One of the latest sectarian movements to arise around the fringes of the Christian religion is something called “family integrated churches.” What this seems to mean, depending on the advocate, is that youth groups are bad, age-segregated Sunday Schools are bad, families need to sit together in church, and even the notion that husbands should serve their wives and children the Lord’s Supper (a practice that was a capital offense in the Bible; Exodus 35:2-3; Numbers 16).
One understands where some of this comes from. I gather that most of these people are Baptists or come from hip-hop PCA churches and want something better. They rightly are opposed to “children’s church,” a practice unknown to Lutheran and Episcopal churches and only found in Baptist and Bapterian churches. They are also concerned about the breakdown of the family in our society. Their cure, however, is not much better than the disease. What is needed is a return to Reformation worship, with full sung liturgy and genuine psalmody. In such a context, Sunday Schools and Youth Ministries are no threat to anyone.
The simple fact is that for 2000 years, the Holy Spirit moved the church to have men and women sitting separately during divine worship. This is because in heaven there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage. There is neither male nor female, bond nor free, child nor parent. Hence, ascended worship, taking place seated in the heavenlies, involves an affirmation of God’s Family and a setting aside of the earthly family. As a matter of fact, if you want God to give you a healthy family, let Him take it apart and put it back together each week, for that is how God always glorifies and empowers His people (Hebrews 6:12-13 + Genesis 2:23-24). I have a lecture on this that can be heard here: http://www.trinvalp.com/ The message is titled “The End of the World.”
Functioning beneath the surface with such groups as Vision Forum and the like is a form of idolatry. We read that the family is the foundation of civilization. That is a fairly ridiculous notion, since the family is a highly temporary social unit. The Bible commands that a child leave his father and mother when he marries (Genesis 2:24). Moreover, as children grow up, they move from an orientation toward parents (imaging the Father), to an orientation toward older young people (imaging the Brother) and finally move out and become oriented toward mentors (imaging the Spirit). This is perfectly natural, and is why wise churches have youth groups in which young people growing away from their parents receive reinforcement from older teens. The notion that a 15 year old must relate to his parents in the same way as a 5 year old is implicitly unitarian. God has designed the family to be temporary, and has designed us to begin to look outward from our initial foundation.
A good discussion is found here: http://www.weswhite.net/2011/04/family-integrated-mathis/ I don’t usually recommend visiting this site since the men involved are opposed to Reformation theology, but on this point they are right. The discussions below the essay are interesting, because you can see the kind of fanaticism this movement entails.
Another aspect of this business is dealt with here: http://www.patriarchy.org/church/membership.html
Finally I recommend this paper, which deals with how this familistic movement is an enemy of the church: http://trinity-pres.net/essays/THECHURCHANDHERRIVALSversion3.0.pdf