Saturday, May 14, 2011

On Family-Integration

Family-integration was a new concept to me a few years ago. The idea was simple enough: families remain together whenever the church gets together. However, since I had been raised in churches with nurseries, Sunday Schools, and youth groups, the idea of integrating the entire family into the gathering was new to me.

I remember the first time we visited a family-integrated church. We walked into a rented school auditorium to see everyone together - all ages. It was beautiful and natural. There was a good deal of noise because kids make noise. No problem there. The church still had many traditional church trappings such as sitting in rows, an order of worship, one man preaching, etc. Afterwards, however, we all shared a meal together. We had a great time.

Although we enjoyed our time with this fellowship, we didn't remain for more than a couple of weeks. The reason was simple enough: the main focus of this particular church seemed to be family rather than Jesus Christ. That may be a bit unfair, but it was how we felt at the time. Regardless, I'm thankful for the people's attempt to keep their families intact as they gather.

I have a friend who currently serves as an SBC pastor at a large church. He desires to keep his own family integrated and introduce some of these ideas to his church family. He has started teaching a family-integrated Sunday School class. Sadly, he has received a decent amount of negative backlash for doing so. One lady in the church told him, "That's not what Southern Baptists do."

I'm all in favor of family-integration. The interesting thing is that now that we are part of simple church life, family-integration is not an issue. When we get together, the families are together. It's just the way it is. We come together, hang out, talk with one another, share the Lord's Supper, sing songs, discuss scripture, etc. While we are doing this the kids are right with us. Of course during the less structured times they scatter to various parts of the house. But the point is that we are all together.

Simple church simplifies family-integration. Instead of focusing on that one issue or having to face semi-persecution for introducing the ideas, family-integration works seamlessly into simple church gatherings. It's not even something we discuss. It's just what occurs.

To read more about family-integration, visit this website. Also, Voddie Baucham has many good things to say about the issue.


Arthur Sido said...

That story about your friend doesn't surprise me. How can the pastor keep his kids in church when everyone else sends theirs to children's church?!

Jeffrey said...

Good stuff:

Just as the family seemed to be the focus of a family integrated church (they were stuck on that issue)The next logical step for believers who home-church, is to not get stuck on home-churching. Eric, as you said on another post, I get that this is a home-church blog, but my strong encouragement to many home-churchers is to examine whether you are stuck on this issue.

There are many reasons that I encourage you to do this, but two of the main ones are as follows:
1). It hinders your growth in other areas. I recommend that you study the scriptures, decide whether it's what God is calling you to, let your actions follow your beliefs, and then move on to something else.

2). It stumbles other believers and confused unbelievers. Just as the focus on family was off-putting in the family integrated church. The focus on home-churching is off-putting to others who view it from the outside, or from the periphery.

Put it this way. The same concern many of you have for traditional church folks is the concern I have for you. Not trying to be rude or rain on the parade, I care about y'all and want you to have the best God has for you.

If this isn't something you're stuck on, Ignore me....I'm going clean a throttle body on a Honda.

Y'all have a great day and God Bless,


Eric said...


Please pray for my pastor friend. He is in a situation much like I was last year. If the right job comes along he might take it. All the traditional stuff is about to break him.

Eric said...


Thanks for your concern. Since leaving traditional practices behind, I've been trying to figure out how to live the Christian life within the context of the biblical church. This blog helps with that because of the interactions. That's where I leave it. I don't discuss these issues outside this setting unless others want to. That's how I've decided to handle it. So far, so good.

Arthur Sido said...


Will do. I also heard from a pastor friend I know (from the internet at least) that is questioning the whole traditional ministry model and is facing a church that has no interest in changing tradition. It is a tough spot.

Steve Scott said...


I've never heard anything positive about "family-integrated" churches, and what I have heard comes from blog-associations of mine. Maybe these people are familiar with the "stuck on that issue" churches. Granted I have no first-hand experience about "family-integrated" churches and I'm not in a position to make a judgment here.

As for the "simple" concept of families remaining together when the church meets, do we need a label to describe this? I've been in several "traditional" churches where families have decided to keep their children in the "service." I guess it's in what it means to keep the whole family together, what the motive is.

Eric said...


The thing I find interesting about family-integrated churches is the way they come to their conclusions.

Here's what I mean: they point to the scriptural model of families being together and parents educating their children. They say this is why they desire to remain together as the church gathers. That's fine with me. However, they often don't apply this same hermeneutic to the rest of the church gathering. Many still have lots of the other traditions that the bible doesn't show anywhere.

Also, churches of this sort tend to get tunnel-vision on the family issue. I guess that's a good warning to all of us to try to stay focused on Christ instead of any other issue.

Hopewell said...

Worshiping the "family" or idolizing the "father" (not OUR Father) is a common problem in patriarchal Christianity today. Good post.

Eric said...


Thanks for commenting. I think this is another example of taking eyes off Christ even when the intention might be good in the first place. Family certainly is important, but we must make sure it doesn't consume our passion for Jesus.