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Segmentation vs. Integration

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Southeastern University

Biblical Family Ministry Paper:
Segmentation vs. Integration

William Davis

PMIN 3273
Professor Vasquez
17 September 2015

Biblical Family Ministry Paper: Segmentation vs. Integration Throughout history churches have always been segmented-programmatic to accommodate different ages individually in their own classrooms learning their own thing. A segmented-programmatic church means that the family is never together and are all learning something different. However, many churches have found that this method is becoming old and they are finding it to no longer work with today’s times. Researchers have shown that 70 percent of young people leave the church by age 22 this is because churches are failing to bring in young worshipers and keep new the old ones. Now, many churches are starting to lean towards a more family-integrated service. A family-integrated service is one in which all of the different classes you get with segmented model is eliminated. There is no youth group or children’s church, everything is done in the main sanctuary and the family is always together. The segmented-programmatic church model came out of the nineteenth century when school systems started putting students in tightly in tightly-graded classes. The church saw that this was a functioning model in society and they believe that it would work within their walls. The segmented-programmatic model has a couple good things that can come out of it; however, there are many bad things that come from it. One good thing that can come from the segmented-programmatic model is that each age can learn age specific things. For example, in a middle school class, going through puberty will be a hot topic for both the boys and the girls. That is not the same case for a high school class. High school students are not struggling with puberty, they are past that. It is important in a high school class to address topics such as sex, drugs, homosexuality, and other major issues that are happening within their age group. On the other hand, there are many negatives to the segmented-programmatic model. One of these negatives includes the distance that is placed between the families as a whole. Parents and children never worship together which can cause a huge disconnect when the children/youth move into the main sanctuary with their parents. This disconnect would be the students could feel awkward worshiping in front of their parents. It also causes a problem in the home because parents get the idea that they no longer have to be parents. They look at it as it is the churches job to teach their children how to be successful young people. They look to the children’s pastors and youth pastors to be the parents so they don’t have to be. Biblically the segmented-programmatic model is not very popular. We only see very few examples in the bible that shows us a separation of people. One of those verses is,
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Here we can see it is important to take care of specific groups of people which would be segmented, but I would want to add we should not put just the orphans or widows in a class by themselves because that could be very awkward an uncomfortable. Another great example is,
“One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
We can see that it was important to the parents and to Jesus that the children needed something from the teacher that the parents could not give them. We do not know the whole story but we can safely assume that Jesus had something very age specific to tell them. The family-integrated model is a church service where there is absolutely no separation of age groups. Everything that is done in the church is done as a family. The transition from segmented-programmatic to family-integrated has occurred in some churches because the cost of everything being segmented was too much. Churches have found it to be much more cost efficient to include the whole family in their individual events. This makes sense because instead of having 12 events going on at one time you can have just one that includes everybody. Just like the segmented-programmatic model there are both positives and negatives to the family-integrated model. A positive is that there is no greater influence in a child’s life is their parents. If the church really wants the younger generation to learn how to worship the best thing they can do is let the parents set the example during the worship service. Also, the parents can discuss with their children the service and what they got out of. Another positive to this model of ministry is that parents learn how to be parents. With the family-integrated model parents have to learn how to get ahold of their children to make them pay attention during service. Though the family-integrated model seems like it would have so many positives it does have its negatives. A negative to this system can be the preaching itself. It is difficult to put together an intergenerational message. Pastors have to construct a sermon that speaks to 6 year olds and to 66 year olds. I am sure you can see the problems that can come from that. Another issue is that there will be students that will attend church and not have a family. This will cause real problems when family events happen and that student has no family. They will feel ostracized from the church body and ultimately not attend church their anymore.
Biblically the family-integrated model makes a lot of sense. We see all throughout the bible that the word calls for close intergenerational connections among Gods people. Also, there are many verses that explain how discipleship flows from fathers of one generation to their children.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
“His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers…”
I am also reminded of this great teaching Jesus gave called The Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon Jesus is speaking to the entire family. It is said that thousands and thousands of people including men, women, and children would have attended. We can see from all of these scriptures that not only does Jesus practice it, but God commands us that faith should be an intergenerational thing. After looking at both of these models I don’t believe one can be over the other. They both have their perks and they both have their flaws. We see from what has already been written that neither system is perfect. My preferred ministry model is what is referred to as the family-equipping ministry model. This model is the perfect hybrid between segmented-programmatic and family-integrated. In the family-equipping model activities that are already in place at the church are redirected to help equip parents to be the primary disciples in the lives of their children. To take it a step further, in this model there are still age specific classes but there is collaboration amongst the pastors so that they are all preaching the same thing, just making it age specific. Also, there would be services throughout the year that would be intergenerational services meaning the whole family will be in the sanctuary for one Sunday a month or every other month. Just like the other models this model is by no means perfect, but there is nothing in the church that is perfect. In this model the positives are many and the negatives are few. Just a couple positives just include things that have previously been stated. It is a good thing to have age separation so that there can be age specific teachings that occur. A second positive includes, the families are together more so the parents are learning how to disciple their children causing the relationship between parent and child to be much stronger because they are more open with each other. The only negative that could come from this model would be if the pastors do not equip the parents appropriately. This could be by giving them tasks that are just too difficult; for example, “fasting Friday”. It is really hard to get parents to follow something as drastic as taking a whole day a week and fasting. It is also not good for the kids they will start thinking, “If this is church I don’t want to be a part of it.” So the pastors have to give them simple tasks like just encouraging their kids when they wake them up in the morning, or leaving a bible verse in their lunchbox that they will read at lunch time. The bible supports this model more than any. All the verses that have been mentioned throughout this paper would all support this idea of family-equipping. We see the importance of both, segmentation in the bible along with the importance of integration. The scriptures support both and nothing in the scripture says that one is superior to the other. It safe to say that Jesus commands both from us and that there is this balance that needs to occur between the church building and the home. The only way for that balance to happen is for parents to be the main disciple in the life of their children.

Works Cited
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.
Jones, Paul, Nelson, Brian. The Problem and The Promise of Family Ministry. http://www.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2012/03/0191-fm-journal-fall-2010-v3-01-nelson-and-jones.pdf
Joiner, Reggie. Think Orange. (Colorado Springs, Co: David C. Cook, 2009)
Jones, Timothy. Family Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011)
Powel, Kara. Is the Era of Age Segmentation Over? http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2009/summer/istheeraofagesegmentationover.
Nelson, Brian. The Family-Integrated Model for Church Ministry: A Complete Break from Age-Segmented Structures. http://www.sbts.edu/family/2011/10/12/the-family-integrated-model-for-church-ministry-a-complete-break-from-age-segmented-structures-2/

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Timothy Jones, Family Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011.) 126
[ 2 ]. Kara Powell, Is the Era of Age Segmentation Over? http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2009/summer/istheeraofagesegmentationover.html (accessed September 16, 2015)
[ 3 ]. Paul Jones, Brian Nelson, The Problem and The Promise of Family Ministry. http://www.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2012/03/0191-fm-journal-fall-2010-v3-01-nelson-and-jones.pdf (accessed September 13, 2015)
[ 4 ]. Brian Nelson, The Family-Integrated Model for Church Ministry: A Complete Break from Age-Segmented Structures. http://www.sbts.edu/family/2011/10/12/the-family-integrated-model-for-church-ministry-a-complete-break-from-age-segmented-structures-2/ (accessed Sept.14, 2015)
[ 5 ]. James 1:27
[ 6 ]. Luke 18: 15-17
[ 7 ]. Timothy Jones, Family Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011) 131
[ 8 ]. Timothy Jones, Family Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011.) 128
[ 9 ]. Reggie Joiner, Think Orange. (Colorado Springs, Co: David C. Cook, 2009) 84
[ 10 ]. Titus 2: 1-5
[ 11 ]. Eph. 6:4
[ 12 ]. Mal. 4:6
[ 13 ]. Matt. 5-7
[ 14 ]. Timothy Jones, Family Ministry Field Guide (Indianapolis, Indiana: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011) 132…...

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