Monday, April 26, 2010

The Family Integrated Church


Our family attends a family integrated church. I wanted to share a bit about family integrated churches because I strongly support them and believe many people would be blessed by them if they only knew such churches existed. What is a family integrated church you ask? It is a church that worships together as a family (no childrens school or youth groups), but is so much more than that. This is a place where there is sound doctrine and a family can find like minded fellowship with other families who are committed to raising their children for the Lord and fathers are encouraged and discipled to be leaders of their homes and lead in such a way to bring glory to God.

Most of the family integrated churches I have visited are predominantly homeschoolers but do have members who aren't. I have found their fellowship to be sweet and intimate, something harder to find in a mega church. I have seen fathers exhorted to lead and encouraged from the pulpit in a myriad of ways. Women are encouraged to love the Lord, their husbands and children instead of heading up the latest woman's ministry. At this church having a big family is the norm, welcomed and considered a blessing from God---you will not get gawking, mean stares or rude comments because you have more than the average 2.5 children. (This happens to many moms and unfortunately right in church!)

At a FIC you can find ministries designed to support the family. For example, they will host events that promote relationships such as father/son events or mother/daughter tea or like the Maidens of Virtue/Men of Valor group I have written about in the past or homeschool events. They will host family events or serve in a way that help promote families to become a stronger unit. Just yesterday for church we had a gathering afterwards at a dear friends home and her husband taught on the subject of "How to do Ministry as a Family', which was absolutely excellent and encouraging!

There are different denominations that can be found within the FIC and they can be found all over the United States. One well known pastor who has an FIC church that you may know of is Voddie Baucham of Grace Family Baptist Church.

Many families have asked us where they could find like minded fellowship, churches, friends that share their same values because they feel they are living a bit differently than what is considered mainstream Christianity. They have read things here on my blog and wondered where those families existed because they did not see anything like that at the churches they were attending. Well, here is where our family has found families who share our strong faith and family values---at the family integrated church. We have visited four so far and were blessed at all of them. Here is the official website that I wanted to share with you that contains more information on the FIC and an easy-to-use clickable map to find one in your area:

The National Center of Family Integrated Churches



***UPDATE***

If you are looking for a church,
we just planted one!
Come and visit us at New Hope Christian Fellowship!




36 comments:

hebrews110 said...

Thank you for the resource. I had no idea you could search for churches where children are welcomed into the "adult" worship service. We've always kept our children with us at church. We're a family expecting our fifth child :)

Jasmine said...

June, thank you for this information. I meant to tell you in our last email that I do know of them. There's FIC church about 45 minutes away from us. It's the closest one.

My husband's only hestitation is that it's not as close as we would have liked. However, we are willing to visit.

I enjoy Scott Brown and Doug Phillips immensely. A friend of mine just moved to Mr. Brown's community and she said they welcomed her with open arms - and by the time they arrived from NY to the Carolina's - everything was unpacked by the church and the house ready to move into.

She was so blessed it made me want to move up South. :))

Thanks for all you do, June.

Angie said...

Back in the day before programs and kids church...all churches were "family integrated churches." The whole family sat together and worshiped together. Kids learned how to behave and to respect the church and those around them. And some of my favorite memories as a child was seeing aunts, uncles, my mother and father and even my grandparents, pray, cry, clap and worship. I think kids miss out on seeing those things when they're separated from the adults.

Mrs B said...

Great to know what they're called... sadly after much googling they either don't exist here in Australia or are called something else.

Kristi said...

We are traveling 1 1/2 hours there and back each Sunday to attend a Family Integrated Church - we finally feel like we are home and it has been such a Blessing - I encourage others to keep searching and be willing to drive - if you find like-mindedness it is so worth it to drive - we have a friend who said to us "A church that is ALIVE is worth the drive". We have come to love this saying . . . there are some days we wish it was closer, but for now it is not and we are SO SO THANKFUL to finally have found something. We tried everything on the NCFIC.org in our area and none of them worked, so we finally started driving farther and we finally found one - we are PRAISING the Lord!!! We are also realizing He may be calling us to plant something someday after we have been with this "body of believers" for awhile - so it is good to keep yourself open to what the Lord may be doing. Thank you for your post on this :).

Mominpa said...

I *HEART* our FIC... we have only attended since last June... it has been the BEST THING for our whole family....

Amanda said...

We started attending a FIC about 5 years ago and have loved it! What a blessing to have our precious little ones right there with us!

Christa said...

We attend a family integrated church as well and love it. I don't think we could ever go to anything else again. We drive 45 minutes and we have a family in our church who travels 2 hours. They say it's worth it. I agree.

Blessings,

Christa

Erika said...

interesting. My husband and I were discussing this recently. Both of us grew up attending church with our family (meaning we didn't leave at any point to go to a childrens class/church). He did have a Sunday school but it was when his parents went to their class.
Here most seem to provide a children's church or class, but I've not had any that have an issue with the children staying with us. Right now we do some Sundays with us and some they get to go with the other children.

Leah said...

We'd love to be a part of a FIC but word hasn't hit the UK too much yet (!!), we were honoured to be able to attend the GFB FIC conference last year and gleaned SO Much from the wealth of wisdom and experience there. We are part of a fantastic congregation here where we practice our own values within (and no one questions us!!), the children sit with us during the whole meeting and aren't part of the childrens ministiry etc. We'll just have to wait (and pray) and see what happens here in England...or pioneer one ourselves at some point :)

Eagle's Wings said...

We attend a family integrated church in Indiana. We don't have a website up at this time. If anyone is interested they can contact me.

Liberia Adoption said...

We just started a FIC one month ago in Oklahoma. My husband is the pastor/elder. It has already blessed us so much!! We have three families who have 7 children. We were able to visit Grace Family Baptist in Oct. and God used that to help actualize His vision. It is called The Risen Church and should be added to the FIC website soon:)!! Thanks for posting about this! It is an incredible blessing for our family to be a part of a church whose desire is to build strong families for God's kingdom!

Bree said...

I participate in a Home fellowship where kids are welcome and a contributing factor in fellowship (as they are comfortable and able). I can't imagine it any other way. I get to train my children up and they get to see our zeal and love for God also! Great post! (www.theway.org)

Jaime G said...

We embrace many of the philosophies of the FIC, and are in the process of planting a new church in Northeast Illinois (Lake County), just north of Chicago. We covet your prayers!

NW said...

Dear June,
Amen to all that you said! No need to convict me any further on this subject. It is my strong conviction that strong families make strong churches (and societies, as a whole, for that matter). However, having attended both a "FIC" and another church, not nearly as "FI" because of the demographic but still having fraternal relations with our former church, I have made the following observations:
-Our former "FIC" had many young families, with many children, (a blessing, of course) but these families were so busy with simple day-to-day things, to the point that I felt "community" was lacking, significantly. Their participation in corporate prayer, special fellowship opportunities, etc, was few and far between. As a newlywed, and then later as a new mom, I was desperate for Titus 2 help, but it was very difficult to find as the church's mothers were very busy. In fact, many families in this body seemed very "anti-getting-together-any-other-time-than-Sunday-worship". Just the thought of a "women's ministry" or "youth fellowship" on any sort of a regular basis sent people running.

-Further, it took moving to this new church (because of a household move) where I finally found formal Titus 2 mentoring. This new church is far less "FI" and holds a weekly "women's and men's ministry". In other words, it is much less of "the mold" of what I'd normally be looking for, but it is offering me, personally, so much more (blessing me in my roles as wife and mother) than the previous body.

The main point - in certain cases, FIC's can be very exclusive. Sometimes, churches with strong families can fragment the body because it is very hard for them to gather (or help with charity/service, etc) with the body any other time than Sunday mornings. Also, FIC may make Christian singles, and/or "broken" families feel awkward and/or ostracized.

Thoughts? I'd appreciate comment.

daring2bdifferent said...

Wow, finally yet another someone who knows what, let alone has heard of, the concept of FIC! ;) (From my experiences, not many people have heard of what it is and how it works.) My family is actually in the process of trying to move half way across the country to attend Grace Family Baptist Church (Dr. Voddie Baucham's church.) Before we had even heard of Pastor Baucham's church, our family had been worshipping together instead of separating into the different age-segregated classes, but we really needed to be with other people who believe the same thing. Glad to see all these resources for FIC, thank you!

Christie said...

Just some "food for thought" about family-integrated churches - a bit of a caveat (our experience anyway)...

We used to attend one, and we so appreciated the fellowship of like-minded believers. We were constantly encouraged in our beliefs about modesty, courtship, homeschooling, roles in marriage, having children, home discipleship, etc. It was "fellowship with like-minded believers" that drew us to a family-integrated church. We wanted to be around people who were like us.

Over time though, we found our thoughts increasing in self-focus. All of our efforts were spent on how we were living as a family, how we were training our children, the skills they were developing, preparing them for marriage, etc. (which of course are all very good things!)

Unfortunately, we were developing tunnel-vision, focusing all of our efforts on building our own "kingdom" (our family) while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to a world full of hurting people...easy to do amidst the confines of a family-integrated atmosphere where all of the focus is "your family".

It was really easy to be around "strong" families. Ministry consisted of words/notes of encouragement, a pot of soup for the sick, hospitality, etc.

But our hearts were stirring for all the poor and needy sitting in the pews of the mega churches or evangelical churches...all the wounded marriages and rebellious children. It's so much harder to be around people with messy lives but that's were the love is most needed - it is the mission field! People desperately need to know God's love.

Looking back now, I can see that when we attended the family-integrated church we were focused on what we were getting versus what we were giving.

Now that we are no longer immersed in a family-integrated church, we are not constantly surrounded by those who share our same beliefs (though we still fellowship from time to time). However, our faith has been strengthened by that. We have to stay in God's Word and be fully convinced in our own minds of what we believe.

Blessings to you!

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

Hi Christie,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, I believe that any church can have a inward focus, whether they are family integrated or not. There are also churches that are more evangelistic or ministry minded than others. There are pros and cons in the average church, the mega church and the FIC. I believe we are imperfect as the body of Christ and it will reflect in that arena as well. Praise God that He is perfect where we are weak. May we learn from these weaknesses and gain strength to overcome them and become the church we need to be for Jesus Christ.

****************

Dear NW,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well. I have visited 4 different FIC and have found them all to be uniquely different but with the same goals that I listed in my post. They have opened their arms to us and I never found them to be exclusive but instead embraced us with love. They all approach ministry in a different way, some more traditionally others more creatively, but they all have a burning heart for the lost.

I am sorry you found it hard to gather together to find fellowship, etc., but I also know very lonely people and families who are in mega churches too. This doesn't necessarily mean it is the churches fault either. As I shared with the reader above, I don't believe a perfect church exists, but I am hoping we can learn from our mistakes and grow from them.

As for broken families and singles----well, I cannot speak for them and won't. But I will say there are many singles and widows who exist at these churches and are truly committed. I know most FIC churches try their best to make them feel like one of the family--so no one is ever left out which is what any good Christian church should do anyway.

As for becoming self focused---I have heard all the pastors preach 'normal' sermons that actually challenge us to look outside our four walls as a church. It is actually a BLESSING to hear our responsibilities being taught to us from the pulpit as I believe there would be less broken families and teen rebellion if parents were taught how to disciple and shepherd their families. I had looked every for that kind of teaching because I was so hungry for it. I found much of it at Vision Forum before I attend a FIC. Then my husband and I decided to teach it at our church and that is how our HomeBuilders ministry was birthed.

Many blessings...

Jessica said...

I wouldn't trade my small, old fashioned Independent Baptist Church for anything in the world!I could not imagine going to a mega church where nobody knew my name. I could not imagine my teens going to a "special" service during preaching, and we all rejoice to her the sounds of children in the church. Yes, even during preaching. It means that there is LIFE in the church. I love to see an elderly person greeted by a young person who is genuinely happy to see them. How will our young people learn to love and care for others if they are isolated from them? I loved this post sooo much. Thanks and God bless!

Rhonda Devine said...

We LOVE having our children with us! Children need to see their parents worship Christ~why disconnect them from the reality of your faith? Historically, children were never separated from their parents so FIC is not a new thing, just a return to the "old paths", which is very scriptural. In the O.T. and N.T. you will find children were a part of the gathering of believers.
Though our family ministers at a mega church and a FIC(we lead the worship where June attends with her family) as well~we believe any church/christian can become inward focused if families are not challenged. In our FIC, we have found that fathers are encouraged to lead their families to reach out and minister to those around them, instead of just letting the church staff do it all.
We also have singles, widows, and believers who have unbelieving spouses~they are warmly welcomed into our congregation~as a matter of fact we love them dearly and feel they are a integral part of the body of Christ. Being all together promotes this love and unity, instead of dividing everyone up into categories.
It can be extremely challenging for large families to function in a traditional church if they want their children with them. FICs provide an atmosphere where parents can feel free to keep their children with them without feeling ridiculed. The last place we should feel that way is when we walk into the body of believers~you expect it from the world, but going to church should be a source of encouragement~FICs provide just that.

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

To the person who sent me a link regarding VF and FIC's (I will not mention your name to protect your privacy),

Thank you for sending me the link, I have read over it thoroughly and have chosen not to post it for several reasons. I write the following with gentleness and love:

We cannot use a broad brush in judging all churches. The church is the bride and of Christ and are its members are His followers of whom He died for. We need to be very careful about sharing information that is not fully true or that we have not investigated ourselves. We cannot speak on behalf of all churches if we have not visited them ourselves to see if what is said about them is true or not. This would be giving a false report against other brothers and sisters in Christ. While the internet has allowed us to receive and spread a wealth of information faster than ever before, we need to be even more cautious and vigilant with what we believe to be true, investigating all reports before we deem them worthy of being passed on.

Please know I am not judging you as a reader for sending this. I know you were probably well meaning and have good intentions. Having attended four different FIC's and knowing many of the people there very well, I can wholeheartedly say the article is false.

Thank you for taking the time to share and bringing the link to my attention.

Many blessings...

Zombiemommy said...

A counterpoint.

I like the idea of FIC. But for us we did a housechurch for a while and for us it didn't work.
I have a 4,2 and 1 year old and honestly it was too hard on me, the children constantly needed attention and I didn't get to listen to the lessons.
I was always watching the children, trying to get them to stay focused, stop hitting each other, stop playing, etc.

So for us, I enjoy at this stage in our life a church with a children's ministry. The kids do stay in the service the first 30 minutes and then get dismissed (except for the real little ones under 2, they go straight to class). I can actually get something out of the lesson instead of running around the whole time trying to keep an eye on the kids (if they are in the basement, or outside etc).

When they get older we may try again something like this, but for now it works.

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

Dear Zombiemommy,

I understand how that can be difficult. I have 8 children myself and had to take the time to train them along with my husband, just as if I would have them sit to read a book on my lap or watch a movie. My children did not stay perfectly still either and would wiggle around and make peeps here and there (still do!). But in time it got easier and they adjusted to being in the sanctuary pretty quickly, we just tried to be patient. I can imagine in a home setting it might be harder because they are used to being relaxed in a home and not realizing that church service is occurring at their young age.

As for our family, a few tricks I found that aworked for us was bringing a church backpack filled with little things for them to do and foods they could eat while listening to the sermon. They could have books, coloring books, crayons,colored pencils, quiet toys, stickers and a snack. This usually helped immensely. One FIC we had visited had cute little 'childrens bags' that you could use if you forgot yours and they contained similar items--finger puppets, snacks, etc. The children ALWAYS loved these and were happy as clams.

I know you said you might try it again so that is why I included some helpful tips. I know many moms who practice doing a 'sitting time' or 'blanket time' at home to get the child used to small amounts of time being still. I think it is good because it teaches them at a young age to begin to learn a bit about self control.

If you every consider it again,like you stated you might and as the Lord leads, I hope the tips I mentioned here would prove to be helpful.

Many blessings...

Laurel H. said...

Sigh; I SO wish we had an FIC nearby. We are of the family integrated approach/mindset, and yes we are homeschoolers; we are truly alone in this. Ah well...

Frau Guten Tag said...

I am curious: my son is 1 & he normally goes in the nursery at our church. Occasionally if he's sick he can't go to the nursery, so then we take him with us to the overflow building (where it is "family friendly"). But I have to say that I am not learning anything on those days, I can't concentrate when I have a 1 year old to keep entertained. I'm the type who likes to really pay attention & take notes. I'm not knocking the FIC, just curious as to how people make it work.

Queen of the Roses said...

Out of curiosity, how would a FIC view a couple (rather old or young) who did not yet have children and therefore, are not of the homeschooling crowd?

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

Dear Queen of Roses,

They are embraced as family!

I have seen this personally---and by the way, homeschooling does not and should not determine whether you are accepted into the church. That goes for a FIC church or any other kind of church as well.

Hope that helps!

Many blessings...

Stam House said...

Love it!!! we love having our little one with us in church and also that they as well as us are taught sound doctrine!

Thanks for sharing!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

With our church we have a bunch of lady that call themselves salt shakers. They help with meals after a funeral, work in the kitchen and do a lot of other things around the church. No one person does it. The same with the mowing of the church lawn and cleaning the church. Whoever wishes to signs up to take care of these chores. We are one big happy family there and very close and we all try our best to take care of one another rather than saying "oh that is so and so's job.

Carrie said...

I love this post; it's as if you read my mind! I've been torn and haven't found a church that I can call home for a very long time. I enjoy listening to Voddie Baucham (I had no idea his church was FIC!) and I look forward to hearing him speak at our state's homeschool conference in May. Thank you for providing the resource link!

Anonymous said...

My family and I used to belong to a church like that. It isolated us. See, the idea of training your child to behave and be quite during service is a lovely one, but it isn't possible if you have a child that has special needs. Because of my son's issues he couldn't be a perfect child (nor could he be 'trained' to be so) and we were gawked at, shushed, and given many a dirty look. What hurts the most is that most of the members were related to us. So we moved to a bigger church that accepted us as an imperfect family with open arms. My son can go be with his peers and feel 'normal'. I can concentrate on my relationship with God because I know that my son is where God wants him to be. This post just broke my heart and brought back all those horrible feelings...

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am so sorry to hear your story, I just heard a similar story the other day from a family that had a special needs child and struggled in a regular church atmosphere.

I assure you that the children in our church are not "perfectly trained" or "quiet" and they do make noise and it is not looked down upon at all. We know that they will make noise and expect it.

I think every church has a different approach to how they handle children and we need to chose what fits us best.

Many blessings...

Tiaan de klerk said...

Dear Leah I already replied to your thread but it did not register. So if you somehow get this message twice I apologise. My name is Tiaan and I'm a missionary in the British army currently posted with my wife and 3 children in Hampshire. We find ourselves in similar circumstances as you hveve described of your family. We too have been praying that the Lord of Glory would lead us to find fellowship where as in the book of Judges the young and the old are brought together to be taught from the Word. My email is tiaandc@gmail.com pleas get in contact if you are at all near Hampshire.   Yours in the Lord Tiaan

Tiaan de klerk said...

I meant to say book of joshua Joshua

Ayr said...

Pray for us as we seek to build here in the UK or alternatively, come over and help us! http://ayrfreechurchcontinuing.co.uk/

clanmc61 said...

Hi I know this is an old post but there is now group promoting FIC in Australia it's a yahoo group called Australian Biblical Families and Church