Sermon of the week: “What is a family integrated church?” by Scott Brown.

Tired of hearing what critics say family integrated churches believe? Dissuaded by the mischaracterization of what others claim family integrated churches teach? Want to hear what those in family integrated churches actually believe?

Then you will want to listen to what Scott Brown of The National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) has to say in his message entitled What is a family-integrated Church?

20 thoughts on “Sermon of the week: “What is a family integrated church?” by Scott Brown.

  1. I will definitely listen. This touches a raw nerve for me, as the “Family Integrated Church movement” has split part of our church. Many of the core families left, including some we considered friends…and one of my former “best friends” now condescendingly looks down on me because I work (part-time) outside the home and we don’t homeschool our kids (our conscience is clear on that before God).

    Based on what I’ve seen/read/heard/observed, the movement is steeped in legalism, judgementalism and a questionable ecclesiology. That said, I will certainly listen to see what he has to say.

  2. Marie,

    As with anything humans do, one can and will run into folks that provide an inaccurate view of the group they claim allegiance to. A little more than 2 years ago, my wife and I moved to a Family Integrated Church. I had long hated the war on family that I experienced in many churches, wherein the church staff was modeled after the culture, presenting child care professionals who took children away from parents for the entire time the family was on campus.

    My wife’s first impression of our church was a culture shock. But she has discovered a freedom and sincere love of Christ that she has found nowhere else. Our elders train parents to train their children; they tell prospective members that government schools make providing a Christian education twice as hard.

    Legalism and judgmentalism are found in many places. I would like to know what you consider “questionable ecclesiolgy”; several in our church have been “put off” by finding out what biblical rule of elders means – having been lied to for years that the church is a democracy.

    I look forward to hearing back from you after you listen to Mr. Brown’s message. May the Lord be your wisdom.

  3. 072591 says:

    This seems like my week for asking questions.

    Manfred: I noticed your line of church democracy as a lie; would it be accurate to conclude that you feel that congregational rule is unbiblical, and if so, please back it up.

  4. Why can’t I get to the sermon?? I click the link above and it takes me to the Sermon Audio main page, but there’s a window I can’t shut (either wanting me to subscribe or buy something) and I can’t see the title of this sermon anywhere.

    Manfred, I am very glad to hear that you and your wife have been blessed by going to a FIC! And I truly hope the same for the families who left our church – these folks really love the Lord. As far as the taking kids away totally during service, I agree with you; always did and initially that’s why I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about when these families started demanding “Family Integrated worship” — in our church, neither nursery, Sunday School or Junior Church for the kids has EVER been mandatory. Many families have their kids with them in service; that’s fine. Little did I know that that was just the tip of the FIC iceburg.

    Keep in mind – I have never been to a FIC personally; nor have I realized this is a “movement” for very long, so by no means am I claiming expertise on anything. When our Elders’ position paper came out, I saw this “FIC” referred to in capital letters; only then did I realize it was a movement and I began reading on the internet. Many of the criticisms against the movement’s philosophy were, sadly, exactly what I saw happen in my own church when some of these folks jumped on the FIC bandwagon. All of a sudden they’re all “Quiverfull” now, too.

    I am a student of Jay Adams’ nouthetic counseling courses, training for certification as a NANC counselor. One of the things we’re warned about (I believe it was in teh systematic theology course) is movements that, while they start off biblically, tend to get so wrapped up in a particular “cause” that A) they build a whole doctrine around it; and B) that pet cause begins to eclipse the Gospel message itself. (In context, it was the founder of the “Quiverfull” movement that was being discussed). That’s come to mind more than once when I’ve been in conversation with the FIC people I know. Which, obviously, doesn’t mean that FI churces are “bad” or “unbiblical” – in fact, as far as I can tell, they tend to be predominantly Reformed Baptist, which obviously I don’t have a problem with – but it appears that they consider the family to be the building block of the church (rather than individuals) and have re-instituted an OT model of patriarchy not found in NT churches. That last bit I gathered from an online analysis written by a pastor who’d come out of the movement; my own interaction with FIC folks has been limited to small-group fellowship.

    Actually, it’s not that I want to start a debate AT ALL, if someone can re-post a direct link to the sermon I’d certainly appreciate it because as with all things, there are always two sides to a story. I’d certainly like to hear more “straight from the horse’s mouth”, rather than form a solid conviction based on a few people’s bad experiences. I know Paul Washer is one of the movement’s leaders, and I’ve long listened to and respected him. But the arrogant idea that they are somehow “more spiritual” than my family because I work outside the home, admittedly, chaps my hide. Nowhere does my Bible say that is a sin (in fact, Proverbs 31 and Acts seem to indicate the opposite).

  5. 072591,

    #1 – nowhere in Scripture do we see the church vote on anything. The closest thing we see is the nomination of the first deacons to the Apostles.

    #2 – several places in Scripture we do see where the elders of the church have rule 0r oversight of the church (one name for the office of elder is overseer) and we do have a command to submit to the elders in our local church – same as a wife is to submit to her husband. 1 Tim 5:17 & 1 Pet 5:5 & Hebrews 13:17 for example.
    __________________________________________________
    Marie,

    When I click the link to the sermon, I get asked if I want to play the sermon or download the MP3 file. hmmmmm

    FICs (I speak for mine) do not see the family as the building block of the church but as the discipleship tool for the children.

    Quiver-full is an area I am not fully on board with, as it seems to be the one area not submitted to the wisdom God gives us, as are all other similar decisions. The Bible does NOT tell us to do nothing about the number of kids we have, merely that He opens and closes the womb.

    I am encouraged to hear you are in training for nouthetic counseling – there are far too many unbiblical counselors affiliated with churches. Press on!

  6. Marie:

    Try it again. If you get that same page just type in your e-mail and click continue and it will let you download the message. Don’t worry, they don’t send you anything.

  7. This is excellent — I’m a little over halfway, and he just addressed the ecclesiology misconception.

    I’m so glad you posted this – it’s been on my mind and it’s really good to get a thorough view of what they believe and practice from Brown himself. And I agree — 100% — with everything he’s saying. As Manfred said, if individuals take a ball and run with it in an unbiblical direction, that’s not a group’s fault. And this doesn’t seem like a “group”…just a desire to uphold a biblical model for church teaching and worship. I really can find no argument with his position!
    __________________________________________________

    Oops….”biblical femininity” = we women can’t work outside the home; it’s limited to staying home and having babies. He just lost me. Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe had her own business; the Proverbs 31 wife was commended for having a source of income and using it to benefit her family; and the Gospels record several women who cared for Jesus “out of their own means” (indicating they had a source of income). Were these women “keep[ing] at home?” Possibly, but they had a ministry besides.

    One never does biblical counseling “at home”, either.

    I certainly don’t disagree with the principle of complementarianism; he’s just taking it too far and saying more than the Bible says. That’s my only issue (with any movement). And it does lead to legalism.

  8. Marie,

    I agree with you on your latest comment about women working. If there are children at home, her primary responsibility is there. In our church, no problem with women who work, as long as the children are being trained up properly by mom AND dad :-)

  9. Shawn, Not every FIC is bound up in the error noted in that article. Much of the argument strikes me as straw man. A biblical FIC may have some age segregated activities – but will not have them institutionalized. A biblical FIC sees the family as the biblical discipleship tool – not the building block of the church (which is made up of individuals). A biblical FIC encourages older women to teach younger women – being mindful of the dangers of setting up some women as de-facto “elders” and of women being taught by other women things that may contradict or be taught by their own husbands.

  10. Hello Manfred,

    I find your observations confusing since I explicitly state that I am analyzing a confession that “many”–not all–FIC subscribe. I also point out the good points of the confession (parental authority, etc.). My point was the narrow and uncharitable and undocumented assertion that typical age-segregation is “evolutionary” etc.

    Lastly, if I have a straw-man somewhere, please specify. Ryan Glick, a worker at NCFIC, one-time intern for Mr. Brown and current church member of Mr. Brown’s church has stated explicitly how accurate my description and quotes were. Of course, he did not agree with my arguments but that is another story.

    If other FIC do not want to be associated with “errors noted” then they need to know about them (hence, my article) and should try to distance themselves. I think the first place would be to drop the moniker and stick with Reformed baptist, family friendly, etc.

  11. Shawn,

    If you wish for further explanation of my comment, please let me know which was confusing.

    The straw man argument I referred to was on the web site article you linked to – not in your comments. My apologies if that was confusing.

  12. Hello Manfred,

    Here’s the confusion: I wrote that article that you read. So, what I wrote in response was in that light :-)

    So, please what did you think I mis-represented?

    thanks,

  13. Shawn,

    Your article made hay on a couple of points that could have been stated better on the NCFIC confession – the “evolutionary” phrase is a good example. It’s a true statement, but inelegantly stated. No matter who embraced systematic age segregated programs, they are the result of cultural – not biblical – influences. You cite examples of Jewish as justification for new covenant churches. You bring out extreme examples of why you reject the regulative argument for the FIC approach (really – note-taking?).

    The NCFIC has a wide membership, as you noted. It is not a denomination.

    I belong to an FIC and we are realizing the importance of putting our theology on the front burner, using the tool of being FIC as the way of discipling people.

  14. Manfred,

    Thank you for your interaction of my paper.

    Perhaps you can help me out because the many number of lectures, articles and even the new book that I researched do not explain what is “systematic age-segregation” (or how you put it “institutionalized”). This is important because the confession is vague on this point. And I recently found out that “exceptions” are allowed. Why is 45 minutes a week in SS “systematic” and not an exception?

    [For the record: my church is NOT the typical program-driven church with families running hither and yonder. We catechize. Children are part of the public worship service. Older men mentor the younger.]

    Lastly you wrote: “It’s a true statement, but inelegantly stated. ” See my question above. I am sorry to be blunt: It is not “inelegantly” stated, it is sloppily stated as proven by my “note-taking” example: if some write “Italians are red-heads,” I only need one counter-example. If someone believes education methods have to be found in the bible, I only need one counter-example. So, the NCFIC’s main premise has to be modified but there are no passages used by NCFIC that allows a lesser premise, no passages that allow exceptions.

    I hope you understand my concerns,

    thanks

  15. Hello Shawn! I was looking for something else and this came up in the search so I guess I will jump in here for a second. I only have time for one comment, and that is in reference to the following statement: “If someone believes education methods have to be found in the bible, I only need one counter-example.” We do not maintain that the exact method must be found, but rather justified. There is a very big difference.

    This is simply the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. Here are some good quotes on that subject (emphasis added):

    John Frame: “From a view¬point governed by sola Scriptura, the ‘scope’ of Scripture, the range of subject matter to which it may be applied, is unlimited.” (“In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism: Reflections On Sola Scriptura and History in Theological Method,” Westminster Theological Journal 59, 2 (Fall 1997), 274.) “This means that all human actions are ruled by divine commandments. There is no neutral area where God permits us to be our own lawgivers. There is no area of human life where God abdicates his rule, or where his word to us is silent. What law governs the buying of cabbage? Well, 1 Cor. 10:31 at least, not to mention narrower biblical principles requiring parents to nourish their children, to guard the health of themselves and others, etc. Actions in accord with these biblical principles are right, actions not in accord with them are wrong. It is not a matter of merely avoiding explicit prohibitions; rather it is a matter of keeping the commands of God.” (“Some Questions about the Regulative Principle,” Westminster Theological Journal 54, 2 (Fall 1992), 362.)

    Scott Aniol states, “Indeed, anyone who claims to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture for faith and practice must be willing to apply the Bible’s principles to every situation whether or not that situation is explicitly addressed in the pages of the Bible. To fail to do so is to deny the profitability of the Word of God. As Ralston admonishes, “If the apostle Paul taught the universal profitability of the Scriptures for Christian ethics (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and the danger of information without action (1 Cor. 8:1), then those who ignore this final interpretive task encourage spiritual dysfunction. Ultimately, they have failed in the ministry of the Word.” (http://sharperiron.org/2009/03/27/biblical-authority-in-matters-of-faith-and-practice-part-3)

    Gary Gilley, “Who or what has the right, the authority, to determine what we believe and how we are to live? The answer to that question, not so very long ago, was quite uncomplicated—at least to evangelical Christians. The Word of God was the final authority over all areas of faith and practice. One of the battle cries of the Reformation was sola Scriptura—Scripture alone. This simply meant that the ultimate basis of authority and truth was Scripture. Scripture had the final say over all we believed and how we lived those beliefs. More than that, the Bible was seen as sufficient. That is, what the Word had to say was adequate to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). No one claimed that Scripture exhausted every subject—or even addressed some (e.g., mathematics). But where it did not give direct teaching it gave principles by which we could examine and evaluate all things “pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). That Scripture claims for itself such authority and sufficiency was widely accepted based upon numerous passages (e.g., John 17:17; Mark 12:24; Luke 11:25; 16:27-31; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:25; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:20-32; Psalm 19, 119; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Matthew 5:17-20; 12:18-27; 26:52-54; Luke 10:25-26; 16:17). But, for the most part, the evangelical church today does not believe this. The authority and sufficiency of God’s Word is being supplanted at every turn.( The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture http://www.svchapel.org/resources/articles/26-scripture/578-the-authority-and-sufficiency-of-scripture)

    I hope that clears that misunderstanding. We do not require a practice to be explicitly found in the pages of Scripture, just justified by the general rules of the Word. We are not presenting some new radical doctrine. This is simply the reformation principle applied to discipleship.

    Thanks,
    Ryan Glick

  16. Shawn,

    I do not care to follow your argument against the NCFIC, as I do not care to defend an organization. There is not a monolithic FIC group.

    The concept of the church supporting and building up families is something I do care about. I’ve spent too many years in churches that divide and conquer the family – positing their child care as experts whose job it is to take the children from the parents while the family is on the church campus. I am delighted to belong to a reformed Baptist FIC whose elders are not comfortable that they have everything figured out. The critical focus – to exalt Christ – is firmly in place. The important element of training parents rather than displacing them is firmly in place.

    SDG

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