Summary: Let's talk about the family integrated movement (Material adapted from Greene Community Church at: http://greenechurch.com/family-integrated/)
Every time I accept the call to preach at a church, I get mixed reactions about the past preacher. Some think that he was God’s gift to the ministry and hated to see him go. Others think that he was the anti Christ and they rejoiced the day he left to go somewhere else. Strive to keep my thoughts to myself about the past preacher because I know when the day comes for me to leave these same people will make similar comments about me. Today, I have one thing to say about the past preacher, when he promoted family integrated ministry here, I believe that was a move in the right direction. Look around at this congregation, full of families, Potters and Baileys. Make the most of these family connections.
Pleasant Ridge is a family integrated church. Most noticeable in our worship where everyone worships together- all ages, babies to senior citizens. In a nutshell, being “family integrated” means that we strive to be an intergenerational church that focuses on being “together.” We strive to integrate the family unit throughout everything we do, instead of “dividing” families. Too often, the church becomes a place of “division”- with families driving to church together and then going their separate ways at church, only coming together again when they get back in the car for the ride home. As a family integrated church, we seek to give children, parents, grandparents, and the like, the opportunity to grow in the Lord together.
Let's talk about the family integrated movement
Burden for the brood
Ken Ham in book, Already Gone, published in 2009 found this: 61% of today’s young adults who were regular church attendees are now ‘spiritually disengaged.’ They are not actively attending church, praying, or reading their Bible.”
A similar statistic from the Barna Group from 2011 indicates that, on the whole, 59% of young adults with a church background “drop out” after graduating high school. This statistic and others like them are discussed by David Kinnaman in the book, You Lost Me.
Big deal, this happens in every generation and in the end many of them come back. Yes, but this number is higher than with past generations and considering only about 1/3rd came back to the church from past generations, we will see a greater number of our youth leaving and never coming back. Many of them are our children and grandchildren. Are we concerned?
What can be done? Ken Ham in Already Gone after commenting about Sunday schools said this: Part of the concern is that the mere existence of youth ministry and Sunday school allows parents to shrug off their responsibilities as the primary teachers, mentors, and pastors to their family. The other part of the concern is that, again, what we are doing just isn’t working. If the existence of our Christian education and youth ministry programs are not working, why not dump them altogether? David Kinnaman says this in You Lost Me: The concept of dividing people into various segments based on their birth years is a very modern occurrence. Many churches have allowed themselves to become internally segregated by age. Because of this age segregation, churches are unintentionally contributing to the rising tide of alienation that defines our times. If you lead a faith community, prioritize intergenerational relationships. Deep relationships happen only by spending time, and big chunks of it, in shared experiences. For the most part, these connections won’t happen by accident.
From these comments and others like them, the family integrated church has come about.
“Afterwards, Joshua read all the words of the law--the blessings and the curses--just as it is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.” Joshua 8:34, 35, NIV.
At Tyre- “But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.” Acts 21:5, NIV.
Mostly the early church met in homes- Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned twice as having the church meet at their house (Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19). We can imagine the children running in and out but also participating in the worship.
If 60% are leaving, then 40% are staying. So, why do they stay? Dara Powell and Chap Clark, in the book Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids, published in 2011, say there are 3 common factors among those who remain in the church:
1. The children are raised in a culture that emphasizes a relationship with Christ.