This is the approach to church-health and church-growth advocated by worship leader, Jeremy Riddle of Bethel Music.
I wonder if we think about church in this way? Do we see church as family? And do we commit ourselves to church-life and church-relationships and church-mission with a family-oriented view of what it is all meant to look like?
Certainly, ‘family’ is one of the concepts and pictures that is used in the Bible to describe the church. ‘Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters’, writes the author of Hebrews (2:11). Elsewhere, both Peter and Paul refer separately to ‘the family of believers’, (Gal 6:10; 1 Peter 2:17).
The church community is meant to be a place of connection, of inclusion, of bondedness to one another, of commitment and of responsibility, of care, of thoughtfulness and love.
And, here at EMC, while we should accept that we won’t get this right every time, we can also be deeply grateful that oftentimes we do and many people’s experiences of EMC as ‘family’ are very real and very significant and a real blessing.
But how can we strengthen our sense of ‘family’ even further? Here are five ways.
1. Join a House Group (or invite someone to join yours)
This is number 1 for a reason! House groups are a fantastic place to connect regularly with others, to share openly and honestly (and vulnerably and humbly) in a safe space where people have your back and want the best for you. They are simply a great place for connection and community to grow. If you’d like to know more about House Groups, check out the feature article further on in the magazine.
2. Invite someone for a coffee or for lunch
Whether our love language is double espressos or spaghetti bolognese, why not invite others to share the love with us? We can indulge our favourite passion while building meaningful friendships at the same time. What could be better?
3. Call them
That person who has been on our mind… the one we haven’t seen for a while… the one we know has had a tough day… we should call them. In all likelihood, they will really appreciate it.
4. Be a Barnabas
Barnabas is one of the Bible’s famous encouragers and, in my experience, encouragement is one of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone! ‘You did an amazing job!’; ‘It’s been great spending time with you!’; ‘You’ve made such a difference!’; can change someone’s whole day, if not more than that. Honestly.
5. Look up and look out
For some people, church can be a challenging and unnerving experience! Multiply that a few times if it’s a first visit, so, let’s make use of the opportunities we have on Sunday mornings to look out for others who may be new or by themselves. A greeting, a conversation, showing interest and listening... It’s all part of being welcoming and inclusive and helping people to feel at home. It’s what family looks like.
So, here are five ways to build ‘family’ at EMC. What would you add to this list?