he gave the right to become children of God….John 1:12
When my parents named me I was given an identity. The last name I took on came with it a rich history and culture I knew nothing about but would affect the way I would live, the things I would pursue and the areas I would be most prone to sin. The same came with my mother’s side. Her rich family history and culture would become part of my identity too. I took on two families that made up, in many ways, who I would become.
When I got married I took on yet another identity. Somewhere, somehow, in God’s economy He takes the brokenness, blessings, and histories of our families and if we are willing, he blends them together to make one. However, there is no guarantee this will happen if we are not willing to cooperate. In our cooperation, God forms, stretches and blesses the oneness of our union as we grow our history, culture, and love for each other through the power of His name.
When a child is born it is a monumental event. It is a time when the family grows, not just in numbers but in the depth of God’s own character. After all, He is familial in His nature. He is all about relationships, being known and giving people a new identity in His name, adopting them into His family.
Could it be that the church has missed out on one of the very fundamental characteristics of God because we have not blended together as a family? Could it be that our pursuit of church has become more about what we can build than who we can become? Would we treat our children the same way? As a number and not an heir? Would we ask our wife to have just one more child so we can have a bigger family than our friend down the street? What do we accomplish by becoming big without becoming one? Could it be that we begin to create churches that go against what the heart of God desires for the world? Could it be that in the messiness of church, as we hold fast to one another through love, grace, and forgiveness that God makes something beautiful? Divinely molding our stories, histories, and cultures together making one through the power of His gospel?
Did God ever say, “Find a flashy, big personality leader that you like and follow them.” No, of course not. He said, “build my church.” Essentially, what God is saying is this; “build my family.” How we treat the family of God is imperative to who we become as a church. What our focus becomes in our pursuit of church determines what our heart will follow after.
One of the most staggering, heartbreaking epidemics to today’s family is that there are many, many fatherless homes. Dad’s are either not present, never have been, or are not engaged with their family at all, but instead, are pursuing their own happiness and success.
Could it be that one of the greatest epidemics in the church is that we are building fatherless churches too? Instead of building a family in the church with Christ as the head, men leading with love, care and concern for the flock, guiding her in deeper love, we call men and woman to lead in different areas that create bigger programs, but in turn, create further disconnectedness? Could it be the reason we feel like we aren’t doing discipleship right in the church is that Jesus never said, “build a program,” but instead, “build my church- the family of God?”
In Chap Clark’s book “Hurt 2.0,” he shares that many, many students are growing up lonely and disconnected because there is no sense of family within the home. Everyone is running from this thing to that, no one is having life-giving conversations and everyone is “doing their own thing.” What if ministry isn’t about doing something for God? What if it’s about becoming someone in God, collectively, as a body? Then helping others do the same? Maybe our focus shouldn’t be about doing something, for this is a trap that family has fallen into, do more, do more, do more. Maybe instead our goal should be to become something as a family and grow our rich history, culture, and heritage for the greatness of God, within his church.
Why do people join clubs and groups? Because there is a sense of connectedness they experience there. It’s really about the relationships that are formed. When we carry that same kind of mentality into the church we should recognize our goal is not a packed Sunday morning worship service. Instead, our vision should be to become a family within the church who grows her relationships to such deep levels that it grows God’s rich heritage, culture, and history for the world to see. As we grow closer to one another and the heart of God the world watches and is drawn into the church; His family, for His great name.
Oh Lord, forgive us! We repent as your church. We have forgotten, within our own culture what a family is meant to be and we have allowed this to weasel it’s way int our churches. Forgive me for my own heart that wants to be someone special in the eyes of the world. God, instead, I want to care for people and love them as if they were my very own family. Thank you, Jesus, for you are making me new. Grow in my heart a deeper love for your family and mine; the church. In Jesus name, Amen!