Family Ministry: An Illustration of the Gospel

As we wrap up 2012, the following is the most-read post of the year. I look forward to continuing to share with you in 2013!

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I’m excited to be joining in with dozens other bloggers that serve in churches around the country to answer the question: What is family ministry? It’s all part of the Family Ministry Blog Tour, which you can read about here.

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The Broken Road

Our society is very individualistic. Whatever is good for the one reigns supreme, and all others can just deal with it. In marriages, this has created a recipe for the increasing disaster of divorce. The effects of these broken marriages have rippled to children and succeeding generations who become even more self-focused. The result of this selfish, broken pattern of living is disillusionment with the institution of marriage.

As the family goes, so goes the Church. Local gatherings won’t work together because of fierce competition for members. Members don’t get their way and “divorce” their local gathering to find another “spouse.” Leaders force their way forward in what they believe is best in their interpretation without careful consideration for the priesthood of believers in their spiritual community. The result of this selfish, broken pattern of living is disillusionment with the Church.

More importantly, the marred family illustration maligns the Word of God and brings disrepute to the name of Christ (Titus 2:5).

The Power of Family

One of the most powerful biblical metaphors of our relationship with God is that of family. Through faith in Christ, we are born again into God’s family (Jn. 1:12-13). In the Spirit, we are adopted as God’s children (Ro. 8:15-16). Our new relationship also means that Jesus becomes our elder brother (He. 2:10-13). We are also brought into a new, loving group of brothers and sisters (Mt. 12:48-50; Jn. 13:34-35) with whom we relate as family (1 Ti. 5:1-2). As such, the concept of family is meant to illustrate the wonderful message of the gospel.

Sadly, the illustration is falling far short of its purpose.

The Path to Wholeness

The Need for Repentance

The first step in our journey to wholeness is repentance. We must revisit the gospel message, repent of our selfish ambitions and be renewed in our hearts, souls and minds (Acts 2:38; Ro. 12:1-2). It will involve reclaiming a biblical view of family by going back to the gospel itself by which we were adopted into God’s family. This same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead (Ro. 8:11) and has made us sons and daughters of God (Ro. 8:16) is the Spirit who empowers us to restore the living illustration of family – both in the home and in the Church.

The Foundation of the Word

True repentance is the result of coming face-to-face with the authority and sufficiency of Scripture (2 Ti. 3:16-17). Therefore, we must recommit our hearts, souls and minds to be faithful and obedient to God’s Word. It will require a daily decision to turn from our search of bigger and better methods so that we might diligently pursue the methods outlined by God Himself. We will not think of ourselves too highly (Ro. 12:3), but we will be consumed with thinking highly about Christ (Mk. 12:29-31).

In view of Christ’s sacrificial love for His bride, husbands and wives will view their marriage as a modelof God’s loyal love (Eph. 5:22-33). Parents will become focused on loving God (De. 6:4-6) and passionate about impressing their faith on their children (De. 6:7-9). Children will be trained to obey their parents “in the Lord” not simply because their parents say so but because “it is right” according to the Word (Eph. 6:1). Believing homes will be, as it were, little embassies of the kingdom of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

Local churches will become focused on their first love (Re. 2:4). By exalting Christ in our gatherings, we will keep the perfect illustration in clear view so we may emulate His love for us (Jn. 13:34-35). We will seek to obey the principles and methods God has outlined for His Church. Leaders who have proven ability to shepherd their natural family will guide the spiritual family as they teach sound doctrine (1 Ti. 3:4-5, 11-12). Singles become valued siblings in the family (Ps. 68:5-6). Older men and women will be models and intentional guides of the younger generations in the biblical responsibilities of the natural and spiritual family (Titus 2).

The Fostering of Community

We must also reclaim the idea of community. Neither the natural or spiritual family is a collection of individuals (1 Co. 12:12-14). They are divinely joined as a living organism (1 Co. 12:7). The husband is never meant to function without consideration of the wife nor the wife without the husband (Eph. 5:22-33). The children are never to be seen as a stage we endure but people who are a loved, valued, and included (Mt. 18:5-6). Teens are given grace and opportunity to flesh out their faith (1 Ti. 4:12). As His dearly loved children, all believers of every generation should seek to edify one another in their pursuit to be imitators of the Father (Eph. 5:1-2).

Becoming Family

It is upon this foundation that we can establish our own unique concept of family ministry. If a definition is helpful, then I believe

family ministry is the Spirit-guided collaboration of the natural and spiritual family to beautifully illustrate the gospel of Jesus Christ in obedience to His Word.

It will look different from one local gathering to the next, but the motivation and foundational characteristics will be the same. When we begin to live like the family we are purposed to be, we provide an incredible picture of God’s heart to a lost and lonely world.

As we move forward on the path to wholeness, we must keep one final thing in mind. Healing and wholeness is not an event; it’s a process. Don’t start a new program. Don’t leave your church. Don’t go buy a bunch of books. You most likely have what you need to begin – a faith in Christ and a copy of His Word.

Start small. Repent. Believe. Obey. Pass it on.

The same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead is the power working within you to bring glory, honor and praise to the One to Whom it is due – Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:5-7). The road ahead is not easy, but it is the one upon which we have been called to walk.

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If you’d like to read more like this, check out the following related posts:

SCSFR (Single Christian Seeking Family Relationships)

Relational Re-“generation”

Fight Song: The Parent Edition

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