Family-Integrated Church

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The church had to grow and adapt. Staff had to increase.


We do not join the great corporation of Christ but we become part of His bride. Wise parents will acknowledge the unique role that other Christians should have in the discipleship of their children. That said, within the movement there is a fair bit of diversity. The primary difference is it is age-integrated and family-directed, and not commanded from the leadership. Again, I am not calling into question the motives of anyone, just reporting historical facts. The family unit is the basic building block for both society and the church.

Support staff had to be added to help the staff reach the various groups. Larger buildings were needed to support the growth of families that were willing to allow the church staff to train their children. As the church grew and became popular, more structure was needed.

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The days of one pastor studying, praying, and visiting his members were quickly becoming a distant memory. Ministry was being redefined and quantified. Numerical growth, facilities, staff size, and outreach all became the goal. Again, I am not calling into question the motives of anyone, just reporting historical facts.

Part of what happened was some churches became huge. New terms were coined, like mega-church and hyper-growth.

These became the visible ministries that purchased TV and radio time. Success breeds imitation. This ministry model became THE ministry model. Young pastors wanted to become the next mega-ministry to leave their mark on the world. Seminaries began to teach young students this model is the one that will lead to success. A large staff, huge budget, growing congregation, and ever-present facility expansion became the norm.

More than the norm, it became the plumb line for success. The bigness of a church demands structure and organization. Department heads, countless volunteers, payroll, financing, fund raising, maintenance, and clerical staff became a need. The church had arrived at the pinnacle of success. Millions of dollars and hundreds of employees demands organization. Leadership seminars and books proliferated. Speakers, seminars, conferences, training, all in the quest for success became standard training for church leaders.

A pastor will receive a great deal of training in leadership but how much in effective prayer? The ins and outs of advance fund raising and staff management are required but how much in developing personal relationships? Here is something that I call a dirty little secret — this model produces activity because of job security and not necessarily results achieved.

Every staff person must produce and earn their share of the budget or their job will be in jeopardy. Thus, you have an explosion of meetings, outreaches, and events in order to justify the salary paid. We must stay busy or we will be out on the street. This breeds infighting, competition, and many times strife over money, people, and face time before the congregation. The vision of the church is often fractured around strong personalities and individual visions.

You seem to know something about all of this — can you explain your background a bit? As I was pursuing this goal, God called me to walk away from it.

F.I.C (Family Integrated Church)

I did not know what He had in mind, but I was not too happy. We ended up going to a large church in KC where I noticed an advertisement for help with the bookkeeping. I offered to assist and shortly thereafter, the church offered me the position of church administrator. During the next eleven years, I worked like crazy. We grew from to attendees. I helped build the infrastructure of this church. Hired the department heads, associate pastors, was in charge of basically everything from the facilities to being the elder in charge of the Christian school.

I taught, led the staff, had dozens of meetings, and basically ran on adrenalin overload for over a decade. I was able to build the ultimate church structure and we were hugely successful.

We had a network of over 40 churches and we were the hot spot in KC. In , the senior pastor ran off with his book editor and chaos reigned. During my final few months there, many of my views of what a pastor should do were challenged. Actually, this evaluation time had begun a few years earlier, but now these thoughts were being forced into the forefront. A couple of years before this, I had begun to question the wisdom of what we built. One event stood out in my mind as I revisit all of this. I took a week once to interview the junior and senior students at our Christian school.

Out of these young people, I found just a few that really loved the Lord. This struck me as sad since we had these young people under our care since birth. Where had we failed to reach them? I have since learned that this is not a unique finding. How could this be? How could we be losing these young people in such huge numbers? As I contemplated the changes coming to my personal world, I began to entertain some new thoughts.

Families Worship Together

What did the Bible actually say the job of a pastor was anyway? I knew what I had been doing, but what did the Scripture specifically say? If I ever started a church, what would it look like in function and vision? If the fruit of what we were doing was so poor, what could we do differently? These are dangerous thoughts indeed. In December , Hope Family Fellowship was birthed.

Do Family Integrated Churches Ignore the Lost%3F

Our goal was to not do much of what the corporate church had decided was required to be successful. The goal switched from being financially and corporately successful to helping families take the responsibility for their own spiritual development and discipleship. I would challenge fathers to lead their families. In fact, I would resist having them delegate that responsibility to me as the pastor and to the church organizationally.

Up until then, we thought we were alone and just plain weird. How did you come to these conclusions about family integration? The question I had to answer was if a church were not going to be corporate in structure, how would it operate? As I studied this, it became clear that much of what I had been doing was not mandated in the Scripture. Here is a quick summary:. If the Bible washed up on a deserted island and was found by someone who had never seen one before what would they do based on what they read? While we cannot know for sure, no serious thinker would come up with an age-segregated, corporate model from the pages of Scripture.

Nowhere within the pages of Scripture is a reader going to find what we do today as church. In neither Testament will the family being separated into parts come into focus. The family is always primary and almost always intact. In the Old Testament, using either the tabernacle or the temple model, the family is usually either all together or the father represents the whole unit.

It was unheard of to isolate the various segments of the family.

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The same pattern is true in the New Testament. There is no mandate for the organized church to isolate. The picture presented in both Testaments is a family unit serving God together.

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The father is leading and the family is in step with him. While there is an organizational structure in the Old Testament, even this is always tied to the father.

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The modern church has largely ignored the warning. While we agree that discipleship starts in the home, it must reach out into our neighborhoods, our nation, and the world. Additionally, Evident Life Church is a multi-generational church, which values the interaction and involvement of all age groups. While our family-integrated approach to church life is an important characteristic of our unique calling in the greater body of Christ, it is only seen as valuable as much as it enhances our ability to fulfill our primary calling of loving God and loving others as we make disciples, evangelize, encounter the presence of God, and pray.

These are the roots that make an evident life go deep. The Family. Additional Views Involving the Family We affirm that men are called to be the spiritual covering and servant-leaders for their families. Conclusion While our family-integrated approach to church life is an important characteristic of our unique calling in the greater body of Christ, it is only seen as valuable as much as it enhances our ability to fulfill our primary calling of loving God and loving others as we make disciples, evangelize, encounter the presence of God, and pray.

Nature: In the modern digital age, Christians sign many and sundry contracts and statements such as when they start a new email account, download Adobe reader or otherwise purchase items online. And the nature of a confession is a public declaration of important issues common to those who have signed it. They have agreed with the substance of the confession.

Functional Family: The Family Integrated Church

While we wish this were not so, we encourage churches to be honest about their true convictions and practices. Because I cannot agree with this substantive issue, and the nature of signing this public confession is to confess this substantive issue, I cannot sign this confession. However it includes a dogged propagation of this sectarian viewpoint as follows:. Since they are more concerned with helping families find family-integrated churches than Reformed churches, I cannot support their effort with my name or the name of my church.