The Church as a Family
The Church as a Family
Today I want to use ‘the family’ as a metaphor for the church, your local church in fact. Of course it is an entirely appropriate metaphor. God is our heavenly Father and we are His children, members of His family if you wish. When we are born again we are born into a new family. God adopted us as His own. Overnight we inherit a whole bunch of new brothers and sisters. And as we know for some people it is the only family they have.
The kind of family I would like us to think about today is a strong, well connected, healthy and functional family. In this family there are arguments from time to time and the occasional door slamming episode……you know what I mean. This functional and happy family are NOT perfect nor are they faultless but one thing that you notice the minute you walk into this family home is the love. Oh my goodness so much love is present that it is almost palpable. Then when you hang out a little longer you notice some other very positive, actually powerful dynamics.
There is a lot of kindness and respect being shown in this home. The kids respect Mum and Dad and even the teenagers are kind and respectful toward each other( in a teenager kind-of-way). The older ones are helping the younger ones……..it’s like the ‘one anothers’ of the New Testament are at work every single day and they don’t even realise it. It’s like it is normal and natural even. It’s the way they function.
I reckon without a doubt that our two greatest Olympic athletes of all time, Lisa Carrington and Sophie Pascoe came from homes like this. When the media talked to these two young women’s families you could feel the love and respect and support and sacrifice that was ‘in the air’. It was so heart warming at least that’s how I felt. I still wonder if it was one significant factor in each of their success. In fact both of them said as much especially Sophie Pascoe’s relationship with one of her Grandmothers. It was a tear jerker to be honest.
As you are about to leave you are invited to stay for dinner. It’s an invitation to hard to refuse. So you join the family at the dinner table. There’s the usual chitter chatter, a bit of banter, and a whole lot of fun going down. Dinner is simple but it tastes like fine dining. But wait there’s more, the little 6 year old pipes up and says, “bitter-sweet” and without missing a beat the little tyke talks about something that he is finding tough right now (bitter) and something that he is happy about (sweet). Then next his sister does the same and then the teenager and then Mum and then Dad and crickey now it’s my turn. In the space of about 10 minutes I hear some honest and gutsy talk. I can hardly believe what just happened.
As dinner comes to an end, Dad grabs the Children’s bible and reads a story and then he invites the family to pray. About now I lose it as they give thanks for the sweet things of life and pray for each other about the bitter things of life.
After a cup of tea I need to go. But to be honest I don’t really want to. As I drive home I say to myself, I want to be part of that kind of Church. And I think another few hundred people would want that too, maybe a few thousand.
Fun fact. Perhaps one of the most famous families in my life time are the Von Trapps. The Sound of Music (1965) is the highest grossing film of all-time. Adjusted for inflation, the film earned about US$2.366 billion at 2014 prices—placing it among the top ten highest-grossing films of all time surpassing Gone with the Wind which held that distinction for twenty-four years. It’s estimated that one billion people have seen this movie and that was back when the world’s population was around five billion. Incredible but in many ways no surprise. Why not have a movie night for the whole family?
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.