Have you ever referred to your church as you "church family?" The church is a family. Regardless of our race, our family background, or our socio-economic status because of Christ we are one family. And when somebody joins a local church they are becoming a part of a family. They are not connecting themselves to a pastor, a building, or a program but to group of believers that have committed to doing life with each other. And as with any family there are a lot of family dynamics that come along with becoming part of a new family.
How the Church is Like a Family
People are adopted into the family. The church regularly adopts spiritual orphans. Adults and students often are adopting their friends, families, or even people they don't know by caring for their soul. The reason people are often a part of a congregation is because somebody in the congregation, and also Christ, has adopted them into the family of the congregation.
The in-laws. Some people don't come into the family because they've been adopted but simply because of a significant relationship in their life. Husbands, wives, and parents all often bring their biological family members to church, and they get connected to other people in the church. And just like in the beginning stages of being an in-law, it may be difficult and uncomfortable; there may be difficult transitions, new traditions to learn, and you might not quite sure of what is going on.
The creepy uncle. Let's face it, there is always someone in the family who could be characterized as the creepy uncle. Church's have them too. People that are a part of the family but they creep you out. There may be no legitimate reason to be bothered by them, but they bother you. That's part of being a family. Some people in your family will change your life by being a part of the family; others you might hope they don't show up for the next family gathering.
Preparing kids to leave the nest. One of the most difficult things for a family is when their children are growing up and the leave the home to start a family of our own. As kids grow up in our congregations, certainly we would love if they stay a part our church, but often just as children leave their families because of school or work, many of our students leave our churches for the same reasons. Are we preparing students to leave the nest and find a church wherever they might find themselves?
Families start new families. As a family grows and children grow up, the children of the family begin families of their own. As Jesus made disciples he asked them to go and make more disciples. As a church family grows, how great would it be if family members decided it was time to start a family of their own. How great would it be if our churches started new churches, just as families start new families. Churches that are still inimately connected as part of the extended family, but as the new church family begins they develop there own traditions, styles, and cultures.
Photo Credit: Joseph A