HARTFORD, CT – Much attention has been made of late about Family Integrated Churches (FIC). In this model, families remain together whenever the church gathers. Regardless of occasion, there is no splitting up of the families for any reason. The FIC model even has its own spokesman in Voddie Baucham.
Many see the FIC model as just a different way to do church. However, others see it as an affront to what the church is trying to accomplish. Pastor Lew Matthews of Corinth Presbyterian (PC-USA) Church told TBNN, “People of all different ages have diverse types of needs as far as discipleship and ministry are concerned. For example, children learn far differently than their parents do. Because of this, they need varied types of instruction. To think that keeping everyone together would benefit anyone is simply silly.”
Assistant Pastor Nelson Wills proudly informed us that the Corinth model is entitled, “The Family Disintegrated Church (FDC).” According to Wills, "We base our model on I Corinthians 13:11, where Paul writes, 'When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.' Also, one of the prophets wrote, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder.'"
Pastor Matthews and the other leaders at Corinth Presbyterian have taken their beliefs about church to new levels. A Sunday morning at Corinth goes something like this: When a family arrives at the church building, they are greeted by FDC “facilitators.” These folks promptly give everyone a color-coded badge based upon their age groupings. Sunday School age breakdowns are birth-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-16, 17-18, 19-22, 23-25, 26-30, 31-33, 34-36, 37-39, 40-43, 44-46, 47-49, 50-53, 54-56, 57-59, 60-63, 64-66, 67-69, 70-73, 74-76, 77-79, 80-83, 84-86, 87-89, and 90-death.
The FDC facilitators immediately assist the different family members to their various Sunday School classes. Infants and toddlers are taken from their parents in the parking lot, placed in a church stroller, and transported to the nursery building. Older children, youth, and adults all stream out in numerous directions to different class rooms in the other three buildings on campus.
After Sunday School, the different pastors move into position to lead their own services. Seven worship services take place at the 11 o’clock hour. “Giggle Church” fills the needs of the birth-five age range. For kids 6-11, “Fun Time” fits the bill. The youth (ages 12-18) meet in their own building to worship in song and drama. They simply refer to this service as “Word.”
Corinth offers adults 4 different services based upon their ages. Members in their 20s-30s attend “Not Enough Time.” Folks in their 40s-50s go to “Empty Nest.” If you are in your 60s-70s you attend “Nearing the End.” For those in their 80s and above, the service is entitled “Take Me Home.”
After the services conclude at noon, family members meet in a large central area between the church buildings named the “Rendezvous.” When parents arrive, FDC facilitators have their infants, toddlers, and older children waiting for them. Youth gradually migrate from “Word” toward the reassembly point. After the family is all joined back together, they are off to the restaurant.
Pastor Matthews summed it all up, “We strive to meet the needs of all our members. We believe this is done best by meeting them at their age level. We also believe that people who are trained to deal with the needs of specific age groupings are far more successful in both instruction and ministry than parents ever could be. I mean, can you imagine if parents tried to teach their teens about the bible? We know that’s not going to happen. By disintegrating the family for a few hours on Sunday mornings, we ultimately do our families a great deal of good. We are all about family here at Corinth Presbyterian.”