Church as Home and Family
A friend of mine commented that he was not going to become a member because his church did not feel like "home". How does a local church feel like home or like family?
- They know who you are.
- They know who you are, and they love you.
- They know who you are, and they love you anyway.
- Everyone is expected to contribute.
- Others help you learn the skills of survival.
- You are expected to share your knowledge and experiences, especially with the young and immature.
- It is a refuge during storms.
- Others support and encourage you.
- You are expected to support and encourage others at times.
- You have fun times together.
- You laugh.
- You have a shoulder to cry on.
- You are accepted as you are.
- They love you too much to let you stay as you are.
- There is an invisible bond of loyalty, trust, of faithfulness, to one another.
- Others notice when you are hurting. And they care.
- Picking on others may bring a word of correction.
- You don't get your way every time.
- Some need to lead.
- Some need to follow - willingly, respectfully.
- You do not know it all. Others may have insight or knowledge you lack.
- You seldom get to do it all.
- You do not have to do it all.
- Outside help is needed at times.
- You attend events just to show support.
- The family name and reputation is protected and honored.
- You applaud good tries - especially for beginners.
- Your tastes vary.
- A variety of personalities are present.
- History can be important.
- Sometimes we have to sacrifice.
- Hugs are available.
- People genuinely care.
- People notice when you are gone - and hopefully miss you.
- Memories are important.
- Stories are shared.
- If you contribute to a messy situation, you help clean it up.
- Things may require maintenance and fixing once in a while.
- You might have to help clean up someone else's mess.
- Gifts are given.
- You share.
- You may end up doing things without anyone expressing appreciation.
- There is a lot of silent love.
- You might feel hurt.
- Accomplishments and milestones are celebrated.
- You may have to work before you can play.
- Somebody has to do the chores.
- Funds are limited. (or at least it appears that way)
- Relationships outlast circumstances.
- You love.
- You are loved.
- Unwise actions have consequences.
- Wise actions may not be rewarded immediately.
- There is a bond with other church "families" that begs for occasional "reunions".
- Some things are private.
- There will be challenges.
- Some challenges will come from inside the family.
- You will be asked to do things for the first time. It will feel uncomfortable. It will usually be easier if someone is there to guide and encourage you.
- Everyone has a voice.
- Everyone needs to learn to listen.
- You will not agree on everything.
- You learn how to survive and impact the world.
- People are not perfect.
- You are learning together.
- And many more...
The above listing is primarily intended for church leaders and those planning church activities.
If you are thinking about joining a church, there are many other factors in your decision. The concept of sharing and teamwork is also provided by many social and community service organizations. A sense of belonging and family atmosphere are a couple of the main attractions for gangs and cults. These organizations are most-definitely not Christian churches. So be careful how you evaluate the groups and organizations for your allegiance.
Here are just a few things to consider in a church:
- Is the teaching based on, and tested against, the Bible?
- What do they value? What is their emphasis? Do you share those values? Do you hope to?
- You may wish to match the church with who you want to be, rather than who you are today. That way, the church helps you grow towards your future.
- Consider how you can contribute to the church's mission - not just how the church can help you.
- Does the church work to expand God's kingdom, the place where he rules, his power is exercised, and he is Lord? This includes the community, the world, and in the hearts and minds of each person in the church.
- Are the worship times genuinely about the worthiness, the "worthship", of the almighty God, the creator, the king, our father, and all of his glorious attributes? Musical talent is not the same as the ability to create an atmosphere for worship. Ideally, a church has both. But, if you have to make a choice, choose a worship leader. You can always see musical talent and concert performances at other venues.
- Is there evidence in at least the core group that their Christianity truly makes a difference in their lives (more than just rituals or church activities)? Are they being transformed to be more Christ-like with God's perspective on the world?
- Is there love for one another?
- Is their definition of Christianity about religion or a relationship with a living God that loves us very much?
- Do they pray like they mean it? Do they expect their prayers to be effective - you know, actually change things?
- The denomination and name of the church give you clues. But, the name on the sign outside is less important than what is going on in the hearts inside the church.
- And yes, you can consider if you could feel at "home" there.
- Be open to the idea that God may lead you to a church that does not initially "fit" or make sense to our limited wisdom. He knows your future and that of the people in the church. It may all make perfect sense, and probably be brilliant, in the long run.
There are many things things to consider. But, get involved in some Bible-believing church. Wandering out on your own separated from the flock is dangerous. You will be easy prey for Satan.
Copyright © 2001 Ronald G. Hedberg. All rights reserved.
This article was first published on RTimeHas.Com.