For a long while now I found myself continually reflecting on family. I’ve blogged about preached about honouring parents and sought to put it into practise. However I am very aware that the Bible has much more to say about the importance and even definition of family than just honouring parents.
I’m aware that family means different things to different people, often but not always depending on our cultural background. Also describing church as a family, as the Bible does, doesn’t communicate the same thing to everyone. For some it can even be very unhelpful, or even hurtful.
My reflections have led me to conclude that despite the difficulties associated with the picture of the church as a family it is not one to jettison quickly.
Many have an individualistic methodology and understanding of mission. We think through the lens of individuals being sent on mission because we envision God as an individual on mission.
The revelation at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry is that he is not operating independently, but he is coming from a family to represent a family.
I first saw this when someone preached on Jesus calling us to be fishers of men, he mentioned that people in the west assume Jesus is talking about angling. However Jesus had never seen an angler in his life, his contemporaries always fished in teams. He was calling us to do the same, but I understand Jesus through my own cultural lense.
Jesus has a team of disciples, not just individuals. His disciples weren’t just his roadies or work associates — they are his family. For Jesus, making disciples is about building a family.
We desperately need to rediscover the corporate nature of church life, rather the culturally imposed view of the priority of the individual. The picture of family can be a great help to achieve this.
WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON
Tony is the leader of Hope Church Luton. He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.