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Are Family Integrated Church’s a Cult?

All this Doug Philips “affair,” talk has stirred up quite a few opinions in blog land. I briefly Googled Vision Forum to see what was going on from Vision Forum itself and before I clicked on their link I found a rather interesting site referring to Vision Forum, Above Rubies, Michael Pearl, Family Integrated Church’s, the Quiverfull movement and large Christian families like the Duggar’s as either cults or their cult followers.

This stopped me for a moment. I clicked on the link and skimmed this person’s website. What I read wasn’t worth repeating in my opinion, and is not what this post is about. However, I will speak of a couple things he touched on as he shared his beliefs that he/she stated as facts which were blatant lies. As my ‘about me’ page says, “I am allergic to liars.” Whether this person is just ignorant or has some ulterior motive, it is irrelevant to me. A lie is a lie.

I am not here to say whether a family integrated church is right for you and your family. I am simply writing this post to state my personal experience with family integrated church’s. All of which opposes the author’s webpage I read tonight.

For starters, what is the definition of a Family Integrated Church?

Wikipedia says:

A family integrated church is one in which parents and children ordinarily attend church services together, children stay all through church services without attending Sunday school or children’s ministries, and organized groups and activities for children and youth are normally non-existent. Other terms used are family discipleship churches, family-centered ministry and inclusive-congregational ministry.[1]
A spectrum of such churches exist with some completely eliminating all age-segregation and others allowing for some in certain contexts. Although segregation may take place during weekday events, family-integrated churches are generally united in having children in the main worship service

So what is a Family Integrated Church coming from someone who has attended one?

In a Family Integrated church (hence family integrated) children are not excluded from the service.

This pretty much sums it up.

Can it be that something that simple is being referred to as a cult? Oh yes, it can, and it is.

Here are some other questions I want to answer…

1. Do Family Integrated Church’s embrace the “Quiverfull Movement?”

Some families do and some don’t. Some have 11 kids and some have had surgeries to stop them from having children. God’s church is filled with different kinds of people. Do Family Integrated Church’s teach that babies are a blessing and should be accepted as such? Yes. It’s so odd to me that women killing their babies as a form of birth control so they can live as they wish is not only accepted in our society but also praised, yet welcoming life and especially welcoming more than three babies is crazy. Seems to me that something is a wee bit off with that.

2. Do Family Integrated Church’s do everything together?

No. They have Bible studies and other activities that children don’t attend as well as youth activities. You will always find parents there running it instead of a ‘youth pastor.’

3. Do Family Integrated Church’s enforce homeschooling?

No. This is so silly. Yes you will find lots of homeschooling families in Family Integrated Church’s but you will also find children who are public schooled as well as some in private schools.

4. Aren’t Family Integrated Church’s only for families?

This question coincides with #1 and the answer is no. The author of the bizarre webpage stated that Family Integrated church’s only had families in them. How weird is that?! In family Integrated church’s you will find single people, widow’s, and even divorced people. You name it. That author had no clue what he was talking about. I wonder where he got his information from. Clearly he has never been to a Family Integrated Church. Maybe he should take a trip to Voddie Baucham’s Southern Baptist Family Integrated Church in Spring, Texas and ask him some questions. I’d love to hear those answers.

5. Do Family Integrated Church’s believe in male dominance?

This one makes me laugh. I’ll answer this one with the answer that can be used on every question I’ve answered. Family Integrated Church’s are biblical church’s that believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and follow it as such in all aspects of their lives.

Blog author man or woman stated that Family Integrated Church’s are unscriptural cults. This had my jaw on the floor. It shocked me that someone could be this ignorant. During the Apostolic age children worshipped with their parents. They didn’t send them off into the other room. That didn’t start until much later and yet now that is accepted as scriptural. Children were not a burden. And on another note, the Bible states that it is the parents ultimate responsibility to teach their children about Him. I was raised in a faith that deceived me with their man made doctrines. My husband and I don’t want that for our children and sadly we have had some not so great experiences with youth leaders teaching our daughters unscriptural things. These people had Bible school backgrounds and yet were teaching my children their opinions about such teachings. I don’t want that. I want my children to learn the truth and it is my responsibility to see that that happens.

Back to the question. The answer is no. The Family Integrated Church believes in a God-ordained order and that my friends is Biblical. It amazes me how this one thing can freak so many people out.

Mention the word submission and watch people go crazy.

God’s order:

God
Man
Woman

I always say that there are only two kinds of people in this world. There are those that believe the Bible is God breathed and those who don’t. Those who don’t, can’t possibly believe its truths and those who do believe that the Bible is inspired that argue, obviously haven’t read all of it, or they’ve read a counterfeit Bible. Many religions add to the Bible in some way and some take away from it. Whatever works for them. And people like my parents and their parents are deceived every day in the name of trust. I learned four years ago to read the Bible and see what God said about everything. That was an eye opener and is why I left the religion I once knew and loved.

(Did you know that many Bibles omit entire verses? How about that a very popular Bible refers to satan as Jesus?)

How is it that a church that has decided to go back to how the Apostles did everything is being called a cult? It’s simple. Jesus warned us that this would happen. No slave is greater than His master. If we are to follow Him and do what He says, we too will be persecuted.

Since the last question seems to be the one people (esp. women) seem to have the most issues with, I will touch on it a bit further. Women in these types of churches have been compared to FLDS and that is plain odd to me. They are nothing like them. Authors like the one I read depict women in Family Integrated churches who submit to their husbands as miserable, fake, smiley women who are abused and mousy, submitting to their husbands out of fear.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have met many women who share this belief system and you will find anything but mousy, abused women. You will not find women who only wear skirts and cover their heads. Instead you will find jean wearing, skirt wearing, strong, happy, women who enjoy talking. (and even speak in the church. They just don’t teach) You will find real smiles. You will find laughing, joking, and even some complaining at times. You will find women loving their husbands and husbands loving their wives. These are not abused women. They don’t submit out of guilt or force. Maybe some do, but I’ve never met any. They submit out of respect and love and each one I know has a husband who adores her in return. Each woman has a voice. A mighty loud one at that and each husband listens to his wife. They reflect God and His church, just like the Bible said married couples would. Do they disagree? Yep. Do they talk about it in front of other people? Sometimes. I’ve sure seen it.

Like I said, these women have opinions and mouths. What you won’t typically find is disrespect of their husbands. You may find women talking amongst themselves and relay some funny story about how her husband may have frustrated her, but you will never find a woman belittling her husband. If this happens, it is rare. These women know how blessed they are to be loved by strong men, willing to lead in a day and age where men are becoming more and more effeminate. They don’t take that or their husbands for granted. It is their goal to lift up their husband with love, even on a day when he may have upset them. If critics find this weird, so be it. I however, don’t. My husband is special and he should know I feel that way. I can show him by respecting him.

That authors accusations were just plain silly and he/she was highly ignorant.

On to another question.

6. What’s so wrong with daycare and why don’t Family Integrated Church’s have it?

There’s nothing wrong with daycare and it’s a misconception that there isn’t ever any daycare option at a Family Integrated church because there can be. It all depends on the church. I have been to one where different mom’s take turns and sit in the back of the church, creating a daycare.

7. What about screaming babies? How can anyone concentrate? What about those that don’t have children? How would they feel with all the screaming?

I grew up in a church that had a cry room. It was poopy and I could never hear anything. It was lonely and I felt isolated. My baby didn’t cry if I was walking her but walking her in the church would have been weird and possibly disrespectful. In the Family Integrated Churches I have been in there was rarely crying. This is no lie. Babies cuddled next to their mama’s and others played quietly. When a little one would get loud, their mom or dad (this isn’t unusual to see) would walk them which would usually solve the problem. Family Integrated churches aren’t loud. The children are happy and the parents are free to get up and walk their babies or take one to the potty. There typically is no screaming and no need for a cry room.

Here’s another difference about Family Integrated Church’s. In my experience, the Elder’s do not get paid. All of the tithes go back into the church, into the community and to helping missionaries. The church members are involved in this. You will find leaders who lead because of their genuine love for Jesus and His church. Money has nothing to do with it. It’s not a job.

I could go on but this post is already pretty long. If you’ve read all of it, I hope it answered some of your questions and gave you some answers from someone who has attended a Family Integrated Church.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I love Family Integrated churches. Do I think other churches are bad? I sure don’t as long as they line up scripturally. I know of some families who are blessed to attend terrific churches that have phenomenal youth programs. Even still, if I have a choice, I want my kiddos with me, and given the choice (which they have been) they choose to be with us, no matter what church we attend.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Phyllis Blickensderfer November 25, 2013, 1:24 pm

    Anything out of the ‘mainstream’ will be labeled a cult. We attend a Bible reading/teaching/following church – three generations of us were there when my granddaughter decided to attend a church-sponsored Bible college. Her other grandparents visited the campus as soon as they heard, simply to investigate the cult. Often these stories are written by or taken from someone who had a bad experience in a church. Some actually experienced unbiblical events and ascribe them to all of Christianity, picking on what they know best. Others have not been convicted by their own life-style errors and fight against the pricks of guidance. You’ve explained very well that the Bible is our standard and our authority.

  • Queen of my Cabin November 25, 2013, 9:44 pm

    The older I get, the more my eyes are opened to how the world works and in what direction it is going. You are 100% correct. Anything out of the ‘mainstream,’ is seen as a threat of sorts. It is amazing to me how viral Biblical ignorance is.

  • Naturally Blessed Mama December 29, 2013, 5:23 pm

    I definitely agree with you…FIC’s are not cults, neither are large families or any of the other things you listed. It’s families choosing to live Biblically as the spirit leads them. We personally do not attend a FIC, because I know we are in a day and age where it is no longer the norm for parents to bring their children to church, and the youth ministry is important to bring those little souls in so that they too have the oppurtunity to learn about the Lord. But that is where the Lord has personally led our family. It’s sad that people can take one experience, one example of Christianity and apply it to all of us. Thanks for your post!

    Blessings,
    sara

  • Neil Schultz July 7, 2016, 4:21 pm

    Nice defense of FIC’s, Kristy! Good job. It was a pleasure and honor to come alongside you guys earlier on in your journey of faith and following Jesus. It’s wonderful to see the fruits of your studies and following Him coming out in a blog venue. Keep going!

    Some of the issues raised, particularly about the FIC pastors not receiving income for their ministry, is a real issue for pastors who want to transition from a traditional vocational pastorate to an FIC one. This is one area I address in my own blog at http://ChurchLeadersCampfire.com, where we talk about how to fund our ministry in other ways that won’t distract too much from our families and ministries.

    God bless!

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