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Family-Integrated Church Paperback – June 2, 2006
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A Family Integrated Church is one that does not segregate people by age. No Sunday School. No Youth Group. Families stay together and parents, particularly fathers, are taught to disciple their own children. It goes deeper than this, however. There is an avoidance of 'programs', or 'ministries' altogether. One chapter is headed, 'Let's Build People, Not Programs'. As one who has been around churches for many years, I want to say a loud AMEN to that! High profile, prestigious programs often have the opposite effect to that intended. Churches frequently 'dumb down' their Gospel message, waste thousands, work faithful people for long hours and end up spoiling marriages, alienating children, all for the sake of Social Action.
Mark Fox is, for me, someone who 'gets it'! Team Leadership, church discipline, expository preaching, missions overseas, training members in personal evangelism, church planting, home discipleship. They are largely non-existent in most of our churches, I believe in them all - and they're all there!
In the UK, the only churches I know that resemble FICs are the more strongly reformed ones. I have seen impeccably behaved children, seen and not heard, sitting quietly through long sermons. It did not appeal to me at the time. But Antioch Community church does not sound like this. He is keen to involve all family members in giving testimonies and helping in the running of the meetings. When my wife read the book, her immediate reaction was, "Can we go? Or can they send some families over here?"
Mark's writing style is friendly and engaging. The book is very enjoyable to read.
I give this five stars simply because this model of church is, for me, close to the church of the future - if the church is to survive and thrive in the Western World. We need to both stick to the traditional Gospel of Christ and be strongly 'counter-cultural' in a world that is destroying families and harming our children. We seriously need to take some of the lessons in here on board. Men taking responsibility. Elders who truly qualify. Teaching our children at home. Evangelism outside the walls of the church. I urge you to read this book.
One side note. Mark says that we use Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership by Alexander Strauch I would also suggest The New Testament Deacon: The Church's Minister of Mercy by Strauch. It explains the true meaning and role of deacons and it is how deacons serve at Antioch.