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What Our Family Integrated Church Looks Like

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Faith's Firm Foundation: What Our Family Integrated Church Looks Like

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Our Family Integrated Church Looks Like

(Click What Our Family Integrated Church Looks Like, Part 2!) Right off the bat, I need to acknowledge that I got this idea from Amy, over at Raising Arrows!  Check out what her Family-Integrated Church looks like!  As I read her post yesterday, I thought, "I go to a Family Integrated Church!  It never occurred to me to tell about my church--what a great idea!"  And there is no better time than on Thankful Thursday, because I am very grateful that God has brought us to Cornerstone.

What Does Family Integrated Mean?
Family Integrated means we worship together as families.  Dad, Mom, and all the children sit together through the whole service.  But, Family Integrated means more at Cornerstone.  It means "family" is encouraged.  The goal is to strengthen everyone in the family in their Biblical role, building them up in their faith in Jesus Christ, helping fathers to lead their families, wives to be helpmeets, coming alongside parents as they teach and train their children to obey and honor their fathers and mothers, so they may succeed in raising and nurturing their children in the admonition of the Lord, and turning the hearts of fathers to the children.  The grace of Jesus Christ enables all of this.  Couples are encouraged to accept however many children God sees fit to give them as gifts, believing God when He says,

Psalm 127

 3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
 4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
 5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

At Cornerstone, there are families of all sizes.  But larger families feel "safe" and accepted.

If You Don't Have A Pastor,
Then Who Leads And Preaches?
We have 3 elders, who lead and teach, and rotate sharing from the Scriptures, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, each week.  Right now we're studying Exodus, following a study of Genesis.  The chapter we're memorizing is Psalm 25. Before the sermon the elder takes us through a practice of the next verse.
Mike and Chris
Here are two of our elders and their wives (the third wasn't able to be there) at our Elder Appreciation Dinner in December. You can see the third, David, and his wife, Carolyn, if you visit their blog at Hebrews Eleven One as they chronicle their lives and most recently, bringing home Madeline, their adopted daughter from Ukraine.
Mark and Lynn

What's A Typical Sunday Look Like
Well, for starters, our church service is two hours long! 10:00-12:00, and then we have fellowship time for another couple of hours!  (My next post on this subject will address the questions, or Some of Them, that I know you're thinking right now! 2 hours! I could never make my kids sit still for 2 hours!)

Six hymns, with all the verses, are sung during the service, led by Ryan, the son of one of our elders, with  accompaniment by a pianist, 3 violinists and 2 cellists.  We stand for almost all hymn-singing, to give a break from sitting so long.

The Order (based on Acts 2:42):

  • 2-3 hymns first (10:00-10:20?)
  • Then the sermon, (the three elders rotate speaking every week, and the musicians rotate with the speaker) (10:20-11:00??)
  • Another hymn or two (11:05-11:10??)
  • Then dads and sons share testimonies (11:10-11:25)
  • Another hymn, followed by communion every Sunday, (celebrating communion every Sunday helps us to remember what Christ has done for us, we're a forgetful people, and to keep short accounts with Him--the elements are crackers, made by one elder's family, and grape juice. 
     We stay in our seats for this part, and dads decide when their children possess true salvation: the only criterion for participation, and are ready to participate).  A few men share a verse or a prayer during a time of quiet contemplation, and then the elements are passed out by 5 or so of the young men.
  • One more hymn and then
  • Praise and Prayer time (11:45-Noon).

The man leading this part asks for and writes down the praises and prayers as they are called out, and the leader asks for a volunteer, who raises his hand, to pray for that request.  After all the requests have been taken, those volunteering to pray come up to the podium where the microphone is, so they can be heard as they pray, while everyone else prays silently with them.  Announcements are given at the end of the service by one of the elders.

Dads and older sons take turns leading the different parts of the service, and often share some verses or a little encouragement or exhortation related to their part.  No "collection/giving" is taken or mentioned.  There's a locked box in the back on a table, and we have a Treasurer who takes care of all that.  (More on the financial aspects next time.)

How Cornerstone Started and When We Came
Cornerstone Church has been our church home for a little over 7 years.  Eight years ago, three Homeschooling Dads (Mike, Mark and David) decided to meet together for worship.  Mike and David's families live about an hour and a half from each other and Mark's family lives halfway between. They took turns hosting in their homes.  A couple more families joined them in the next year.  They weren't "starting a church" but seeking the Lord's direction. Mark and David's families were/are two of our very best friends.

Personal note:  This was all taking place shortly after I was diagnosed and had surgery for ovarian cancer, and when I was going through chemotherapy.   There is a whole story to tell of what God was doing in our lives related to church prior to coming to Cornerstone, but I'll save that for another day.

After they'd been meeting for about nine months, we attended the baptismal service around the pool at David's home, about 10 minutes away from us.  A couple of months later we began attending Cornerstone. It happened to be the first day they met in the community center that we meet in now, which is located 5 minutes from Mark's home (kind of in the middle of everyone).

Size and Distance
There were maybe 7 families (I forget) on that first Sunday in the community center, with perhaps 50-75 people attending.  It was lovely and the fellowship wonderful.  Word spread.  The church grew.  Now there are about 50+ families with close to 400 people, who come from far and wide.  They were looking for Biblical encouragement and fellowship with like-minded Christians.  If you've ever looked for a Family Integrated Church, you know that they're not on every street corner.  Our drive to church is about a 40-minute beautiful drive mostly through the countryside, and I actually love it--I wouldn't want it any shorter--because I can quiet my heart and enjoy the scenery, pray, and get ready to worship.  Many families drive 30 to 45 minutes (or more) to come to church.

I'm so grateful for the "journey" which has brought us to worship at Cornerstone.  I thank God for each and every family, and all the deep and enduring friendships which have been formed in these last 7 years and look forward to worshiping for many more years, Lord willing, at Cornerstone!  Thank you, Lord!!

Come back tomorrow for Food Friday, and Monday, for Part 7 of the Prayer Series, "Do You Pray?" and on Tuesday I will post Part 2 of What Our Family Integrated Church Looks Like.

If you have questions that you'd like me to answer about our church--I've gotten kind of used to it, so I don't notice sometimes how unusual it is--please leave a comment, and I'll try to answer them in my post on Tuesday.

So, what are you thankful for today? Visit Laurie at Women Taking A Stand, to participate and read other thankful hearts!
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Blogger Denise said...

great post.

February 3, 2011 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

We attend a family integrated church too. My hubby and I started attending one when we were newly married. I remember thinking that having all the kids in church was a bit distracting and a bit noisy! :)
Now we have 3 little ones of our own, and I'm so thankful that they are welcomed into the worship service with the rest of us. My boys have grown in leaps and bounds by being exposed to faithful preaching and teaching each Lords Day. And I've learned the true meaning of "out of the mouths of babes!" :)

February 3, 2011 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Thanks, Denise!
Love ya!

February 3, 2011 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

What a blessing for you to be involved since you were newlyweds in a Family Integrated Church! Isn't it truly amazing how much small children absorb when you would think that they would understand nothing? I wonder if it isn't because the things of the Lord are spiritually discerned, and not understood with the intellect. Even if they did not understand a word, a child would certainly have to be impacted by families worshiping together, wouldn't they?
Thanks for your comment, Kathryn! It's so fun to find out where people go to church, and especially fun to hear from others who go to Family Integrated churches!

February 3, 2011 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I feel I must say that not all family integrated churches are alike. It also isn't an automatic seal of approval if it is family integrated.

February 4, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Bobbe Brooks-Fischle said...

Wendy, thanks so much for sharing your world of worship with us. It's delightful to see how we're all seeking, knowing and growing in Him. Have a joy-filled weekend!

February 4, 2011 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Thank you! Only a couple of times in the last 15 years have we had to "church shop," but I've felt it gave a great advantage to us, because we were able to see how others worship.
Is this very different from your church experience?
Will you be able to go to church this Sunday after your husband's accident? How is he doing? I hope you are able to relax and get some rest this weekend, Bobbe.
Thanks for stopping by!

February 4, 2011 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger lioneagle said...

Hi Wendy -

I so enjoyed this journey of knowledge that you so graciously shared.

It is wonderful to worship with others where GOD reigns!!!

Thank you, Wendy for this message.

February 5, 2011 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Hi Sandra!
The way we do church at Cornerstone has become our new "normal" and I'm really grateful for that, but it doesn't mean we're on "easy street" now, spiritually! I didn't realize it, but I used to think if I could just go to a church like this one, then everything would be good. (Picture me taking a huge sigh as I sit back in my easy chair spiritually.) I've learned that I/we still need to use discernment and check out what is taught like the Bereans, in my own Bible study, and humble myself, confessing my sins (which are many) daily, and seek the Lord for direction, and be on guard against the devil's deception. Satan is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour! I do so appreciate our church, and I would recommend one like it to anyone, but I also pray for all of us daily, especially the leaders and their families.
So, what is your church experience? I'd love to hear about others' church experience. Do you see fruit in yours and others' lives that lasts? Is it Biblical? Are you built up in the faith, are you being convicted and encouraged by the Word weekly, etc.
Hope you have a wonderful Lord's Day tomorrow, Sandra!

February 5, 2011 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger lioneagle said...

Hi Wendy -

I have had some deep spiritual experiences in churches but truth be told, my experience has been that the anointing power of our Lord does NOT flow nearly enough...and there is a dearth of love flowing from many who profess Christ as Lord.

But the joy of the Lord is my strength. He has taught me and is still teaching me to love, and to forgive but - that trust has to be proven..

We all sin and come short of GOD'S glory but my frequent prayer is that body of Christ members not allow sin to have dominion...

May GOD help us all.

February 5, 2011 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

You seem to really have a heart to grow in Christlikeness. I pray with you that (in all of us) as Christians, sin would not have dominion over us. "Search me, Oh God, and know me, and see if there be any wicked way in me." (Ps. 51) I rejoice that, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn. 1:9) I'm challenged by your words, though, for "sin having dominion" surely starts with "little choices" and becoming "comfortable" with "little compromises." I wonder, Have I done this? Are there areas in my life where I've taken the "easy" way? What do you think one needs to do to keep sin from having dominion?

February 6, 2011 at 9:18 PM  

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