“The church is my family”…I’ve heard this and I think I believe it, but… if that’s true then I’ve got a problem… My church is not my family.
I already have a family…Eric, Elizabeth, and Breton are my family. We are a hot mess all on our own, thank you very much…I also have an extended family of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and in-laws…and you know what? They are all hot messes too!
So if the church is not my real family, what is the church to me?
The church is my community. There are other communities I could be a part of, like my daughter’s club soccer team, my son’s baseball team, my husband’s co-workers, my neighborhood Starbucks, etc.
But I choose the church. I choose it, not as my family but as my community. Being in community means everyone shares the mess. Everyone shows concern and care in not just sharing the mess but cleaning it up.
I have been making this choice for over three decades (you thought I was going tell you my age huh?).
I was raised “in” church. As a kid, going to church and being involved in church was a non-negotiable in our family. My parents never gave me or my three siblings a choice about going to church. It was just what we did.
In fact, at one time or another my family also worked and served in just about every position in the church (general volunteer, facilities, maintenance, children’s ministries, youth ministry, leadership, church council, ushers, worship team, even senior pastor, the list goes on and on).
But we knew one central truth: the church was not our family, it was our community. Our family chose to be a part of the church because it was our family value. To be a part of church was to fulfill a mandate from God to join His community.
Here is what I have come to realize about the church…
First and foremost, we are each members of God’s family if we call ourselves Christians. We are called God’s children and we belong to Him (Gal 3:29). Being in community with the local church is to participate as a member of God’s family (Galatians 3:26-4:7). As a result, we fulfill God’s purposes for his people as the carriers of His message for all people in every generation (2 Cor 5:18).
The purpose of the church is to change lives through the powerful message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
The church is in the transformation “business”. It is not a replacement family for a dysfunctional earthly family. The church is not a crutch for personal abdication of responsibility. It is not even a fulfillment of our deepest longings for meaningful relationships.
The church is not designed to comfort and satisfy, it asks hard questions and invites the wrestle of a lifetime.
My hot mess family believes in the church. We are raising our kids in church because we have seen the transformation that happens as God, through His people-the church, keeps working on our mess.
We are better with our community not outside it. How about you?
- Pastor Rachel Edwards