The following post was contributed by C4FIC Board member Eric Burd.
“Family-Integrated Church” – have you heard of it? In centuries past it would just be called “church.”
Though the term “Family-Integrated Church” (FIC) is rather new, in practice it has been around for 2000 years. Of course, while each FIC is unique, we tend toward simple services, worshipping together as families, dispensing with programs like youth groups and placing a great deal of emphasis upon sound expository preaching as the centerpiece of our Sunday services.
Some have expressed concern that the Family-Integrated Church has set the family up as an “idol.” Certainly that can be done. But, does it automatically follow that simply because the family worships together we have made an idol of the family? Or, that because we do not comply with contemporary church models that the family is an idol? Have the members of Family-Integrated Churches made an idol of the family more than Baptists have made an idol of baptism, or Lutherans of Martin Luther?
These terms, Baptist and Lutheran are labels, like Family-Integrated Church, that merely communicate a message. They clarify and define various phenomena in the church – much of it healthy. Is it to be lamented that Luther broke away from the Roman Church? Haven’t labels such as Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Disciples of Christ, Congregational, Episcopal, etc., generally emerged as “causes” that were intended to restore some neglected, if not forgotten, truth to the universal church?
With no intention of leaving their original church roots, many denominational founders were crying out to repair devastating breaches between the status quo and the mandates of scripture. Seeking to unite the church under seemingly-obvious truths, they desired to reform aspects of the church to some purity, power or vitality that was the New Testament Church. Even today, many of their works remain long after as guardians of some healthy aspect of biblical reform within mainstream evangelicalism.
Like them, we in Family-Integrated Churches put forward reforms derived from the scriptures. Our desire is not to tear down, but to build up. Along with godly pastors and youth ministers around the world, we cry out for revival among our youth. We are comrades in arms with men who preach sound doctrine and weep for the souls the next generation. With them our desire is to elevate Christ; to make and keep Him at the center of everything we do.
But we must speak! The methodologies that have emerged in recent centuries are failed; and their fruit is proven in the continued decline of the church. Any prudent observer can see that our youth are falling away from the church at an alarming rate and many who remain fail to embrace a truly biblical worldview. What are we going to do? How is God going to sustain the church of tomorrow? – by the parents of today following their biblical responsibilities to disciple their own children.
This is the heartbeat of the FIC message. And we cry out. We must compel the church to repair the breach between scripture and the status quo. We must cry out to save the next generation by equipping parents to actively and intentionally disciple their own children. We cannot afford to continue rocking parents to sleep in a false security that their children will be discipled within the walls of the church building. This is the message of the FIC – “Fathers, teach your children!” And, to the degree that the church is not vehemently proclaiming this message from every pulpit in America, we must cry out for reform.
This is not an easy message. Crying out is not enough. Our only validation is the fruit of our own families and churches. Don’t believe us for our much speaking – but for the fruit of our lives. Come test it! See if we do more than talk. And if our fruit, the retention of our children in the faith, is superior to the church at large – then, please consider our plea.
Yes, like Baptist, Lutheran, etc., Family-Integrated Church is a label. We wear it simply to make a distinction that this is where we communicate to families that the Christian home is God’s primary conduit of the gospel from one generation to the next.