Monday, November 12, 2007

What is the Family Integrated Church?

Updated 22Mar23

Here's an interesting excerpt from Jennifer Epstein's blog. Regardless of what you believe about this controversial figure, her description of her experience at the FIC was an eye-opener for me!

The only element I would add to the list below is that Sunday School and age-oriented education or activities for children are forbidden as "Social Darwinism."

I found the practices regarding the Eucharist/ Lord's Supper to be quite interesting. A woman cannot reach for the Host herself (independent of her "patriarch") because of her gender-related need for a male intercessor? However, if her husband is out of town, it's perfectly acceptable for her male toddler to bring the Host to her? Okay... (well, not so okay...)

From her introduction:

Among the other things that Doug Phillips promotes through The Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries is “Family Integrated Church.” Doug Phillips originally founded the “Uniting Church and Family,” a website and annual conference for training patriarchs to start their own churches, often home churches. This idea, which he originally “borrowed” from Eric Wallace’s book “Uniting Church and Home,” was initially headed up by John Thompson. The name was eventually changed to the National Center for Family Integrated Churches and is currently headed up by Doug’s friend, Scott Brown…. 
The first issue I shall address is the impression that at least some FICs give that they’re not particularly open and welcoming of “outsiders.” Some have gotten the impression that in order to be welcome in an FIC, you first have to meet a certain set of criteria.
The criteria may often include:
  • Homeschool only
  • Patriarchy
  • No women working outside the home
  • No daughters in college
  • Full-quiver
  • Dress code: Women in dresses only (sometimes with
    headcoverings), men in suit and tie only
  • Courtship only 
Here, I will add to Epstein's list: 
  • No Age-oriented education of children 
  • No dividing of the families for religious activities 
  •  A woman my not partake of the Lord's Supper unless it is given to her by a male from her household who has deemed her worthy, or the duty may be assigned to an arranged overseer
Those who don’t meet the criteria may be permitted to attend, at least for a time. However, they will often be made to feel that they don’t fit in, and that will also be reinforced from the teachings in the pulpit. They will be expected to conform. Image is very important in many FICs.

I might also add to the list of criteria —
“family only.”