(Church) Family First

Bethany Keeley-Jonker

November 11, 2009

In Acts 4, Peter and John are released from prison and the Bible says that they go back "to their own." In the Greek, that term is usually reserved from family, but in the Bible, it refers to the group of believers gathered together as the family of faith. I've used that term, "the family of faith" a few times in discussion at my Church to get us thinking of our call to love one another as brothers and sisters.<br><br>The other thing I've noticed in my studies is how much easier that must have been for the early church since they worshipped in people's homes. Bethany, you mention church size and small groups as part of both the challenge and solution to our view of the church family, but I agree that small groups do not solve the problem of our attitudes about the nuclear family's supremacy. Maybe we all need to be more willing to do things for others that we would normally only do for family members: go on vacation together, watch soccer and little league games of other people's kids, have more church social events like potlucks or movie nights, etc. It's hard to think of yourself as family if you only see someone once a week from across a sanctuary for an hour.<br>

November 11, 2009

Bethany, I really agree with your emphasis here. I don’t want to be too negative, but after 40 years of Christian life, I have heard every sermon imaginable on the family and creating a better marriage. I am so tired of pastors talking about their cute little wives. I wish those wives would stand up in the pulpit and rip off the roof with a powerful sermon.<br><br>What people forget is that Jesus was single. His ministry was not about having the perfect marriage, a healthy family or perfect kids. Paul was also single and wished more could be like him. I am always fascinated by Paul’s greetings at the end of his epistles. Women missionaries and co-laborers are always included as well as two woman teams like Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Just as an aside, Paul never salutes pastor so-and-so. His relationships were broad and deep and pastors were not the sole authority figures and sermon givers like they are today. <br><br>When we were young Christians in the 70s it was common to live communally. Often houses sported names like the House of Jubilee, the House of Booths, Shiloh House. Some were co-ed, others were single sex. These were not hierarchal, church mission driven programs, they were organic, arising out of fellowship, friendship, necessity and mission. They were centers for evangelism and places for worship and growth. These Christians earnestly called each other Brother and Sister. <br><br>One more aside. I am afraid that the Christmas season has become a month and a half long celebration of nuclear families, sentimental puedo-religous cultural rituals and nostalgia that has little to do with the mission of the Church. As a divorced, single adult, I just grit my teeth and endure the holidays.<br><br>I don’t think attending a big church is necessarily the problem as long as there is frequent house to house fellowship. So much depends on the focus and attitude of the leadership. The key is to have eyes on the mission and live in a spirit of revival.

November 12, 2009

agreed. we make the nuclear family into an idol

November 12, 2009

I think spending time together as a church body *outside* of worship is key for "church family" to happen in a congregation. Small groups are one (great) way to encourage connections between people, but other and larger groups/events are essential too. One thing my church does is run a meal once a month after the evening service. This gives a chance not only for people to gather together around tables in one big room and chat, it also allows people who volunteer to serve to get to know and connect with other servers. Of course, FOOD is always key to good Christian fellowship! :')<br><br>One other thing that might help is outreach projects that actively encourage congregational participation. For example, from this thread over on <a href="http://Wondercafe.ca" rel="nofollow">Wondercafe.ca</a> (<a href="http://wondercafe.ca/discussion/church-life/my-local-church-sponoring-refugee-family)" rel="nofollow">http://wondercafe.ca/discussio...</a> I learned about a church that was sponsoring a refugee family, as a body.<br><br>I supposed I'd sum it up by saying that the more opportunities to talk, eat, and serve together, the better. :')

November 14, 2009

I am going to go out on somewhat of a limb here, and disagree a little bit with the notion that fellowship activities like small groups and potllucks are the solution to better including singles in the life of the larger church. As one of only two single women under 60 in my small suburban church, I often find potlucks/small groups/fellowship activities to usually be more akward than fun, for me at least. Our church is heavy on young families with kids, and my experience is that many of the younger families don't really know what to do with me. The wives tend to be focused on their kids-both in caring for them at the event and on the larger task of being a mom. We usually have little to say to each other unless it's somehow related to kids. (And since I don't have any, that tends to limit conversation possibilites.)<br> The husbands seem reluctant to engage a single woman in conversation, (even though I have been attending the church for two years, have taught most of their kids in sunday school, Kids Church or VBS and am now a Deaconess) and so usually focus on their wives and kids. <br>How do I as the single person deal with this in a Godly manner? I would love to be more involved/included in the lives of some of these families but they seem unwilling or unable to figure out how to do so.

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