family integrated church podcast series

Today I am beginning a series of podcasts on the family integrated church movement as I talk with OPC Pastor Shawn Mathis. Please feel free to join the conversation in the comment section. If you are new to this blog, I hope you will also read the series of articles I wrote on the family integrated church movement. Please feel free to comment on those here as well. I am also including links to a few articles recommended by Pastor Mathis.

Click podcast icon below to play this podcast

Born in Spartanburg, SC, Shawn Mathis was raised in a military home. In 1979 his family moved to Colorado, became Christians and joined a local Charismatic church. After graduation, he joined the Air Force, read Banner of Truth and discovered a book labeled, Ten Points of Calvinism. After an honorable discharge in 1994 he found the author of that book and attended Providence OPC. There his life was challenged by preaching, by friends, and especially by his lovely wife-to-be who challenged his charismatic ways. Over time, others in the church recognized God’s gifts and nominated him for deacon, then ruling elder. Finally, Dr. Coppes brought Shawn under his godly and learned wings, mentoring him for the ministry. Pastor Mathis has preached at various churches in the Denver metro area and other cites in Colorado. He also writes as the Denver area Christian writer for a national news source. He tutors homeschoolers in critical thinking, apologetics and early American history and Bible and theology.

What is a Family Integrated Church?

Rejoinder to Comments on the FIC

Uniting Church and Family

FIC Claims of Doug Phillips from Vision Forum

Book Review of A Weed in the Church

Review of the movie Divided

More from Mr. Brown

Very Short History of Christian Education

Sketch of History of Age Segregation








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  1. Adam says

    Enjoyed this first installment, Karen. It was great to here you talk about your experience along side Shawn’s study. At least for me anyway, this discussion made the fact that that these teachings have consequences hit home.

    Also, I did have some comment on why it is that homeschoolers seem to be the ones upon whom the Family Integrated Church is pushed. First, homeschool parents have incredible influence over their children. When you are with your children as often as homeschool parents are, you will exert more influence on them than even children who are schooled privately.

    Secondly, especially Christian parents, want their children to succeed. More specifically, they want their children to grow up to become Godly Christian men and women. Christians parents want to do everything they can to help their children towards that goal, and parents often blame themselves if that doesn’t happen.

    The NCFIC makes this connection between age specific education and things like teens leaving the church, and it hits parents hard due to the second reason I mentioned, namely, wanting their children to grow up to become Godly Christian men and women. The message that is given to parents is, seemingly, if you leave your children in youth groups and sunday schools, they will leave the faith. That puts a lot of pressure on the Christian parent. The parent does not want to be the reason the child leaves the faith, and, to the contrary, wants to do everything they can to prevent it! Hence, they will gladly move to a family integrated church, because they want what’s best for their children.

    Then, because of the fact that homeschool parents exert so much influence over their children, their children get the message that not being part of a family integrated church is dangerous, and they will likewise teach their children in the same way. Hence, it will be a movement that lasts.

    I am not necessarily saying that they are intending to do this. It just seems to me that this is why this movement appears to have gained the most traction in homeschooling families specifically. Basically telling parents that they are playing Russian Roulette with their children’s spiritual lives by sending them to Sunday School and Youth Group is going to be powerful to a Christian parent. So powerful, in fact, that I fear that many parents will not critically think about it. More than that, when you throw in Christian terminology in arguing your position such as “the sufficiency of scripture,” and you then associate Sunday Schools and Youth Groups with Darwin and humanism, and say they are recent, it will drive parents even further away from these things.

    Again, I am not saying they are intending to do these things maliciously. However, I can understand why it is that homeschooling families are more susceptible to the rhetoric of the NCFIC.

  2. Laura(southernxyl) says

    I read your series of articles about your experiences with FIC. People will let you down, won’t they? They’ll do it (almost) every time. It’s why you can’t fall in love with a political leader or a church leader or any other human leader. (Unless he or she is your spouse, of course.) You have to be able to step back and emotionally disengage, and prepare to walk away if it comes to that. Irritating that you invested all of that time and energy to have it blow up in your face over and over.

    My husband was on the session at the Presbyterian church we attended in Memphis for a while. He was so disgusted by the power plays over really petty issues and the stupid, unnecessary fighting with the pastor, that he swore never to do anything ever again beyond just sitting in the pew.

  3. Kris says

    I just listened to this podcast. It was excellent. The NCFIC was at last years home school conference in CO. They had a vendor booth and we selling books and the movie Divided. So, yes, the NCFIC is being pushed at home school conferences.

    We recently visited an FIC church and there were some families there who were not home schoolers. I don’t know if they are part of the NCFIC or not, but our experience was unpleasant and we felt they were taking scripture way too far, so we did not return. Previous to this, we visited another one and I sensed an oppression with the women in the church. What I have seen just in visiting those two FIC churches, they seem to have a big hold on these families.

    We are continuing to pray we find the right church that God wants us to be in.

  4. says

    Kris, FYI: the NCFIC leadership has been close to the homeschooling leadership in Colorado (CHEC) for a while. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good things from CHEC, but Christians need to look beyond the stardom and pay attention to what is said or not said.

  5. says

    Laura, I have to say that just the word “session” sort of sends a chill down my spine. I will pray for you all as well, that the Lord will lead you to a good solid church where you can grow in grace!

  6. says

    Very interesting interview, Karen. Can you share the source of the statistic that less than 10% of homeschoolers attend a physical convention? I’d love more information on that. Thanks!

  7. says

    Comment on the “need” for FIC and why youth leave the church.

    1. The Church preaches one thing (marriage) yet many kids, thru no fault of their own, do not live in a two parent man/woman married family. Conclusion: “I’m not good enough.”

    2. The Church preaches no sex before marriage yet kids are curious and often have little or no supervision and may have parent examples that differ. Conclusion: “I’m not good enough.”

    3. Kids are Biblically illiterate? So are most Americans in general. “God helps those who help themselves” is often cited as a Bible verse. Teens today know the Bible as told by (pick one or more) Veggie Tales, Wee Sing Bible Song Cds, and CCM. That isn’t necessarily as bad as it first sounds. No, they have not systematically memorized the key verses and won medals for reciting them. But, they do know a lot. My generation (70s) learned a lot from the rock opera “Jesus Christ, Superstar” too. The mistake that has been made has been in pandering–the all cartoon Bible, the super-hip Message Bible, the repackaging the Bible to look like a magazine, etc. I’ve seen my own son read entire books of the Bible without prompting when a Rap star has quoted a verse. He IS learning. Kids today aren’t made to read and memorize. Catchecism is not there in most non-denominational Churches. Conclusion: Not as bad as you may think in this area.

    The Church “ends” at high school. Unless they find a homechurch near a Campus or one of the new Young-adult focused Church plants, the 18–marriage/kids age is ignored by the church too often. They can’t go to high school Sunday School, but don’t feel comfortable in Mom & Dad’s class, either. For some churches this is a simple numbers problem–not many young people stay in that geographic location so there aren’t enough to have a real “class.” OR, they go the other way and do a “meat market” class or group. “Come meet the other Christian Singles and get married and have babies for our nursery” is the message. This one is hard to solve. Not everyone wants a meat market!

    Do I think the NCFIC message is totally wrong–no, not in theory, but yes in practice. They are not seeking ANY CHRISTIAN. They only want GOP, white, (hopefully) Middle Class men who require their wives to submit and require their children to be homeschooled and never question any authority. That’s not many folks! Who outside of that mold would feel welcome enough for a 2nd church visit? Not many. Never mind that this is not reflective of child-rearing-age adults in general.

    I found the entire podcast series to be very informative. Sadly, “Divided” IS free on the website, but you have to register for their newsletter so I said NO.

  8. HoppyTheToad says

    Even when I was still happy at an FIC, I knew that it would be an awful place for a new convert. I didn’t knew where I would tell a new convert to go.


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