I’ve always loved children’s books that give you a look inside something like a castle or a space shuttle. It’s a peek into a world not easily found. That’s what this post on Family Integrated Church and the next post on Home Church will hopefully offer….a peek inside a rare jewel we’ve come to love dearly.
First of all, I should note I am working my way backward. Calvary Family Church is the most recent church we’ve attended, and the church we recently left when we moved. We came to Calvary from a home church atmosphere after finding it in the listings at NCFIC.org (National Center for Family Integrated Churches). At that time, the church was meeting in a community building in a nearby town. Since that time, the church has met at a County Extension Office building and more recently, in a cabin on a Salvation Army camp.
Our order of worship stayed fairly consistent during those years.
10 am (ish) - Worship in Song
10:30 am (ish) – Announcements, Praise & Prayer requests, Prayer Time as families
11:00 am (ish–are you getting the idea?) – Fellowship Time (Snacks, water, and coffee served at this time. If the weather is nice, the children go out and play while the adults stand around and talk)
11:30 am (ish) – Worship with the Word (Usually Kyle would preach, but occasionally someone else–including my husband–would preach.)
Now let me take you a step further inside, as I give you a better view of each of these “events.”
Worship in Song
Kyle and his son, Jared, would lead the rest of us in singing hymns and worship songs. On some occasions (particularly Communion Sunday, which took place 1x per month), they would ask for requests. We would usually sing 4-5 songs.
During this time, Kyle asks for any praise and/or prayers the group might have. We also sing Happy Birthday to the monthly birthdays during this time. After all the requests have been made, everyone splits off into family units. We usually scoot our chairs into a circle and pray through the requests people have made. Every family has a different method for doing this, but I’ll tell you our method so you can get an idea of what this would look like:
We usually pray in our family from youngest to oldest (with the exception of Dad being last despite the fact he is actually 6 months younger than I am ) We assign the younger children a prayer request, usually something they can relate to. For instance, Mr. Kyle’s knee is hurting him. Something like that would go to Melia who is 6 because she is able to comprehend knee pain. Whereas prayer for specific needs of Christians being martyred for their faith in other countries would go to a child who is older and can pray more fully for something of that nature.
Once our family is finished praying, we stay in our seats, trying our best to respectfully wait for others to finish before allowing anyone to head for the snacks.
At the back of the room is a snack table with water, plastic glasses, plates and napkins, and snacks provided for from the church’s treasury.
***Quick note of interest: While there is no formal “Giving Time”, there is a box at the back of the room where you can leave money for the needs of the church. At the time of this writing, those needs were payment for rent on the building and snacks. One man in the congregation serves as Treasurer and gives updates here and there about the state of the funds within the bank account. ***
It is quite possible Fellowship Time at Calvary Family Church is one of THE longest fellowship times ever known in the history of Family Integrated Churches. This time spans a good half hour, with children playing while the adults catch up on the past week’s happenings.
Worship in the Word
Kyle likes to say Calvary Family Church preaches Biscuits & Gravy Sermons, meaning there is something for everyone. Meat, milk, tasty biscuits…it’s all there! Sermons tend to be fairly interactive with others offering tidbits to add to the sermon here and there and questions thrown out to the children.
After church service is over, we clean up the building and say our goodbyes. Some of us get together later in the afternoon or later in the week to spend time in each other’s homes, but there are no other “formal” services throughout the week.
There is also a monthly Communion Service. Communion Sundays are quite different from regular Sundays. Those Sundays the schedule looks more like this:
Singing Worship with requests
Prayer Time as a congregation
Offerings to the Lord in the form of music, plays, Scripture, etc
The Lord’s Supper with each man taking care of his household
Fellowship Meal potluck style
In the Family Integrated Church model, you will find that each household is responsible for the training, giving, and evangelizing of their specific households. There are no church-wide programs for missions or tithing. If another family sees an opportunity for something of this nature, they are welcome to invite the other families within the church along (often done via a shout out on the Yahoo Group), but ultimately, each household chooses how they will give and how they will spread the Gospel as a family unit.
Particular blessings of this particular FIC?
1. Children truly are a blessing. No child is shooed away from his Daddy as he stands at the front of the church praying over the bread for Communion. No child is hushed when he plays his toy guitar terribly off-key during the Communion singing worship (for the record, that would be MY child who does this). No child is relegated to the nursery or children’s church. Everyone is understanding of the natural training time it takes for youngsters who have not quite mastered the “sitting in church quietly” art.
2. The LONG fellowship time. We went to a church many years ago that had a fairly long meet and greet time built into the service. At some point, it was decided this time should be cut out because it “interrupted the flow of worship.” However, what we saw instead was a disconnectedness amongst the Body. There were dire consequences for changing that one thing…the church lost its Family feel. We have always been thankful for a church that sees the need to connect in this way and makes this time a priority.
3. The Yahoo Group. Because the members of Calvary live as far as an hour away from the church grounds, we have found that the Yahoo Group is a great way to connect for announcements, prayer requests, and opportunities to serve others.
So, there you have it…a peek into a family integrated church! While this may not be typical of all FICs, it is the FIC I am most familiar with. I’d love to hear from others who have experience with family integrated worship. And of course, if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask away!
A Look Inside a Home Church