    I'm not familiar enough with this organization to comment. There are some reputable people listed in their conference schedule but this term, or "movement" (FIC) is not something officially embraced in the PCA- not that I've ever heard of.

    Not saying there aren't some good principles stated, but this "FIC" seems to be a movement of its own.

    We're strongly covenant community, covenant family but it is an incident of covenant theology, not a movement in itself.
  17. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't really want to derail the thread by talking about my unfortuante fundamentalist past. I'll be more specific though. By "not tolerate," I mean that singles, especially older single women, were demeaned. They were pressured (not just encouraged) to marry. Singles of a certain age were considered to be outside of the will of God. This view came from the pulpit and was reflected in the attitudes of the members.
  18. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Hey, Patricia.

    You can either follow the clear Biblical model or make up your own. At least that's how I see it. And in this case I know people who are smarter than me see it differently, but in any case:

    Num 30:2 If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
    Num 30:3 "If a woman vows a vow to the LORD and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house in her youth,
    Num 30:4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand.
    Num 30:5 But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her.
    Num 30:6 "If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself,
    Num 30:7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand.
    Num 30:8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her.
    Num 30:9 (But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.)
    Num 30:10 And if she vowed in her husband's house or bound herself by a pledge with an oath,
    Num 30:11 and her husband heard of it and said nothing to her and did not oppose her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand.
    Num 30:12 But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her.
    Num 30:13 Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void.
    Num 30:14 But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows or all her pledges that are upon her. He has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them.
    Num 30:15 But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity."

    OK, here's how I see it for you personally, as a young woman whom I presume is living with her dad. If he's unwilling to take headship, your "vows" i.e. rights and obligations, are the same as a man or a divorced woman or a widow. So in YOUR case, not as a generic single young woman, you would be a family of one, at least as far as rights and obligations. But it's trickier since you still live with your parents, and so are still part of their household, and if your step dad ever got his act together you would lose those rights and obligations. Must be difficult for you! But the Lord is good, and in YOUR case you do have elders to help with guiding you. And from your posts it seems you've got your head screwed on properly.
  19. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    It certainly is a movement of its own. When I can go to the website, and the churches in my community include an EP Presbyterian Church (of a denomination of about 5 five churches), a Dispensational Baptist Church, and a Mennonite Church, I'm thinking that "family integration" has been raise to an out-of-proportion importance.
  20. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    I don't live with my parents; I apologize for not making that clear. My father lives on the west coast and my stepfather lives on the east coast. I live in Texas. I assumed I didn't have to live under the same roof to be considered still under a father's (I have no idea who that would be) headship. Thank you for your encouragement, though! Sometimes I wonder if I even have my head on...
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am not so sure how to take this.

    I agree that when you were a child... But you are no longer a child and that you are on your own, therefore you have some separation in the matter. But at the same time, shouldn't a man who desires to be a courtin you want to go to your father and ask for your hand in marriage. Is he to be totally left out of the situation now? That might be the way it is suppose to be. But I personally think he should have more say in this kind of matter than others. I do believe the Church should be there to make sure you marry in the Lord also. Whether or not you consider your Father in this matter or not might be crucial in honoring him. We are called specifically to honor our parents in the decalogue. We are also called to honor our Elders but that is a side issue in comparison to the decalogue's command in my estimation. When we are told to obey our elders it comes with a pre set observance of watching their character and seeing it fits the bill first. I am not so sure that stipulation is set up for parents.

    Just bouncing some thought here.
  22. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I suppose if my father had decided that he had actually wanted us when we were first born and if he had put up a fuss when my mother left him instead of helping her pack up the truck and driving us to our new home, and if he had at least said that he wished I could come live with him when I called and asked him about a year later after leaving him or if he had allowed me to live with him when I was 17yr and actually wanted to live with him, short if he had ever acted like he was interested in his children, then I suppose I would agree with you. To be fair, he did pay a small amount of child support without him being made to do so and he came to see us about 5 times maybe. However, I don't think this qualifies him to be my headship over me. If anything else, I would prefer the man who wants to marry me ask my mother for my hand in marriage. So yes, I think he should be left out of the headship thing. I can honor him by being kind and helpful to him when he needs my help. I honor him by calling him on holidays and his birthday.
  23. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    To be quite honest, I'm not completely convinced from Scripture that women should be the heads of their own households. It seems that the pattern in Scripture is that women are under the headship of their fathers until marriage. I think there is a reason that the Church was commanded to care for widows and orphans.... part of it was certainly financial but part of it was also spiritual oversight. Personally, I believe that single women fall into this category as well if they do not have the headship of a father. In that case, I believe it is the responsibility of the church session to take spiritual headship over her.

    On another note, I'm not familiar with the movement mentioned above, but I have often seen singles treated as though they were sinning or purposefully causing "undue delay of marriage" .....which is not always the case! Marriage should certainly be encouraged, but at the same time we need to be sensitve to these matters. Not every single has been given opportunities for marriage, and many have and are actively seeking to be married. I would just love to see the Church at large come alongside of singles more so, and really provide oversight and more spiritual encouragment in this area!
  24. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Good discussion,all.

    This thread is uncovering the pain and conflict of some practical situations and hopefully we can discern some biblical clarity- these situations are not new.

    So, are we saying something to the effect that an unmarried woman is under the parental authority of her father until or unless she marries except that if he is deceased, she falls under authority of the church as something like I Timothy 5 "widows indeed"?

    (Not advocating one way or the other, only trying to understand)

    For purposes of a question, assuming the above is the case, isn't parental authority much different when a woman is an adult and can support herself?

    Would it make any difference if the father actually or practically abandoned that role?(seems like it would)

    Further, if the father was not a Christian, would he still have the parental authority that would, in effect, prevent the disciplines of the Christian life (e.g. Lord's Day worship, tithing, Christian service, etc.?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2009
  25. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    As an elder in a "Family Intergrated" church, I wanted to repost this. One of our other elders was responding to Sam Waldrons article on FIC but he also describes the thought behind FIC. Please note the Bolded sections for application to this thread and the OP.

    -----Added 10/21/2009 at 07:18:02 EST-----

    The point behind the listing is so people can locate churches that follow this structure. It is no different than a list of EP churches so people can find them. It is not that it has been raised to an out-of-proportion importance. "Family Integration" is not a sacred cow but a distinction. One that some want to locate, thus the list.
  26. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    I understand that's how your church sees singles in theory, but how does your church takes these principles to practice? Do you see them being treated as full members? The point of the thread isn't "do you think singles should be included in the church," but "how?" How are singles incorporated? I don't think any FIC would be so be so bold as to say publicly, "Go away, singles! Get married and then maybe you could come back!"
  27. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    We do not have a singles ministry, we have a ministry-period. For example, when we have a mens study the men gather. All of the men. If a man has a son, he brings him, if not or if he is single, he comes and we all study together. It does not matter if they are married, single,college student,whatever. Same goes for the ladies.
    Yes, they are full members and no, we do not start telling them they should get married.

    Because we do not break off into separate Sunday School groups, no one is "singled" out (pun half way intended). No one feels out of the group because we are all the group. We have none of the "Well, you should go to this class or that class because you are not this or that" We all study together.
  28. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    Oh you would be unpleasantly suprised
  29. nasa30

    nasa30 Puritan Board Sophomore

    That is so sad. But it is not limited to any one group to do stuff like that. You should hear what is said when folks bring their little ones in to the "big people" service.
  30. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    For sure. Every group has its extremes.
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