The Church is a “Family of Families” — A History, Part 1

 

In 2001, when Charles Swindoll wrote the foreword to Dennis Rainey’s book, Ministering to Twenty-First Century Families he said the church is “a family of families.” He was merely stating in his characteristic, winsome way that families are important in church life. He said,

“Most of the people in a local church are united in a smaller group called a family. In other words, the church is a ‘family of families.’ And of course, the local church is only as strong as its strongest families. Show me a healthy, vibrant local church, and I’ll show you an assembly filled with healthy, vibrant, fully functioning families.”1

No one thought he was redefining the nature of the church.

In 2002 when the National Center for Family Integrated Churches used the phrase “family of families” in its first version of A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family,2 critics claimed we had fundamentally redefined the nature of the church and made it family based. They took these three little words out of their immediate context in a twelve point confession and ignored the wider context of our overall message. Thus in many cases, the phrase was intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented.

In 2007 Voddie Baucham used the phrase in his book, Family Driven Faith. He said,

“Our Church has no youth ministers, children’s ministers, or nursery. We do not divide families into component parts. We do not separate the mature women from the young teenage girls who need their guidance. We do not separate the toddler from his parents during worship. In fact, we don’t even do it in Bible study. We see the church as a family of families.”3

Those same three words became the center of criticism against his entire book. Although he thoroughly answered his critics in two articles posted on his blog,4 many speakers and writers still continue to ignore his explanation.

Quite a stir

These words caused quite a stir. They became the favorite whipping boy of our critics for years on end. Three words became the oft repeated point in attempt to refute the message of the NCFIC and discredit anyone else connected to the family integrated church movement. Typically, critics would use the term, elaborate on a meaning we did not endorse, and make conclusions we have never made. This was done from conference speaking platforms, seminary classrooms, and radio show microphones. It was done in pulpits to warn church members in church meetings. It appeared in books and blogs. It was referenced in articles and masters theses. In fact we are aware of one particular Master’s thesis for a theological seminary which bases its whole argument against us on these three words pulled out of context.

All of this over three words which appear in one single place in the context of the NCFIC Confession for Uniting Church and Family,5 and in Voddie Baucham’s Family Driven Faith.

Individual words and phrases matter. But as any faithful student of scripture should know, words and phrases have to be understood in context, and attention given to the author’s intent. This is the basis of journalistic integrity. Taken out of context words can be used to say almost anything including the exact opposite of what they were originally intended for. Most of the criticism that has been directed to us over these three words has been aimed at straw man interpretations of the phrase that we would heartily join in condemning.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of the “Family of Families” saga.


1Swindoll, Charles, Foreword to: [Rainey, Dennis Ministering to Twenty-first Century Families: Eight Big Ideas for Church Leaders, Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, ©2001], p. XI

2The text for the original “A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family” can be found at www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/a_biblical_confession_for_unit_1.aspx (Accessed 11/5/2009)

3Baucham, Voddie, Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters who Walk with God, Crossway Books: Wheaton, Illinois, ©2007, p.191

4“Is the Church a Family of Families?” Parts 1, 2, can be accessed at www.voddiebaucham.org/vbm/Blog/Entries/2009/3/26_Is_the_church_A_Family_of_Families.html and www.voddiebaucham.org/vbm/Blog/Entries/2009/3/27_Is_the_church_A_Family_of_Families_2.html successively. (Accessed 11/5/2009)

5www.ncfic.org/confession

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A Happy Engagement Announcement

It is with great pleasure that Deborah and I along with Barry and Nadine Daming announce the engagement of our son David Brown to their daughter, Monica Daming. David and Monica have spent the last four years getting to know one another at Hope Baptist Church. David spent several months in private conversation with Monica’s father, and then the next five months in a courtship. On October 23, they were engaged to be married. They have entered into this with the blessing of their parents and the whole congregation.

Proverbs 5:18
“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.”

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Some Answers for Critics

Over the years, many people have written both positively and negatively about the NCFIC.  Here  are the seven most common mischaracterizations.

 

The NCFIC redefines the nature of the church as a “Family of Families.”


False. Our understanding of the nature of the church is consistent with the historic doctrinal statements of the faith including the second London Baptist Confession of 1689, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism and The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Many years ago, we said, “the church is a spiritual family of families.” Some said we were presenting a new definition for the church when in fact we were not speaking of the nature of the church at all. All we meant is that a separate jurisdiction – a family – comes to church and it needs to be acknowledged as such and equipped to be a biblical family. We were not redefining the nature of the church.

 

The NCFIC believes that the church is an extension of the family.
False.  We do not believe the church is an extension of the family, rather they are separate yet complimentary institutions.

 

The NCFIC wrongfully places the family over the church in priority.


False. We have plainly stated that we believe the church is supreme among the institutions for it is eternal while the family is temporal.

 

The NCFIC believes that the church should be family based.
False. We do not believe that the church should be family based. We believe that the foundation and center of attention of the church ought to be the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. Further, we believe that families form critical building blocks of the church in the sense that families send their members to church and if you have weak and unbiblical family life, you will have a weak church.

 

The NCFIC believes that that the church can only relate to family members through the father.
False. We do not believe that the church must always work through or communicate through a father. We believe that the church has authority to discipline and instruct every individual believer in the family not just the head of the family, or through the head of the family.

 

The NCFIC believes that the whole family must always be together for all gatherings.
False. We have never said that the whole family must be together for all gatherings nor have we said that “the church has no right to teach its members and the children of its members in situations where the entire family is not present.”

 

The NCFIC believes that the biblical pattern for church life is age integrated.
True, we believe that the indisputable discipleship pattern presented in the bible is age integrated and not age segregated. Further, we maintain that the comprehensive age segregation that rules the church today is a violation of the patterns of scripture and that the biblical burden of proof lies with those who practice it.

 

 

The National Center for Family Integrated Churches has written a “confession” that explains its understanding of the necessity of harmony between the separate jurisdictions of church and family.

We have a number of free audio messages on these subjects where we plainly state our positions on the audio resources section of our web site. Check out messages entitled, “What is a Family Integrated Church” and “The Biblical Case for Family Integrated Discipleship.” Also, let me recommend that you listen to “What About Home Churching?” where we make a case for what is a true church and why many churches meeting in homes may be unbiblical.

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Early Bird Registration Ends October 24th

The early bird registration discount for the Sufficiency of Scripture 2009 Conference ends on October 24th. If you are planning to come, make sure to sign up soon.

Register HERE.

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SOS Men’s Chorale

PERFORMING AT THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE 2009…

…and you are invited to participate!
Announcing the SOS Men’s Chorale directed by Neil Craig. Twenty-five selected men will raise their voices together in praise to the Lord and perform all three nights of the Sufficiency of Scripture 2009 Conference. Auditions must be recorded and sent to Neil Craig for review and approval.
The final selected men will be sent recordings of their part to learn, and then will practice together on location at the conference before performing. Under the masterful direction of Neil Craig, amateur performers turn into a powerful Men’s Chorale that will raise the roof in song.

Click HERE for more information.

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Scripture For Meditations Before Bed and When You Wake Up

“With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; ” Isaiah 26:8-9

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Father/Son Retreat 2009

This past week, we had the privilage to once again hold our Father/Son Retreat at the Brown Family Farm. Messages included, Walking With Your Son, Scott Brown; The Biblical Doctrine of Fatherhood, Charles Churchill; Rejoicing with Your Son, Dan Horn; For a Generation of Boys who Fight, Peter Bradrick; The Seven Tests of David Brown, Scott Brown; David’s Valiant Men, Dan Horn

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Elder Discipleship: An Invitation from Scott Brown

View the Elder Discipleship page HERE to find out more about this online program.

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Sweet Dependency Upon God

Here is an amazing and beautiful revelation of our dependence upon God.

“You have also done all our works in us.” Isaiah 26:12

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Handling Controversy- Advice from John Newton

Times of reformation can be challenging because they usually include tests of love. Tempers can flare as “turf” is challenged and well worn practices are questioned. On the one hand, we ought to welcome Christlike debates on important matters, while at the same time, we ought to be aware of our responsibility to preserve love. Here is a letter from John Newton to a friend on how to handle the controversy at hand.

A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton… READ ARTICLE

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NCFIC Announces: Elder Discipleship – Training shepherds for the Church of God

The purpose of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches is to promote healthy, Christ centered, biblically ordered, family integrated churches. One of the critical components of this is equipping elders because a student becomes like his teacher (Luke 6:40) and the church will become like the elders who lead it.

One of the greatest needs in the church today is the supply of qualified elders. When I ask leaders what their churches need most, four out of five say, “qualified elders.” Everywhere I go, this is the cry.

In the same way that healthy families spring from healthy fathers and mothers, healthy churches are the result of godly elders. The appointment of godly elders is critical because they have a reforming influence on the church, for they “set in order the things that are lacking” (Titus 1:5).

The ultimate purpose of this elder discipleship program is to contribute to a rising generation of gospel centered leaders who will take care of the church of God – God’s way. For, without qualified, gospel centered leaders, how will we have gospel centered, God pleasing churches?

For a thorough overview, book reading list, and schedule visit:

WWW.NCFIC.ORG/ELDER-TRAINING

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Early Bird Registration Ends Soon!

 

 


Scott Brown

Ken Ham

Doug Phillips

Kevin Swanson

Paul Washer

Voddie Baucham

Joe Morecraft

Andy Davis

Early registration for the Sufficiency of Scripture 2009 conference ends on October 24th. At that time registration costs will be going up. Join Paul Washer, Ken Ham, Doug Phillips, Scott Brown, Voddie Baucham, Kevin Swanson, Joe Morecraft, Andy Davis, Bill Einwechter, and Jeff Pollard this December 10-12th. REGISTER SOON.

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Q and A with Kara Powell

 

Our friend, Matt Hudson, has written an insightful review of a fascinating article entitled, “Is the Era of Age Segmentation Over,” He pin points a fatal flaw in the thinking of modern evangelicalism. It always asks what’s new and what works instead of asking what saith the scriptures.

In the original Article, “Leadership Journal” editors, Marshall Shelley and Brandon O’Brien, spoke with Kara Powell about her research and its consequence for the local church. In the interview, she documents the rise of the modern youth ministry movement which proliferated age segregated worship and discipleship to be a sort of “gospel.”

Q: Where did the popular age-segmented paradigm of youth ministry come from?

A: In the 1940s and post World War II, there was a real burst in parachurch organizations focused on ministry to teenagers and young adults, such as: Young Life, Intervarsity, and Youth for Christ. In many ways, they led the way for the church in realizing that we need to focus on specialized discipleship and teaching for teenagers.

Q: Why did the church adopt this age-segmented model of ministry?

A: Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, liked to say, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.” So he developed some amazingly creative models of youth ministry that took root and bore fruit. I think a lot of churches saw the success of groups like Young Life and started thinking, ‘If the parachurch folks are tailoring their ministry toward young people’s interests, then we can—and probably should—too.’

Read Kara Powell’s interview HERE.

Read Matt Hudson’s review HERE.

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Scott Brown Interviews with Prime Time South Florida

 

 

I had the privilege recently to do an interview with Brigitte Sylvester of Prime Time South Florida. We were able to discuss the pandemic decline in the church. Brigitte did a remarkable job with the interview. She was extremely gracious and professional. The interview highlighted some major points and also encapsulated well the vision of both the NCFIC and the upcoming Sufficiency of Scripture Conference this December. To find out more about Brigitte and her program click HERE.

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If Sports Teaches Character Then Why Do 78% NFL Players Go Bankrupt?

 

 

Sports Illistrated Magazine reports that things don’t go well financially with retired NFL Players.  Chris Chase, sums it up on Yahoo Sports:

“Within two years of retirement, 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt or in severe financial distress. Unlike Rocket Ismail, most of those players can’t blame it on the negative karma associated with getting a bear hug from Michael Irvin.

How is this possible? The minimum salary for rookies in 2009 is $310,000. That jumps to $460,000 for two year veterans. How can men who earn so much have so little after retirement?”

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