THE CHURCH FAMILY
References are made regularly to the church meetings and events as the “church family.” And yet, there are times when family get-togethers are more like a battlefield of enemies than the gathering of a family. Perhaps, if church members were reminded more often of their family relationship and how those with close family ties behave, there would be fewer controversies in a church.
Looking at the foundations of healthy family functioning might reveal a basis for a church to get through disagreements:
- Keep in mind the reason for the relationship – Being connected to others by a common bond can be a comforting, encouraging reason to work for a common goal. Being part of a team gives one a feeling of encouragement and purpose. When the body of believers becomes God’s team, accomplishing His goals can give a unifying direction that outweighs differences.
- It’s easier to live with people in whom you invest – Opportunities that allow the members to care for, and help others within the family will heighten interest in each others’ well being.
- Don’t take good things for granted – Whether one member, a group or the entire church family, celebrate the successes. Remind the members of the things they can appreciate and celebrate regularly. People who don’t take time to count their blessings, big or small, become depressed. Difficulties arise more easily when a church family takes the good things in their midst for granted and the congregation becomes depressed.
- What affects one family member has an impact on every other family member – Because a family is linked by biological bonds, what happens to one member of the family has an impact on every other member of the family. If dad has a good day, the rest of the family enjoys his mood and enthusiasm. If he has a bad day, all others in the family are impacted by his bad mood, and their day is not as enjoyable.
- When one person “wins,” everyone else “wins” – When a team wins, it’s because each member has made a contribution to the team. You won’t read a sports headline that announces the team won a game, but one player lost, nor will you read that one team member won while the rest of the team lost. Work for all to have won in some way or another and all can support the family’s successes.
So how can a church keep these principles in mind so that there is an overriding sense of family unity prevailing in meetings and gatherings? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It just needs to be practiced on a regular basis.
- Publicity and sermons can regularly remind the church of its family structure – An intentional reference to the family nature of the church can keep the need to work together in the peoples’ minds.
- Opportunities to allow the church family to become acquainted with each other – Intergenerational activities and reasons for people with different interests to invest in each other can generate concern when there are problems and reasons to celebrate the good experiences together.
- During differences, keep the thought in front of the church family that it can be an opportunity for growth – Differences can result in better solutions that neither side had in mind to begin with.
- Consistently encourage the family to keep honoring God as the primary motivation for their behavior – When individuals or factions in a controversy are reminded of their commitment to God and the need to reflect His Son in the way they treat others, it can inspire them to be kinder in their behavior.
Keeping these principles before the congregation can be encouraging and avoid many of the problems that arise just because church members forget that they are family, related to each other by the Spirit of God.