Is Church Really Family?

So, we’ve been in a series at my church on being the church. Today was more of a discussion, and I found it very enlightening. The comments offered made it obvious that people at the church had done some thinking about not only church, but also their role in church, in being the church. The discussion was generally focused around Acts 2:42 and the characteristics of the early church. One of the points made was that house churches, in some ways, are probably our best bet in bringing the vision of Acts 2:42 forward to the modern age. That’s because of the relatively small size and the ability to focus on life issues that are beyond the scope of a typical large gathering on Sunday.

If this was true, the question before us became, what characterizes smaller gatherings like house churches? What really sets them apart? And how do we get those who do not have a history with house churches to fully appreciate what they’re all about enough to want to be part of one? Many offered possible answers. As I listened to the responses, I wondered what my response would be?  The word “family” was being batted about a bit as a distinguishing factor of church and house church. But why? Is that really true? And if it’s not, what prevents it from being true?

I’m sure there are many things that could be said about family as it relates to church, and visa-versa. For me though, the thing about family is that it can’t be compartmentalized. We have become really good at this in this modern era, and especially as it relates to the church. I am part of this friend group, not that one. I’m doing my job, leave me alone. I do church on Sundays, and possibly Wednesdays, but that’s all (unless of course it involves eating!). We’ve compartmentalized and legislated just about every aspect of our lives. But there’s one part of our lives that keeps escaping the net — family. Family, it seems, is never in the right place at the right time. Family always spills over the edges and fills up other parts of our lives. The spouse is in a mood, the kids are sick, relatives are coming for an unplanned visit. There is no saying, “Oh no you don’t, not today!” It is what it is. But also, on a more positive note, family is always on our minds. We make plans for family to do things together, we celebrate milestones with each other, if asked “can my friend come too?” we say “sure!” just to make certain family will be there.

When people talk to me about what they love about house church, the thing that impresses me is that they actually want house church to spill out into other parts of their lives. They don’t just want it to be some meeting on a Wednesday evening. They want to have dinner together, they want to hang out after the meeting, they want to meet each other during the week, they want to do projects together, they want to sit together at the church gathering on Sunday, they like it when discussions get off-track, they like keeping up with each other’s comings and goings, they want to attend each other’s weddings, babysit for each other’s kids, bless and pray for each other’s houses. They like the inter-generational aspect because it feels like family, they like that there are men who act like fathers and brothers and women who act like mothers and sisters because it feels like family, they like that people are gifted differently because it feels like family, they like that there’s always more to know about each other because it feels like family.

The questions, which will remain open at this moment, is how to encourage all of this? That will be another blog post. 🙂



  1. Josh

    Hey Paul, check out the book Transformed by Caesar Kalinowski. There are also short video clips summarizing the book on YouTube, just search it.

  2. That’s real good!

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