Let’s Discuss Doug Phillips and Family Integrated Church

I’m extremely grateful to so many of my commenters. I’ve learned so much from so many of you. I’ve even learned some things from some of those who came here with no other purpose but to attack me.

Perhaps the single most important issue that I’ve been confronted with is my own legalism. As I’ve said before:

“God has been using many of my commenters to help push me into becoming a Berean. I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the things I’m discovering. As a direct result of this blog, I’ve also made some dear friends. By studying the Word together, those friends have also provoked me into looking deep into the perfect law of liberty.”

I’m still making the transition out of legalism-Dougism/Gothardism, but I feel that even just the steps I’ve made so far are a huge breakthrough. Grace isn’t an easy thing to grasp for a legalist, but I’m starting to get it.

Having been under the legalistic teachings of Doug Phillips for five years had a profound impact on my life, and not for the better. I’ve been having to reevaluate everything that Doug taught me. This isn’t to say that everything that Doug Phillips teaches is bad. A lot of what he teaches has merit. Not that much of what he teaches he actually came up with himself. Practically all of it he took from others. That’s part of the problem. A lot of the ideas that he took from others he then wound up taking to a legalistic extreme. Seldom are legalists moderate or biblically balanced.

A good example of this is Patriarchy. I’ve already dealt with that here, and I may come back to it again in the future.

Another area I’d like to address in-depth is “Family Integrated Church.” I’m in the process of writing a critique of “A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family.” Along with it I also want to critique “The Greatest Untapped Evangelistic Opportunity Before the Modern Church” and “The Sufficiency of Scripture at Work in the Family Integrated Church.” I’ll also have some interesting things to share about how the NCFIC got started, and its director, Scott Brown.

On the face of it, the Family Integrated Church movement doesn’t appear to be legalistic, nor should it be. But in reality, it too often is. I’ve received many reports of how it is divisive to the point of even causing church splits. It’s ironic that a movement that is supposedly rooted in “unity” can actually cause so much division.

What I’d like to do, as I’m writing my critique, is to open up this thread for commentary and input from you, my readers, both good and bad, on the Family Integrated Church. This will provide everyone an opportunity to assist me as I prepare my future article.

Along with this, I want to welcome my readers to submit via email their own articles on issues directly related to Doug Phillips. These can be full articles, or rough drafts and outlines for articles. Please be assured that if you don’t want your name used, I will respect your privacy. I know that many of my readers have some of their own stories to tell about Doug Phillips. I know because I’ve received your emails. I know that most of you don’t want to start blogs of your own. I’m willing to have you tell your stories here.

Please read the Vision Forum Ministries articles that I’ve linked to above and offer your comments about them here.

About these ads

100 Responses to “Let’s Discuss Doug Phillips and Family Integrated Church”

  1. RR Says:

    In regard to that moms post of July 13 heres another store from the same church.

    It really amazes me that some believers seem to feel it’s normative for a Pastor or other Elder to be involving himself in dispensing of advise with respect to other people’s marital life, especially sexual relations. Linking it to personal bible study with your spouse? How weird !
    Reminds me of a certain premarital class where young people are advised to have praise music playing during their first night together on their honeymoon. Where do people dream up this stuff ?

    If a couple has a problem and is ASKING for help, they should be referred to a qualified Christian therapist. That not withstanding the elders should be told to go home and attend to their own families. I wonder about Pastors/elders that like pretending they are sex therapist. Like they know anymore about it than anyone else.

  2. Patty Says:

    I don’t buy into anymore getting advice exclusively from A pastor or church leadership on much of anything . IN THE MULTITUDE OF COUNSELORS THERE IS SAFETY. Many counsel or speak outside of their expertise which gets them and others into trouble.
    Come to think of it there is a general tone of disapproval from one pastor to another,one church to another, it never ends. Many people feel they have special revelation and are the only ones going to heaven because they do everything right. This kind of thinking was another factor that got me out of my abusive churches.

  3. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE IV — Church’s Head is Christ

    We affirm our Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of His church, having purchased it with His own blood and having instructed it through His Word in order to make known the manifold wisdom of God and bring glory to Himself (Col. 1:18).

    We deny/reject the self-importance and pride of man to usurp Christ’s headship of His church by creating personal kingdoms through churches with man-made rules that disregard the Law of Christ.

  4. Cynthia Gee Says:

    “We deny/reject the self-importance and pride of man to usurp Christ’s headship of His church by creating personal kingdoms through churches with man-made rules that disregard the Law of Christ.”

    So they create their own Law with all kinds of new rules that even the Law of Moses didn’t have, and set about trying to establish the Kingdom by “taking dominion” of the world and out-breeding the “competition”, instead of doing as we were told, preaching the gospel to all nations, and waiting for Jesus to return and establish the Kingdom Himself.

    How ironic can you get….

  5. Corrie Says:

    “We deny/reject the self-importance and pride of man to usurp Christ’s headship of His church by creating personal kingdoms through churches with man-made rules that disregard the Law of Christ.”

    Oh!!! This is way too funny. You just couldn’t make up this stuff if you tried! It is like some SNL spoof.

    Creating personal kingdoms through churches with man-made rules!!! ROFLOL

    I guess it is only okay to make personal kingdoms full of manmade rules as long as they don’t disregard the Law of Christ.

    And, since they get to define the Law of Christ and they are the final authority on how to interpret the Law of Christ, then it is indeed a nice little arrangement they have going.

    Anyone who is not for them and with them is against them.

  6. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE V — Church’s Leadership and Ministry

    We affirm God’s revealed pattern in Scripture that the church be led and fed by a plurality of biblically qualified elders whom the Holy Spirit raises up from within the local church, who equip all the saints to do the work of ministry, and who may or may not be remunerated (Acts 14:23; 20:28; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).

    We deny/reject the two unbiblical extremes of our day: authoritarian, one-man leadership/one-man ministry that impedes the biblical functioning of the body, and leaderless house churches that disregard the biblical necessity of elders.

  7. Jean Says:

    Jen,

    If this weren’t so serious, it’d be funny. How can DP keep a straight face when writing: “We deny/reject the two unbiblical extremes of our day: authoritarian, one-man leadership/one-man ministry that impedes the biblical functioning of the body, and leaderless house churches that disregard the biblical necessity of elders.”

    Didn’t BCA start as a leaderless house church that had no elders? And isn’t it now under authoritarian, one-man leadership?

    He is no more qualified to promote this NCFIC agenda than the Botkin sisters are qualified to teach on motherhood.

    Have a pleasant day,

    Jean

  8. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    Why does Article V sound so terribly “black and white” or restrictive? There is denouncement of the abuse of the pastorate but no support of the effective appropriation of the pastorate.

    There may be unbiblical extremes in churches with pastors that could be called one-man leaderships or ministries, but this seems to denounce the pastorate without a direct statement. What about pastors that are good ones that do submit to a fellowship of elders? It doesn’t outright condemn churches that have pastors, but knowing how Doug operates BCA from what I’ve learned here, this is a backhanded way of saying that churches need no senior pastor.

    It’s tricky language. Most people would read this and agree with the perspective and support of elders, but the statement does not address whether the participating church should or should not have a pastor. It’s leading then, and most people would go ahead and agree. If they realized that this wording was used to support a church with no senior pastor, I wonder how many would not agree and sign up to be an FIC?

    The other narrow interpretation that he seems to make (the he whom I assume is Phillips) concerns “leaderless house churches.” There is no provision for or acknowledgement that some house churches do have elders and leadership.

    Jen,
    Do you think this is Doug’s loophole by design for churches that want to reject having a senior pastor, and also so that Doug can justify none at BCA (thereby avoiding more accountability)?

  9. Jen Says:

    Actually, Jean, you are partially correct on BCA. It did start with three elders, in a home. The home is not the problem, the lack of leadership is. I visited a church once where no one led. They all just sat there until one of the men had a hymn or a verse or something to share. There were some LONG silences.

    BCA now has some “elders-in-training.” They will be in training until they are in complete agreement with Doug. This came about after I started telling my story, so I’m guessing that prompted Doug a little, because it was the four or five years before that in which Doug was the sole elder at BCA. It was during this time period that this document was written.

    So this statement is about as hypocritical as it gets. But even when there is a full plurality of elders once again, I still think BCA will continue to be authoritarian in leadership and it will still focus on the one man: Doug.

  10. Jen Says:

    Cindy: “Do you think this is Doug’s loophole by design for churches that want to reject having a senior pastor, and also so that Doug can justify none at BCA (thereby avoiding more accountability)?”

    Cindy, as I read over these articles in this confession, I’m beginning to think that they are all carefully crafted loopholes designed to promote his agenda without seeming overly obvious. Doug is a lawyer and the wording in each of these articles seems designed to not portray the whole picture.

  11. Patty Says:

    Isn’t there a pretty big house church network in Texas? Maybe he is drawing some of the principles from that? I know the emphasis is in trying to return to a first century model. There seems to be alot of problems with that IMP over the long haul but house churches seem to be places that people fall into after they leave traditional churches.

  12. Cynthia Gee Says:

    ” Their reasoning went something like this: The Christian church is a family made up of families, therefore being a patriarch (leader of your family) qualified you as a leader (elder) of the Christian church.”

    Funny, Paul didn’t seem to see it that way. How unscriptural can you get?

  13. Cynthia Gee Says:

    “ARTICLE V — Church’s Leadership and Ministry

    We affirm God’s revealed pattern in Scripture that the church be led and fed by a plurality of biblically qualified elders ………….We deny/reject the two unbiblical extremes of our day: authoritarian, one-man leadership/one-man ministry……….. and leaderless house churches that disregard the biblical necessity of elders.”

    Holy hypocrisy, Batman……these guys could be a poster child for Matthew 23:3 — every one of the things that they say not to do, they do THEMSELVES!

    Mat 23:1 ¶ Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Mat 23:2 Saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”

  14. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE VI — Church is a Family of Families

    We affirm that our Heavenly Father designed His church to be a spiritual “family of families” where members know one another intimately, the shepherds understand the sheep effectively, and the various body parts function interactively (1 Tim. 3:15).

    We deny/reject the current trend to value numbers and size more than intimacy and vitality by building impersonal mega-churches rather than the multiplication of family-like congregations.

  15. Cynthia Gee Says:

    ARTICLE VI — Church is a Family of Families
    We affirm………….. rather than the multiplication of family-like congregations.

    Can’t fault most of that. But the church is a “family” which includes single people as well. We are born into the family of God through being born AGAIN, not through our birth into our earthly family.

  16. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE VII — Family is a Building Block

    We affirm that the biblical family is a scripturally ordered household of parents, children, and sometimes others (such as singles, widows, divorcees, or grandparents), forming the God-ordained building blocks of the church (2 Tim. 4:19).

    We deny/reject the church’s implementation of modern individualism by fragmenting the family through age-graded, peer-oriented, and special-interest classes, thus preventing rather than promoting family unity.

  17. Corrie Says:

    “We deny/reject the church’s implementation of modern individualism by fragmenting the family through age-graded, peer-oriented, and special-interest classes, thus preventing rather than promoting family unity.”

    But it is okay to separate the males and females on Sunday mornings into male discussion groups and female groups and then separate the family further into father/daughter and father/son “special interest classes thus preventing rather than promoting family unity”?

    “We affirm that the biblical family is a scripturally ordered household of parents, children, and sometimes others (such as singles, widows, divorcees, or grandparents), forming the God-ordained building blocks of the church (2 Tim. 4:19).”

    Does everyone know which Bible verse that is?

    “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

    I don’t know how they get what is said out of this verse? I am sure that slaves were in mind when the word “household” is used.

    So, a household is that which there are parents, children AND maybe singles or widows, divorcees or grandparents? Or could a household be just comprised of singles or divorcees or widows without the children and parents element? How about Lydia? No mention of husband or children but she still had a household as a single woman.

    Any which way, this verse does not prove what they say it proves.

  18. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE VIII — Church and Family Mission is Generational

    We affirm that God intends both church and family to carry out evangelism and discipleship through multiple generations, “so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God to keep all His statutes and His commandments” (Deut. 6:2; Lk.1:50).

    We deny/reject the contemporary seeker-sensitive and youth group philosophies which fail to “equip the saints” for spiritual ministry and maturity, resulting in adults and youth who become lukewarm and spiritually wayward.

  19. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE IX — Church and Family Method is Relationships

    We affirm that the saints of God are to be equipped for spiritual ministry and maturity primarily through family-based, one-on-one, heart-level relationships, and especially by preparing fathers to be servant-leaders in family and church (1Tim. 3:4-5).

    We deny/reject the popular church system that has replaced heart-level relationships with activity-based programs, and has supplanted father involvement with clergy dominance.

  20. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    After contemplating them for a couple of days these articles 8&9 have me baffled. (Well, that’s one word for it.)

    ARTICLE VIII — Church and Family Mission is Generational

    We affirm that God intends both church and family to carry out evangelism and discipleship through multiple generations, “so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God to keep all His statutes and His commandments” (Deut. 6:2; Lk.1:50).

    Who has a problem with that? But what is the focus here? Is it evangelism or the generations? I hope that my children and my children’s children will serve the Lord, but what if they do not? If I’ve raised them to the best of my ability in the fear and admonition of the Lord, at some point, they become their own. My dear mentor used to preach that we cannot ride into glory by grasping at the hem of our father’s cloak. I have no spiritual intermediary in my ancestry, nor should I. I stand before God without anyone to hide behind or under. And what if my family was weak. Does not the church extend their family to me to edify my family in its weakness?

    This also places a tremendous burden on a marriage, for it establishes this generational line as a standard (to be enforced if necessary? It does not say.) A husband and wife leave their families of origin and cleave to one another. We desire for families to stand as clans of redeemed before the Lord, but each husband must answer to God for himself. The most difficult issues in my own marriage arose from divided conflicts of duty between parent preference and the benefit of my own family under the guidance of my husband. This is a nice desire that should happen organically after years of walking uprightly before God, but this “article” could be used against families in a damaging way by dividing loyalties between spouse and family.

    We deny/reject the contemporary seeker-sensitive and youth group philosophies which fail to “equip the saints” for spiritual ministry and maturity, resulting in adults and youth who become lukewarm and spiritually wayward.

    Here again is another narrowed viewpoint. Not all youth groups are seeker-sensitive and failures. Rather than throw the youth group out with the bath water, shouldn’t the cry be for godly people to guide and direct the growing youths effectively? There is a black/white and all/nothing view of intolerance here which labels something that may be appropriate for a given season or group as unthinkable.

    This also makes the assumtions that because some youth groups are bad that they are the sole cause of the lukewarm and spiritual waywardness. This is illogical to make a broad statement. Does this mean that youth activies are outlawed? Youth group activties and the witness of the youth pastor laid the foundation for my husband’s conversion. I had an outstanding, committed youth pastor who changed my life, introducing me to presuppositional apologetics. Good leadership seems to be the underlying issue here, not the system or the program. The youth group provided instruction and guidance that my parents lacked.

  21. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    This article IX is difficult for me. This reads well, but only for those who come into the system with a perfect family. No non-normatives need apply.

    We affirm that the saints of God are to be equipped for spiritual ministry and maturity primarily through family-based, one-on-one, heart-level relationships, and especially by preparing fathers to be servant-leaders in family and church (1Tim. 3:4-5).

    Every family has problems. Like Tolstoy in Anna Karinina… My mother was saved when I was 5 and my dad when I was a teenager. (Although not born again, my father provided an excellent example of a servant-leader from the borrowed benefit from his culture.) But my parents were two very damaged people who “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” and did a fine job of providing me with a good home. My husband and I are very damaged also, much like our own families of origin. We have learned over the years, but much has been neglected as a result of denial and simple ignorance. Particularly on this point, I am painfully reminded of our inabilities and inadequacies. This is a fine goal, but how many families are prepared and able to carry this one out? Where to the imperfect people fit into this model?

    We deny/reject the popular church system that has replaced heart-level relationships with activity-based programs, and has supplanted father involvement with clergy dominance.

    If we are living by Christ’s standards, relationships within the body are governed by love. What exactly is a “heart-level relationship” then? Is this a term most men can identify with? Most men (based on brain and hormonal differences) demonstrate their heart-level relationships through activities. Heart-level relationships are often defined then through practical demonstration of loving acts for men. How then does Doug define “heart-level relationship” and “activity-based programs?” Would working together to put a new roof on the home of a disabled person count as an “activity based program?” (These examples serve as my most intimate examples of interraction with my own father and with others in the church. Providing food for events at the church was also taught to me as honor, love and care for the body where I did bond.) Is this not an active demonstration of love for those in need? What kind of “activities” did Doug endure that has him so frustrated that he finds it necessary to denounce them? Could it be that he was not ahead of the crowd in these types of activities? They are just not his preference?

    I don’t even want to know about “clergy dominance.” What’s the unspoken message here? When my earthly father and mother were unavailable to me, I am sincerely grateful that I had my church family to lean on and look to for guidance. Sometimes, in some areas when my parents were not available or were unskilled, I subsisted on the clergy and upon fellow believers in my church family. What kind of message would that have brought if I had needed to “be adopted” by a better family to have my needs met?

    These articles sound fine until they are thought out with examples. They are perfect for people with perfect lives and with all things well in order. But what of my families? What of the imperfect? These articles need another complementary set for rainy days. That will beget another out of necessity. With my own church family, a mix of young and old and Sunday School and youth groups and groups for the elderly and church family (all inclusive) events, we needed no contingency plans for rainy days. We were members one-of-another. My church family today is very much the same. We are different and loved and members of one another.

  22. Cynthia Gee Says:

    “These articles sound fine until they are thought out with examples. They are perfect for people with perfect lives and with all things well in order.”

    I noticed that too. My thought is, more power to them — let the perfect families go to these churches.
    The rest of us imperfect folks will just have to get by doing as we’ve done for the last couple of millenia, going to an (as yet) imperfect Church where we depend on Jesus and each other to help one another along.

  23. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    Cynthia Gee wrote: My thought is, more power to them — let the perfect families go to these churches.

    Oh, this is so true. I am so bungled and botched myself, so my Lord and Savior has much opportunity to work through me. More glory for Him! I suppose this is why hospice work, indigent care and foreign missions proves so wonderfully rewarding. Love comes easy when needs are so great. I love you, Cynthia Gee. Your imperfection becomes you and I love you for it.

  24. Jen Says:

    ARTICLE X — Church and Family Milieu is Everyday Life

    We affirm that the church’s relationships are nurtured primarily through daily discipleship in everyday life, especially fathers and mothers training their families and living out the gospel in ministry to the saints and witness to the lost (Eph. 5:21-6:4).

    We deny/reject family-fragmenting, facility-based programs which disregard the Church as a people in community and which displace family-integrated outreach through “loving our neighbor as our self.”

  25. Just A Sinner In Peoria Says:

    I read ThatMom’s comments with surprise, as I have attended the 2 family-integrated churches that she did and have had a completely different experience. I won’t comment on the first church, as I only attended there a few months and not at the same time as she did, but will comment on the 2nd. I guess my point is that not any one church can meet every person’s needs–and perhaps the things which are unappealing to one person, are exactly what another person needs.

    ThatMom mentioned that non-homeschoolers would not feel welcome in our church–while the majority of families do homeschool, there are families that also send their children to public or private school (or some combination–ie homeschooling younger children, sending older ones to school.)

    She mentioned that roles for women were non-negotiable–while the church does only have males in leadership (as many churches do), the church does not dictate how any individual woman should run her life. For example, several women work outside the home (including myself–full-time), I have never felt “judged” in anyway because of this, nor as far as I know, have the other women who work outside the home. The pastor has often said from the pulpit that we should respect the decisions that other makes, even though we feel differently. There is a wide range of differences between families and how they raise and discipline their children.

    ThatMom mentions that the church had zero evangelism efforts (and that maybe have been true at the time she attended), but currently evangelism is strongly encouraged. We have done outreach projects for the local neighborhood, help support a full-time missionary family (10% of the church’s income goes to our missioniaries). Many members also have their own family missionary projects (for example, short-term missions).

    She mentions that the “non-programs” take up too much time. I, personally, have never felt pressured to attend anything. Our family attends what events meet our needs and schedules, and have never felt pressured to attend more. We are so grateful for the daily bible reading check-list that the pastor gives–we were not raised in families where people studied the Bible at home, having a guideline was immensely helpful for us, as we had no idea where to begin. Our children enjoyed marking on the weekly chart when we had completely the Bible readings (which we sometimes got distracted from and didn’t always finish.)

    The services may have been long–but I believe most people attending are thrilled with the set-up. We certainly are and would have been disappointed to see a Sunday School separate from the service (not that there is anything wrong with that, it just wasn’t what we were looking for.)

    We’ve found our home-discipleship church to be the most welcoming, most diverse church we’ve attended.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 652 other followers

%d bloggers like this: