Grace Family Church is a Little Different!
Thank you for taking a moment to consider visiting Grace Family Church. Unlike many churches across the country which have organized themselves around an attitude of being “sensitive” or “relevant” to the unchurched, we do things differently. The following discussion points capture the essence of some of our more prominent themes:
Sufficiency of Scripture
First, we begin with Scriptures as our authoritative and sufficient source of instruction for all of God’s good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Scripture forms the basis for all that we do and we are constantly seeking to reform ourselves against the plain teachings of God’s Word. From our study of Scripture, these other distinguishing principles emerge:
An analysis of relevant Scriptures reveals that it is the job of the shepherds/elders in the church to nurture and train the church membership. (2 Timothy 4:2-4; Ephesians 4:11-12, Acts 2:42-47; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9; Acts 20:28-31; 1 Peter 4:11) From these passages it is clear that the corporate gathering of the local church is for the equipping of the saints. Continuing, from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, it is also clear that the equipping for anything God would call men to do can be found within the teachings of Scripture. As such, the preaching at Grace Family Church is largely expositional in nature, meaning that topics for teaching are taken from the text being taught. Man’s ideas and flashes of inspiration are always brought into submission to what is in the text (2 Corinthians 10:5). There will be occasional sermons based on a topic, but the steady diet of teaching is expositional.
Regenerate Church Membership
Scripture also teaches that church membership is more than gaining the freedom to vote in church business meetings. Ephesians 3:10 describes God displaying his wisdom and glory through church. Also, the early church fellowship in Acts 2 demonstrates that the Lord was adding to their number those who were saved. In Hebrews 10:25, the author encourages his brothers to not forsake meeting together. Indirectly, we see that Paul’s admonitions in 1 Corinthians 5:2,7,12-13 to purge the unrepentant sinner from amongst the church at Corinth only makes sense in the context of regenerate church membership. Similarly, the excommunication of Matthew 18 makes sense only in the context of membership composed of regenerate individuals.
Emphasis on Personal Discipleship and Growth
God cares about the growth of His children. This is clearly seen in the rebuke given by Paul to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 as well as the rebuke of the Hebrews Christians in Hebrews 5:11-14. At Grace Family Church, we, too, desire for our membership to mature and grow in grace and knowledge with respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Peter 3:18). With such an emphasis from God that He desires our growth, the elders are committed to working with the Holy Spirit in the lives of the membership to shepherd them with good Spiritual food and loving courageous protection (Ezekiel 34:2-4).
Emphasis on Family Discipleship and Education
When God was preparing His people to enter into a pagan land and be immersed in a battle with peoples who did not love or obey Him, He gave them a very important principle through Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 6. The principle in view is most elegantly described in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In verses 4 and 5, God instructed His people to train their children to love Him with all their heart, soul, and might. And in verses 6 through 9, He told them how and when to do it:when you sit, when you walk, when you lie, when you rise. This description really is about discipleship from parent to child. Why is this important? Verse 18 sums it up: “that it may go well with you”. God’s blessings come through obedience to His principles, and the transmission of those principles through the generations was to be accomplished from parent to child, so that in a land where the culture rails against God, it would go well with them. This is summed up wonderfully in Psalm 78:5-8:
“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalm 78:5-8 ESV)
The instruction of discipleship is present in the Old Testament, but it also is reinforced in the New Testament in Ephesians 6. When describing how a man is to live by the Spirit, Paul tells fathers they are responsible for the training and teaching of their children (Ephesians 6:4). Additionally, the words of Jesus in Luke 6:40 demonstrate that children will become like their teachers. If the parents don’t teach their children, then the parents are putting at risk their ability to raise their children with a specific world view. Whoever is teaching and influencing their children will be the ones whom the children emulate. So, if Christian fathers expect to obey Ephesians 6:4, then they must remain the primary influence in their children’s lives. Influence with a child is gained by spending time with them, and sending children away for education marginalizes the impact a parent can have.
Family Integrated Programming
All of this is to say that Grace Family Church recognizes the link between family unity and the successful discipleship of the next generation. In order to preserve the unity of the family, we program our church in a manner that keeps our families together. We believe that providing a large number of competing activities that are targeted towards specific family members will contribute to a weakening of the unity of our member families. This weakening contributes to a degrading of parental influence in the lives of the children. By keeping our programming simple and family focused, we have found that families are strengthened and discipleship is nurtured.
Even though we understand that we are Christ’s church, our approach to church has been termed “Family Integrated” which is why we call ourselves a Family Integrated Church.