Why Family Integration?
Word of Grace Community Church is committed to strengthening families, so we keep them together as much as possible. This means that almost all home groups and Bible studies are geared for adults and children of all ages. We do have some meetings just for men and women, and special events for specific groups, but overall we try to keep families and single parents together. This is obviously in contrast to the popular approach, which divides up families and intentionally segregates them by ages and marital status. Our specific goal is quite the opposite -- to integrate all ages as much as possible. Age-group segregation is a modern day church phenomena and is utilized by most church programs. We and sister family-integrated churches conclude that a more biblical approach is to minister to the family as a whole.
It is our goal at Word of Grace Community to integrate the ages and avoid age segregation for the following reasons:
1. It deprives the younger of the benefit received from older, more mature believers.
- The Scriptures tell us that those older typically have more wisdom than those younger (Job 12:12; 32:7; 8:8; Prov 16:31; 20:29; Lev 19:32)
- Titus 2:4-5 teaches older women to train younger women
2. It reinforces the immaturity of the younger by depriving them of adults as their peers
- We are peers of those we spend time with.
- We become like our peers (Prov 13:20; 2:20; 22:24; Ps 119:63; 1 Cor 15:33)
- Those older provide positive models for those younger
3. It creates a generation gap
- Children and teens develop the idea that they have nothing in common with adults.
4. It gives children and teenagers a false view of the their identity in Christ
- It reinforces to children their "passive" identity rather than their "contributing member" identity (1 Cor 12:1-27).
- It teaches kids to see themselves as "outsiders" -- that the main service is for adults and not them.
- It reinforces to young people a "youth subculture" identity rather than a family identity.
- It communicates to the young that they cannot understand pulpit and small group teaching and need to receive instruction that is bathed in entertainment and fun.
5. It fosters a self-centered view of church life both in the older and the younger
- Catering to specific ages with age-tailored programs communicates to the participants that the programs exists to satisfy them and cultivates the perspective "What will this ministry do for me?".
- It helps produce Christians who are more concerned about being served than serving.
- They develop the vision that they are "tourists” to be catered to instead of the biblical model of citizenship, where each has a responsibility for the needs of others.
- Minimizes the growth opportunities of being with those who do not share common values and convictions.
6. It limits the vision for outreach
- Segregating people by ages for the purpose of evangelizing the unbelievers who visit the church, is a modern church practice which we do not regard as the best one. For approximately the first 1900 years of church history, church gatherings were considered to be times for discipling and equipping believers for the work of evangelism in their homes and communities.
- Those who depend upon the church to draw in and evangelize the unbelieving friends of their children, often miss the opportunities they have to do a more effective job at home.
7. It divides up families and contributes to their breakdown
- Multiple activities for different ages mean family time is minimized.
- Youth groups create gratifying relationships & friendship bonds which hamper family cohesiveness.
- Youth ministers can take on the role of the father, and be seen as the authority.
- Family priority weakens as outside social groups take on more importance and time allotment.
- Families come to believe the error that peer relationships are more important than the family relationship.
- Teens can begin to identify with the youth subculture more than parents and siblings; they choose friends over family.
8. Its artificial dividing lines subtly foster competition and disharmony between ages rather than unity.
- Many parents assume that the sibling rivalry in their homes is normal and to be expected, but are unaware that it is often nurtured by age segregation in church and society.
Age integrated meetings require that children be trained to have self control. For them to participate in meetings geared for adults they must be able to sit still and listen. For this to happen, parents must first know that their children can be trained to have control over their bodies. And then the parents must be equipped to do the training.
Therefore, at Word of Grace Community we offer free parenting books and tapes, and training for all parents within the fellowship. We are blessed to have respected, experienced parents who teach and mentor younger parents in this area. We desire for our families to experience the blessing of trained children and scriptures communicate that self control is the key ingredient.
During worship time at Word of Grace Community, families sit together in the service, pray together during family prayer time and take communion as a family.
We encourage parents to walk around in the back area during the service if necessary to care for infants or small children while being trained.