A Network of Very Unusual Churches in America
How important is the establishment of biblically-ordered local churches? It is very important, since the church is “the body of Christ," (Eph. 1:22-23) and “the pillar and ground of the truth,” (1 Tim. 3:15). This is why the NCFIC maintains an online church network called the, "FIC Network.” In order to be listed, these churches must indicate that they fully or substantially embrace the "Declaration for the Complementary Roles of Church and Family.” These churches are not a denomination or a formal association, rather they are a network of like-minded local churches.
The churches that have identified with the NCFIC network are very unusual in the American landscape. I have been traveling and meeting with the leaders of these churches face to face over the past several months at “regional leaders meetings." Thus far, I have traveled to: Orlando, FL; Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; St. Louis, MO; Davenport, IA; Winston-Salem, NC; Chesapeake, VA; Boise, ID; Phoenix, AZ; and Bremerton, WA.
The following are twenty characteristics of these churches. As you read through this list, ask yourself: "What percentage of churches in America share these qualities?"
1. They truly believe Scripture is sufficient for defining the nature and practices of church and family life.
2. The are preaching a gospel consistent with a reformed soteriology: that salvation is by grace alone, apart from works, and that true salvation expresses itself in works of righteousness and changed lives.
3. They are engaged in the expository preaching of the Word of God, believing that Scripture is the voice of God in the church.
4. They are age-integrated in worship and discipleship, and as a result the church is not divided into separate cultures.
5. The wives are not working outside the home, rather they are helping their husbands and raising their children at home.
6. The fathers believe they are the primary spiritual leaders of their families, and they are aware of their role to engage in regular family worship.
7. They are having as many children as the Lord provides.
8. They are adopting children.
9. Almost everyone in these churches have taken their children out of the public school system, and are now home schooling.
10. There is an attempt to practice church discipline to the best of their understanding.
11. They place a high value on hospitality during the week.
12. They are relational churches where people know one another and care for one another. Most of these churches eat together on Sunday after their church services.
13. There seems to be a high number who are engaged in street preaching.
14. They are small churches, mostly 50-100 people, which is smaller than the average size of an American church which, the way I understand it, is around 90.
15. Very few have full time pastors.
16. The majority have adopted a historic confession of faith, like the: Westminster Confession of Faith, the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689, and the Augsburg Confession.
17. A large number of these churches frequent local abortion clinics to preach the gospel.
18. Most of them are not 501c3.
19. They have embraced the principle of biblical church government, and the two offices of elder and deacon.
20. Most of them seem to be in rented facilities, but that is changing as the years pass. There is a progression from meeting in homes, to rented facilities, and finally to church owned buildings. In the last five years, some of these churches have moved into buildings.
I understand that there is some variation in practice and intensity for some of the above characteristics among the churches, but most of the churches possess all of these characteristics.
Here is my view of these churches: They are not perfect, but they are being sanctified. They are little societies/enclaves where the authority of God in the church and the family is respected. As a result, their people live and think very differently compared to most of the churches around them.
What is the value of these kinds of churches in America? How important is it to have churches like this in our land?
I am very grateful for the presence of these little churches in America. They are small lights, but they are increasing in number and brightness. They are pillars for the truth. They intend on passing the faith to the next generation. Please pray that God would prosper them in the spread of the gospel, the equipping of the saints and the proclamation of the truth in society. May their tribes increase!
Scott T. Brown is the President of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches and pastor at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Scott graduated from California State University in Fullerton with a degree in History and received a Master of Divinity degree from Talbot School of Theology. He gives his time to expository preaching and local pastoral ministry, as well as conferences on Biblical doctrine and church and family reformation. He and his wife Deborah have four grown children. Scott helps people think through the two greatest evangelistic and discipleship institutions God has provided — the church and the family.