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The Prototype is a chronicle of what we, The Borough, are actually doing in our own context to help our city.

The New Testament writers regularly used the metaphor and example of the family when teaching about the church.  Here are a few examples:

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
1 Timothy 5:1-2

We were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you… For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:6-8, 11-12

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2:2-5

These passages show that the family structure of high-commitment caring, loving, teaching, and exhorting was all part of the way the church was supposed to function.

My church, CityChurch Lawrence, takes this idea very seriously.  We all should.

The church is not a business.  It’s not a social club.  It’s not a hierarchy or even a seminary.

It’s a family.

More specifically, a family of families.

Family of Families in Structure

family down syndromeMy church’s weekly meetings are very different than most.  For our main gatherings, we meet in multiple homes around the city, each going to his own home church within the network.

We certainly don’t believe that anyone is doing any evil by meeting in buildings in larger groups.  We certainly don’t believe you’re wrong to do so.

But we meet in homes for the specific purpose of having a small, intimate gathering, which fosters strong relationships.  Our teaching is in a discussion-format so everyone (including the kids from time to time) can participate together.  Our “worship” time is structured so that every single person can participate.

For more information on our actual meetings, check out this past article.

This isn’t being different just because we want to be unique.  The structure itself has helped make us a stronger family of families.  We meet in a family home for goodness’ sake.

Whether a church meets in a home or a building, it should labor to develop a strong family through the structure it provides.

Don’t lean on the traditional “Music-Sermon-Seeya” format without questioning it, just because it’s always been done that way.  Ask yourself if the structure of your meetings helps or hinders a strong family bond.  And make the needed change if you find the latter.

Labor to develop a strong #family bond in the #church. Click To Tweet

Family of Families in Daily Living

family-sitting-on-rocksThere’s a guy in my church who had to have emergency surgery this week.  Who were the ones who drove him to the ER, went to pick him up, learned he needed surgery, kept up with his status, brought him home, and are now helping take care of his house work while he recovers?

You betch’yur bottom dollar, it was us in the church.

But it’s not just emergencies.  Since we’ve fostered a culture of family-life within our church, we have people meeting regularly throughout the week.  Not just for Bible studies (though we do have those, too), but for practical stuff.

The women with little children have “mom’s time” every week, where the kids all play at one person’s house and the moms all meet and talk about life.

We’ve got people meeting up for dinner all the time.

There’s always mentoring going on between the older and younger, whether it’s formal or informal.

The college students come over and do laundry.

Babysitting, giving rides, mowing each others’ lawns, dog-watching, and even front-lawn concerts.

Yes, we do all the hard stuff, like confrontation, admonishment, and reconciliation, too – you can’t get out of that when you’re a real family.  But we also just do life together.

Consider whether your church has a family life like the one prescribed in the Bible.

Just do life together. #church Click To Tweet

Family of Families in the Community

family-communityBut this is the clincher.

Not only is my church a family of families within our own walls, but we look outwardly as we take care of the community.

Someone want to have a neighborhood block party?  Our church is there to provide food and fun, and mingles with everyone.

Want to take care of a former drug addict who lost his way?  Our church is there to partner with shepherding the poor guy, so that the burden doesn’t rest on just one family.

Someone is participating with a local non-prof in caring for the homeless?  We’re all there.

We’re in talks about how we can work with the local courts to help probationers as mentors, role models, and advisors.

How can your church function as a family as you care for the community?

Family of Familes which Is far from Perfect

I hope you all understand that I’m not trying to brag about our church.  I’ve put some highlights in this article, but we’re far from perfect.

It is hard work to be a family of families.  It takes sweat and tears.  There is a lot of heartache when people either don’t understand the goal of love or else flat out reject it.  There are conflicts and messy details almost constantly.  And if I’m honest, sometimes, I’m the one to blame for that stuff.

But the fact is that God has blessed us abundantly, and I wanted to share this so that you all can begin brainstorming your own ways to be a strong family of families in your own cities.


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Also published on Medium.