Monday, December 19, 2011

The Family Integrated Church

While perusing my Vision Forum 2012 catalog a few months back I noticed a movie titled, "Divided." I read the brief description of the movie and thought, "Hm, sounds interesting." Since then I have been hearing little bits and pieces of what a Family Integrated Church (FIC) is. What I'm gathering is that the FIC does away with things like Sunday School groups and youth groups divided by ages. Families would attend a Sunday School or family group together instead- as one family. Here is their website, which I found and began looking at today, if you'd like to look into it further.

The thought of how our church is run has been rolling around in the back of my head for those few months. I have yet to see "Divided" but plan to when we start our subscription to Puritan Picks this January. (My husband and I are getting the subscription as a mutual Christmas present to each other.)

So, where am I going with this?

Honestly, at this point it would have still been a thought that was rolling around in my mind somewhere had I not read two articles today in The Home Educating Family Magazine. I have not subscribed to this magazine as of yet but have been interested in their Facebook posts, giveaways and what treasures their magazine may have. I have tried to order a subscription twice in the past but for some reason, just did not get all the way through the process. How I got this free issue, I don't know. It just showed up in the mail yesterday.

As I read through the article titled, "Mission of the Family, Mission of the Church: A critique of the Family Integrated Church Model" in the 2011 Issue 3 printing, I heard the argument against the FIC. I put the magazine down and gave it some thought. Then I re-read the article. I also read an article review of the movie "Divided" in the magazine.

Something just wasn't clicking for me.

How could a magazine that believes Deuteronomy 6:7, say that the idea of a FIC is a poor idea?

One of their main arguments is that singles and the elderly are left out of the picture in FICs. Why would that be? If EVERYONE is attending Sunday School together then why would that exclude an elderly person? Why would it exclude a young adult? Maybe I'm misinterpreting the purpose of the FIC. Are they wanting a church full of JUST families? That would be hard for me to believe. Especially when I know of some of the homeschool fathers that support FIC such as Doug Phillips and Voddie Baucham. If I am wrong, please let me know!

In the review of the "Divided" movie HEFM argues that "It is notable that the film does not offer any measured response to FIC. There are many conservative, biblical Christians who reject FIC and I am sure it would not have been difficult to interview a couple of them. Leclerc does not allow any of them to speak." That's like asking why Ken Ham doesn't include the response of an evolutionist in any of his films. Realistically, documentaries are mostly one sided, no matter what the documentary is about, so that argument isn't valid.

"I see young people abandoning the church and though I am saddened by it, I Am Un-alarmed." What???? I read that sentence over and over trying to have that make sense.

Then in the next article, "I believe there is little debate...when it comes to fathers being...servant leaders of their homes and the family growing in love and admonition of the Lord while worshiping Him together in Spirit and truth." (bold emphasis mine)

Isn't that what the FIC is for, not against?

"A look at the demographics of the FIC movement reveal that FIC's are predominately made up of homeschool families with K-12th grade students. That statistic undermines the very term 'multi-generational' " My question to that would be, "Who do you think is going to begin the FIC churches, a bunch of teenagers?" No, it would be families that want to worship together as a family.

My only conclusion then is that a home schooling magazine that encourages Christian parent to bring their children home to be educated would be condoning a traditional church that separates a family for the better part of Sunday, that sends babies off from the security of their parents, lumps a bunch of young children together in one room and sends teenagers off on Sunday nights (or whatever night you have youth group) all to be taught from someone else other than their parents? Sounds to me like............well............. government school.

I could see Christians that already send their children to public school questioning FIC, but Christian homeschoolers?

With all that said, this is something that my husband and I will have to give a lot of prayer to. I'm not suggesting that anyone leave their traditional church at this point. We have no plans of looking elsewhere for now. It's just a thought that will need a lot of wisdom and guidance from the Lord.

What are your thoughts on Family Integrated Churches? I'd really love to hear!


Kim said...

Wow. You just spoke what's been on our hearts for some time. We just recently left a large church (that we really enjoyed) for this same reason. All of our kids were going in different directions and instead of seeing spiritual growth, we saw a couple of them moving toward a more "worldly view" of life. I'm not sure how a FIC church should look, but I know for us, dividing families into different groups (5 for us!), isn't working.

Thank you for confirming that we're not totally crazy! And thanks for the link to Puritan's Picks!


Crafty Maine Mom said...

Yeah! I have not read or seen the movie or article you talk about but our small church has been struggling with this issue. We now have a Children's lesson every Sunday which comes just after the first Bible lesson the kids leave as a group to have an active lesson as one group (takes three teachers) and then return as a group just after the sermon for the final hymn. All they miss is the sermon and the offering. And sometimes we come back in during the offering. We have an active youth population and they help teach the kids so it only takes one adult.

We also once a month have the kids stay in the sanctuary with quiet activities at tables and picnic blankets in the sanctuary. Usually on communion Sunday.

Holly said...

This is one reason I have become more accepting of Jakes decision to not attend church as often. I HATE sending our kids off to their own classes! Mostlly because of what they are being taught (ie: I picked up Silas and Lauren from thier Sunday School class the day before Halloween and walked in on their teacher lowering a candle into the jack-o-lantern and saying "Jesus calls us his little pumpkin") I can understand the sentiment, but it still made me upset and more importantly, got me thinking about what else I was missing. It was the ultimate pagan and most evil holiday turned acceptable and "christian" -making it Sunday school worthy?
Also, I love having the kids next to me. I love teaching them to obey, holding them while we sing, and watching them doodle. They are such a delight to me in church!

FabricFascination said...

I have not seen the video or read the articles, but I agree that everyone should be together at least through the singing and prayer portion of the service. I don't mind the younger children going off for a teaching and craft at their level for awhile. Our church does have occasional whole church services too.

Anonymous said...

Like most "ways" of doing things...FIC will work for some and not for others.... and at different times in the family life yes and others no..... So to have both options in place at church would be the way to serve needs of all.

Now that you have brought this to my attention, I can see our church has a modified family in church set up. My kids are out of the house so I did not consider attending.....

As a single mother three decades ago church was free baby sitting by some of the most loving people I have ever known. And it was adult teaching and conversation for an HOUR...

ktquilts said...

Oh my, wish you could come over for some coffee or tea and a long talk. I have lived this debate for the last several years. Please feel free to email me for a private conversation.

In prayer,


Erin @ Why Not Sew? Quilts said...

Great write-up Heather! I think this may be why home church is becoming more popular too. If you are a homeschool family, in particular, I can not see why you would send your child off (away from the parent) to "learn" about THE most important thing in their life.

Unknown said...

We watched Divided when it was available over the internet for free a couple months ago, loved it so much, and my husband ended up sending the link to our pastor who showed it to the whole church during Sunday School one morning! How exciting!

We've never sent our children away to children's programs, even when it was expected of us by leadership, and they really can handle it much better than most parents might think. It's amazing how much they can learn from the "adult" services and what they didn't quite understand we parents can fill in the gaps at home. And really, what they are learning in SS is "twaddle", isn't it?

We've moved a lot in our early married life and as a result did a lot of church shopping, if you will, and as I reflect over some of the tension we've experienced trying to keep our children with us I can make two observations-

1.) A church with programs for the children prefers to have those programs showing high attendance and participation and it's hard to fit in and fellowship when you're a problem causer.

And 2.) In some cases, the leaders of those churches were militant about getting our children away from us and swept in at the slightest rustle in our aisle encouraging (pressuring) us to remove the children for the benefit of the congregation. And it seems to me to be an adoption of the very wordly attitude that children are a burden rather than a blessing!

We're finishing our first year in our first FIC church and are so happy with the model as well as the freedom from the pressure of involving the children in programs when we'd rather spend our time worshipping the Lord together! We love that we can walk right alongside our children training them how to worship and we leave each Sunday with happy light hearts!

Excellent, intelligent post Heather!

Jennifer said...

We attend a 'typical' model church, but have kept our 17, 15, & 12 year-old with us during the entire service. At times we've felt like we've made a stir, but whenever asked we just say that our family enjoys worshipping together. The leadership has respected our decision. Our kids may not 'fit' the typical teen-youth scene, but we get together with other families with kids of all ages that they connect with.
We're familiar with the FIC model but there isn't anything like that where we live. I haven't seen the documentary...but have heard a lot from some other families who are intrigued by this model.
Great discussion~

Traci said...

I love your blog and have been reading it for the last several months but have never commented before today. I love your discussion about FIC model of worship. My husband and I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist Church with everyone doing their own thing in their own way. However, over the last few years, the Lord has been speaking to us about this very thing. We have felt that worship should be cooperately shared with our daughter, not passing her off to someone else and not know if what they taught lined up with how we were raising her.
About 14 months ago, He moved us to a FIC church, and we LOVE IT. As we struggled with not know if we were making the right move or not, God showed us what we needed to be certain. She has grown by leaps and bounds in her relationship with Him.
She not only sees us worshipping together, modeling this for her, but she doesn't see just us, she sees everyone worship together. We have families with just a few children and some with 10. She sees older couples, and young couples just starting out their lives together and singles, all worshipping together, just like we are one big happy family. We all seek to serve God and I think that this is one of the best attributes of this type of worship. We love it and are so thankful that God has joined us with others who have this same desire.
Thank you for this excellent discussion starter.
Praying that you and your family have a very, very Merry CHRISTmas and a wonderful new year ahead.

JennyM said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was interested in finding out if anyone else was also disturbed by the magazine's rather divisive stance on the FIC. I don't attend one, but honestly, I would if I could find one. I felt that the article misrepresented the movement, as you so clearly explained. I am also wondering why a magazine that I trying to appeal to a broad cross section of Christian homeschoolers would want to alienate one particular group? Not only that, but are you aware that this is the second issue in a row that has featured articles attacking the FIC? I was offended that a magazine would presume to pass judgements about churches and theology for me. I will soon write to them expressing my opinion, and that it means that I will not be renewing my subscription. I'm back to subscribing to The Old Schoolhouse, which has Bible based devotionals that aren't so judgmental. Thanks again and God Bless.

Mountain Home Quilts said...

WOW. Thank you everyone for all of your thoughtful comments- they have been wonderful to read!
I have replied to some of you personally, where I can, if your email was provided with your identity.
I wanted to comment on JennyM's recent comment....
I mentioned in the post that I hadn't yet subscribed to this magazine and wasn't sure how I got the free copy. Maybe they saw all my "tries" and thought, let's see if we can get this ball rolling with this lady!! I don't know. If that was the case, all they have done is actually made me not want to subscribe to their magazine. This is the first of theirs that I have read so I was unaware that they had previously argued against the FIC.
I find it funny that the magazine ended their article on the review of "Divided" with, "...the church would do well to ignore it."

Thanks. I believe that I'll be doing the same with your magazine.

Rachelle said...

Loved the post. I was very upset with the article in their magazine (which I currently get). I have the Divided DVD and Scott Brown's book a Weed in the Church. Many good points are made about our current "traditional" church model. I was sad and upset after reading the artilce you mentioned. And that other "christians" are attacking fellow Christians. The book is very good and everything he says is in love. The article in the magazine was not spoken in love. I don't understand the bashing of the FIC movement. If it isn't your style then so be it you don't have to put down others, if it is then it is a wonderful opportunity. Just like many who have commented our family has chosen not to send our kids to a separate class or the youth group. We have not yet tried to visit a FIC church.
Thank you for your post and it is nice to see there really are others out there who are likeminded.

Tonya Gunn said...

I agree 100%. We don't let our children attend regular youth group until they are 12 and all of the children stay with us during church.
Too many churches are pulling the family apart.
Warm wishes,

Mountain Home Quilts said...

Absolutely. You pointed out something that I had thought about but failed to include in this post...Christians vs. Christians. It is terribly sad that this magazine would attack other believers. And satan sits back and smiles..........

Amanda said...

I had to re-read this when I had a full moment to myself. I love it.

I will tell you that we are not members of an "organized" church right now. We left 3 years ago for much of the same reasons that you are talking about.

We are PRAYERFULLY searching...
We have been involved with home church since then and when we don't get together with other families, we worship here as a family.

I like the idea of fic, however, when I think of "church" I think more along the lines of the body of christ in a whole. I'm not sure traditional church is the answer nor fic? does that make sense?
I like what tonya says about letting her children be involved with activities at a certain age. In my mind...thats more like it.
But, I'm conviced. conviced, that the "organized" church as waaaaay too many "activities" for all ages and this is a problem.

It's important to define what "church" is to you and your family {i think} and make a decision from there.

so good of you to blog about this and open the comment box up for discussion.

The K. Family said...

We do a family type thing for Sunday School at our church. Different dads take turns teaching a lesson on whatever they choose and do it for the whole group, all ages. They usually gear it toward the younger children and often include a skit or a coloring sheet for them or sing a children's song. It works great and even the adults can learn from a children's lesson - maybe more than a deeper lesson! We have about 100 on an average Sunday and are an independant church probably most similar to the independant baptists. All the families homeschool so it just makes sence to keep the families together.

The K. Family said...

We do a family type thing for Sunday School at our church. Different dads take turns teaching a lesson on whatever they choose and do it for the whole group, all ages. They usually gear it toward the younger children and often include a skit or a coloring sheet for them or sing a children's song. It works great and even the adults can learn from a children's lesson - maybe more than a deeper lesson! We have about 100 on an average Sunday and are an independant church probably most similar to the independant baptists. All the families homeschool so it just makes sence to keep the families together.

Related Posts with Thumbnails