This Church Feels Like Family

question_mark_778895.gif.jpgLast night, we went with our daughter Christine and son-in-law Philip to their church (Fourth Avenue Church of Christ) in Franklin, Tennessee.  We heard Chris Smith, who preaches in nearby Nashville, reflect on his spiritual journey.

This is a very good church.  I’ve known their worship leader, Ken Young, for many years.  I always enjoy getting to visit with him.  So, for a number of reasons, I’ve tried to keep up with this church from a distance.  Let me tell you what I sense about this church.  This is subjective, based on about three or four visits and what I hear from our children.

This church feels like family.

I’m talking about atmosphere more than anything else.  I sensed that atmosphere last night.  They are relatively new at this church.  Yet, I was impressed by how many people they interacted with on a July Wednesday evening.

It is one thing to say that the church is a family.  It is quite another matter to be able to say that a church feels and functions like a family.  I’ve known a number of people who will talk about their "family."  Yet, everyone seems to be preoccupied with their individual lives.  The atmosphere?  Well, it is not that these people are hostile toward one another.  They just seem — indifferent.  Yet, families in all of their messes, joys, sorrows, quarrels, etc. ought to at least reflect that they care about one another.  Many families would be quick to say, "Of course we care about one another."  Yet, to be around them — it just doesn’t feel that way.

What if I am a part of a family in which:

  • I never call my children. (I’m thinking adult here.)
  • I never call my parents.
  • I do not ask my children how they are doing, how they are feeling, or what they are thinking.
  • I do not communicate a "well done" to my children.
  • I rarely if ever take the initiative to be with my family.  Instead, I passively wait for them to take the initiative and then complain because they don’t.

A church family can function with the same kind of indifference.  It is no less frustrating and dissatisfying.

I have learned to appreciate ordinary, everyday people who love God and love people and who are just trying to live out their lives as followers of Jesus in their communities.  These people are not to be taken for granted.

So what is it that moves a group of Christians beyond indifference toward one another?  When does a group of people, a church, really feel like family?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “This Church Feels Like Family

  1. hey jim,
    this is a very good observation that i think should be the cornerstone of our church today.  we all get so focused on our personal lives and what WE have to do that we don’t leave it at the door on sunday’s and wednesdays.  i think it all starts with our attitude and selflessness, which in today’s society, is rare.  i think once, as a group of people, put away our pride, we can become a family.

  2. Excellent.  You nailed it (and me-as usual).  I don’t have an answer to your question, but I’m glad you’re in Middle Tenn.

  3. Sense of family is definitely the key for me!  It’s just so easy to fall into the day to day, regular same old thing in our Christian circles. 
    I always try to remind our church of the people out there who don’t have a family.  Those that are secretly hurting and struggling.  Those that are lonely.  Those that want to be accepted.  And it’s easy for me to personalize this and encourage them in it because it really wasn’t all that long again that I was such a person!  Coming to faith in Christ as a 26 year old gives me a real love for other families that have struggled like mine has.  I always hope and pray that my life experience will get people out of their comfort zone and reach out to include others in the family!

  4. I have always felt that (College Church) Creekside was family to me. When I have gone through some of the worst times of my life, my family at Creekside has never let me down. They have gone beyond the call of duty.  Many have sit up with me several nights or gotten out of bed to come and just let me talk. I see Jesus in so many peoples lives at Creekside. We have been through many rough times as a church family, but the core of us are still hanging on. I don’t know of anywhere else I would want to worship. I am glad Christine has found a family to worship with.  
     On another note. I have tried the email address you gave me for Darryl & it does not work. When you have time please send him my address & ask him to please contact me. I would love to hear from his family.

  5. I have always felt that church should feel like family.  Our church has really felt that way since we were in the same faze of life as Christine and Phillip. 
    Family notices when you are gone and asks about your life.  If it is a large family, you almost have to have some small group that is like your "immediate" versus your "extended" family as far as intimacy goes.
    So happy they are a part of this church family – I have great affection for Ken Young after many years at Stream in the Desert.

  6. Kevin,Thank you for the reminder of the importance of church as family.  Your more recent experience is a helpful reminder.

  7. One word has defined my church in its attempt to be a "family" as you describe: authenticity.  When people strive to have authentic relationships, it breaks down the barriers and allows people to openly share their hurts, failings, and fears and allow others to bring unselfish and unassuming care.  I have been blessed to be a part of that kind of community.