Friday, April 3, 2009

Radical Homeschooling & Family-Integrated Churches

What does Radical Homeschooling have to do with Family-Integrated Churches?

As I pointed out earlier, the major premise of RH is that homeschooling is considered an indispensable part of education. Likewise, some Family-Integrated Church (FICs) leaders believe that homeschooling is required by the Word of God. One leader in particular ties the two movements closely together:

“Home educators, almost by definition, have turned their heart to their children [Mal. 4]… So, there’s been a revival that’s taking place in the heart of these homeschool families. And this revival works itself out to the local church….our prayer: every Christian in the world is in a family integrated church. And there should be nothing but that, but you know what that is going to lead to? That’s going to lead to people homeschooling! And vice-versa; they play off of each other. Because when you understand the importance of discipleship you move in that direction…” (Doug Phillips, interview, here)

That interview was a presentation about Family Integrated Churches. It is thus most instructive that FICs and homeschooling were organically tied together in this interview.

Much of RH is concerned about the demise of the American family. It is also concerned about the demise of the American church. The destruction of the family is the destruction of the church. So, the root problem is the disintegration of the natural nuclear family: it is being attacked by the culture and being undermined by the church. Such sentiments echo The National Center for Family Integrated Churches.

The NCFIC was created and originally hosted by Vision Forum (their president in particular); its online confession contends that the family is “crucial to the stability and health” of the church while the church leadership “bear a level of responsibility for the vulnerability of the family.” In fact, the church must repent of these unbiblical practices and the NCFIC prays for more “healthy family-integrated assemblies [to rise] from the ashes of our man-centered, fragmented, and individualistic churches.” Thus, the solution is to transform the church through family-integratedness.

But is that all? Can the NCFIC Confession be understood to endorse homeschooling above other methods--even as the essence of proper Christian education? Consider:

1. "...that children are also equipped primarily through family-based, one-on-one, father-directed, heart-level discipleship relationships (Ephesians 4:16;1Tim. 3:4-5)." Article IX
2. "We affirm that there is no scriptural pattern for comprehensive age segregated discipleship, and that age segregated practices are based on unbiblical, evolutionary and secular thinking which have invaded the church..." Article XI
3. "We affirm that the church’s relationships are nurtured primarily through daily discipleship in everyday life, especially fathers and mothers training their families..." Article X

Does NCFIC know of their founding member's view that homeschooling and family-integratedness go hand in hand? That to endorse one should lead to the other? Or is it a point so fundamental that it need not be explicitly stated?

The president of VF spoke of family-integrated churches and homeschooling as joined at the hip. They "play off each other." So, whether my analysis about NCFIC has any merit, it is certainly the case that the president of VF believes RH and FICs are peas in a pod.

Note: I recently discovered that NCFIC launched its own url in January of 2009. Does this mean quoting the NCFIC document is pointless? No: 1) The president of VF founded the NCFIC; 2) the new NCFIC site still lists the VF president on its board (uses his articles and lets him lecture); 3) NCFIC has not publicly separated itself ideologically from VF--a new url does not equal new ideas.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Pastor Mathis, I am glad you are continuing with your thoughtful analysis of radical homeschooling and family-integrated churches. In so far as Doug Phillips and Vision Forum are concerned, I do agree that these entities are closely tied together. Assigning it a new url doesn't mean anything--NCFIC seems to be a natural spin-off of Vision Forum (which may or may not be intended to actually spin off).