Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"Family Integrated Church" by J. Mark Fox

Family Integrated Church: Healthy Families, Healthy Church provides the church today with some timely and challenging insights into the idea of churches which promote spiritually healthy families. Pastor J. Mark Fox's book provides us with an experience-rich account of a church that has made the family a priority over and against today's trend to age-segregate the church.

Though published before Voddie Baucham's book, Family Driven Faith, Fox's book really works best as a follow-up to Baucham's arguments for a church based upon the spiritual leadership of fathers and mothers. Fox's book is a broad and gracious look at the local church using his own local congregation and experiences as a case study in which he admits many shortcomings and failures along the way, providing something of a blueprint for a local church to make the family the center of Christian life and experience. Fox fleshes out the way that fathers have a responsibility before God for the instruction of their own children and makes the connection to how leadership is biblically described for the local church. Without being overly critical, Fox really hits at a dangerous fact: the void of true spiritual leadership in the home and in the church.

As Fox admits in his book, the transition from age-segregated gatherings to a more family-integrated approach among their congregation had more to do initially with pragmatic needs than biblical conviction. I find this aspect particularly interesting in light of the perceived difficulty of any particular church "transitioning" from one structure to another. However, as his book demonstrates, attitudes and structure in a local body of believers can change, and sometimes such changes are brought about by God in ways we do not expect.

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