Church as family

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From Relational Mission a way of life by Mike Betts and a big nod to Ben Parish’s sermon preached at Lowestoft Community Church

What's your ideal family?

Constant togetherness, texting, emotional conversations over breakfast
Others – that would be horrific. hardly ever see them, but they are there if you need them.
Family tricky concept, lots of disappointments.
Can't dodge it.

Becoming a Christian, means becoming a part of God's family. No just a tick box on a response card

  • Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry “Abba Father!”
  • Gal 3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
  • Matt 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
  • John 1:12 But to all who receive him, who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God.


God is now our Father, Jesus our brother
Relationship with Jesus and the Father through the Holy Spirit becomes the dominant relationship that shapes all our other relationships.
Packer – how well someone understand Christianity – how they relate to God as Father

The church a place full of our spiritual brothers and sisters
Serve a father not a chief executive – J.John “I work for the family business, which is a global business. We have outlets in nearly every country of teh world. We have hospitals and hospices and homeless shelters. Orphanages, feeding programmes. We do marriage work, education, justice and reconciliation. Basically we look after people from birth to death and we deal with people in the area of behaviour modification.” Wow, what’s it called? The church.

Not perfect harmony automatically – battle for the mind and actions!

Natural family – see sibling rivalry and kids not getting on – often down to the level of security in the love of the parents. true spiritually too!

Put aside your experience and understanding of family and relate together as God says!

Church is family

Challenge – church is made of people from every tribe, tongue and nation.
World people join clubs with like minded people – e.g. the bowls club.
Church is different – with people you wouldn’t normally hang with from all sorts of ages, class, background, interest and politics – muddy potatoes!
Diverse people coming together because of Jesus.

Because we are so multi-cultural. We often talk of the power of the second family – which is especially powerful for those who are thousands of miles away from physical family.
In the OT Ruth who was from a pagan Moabite background joined herself to the people of God and specifically to Naomi’s family because of God and was loved, cared for as a widow and married Boaz – who is a picture of Jesus redeeming her. She gets to be not just part of God’s family, but part of his plan as she is in Jesus’ genealogy.
Multicultural church is family with brothers from another mother!

We have an enemy – satan who is an accuser and divisive.

Unlike the bowls club, our ultimate goal not to be the best social group – transform the world with the good news about Jesus.
Nothing in common except Jesus
John 13 – By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love for one another

View of church – a family not an institution.

Not looking at the back of the head in front of you. family!
Fight consumerism. -choping and changing churches on a whim or likes and dislikes. E.g.choosing squash at a supermarket
What did you get out of it this morning? Rate it on the way home like a movie.
Leave and find another one if someone upsets you.

Not for our benefit – family playing a part in God's grand scheme to make disciples from every tribe and tongue!
Get stuck in too family life – because everyone counts.
All equal in Christ – different roles and responsibilities.

Wider Church family – extended family

Love your natural extended family? Don't answer that!
Too small a thing just to be a local family.
Rev 5:9

Vision of a bigger thing.
Gateway for the gospel to go to the nations.

Part of a wider family – relational mission

Came up with the name!
Paul two ingredients
i) deep long term relationships
ii) Shared commitment to mission

Illustrated by the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 travelled over to see Paul for the last time (Paul couldn’t come visit the church personally, but had sent delegates!)
See the closeness of the relationship in v38


Relationship – inward looking, barren and unfruitful
Mission – task oriented and driven
love our wider family that we are part of and I love that we embody relational mission in the local church. Challenge

Small group – new last term. We had longer icebreakers as we were building relationships, sharing deeper. Someone who hasn't stuck blurted “Can we get to the worship already?” – missing the point
Misunderstanding what worship is
Task oriented rather than a relational family.

Want “the smell of the New testament” as Goff Hope calls it
Dear friends on mission together.
Costly, painful. Requires work – resisting gossip, dealing with conflict well, loving Mr & Mrs Sandpaper.

Church as family. Easy? Sorted by Weds?

Try harder? I'll try to be more loving, less gossipy, less moaning.
No missing the point of the gospel!

We can't do it!
but there is one who walked on the earth already who was the perfect son, the perfect brother. Jesus.
Put our faith in Him.



Andy planted the Gateway Church in Sept 2007. He and Janet love to gather different nations together to grow in Christ while eating good food! He also helps to shape and serve a couple of Relational Mission's church plants in mainland Europe. Andy and Janet run regularly, largely to offset the hospitality eating! He also runs a popular WordPress plugin Church Admin