Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is The FIC a Rebuke to the American Church?

I’ve been intrigued by the Family Integrated Church movement  (Their mission statement here)  in keeping the church simple by using the Acts early church  model. I've been listening to sermons by Voddie Baucham and others, and last summer I watched a movie called "Divided"

After doing a little research on the FIC, I came away needing to deprogram my brain.  If you've never heard of the FIC, you may need some time to absorb their philosophy.

For the most part the movie “Divided” made me think and convicted me deeply as a parent.  The strength of the FIC model, as I understand it, is that it helps to encourage parents to take their God-given responsibilities for raising their kids seriously... to do everything in their power to encourage multi-generational faithfulness.

However, I did not agree of their claim that Sunday schools and youth groups are against scripture.  My boys go to these programs and benefited greatly from them. What does go against scripture is the church supplanting things that ARE in scripture, and this where the rubber meets the road.

Parents should never use church programs to be the primary source for spiritual teaching, training, and discipling their children. Pastors are even bold enough to rebuke those who do not use extra-biblical church programs for their children which undermines parental authority. If scripture is silent, we need to be silent too.

I've been reprimanded in the past by two well meaning sisters on separate occasions that I must have my kids in Sunday school and other programs if I were to obey the command in Deuteronomy 6:7. "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (It's funny they both used that verse to correct me.)

For my entire Christian life, I believed that youth groups and other age segregated ministries are an essential part of the church. If you believe in Sola Scriptura, (Scripture Alone) you have to admit they are not essential but traditional. I don't believe they are wrong, but what is essential is the biblical family, and how the church edifies it.

I believe the FIC is a rebuke to the American church. Why? I'm witnessing a spiritual decline in the patriarchal leadership within the home even in conservative churches, and it seems nothing is being done about it. I've spoken to many women and there is an over arching complaint. Most say they are not supported spiritually by their husbands, and fathers are dropping the ball on raising their children in accordance to the Word.

What is really discouraging is it is rarely taught and exhorted in the pulpits and studied in Bible classes. I’ve yet to see a conference on how fathers and husbands are to instruct and lead their homes. You almost can't blame most Christian men for their ignorance and lack of conviction if their own church fails to equip, encourage, and neglects the priority of spiritual headship.

Has the church inadvertently enabled husbands and fathers by offering alternatives to their God given call to discipleship in the form of women’s groups and age segregated programs?

I also read that some Family Integrated Churches do not have women’s Bible study groups. Now again, don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily agree with the FIC on this.  I believe what the Bible says about teachers, expositors and leaders being essential to the church and her growth, and not all FIC churches are the same. Many believe that the Titus 2 model for men and women’s groups is one on one, and not one on many ratios which I do agree. Even though I may not concur completely with their philosophy, it did make me think about the way we do church.

I have gleaned much from women’s Bible study groups and enjoyed the fellowship, but should it replace the husband’s responsibility to fellowship and teach their own wives? Many husbands have been given a pass because of the amount of homework from Bible studies their wives are involved with. Many women go to women’s groups in the first place, because the responsibility of the husband in Ephesians 5:26 has been neglected. The husbands are to wash their wives with the Word, not other women.

I've seen infighting with the FIC movement verses the cultural church on blogs all over the internet and even in pulpits. Most of the FIC critics have responded emotionally rather than biblically. You have to ask yourself why this movement is growing so rapidly. What is the desire of their congregations? Is there more that can be done as a church to equip men and future leaders? Rather than reject the FIC because of unessential imbalances, perhaps we should consider many of their convictions and go back to the sufficiency of scripture.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

Related links:

The Invention of Adolescence - Sola Sisters

Psychology & Sociology Replacing Scripture Regarding the Family ~ Paul Washer