Why Can’t We Have it Both Ways?

People often ask me, “Why can’t we have it both ways – the best of both worlds – age segregation in the church and fathers teaching and leading their homes?”

The answer is, “why would we want it both ways when scripture only presents one way?”


There are not “two ways” in scripture – only one way. Scripture shows age integrated discipleship in the church and fathers as the primary leaders and teachers of their families – that is all you see in scripture regarding the discipleship of children. We reject the pattern of age segregation in the church because God never gave us youth groups or age segregated discipleship in scripture. We borrowed this from the world.

 

And what about the “best” of both worlds? Our current age segregated youth ministry driven discipleship is giving us a 90% attrition rate, unchristian lifestyles, and rampant immorality. This is another reason why we must let God define “best” and trust him with the results of our obedience.

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NCFIC History: Where it all began

By Douglas Phillips, September 25, 2001

During the week of September 11, 2001, a gathering of pastors, elders and church leaders from across gathered with Vision Forum Ministries and the newly formed National Center for Family-Integrated Churches in San Antonio for the first ever “Summit on Uniting Church and Home.” At issue was the necessity of encouraging a reformation (and praying for a revival) concerning the relationship of the family to the local church.

At a time when God is turning the hearts of many fathers to their children, and where biblical patterns of Hebrew discipleship are being rediscovered and implemented in the homes of many families who have embraced home education, a glaring dichotomy still exists in those churches which practice unbiblical family-segregating, and teen-culture driven philosophies of church life. The purpose of the Summit was to identify the basic issues which must be addressed for reformation to take place in local churches across America. Specific concerns included:

 

 

  1. The difference between an biblical family culture in the local church, and the prevailing age-segregated, youth driven philosophy of ministry:
  2. The role fathers should play in the meeting of the Church, and the necessity that local churches formally train them to be shepherds at home;
  3. The importance of treating the meeting of the Church as a family gathering of believers, not merely an evangelism outreach to the lost;
  4. The dangers of transforming the purpose and freedom of the church to grow as a body of believers because of the introduction of wrong philosophies of debt;
  5. Reasons why reinforcing the New testament model for worship will encourage family revival., and much more.

 

 

Several important decisions were made. First, it was discussed that a committee of church leaders should be formed to draft a confession to be promoted and adopted by local churches as a reformation declaration of commitment to biblical principles of for uniting church and home. Second, plans were discussed for a national conference to address these and related issues. Third, it was proposed that a database be formed for churches who subscribe to basic principles of Christian orthodoxy by affirming the historic creeds, and who believe in uniting church and home, and signify such by affirming the confession.

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Jaw Droppers from Family Worship

Jesus shows the tragic state of our lives when we don’t listen to those He sends. Our house is left desolate when we do not listen to the prophets, but if we say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” He will come to us.

 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ —Luke 13:34-35

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Expository Preaching Priority Communicated in NCFIC Conferences

Over the years we have conducted conferences on the important subject of expository preaching in order to train elders in the disciplines and practice of faithfully preaching the whole counsel of God. In our “Audio Resources” section of the web site you can hear a message I gave on this subject last year entitled “Thunder, Water, Light and Sword – The Voice of God in the Church.”

Click HERE and scroll down to listen to the audio message.

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The Puritans on Children in Church

“We should bring our children with us to the publick teaching, so may our private teaching prove profitable. Oftentimes divine truths are as nails, one teaching sets them in, and the other teaching fastens them; one plants and the other waters, and so of both God gives increase.

“We should bring the word publickly taught home to our children, by repeating it to them, and requiring it of them. It is not enough that we with others teach them, but we must see what they learn, enlivening things upon their hearts at home, by holy counsel. At our houses we should harrow in that good seed which hath been publickly sown, that so it may be covered the closer and root the better in the hearts of the children and servants.”

 

 

“Family Religion Revived, or a Treatise as to discover the good old way of serving God in private Houses; so to Recover the Pious Practice of those Precious, Duties unto their Primitive platform.” By Phillip Goodwin, p. 401-402 (1655)

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Education Methodology Matters: See the Fruit- Do the Numbers- Stop the Madness

The Biblical model for education features fathers as teachers, walking and talking alongside their children when they sit in the house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down and when they rise up, bringing them up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” in an age integrated context of church and family and business life.

In contrast, Kyle Anne-Shiver writes in “American Thinker” about the despicable moral state of the souls of those who experience public education– a system which rages against almost every principle of biblical education. After thousands of hours getting their brians pickled in relativism and socialism, they are – relativists and socialists. She tells of a “a very disturbing pattern of moral erosion:”

 

  • 30% stole from a store in the past year; 23% stole from a parent or other relative; 20% stole something from a friend.

 

  • 42% lie regularly to save money; 83% lied to a parent about something significant.

 

  • 64% cheated on a test in the last year; 38% cheated 2 or more times; 36% used the internet to plagiarize an assignment.

 

American young people are just about evenly divided on whether they prefer capitalism to socialism. Among our under-30 crowd, 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided.


You may be thinking it could be worse. And as it turns out, you would be correct. It actually is worse. By students’ own admission, 26% confessed they lied on at least one or two questions on the survey. Experts agree that dishonesty on surveys usually is an attempt to conceal misconduct, i.e., to make oneself appear better than he actually is.

But it gets even worse.

High school students admit to vast amounts of lying, cheating and stealing, but lo and behold, their confessions make nary a dent in their ethical self-esteem. A staggering 93 percent said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character and 77 percent said that when it comes to doing what is right, “I am better than most people I know.”


I have little patience with those who praise or want to try to preserve such a damaging system. We need to go back to obeying the word of God in the realm of education and training of children. Two hundred years ago before modern age segregated education model had infiltrated our culture– literacy researcher Dupont de Nemours discovered that only four out of every one thousand could not read – for a literacy rate of over 99%. Why? Fathers and mothers were teaching their children in their own homes how to read using the Bible and the children were not being polluted by their peers in an age segregated world. My belief is this: without a return to biblical discpleship in our homes, there is no hope for the church or the state of the United States of America.

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NCFIC Confession Advocates Expository Preaching in Churches

The NCFIC Confession contains this statement on expository preaching, explaining that it is our intention to, “Restore the practice of teaching ‘the whole counsel of God’ through exegetical preaching of Scripture in the church and daily instruction in homes by fathers and mothers.”

Our prayer is the same as John Piper communicated in his sermon Why Expository Preaching is Particularly Glorifying to God. He says his prayer is:

 

“That God would raise up thousands of broken-hearted, Bible-saturated preachers who are dominated by a sense of the greatness and the majesty and the holiness of God, revealed in the gospel of Christ crucified and risen and reigning with absolute authority over every nation and every army and every false religion and every terrorist and every tsunami and every cancer cell, and every galaxy in the universe.”

 

Piper explains that:

 

“Exposition of texts is essential because the gospel is a message that comes to us in words and God has ordained that people see the glory of Christ—the “unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8)—in those gospel words. That is our calling: to open the words and sentences and paragraphs of Scripture and display “the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”

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One Half of One Percent Young People Have a Biblical Worldview

Young man studying scripture

What will happen to a nation where almost no one has a biblical worldview? The Barna organization has just released new data which indicates that only 9% of adults in America have a biblical world view. But what is even more startling is that among individuals eighteen to twenty-three years old the number is nearly zero. This in a nation where Barna says approximately four in ten adults and one in three teenagers claim to be born again.*

“The research data showed that one pattern emerged loud and clear: young adults rarely possess a biblical worldview. The current study found that less than one-half of one percent of adults in the Mosaic generation – i.e., those aged 18 to 23 – have a biblical worldview, compared to about one out of every nine older adults.” Barna.org

Perhaps we should also consider if this situation is partly a reflection of the loss of biblical discipleship practices in the church and the family. I believe that it is. Further, there is hope for families and churches which are faithful to emulate biblical discipleship patterns which are always age integrated, bible saturated, walk along talk along, relational and generational in nature.

Here is something to rejoice in. Our God takes delight in mightily using small numbers of dedicated men who are faithful to Him. Let us commit ourselves to building churches that disciple and nurture faithful “aliens and strangers” in an increasingly godless society. As darkness increases around us, may the light of the gospel shine brighter and brighter through our lives, our homes, and our churches.


*(Think Like Jesus, by George Barna p209)

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Article: Texas Church Revamps for Family Integration

Southern Baptist Texan —“Gone are the days when Christians understood that the home—and not the Christian church or school—is principally and primarily responsible for the education, evangelism, and discipleship of children and that our ecclesiology should reflect that reality.”

Written by Guidry, the book chronicles how he and staff came to grips with, and solved their unwillingness to place their children in age-segregated, church discipleship programs—be they Sunday school, children’s church, youth department and camps, even the nursery, all of which were the traditional methodology at Ridgewood.
Read the article HERE

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Turning the Ship

 

Turning the Ship, Exploring the Age Integrated Church, by Dustin GuidryI met Dustin Guidry as the “ship” (Ridgewood Baptist) was turning and I was astonished at the blessings they were experiencing as a church. Now, Dustin Guidry’s new book, “Turning the Ship” tells the inspiring story of a traditional programmatic, age segregated church making the transition to family integration. While Dustin’s story is rare today it is not alone and represents a groundswell of courageous church leaders who have gone back to scripture to build their model of church discipleship and have been willing to risk their reputations and standing in the evangelical community in order to obey what they found in scripture.

 

 

I believe that we will look back in years to come on men like Dustin Guidry as the Lewis and Clarks of the 21st century church. They are blazing a trail, not new but forgotten to our generation, and many, many feet are following in their footsteps.

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First Quarter NCFIC Investor Report

I want to share with you our first quarter activity, so that you may know where the National Center for Family Integrated Churches stands as we enter April, 2009.

 

On Jan 1, 2009, the Board of Directors of Vision Forum Ministries decided to make the NCFIC an independent organization in order to allow it to provide a more distinctive and focused message, to minister to the churches and families who have identified with the movement, and to allow it to grow and develop as a distinct ministry from Vision Forum. This report identifies the activities of the NCFIC since January 1st.

 

Click here to view the Investor Report.

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Our God: A Temperate and Skillful Rider

Calvin says that God is “like a temperate and skillful rider,” while “the devil has seized the saddle, like an ignorant and rash rider.”

He notes, “Augustine (in Psa 31 and 33) compares the human will to a horse preparing to start, and God and the devil to riders.

If God mounts, he, like a temperate and skillful rider, guides it calmly, urges it when too slow, reins it in when too fast, curbs its forwardness and over-action, checks its bad temper, and keeps it on the proper course; but if the devil has seized the saddle, like an ignorant and rash rider, he hurries it over broken ground, drives it into ditches, dashes it over precipices, spurs it into obstinacy or fury.”

With this simile, since a better does not occur, we shall for the present be contented. When it is said, then, that the will of the natural man is subject to the power of the devil, and is actuated by him, the meaning is not that the wills while reluctant and resisting, is forced to submit, (as masters oblige unwilling slaves to execute their orders) but that, fascinated by the impostures of Satan, it necessarily yields to his guidance, and does him homage…

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Children who spend time with their fathers have a higher IQ

A recent study in the UK concluded that “children who spend large amounts of time with their fathers have higher IQs, according to a new study.”

“Strong fatherly involvement in their early life can also improve a child’s future career prospects, the research shows.”

“‘The data suggest that having a second adult involved during childhood produces benefits in terms of skills and abilities that endure throughout adult life.”

Click Here to see rest of article

We do not need IQ tests, surveys, and research reports to know the importance of a father’s role in the life and developement of his children. The wisdom of God is illustrated in this news item… God calls fathers to teach their children, when you “sit in the house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:7

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Our Marriages and the marriages of our sons and daughters

We just completed our first, “Our Marriages and the Marriages of our Sons and Daughters” conference where we gathered 25 couples to consider God’s beautiful design for marriage, define what makes for godly intimacy in marriage, how husbands and wives lovingly work for one another’s sanctification, and how to troubleshoot problems in marriage. We outlined how to identify potential spouses for our children, detailed how we encourage young men to ready themselves for marriage, and identified various ways to connect with others who may be potential marriage partners. Peter and Kelly Bradrick told their story and shared principles and lessons they learned while working toward marriage. We identified how to prepare sons and daughters for marriage and lay the foundation from the early years. We also spoke of how to conduct oneself while planning the wedding and how to become a godly in-law.

I praise the Lord for the opportunity to spend the weekend discussing the glorious subject of God’s plan for marriage and how we can model Christ’s love to our spouses.

We are scheduling another marriage conference like this. If you are interested, please write us. We can only take 25 couples.

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That The Sweetest Harmony Would Reign in Marriage

Here is John Calvin on the glory of a Christain marriage. He notes the support, help, companionship, assistance, harmony, friendship and peace that God has wrought in providing marriage for man and woman,

“Now, since God assigns the woman as a help to the man, he not only prescribes to wives the rule of their vocation to instruct them in their duty, but he also pronounces that marriage will really prove to men the best support of life. We may therefore conclude, that the order of nature implies that the woman should be the helper of the man. The vulgar proverb, indeed, is, that she is a necessary evil; but the voice of God is rather to be heard, which declares that woman is given as a companion and an associate to the man, to assist him to live well. I confess, indeed, that in this corrupt state of mankind, the blessing of God, which is here described, is neither perceived nor flourishes; but the cause of the evil must be considered, namely, that the order of nature, which God had appointed, has been inverted by us. For if the integrity of man had remained to this day such as it was from the beginning, that divine institution would be clearly discerned, and the sweetest harmony would reign in marriage; because the husband would look up with reverence to God; the woman in this would be a faithful assistant to him; and both, with one consent, would cultivate a holy, as well as friendly and peaceful intercourse.”

 


From John Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis

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