Today I am grateful for Family Integrated Churches. If you check out my "Sermon Sunday" post on FICs, you will see that while we do not currently regularly attend a Family Integrated Church, we do attend one sporadically in a neighboring city (an hour and half drive away). Our current goal is to attend this service at least once a month.
What is a Family Integrated Church? You can check out my "Sermon Sunday" post on the topic HERE.Why do I like it so much? Well, while I LOVE the small local church we attend, I will be honest with you and say that there is only one other family there that homeschools. Out of the many families who attend, there are really only three or four more who have school-aged kids. The rest of the families have raised their kids and many of their kids have raised their kids, if you know what I mean. There is something gratifying and encouraging about walking into a building that is bustling with young families, just like mine. That is filled with kids who are happy and not quietly happy, just like mine. That has other moms who stay at home, and many who teach their kids at home, just like me. That appreciates dads who value family over job, wife over boss, kids over money, just as we are striving for.
I am not implying that churches have to be filled with people who are carbon copies of each other, but I do appreciate being in a body where the other folks welcome my kids' presence during the entire service, and who understand (and sympathize) when my one-year-old gets fussy. I appreciate that it really doesn't impede anybody's ability to enjoy the service when I get up and walk around with my wee one, because many of them are jiggling restless kids on their knees, too, and we all just want to teach our kids the joys of worship and how to love the Lord by example, so we put up with a bit of noise and inconvenience.
I also love seeing other people's children worshiping God from the front of the church where they are playing instruments as part of the Praise Team with their moms and dads. Where families are standing together to worship, instead of parents off in one part of the church and kids in another. I love to see fathers gathering the elements and serving communion to their families, praying over each child in turn, and over their wives. I appreciate seeing the children walk with their fathers to place their tithes and offerings at the altar. I don't mind when other parents have to take their children aside to settle them, and I like when the pastor explains terminology so that the younger ones can follow along with his excellent sermon.
I especially enjoy fellowshipping with other families after the service who are walking a similar walk as I am. It is nice to hear that others struggle in the same areas as me, and to hear how the Lord answered their prayers. It is special to me when I can offer words of encouragement when I have traveled a similar road and to speak of how the Lord answered my prayers. I love to see my children happily playing with other children whose parents I trust to have similar values as my own: God first, family next, job last. Do you find that very often these days? Not much, if you watch any network television, most movies, or listen to secular music.I am not a prude, per se, but honestly, how much of the world's value system is uplifting these days? How often do you see the world's presence in your church? Should it be there?
Anyhow, I love my local church and the people couldn't be sweeter. But there is something special about a Family Integrated Church that meets me right where I am and lifts me up and encourages me, and for that, I am very thankful.
If you'd like to listen to some sermons about family integrated churches, you can listen to these sermons from a recent seminar the pastor of the church we occasionally visit attended HERE. You can also visit the church's website for some of their sermons and handouts HERE.
I hope you are appreciating your church today.