Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review: Family-Integrated Church

I just finished reading J. Mark Fox's Family-Integrated Church today (one of the few benefits of a snow day). Though it wasn't exactly what I expected, I appreciated the book nonetheless...

I confess: I was expecting a discourse on what "family-integrated" means to Mark and the church he pastors. And while he does get into some of that, his book is for the most part a sort of play-by-play of the life of his local church. Along the journey, he shares wisdom from their experiences at starting and growing a family-integrated church. He even briefly discusses how they transitioned in their thinking to a family-integrated approach.

Want to hear first-hand what to do when a heretic dressed in white and proclaiming herself to be the "bride of Christ" shows up on a Sunday morning and starts cat-calling? Seriously. Mark's been there and handled that.

Looking for advice on training males to be men, husbands, and fathers? Mark's got plenty of tidbits for you.

All told, I found the book encouraging. Here is a pastor who knows he doesn't have it all figured out. He's quite sure he's not a finished project, and neither is the church he pastors. I find that honesty refreshing. The landscape of pastor-written books is littered with those that give lip-service to the notion that they're a work in progress; here's one that really seems to believe it.

The larger question remains: what exactly does "family-integrated" church mean? Mark's quick to point out that there is and always should be great diversity in the forms taken by churches that choose to be family-integrated. I like that: different isn't always bad - often it's just different.

Fundamentally, it seems to me that as churches we must commit to leading men to be the leaders in their homes that they're called by God to be. We must do nothing that will implicitly or explicitly usurp their position, even if they're willing to surrender it. We must fight the overly-pragmatic church forms that have dominated the last 75 years or so. We must work to be a family of families.

Now there's a load expression: a family of families! If nothing else I've written has provoked you to think, let me humbly ask you to chew on that expression for while...



Anonymous said...

Voddie Baucham talks a little about the phrase "family of families" on his blog.

Integrated Family Church

Hatushili said...

Thanks, Richard. I'm somewhat familiar with Voddie's work and church, though I've yet to read his thoughts directly.

As someone obviously involved in the movement (per your blog link), what would you say are the two or three most fundamental points re: family integrated church?

Anonymous said...

1) Home Discipleship that is focused on building upon what God brought together. So we teach that we must not only have a connection with God but also have a connection with our spouse and a connection with our family. This expands into the community, and so on. This means that we teach husbands to "wash" their wives in the Word of God. And we teach families to gather together each day to worship God and read His Word.

2) We keep the families together during the service.

3) We teach a full biblical worldview that equips the saints to have discernment concerning the world and the ability defend the faith.

In all these points the idea is discipleship. It is the heart of every decision we make.


Hatushili said...

Do you feel it's a preference to do nothing age-segregated? Is there room in the "family-integrated" pot for those that would use some age-segregation? If you don't mind, and since you've already been so helpful, could you discuss this issue a bit more?