Your family and the church

Dustin Neeley recently posted an article entitled:  Lead Your Family Well,  on the Resurgence website.   The article has some important words of wisdom:

1. The church can get another pastor, but your kids can’t get another dad.

2. The church can get another pastor, but your wife has only one husband – and she needs a good one.

3. A day off is not just a good idea.  It is essential.

I like two comments Dustin makes under this point: “Pick a Sabbath, Keep it and Fight for It”; and although it is kind of cheesy (sorry) Dustin and his family call their Sabbath Monday Funday.

What Dustin says above is both wise and godly but I have a few problems with how Dustin works these out:

“I talk to fathers all the time who lament their absence during their childrens’ formative years because of working too much. Even though this is often true for pastors, it shouldn’t be.”

In speaking about  wives “…do as much as you can to set clear boundaries between the church and home, and frequently check up on whether or not she enjoys being a part of the church. If she doesn’t want to attend the church where you are the pastor, then it is a problem you need to deal with.”

“The first flock you lead is not the one that gathers on Sunday, but the one that lives at your house.”

4 thoughts:

1. Biblically my family is more than my nuclear family – in Africa we have a saying that “It takes a community to raise a child.”  This saying whilst not biblical per se, seems to resonate with the ethos of the Bible more than the Western nuclear family, self-sufficient and self-reliant.

2. The assumption that ministry will require you to be absent from your home for long periods, is an unhelpful one.   More and more ministry should be that which invites other into our home, to share our life and our faith together, to eat and laugh, watch movies and pray.

I want my son to grow up not hating the church because it is always taking his dad out of the home.  But I do want him to grow up learning to share his dad and his family and his home with others, to learn to serve, and love.  And when I do leave the house – I want to attempt to take along my family or a family member whenever possible to experience serving and laying down my life and loving the Word and prayer with me at all times.

3. Jesus has some interesting words about family… Who does Jesus say are his family?

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:48-50

I know that Jesus does not say to ignore our immediate family.  But I do think this passage rather uncomfortably and counter most church culture does seem to say that it is the church family (for this we need a robust understanding of church) that takes first alliegance.  Now the truth is that our immediate family is a part of that church and that they fall under our immediate responsibility as “elders” of our homes.  This is not semantics, the Bible I think teaches us that our starting point is not “our family” but church.

After all…

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matthew 5:46-47

4. Our lives are too compartmentalized – I need to model an integrated life to my family, a life where ministry is all of life and there is never a day off from loving people.

But I do believe in a Sabbath…

If you need a day off from your family you have a dysfunctional family – but who better to sabbath with than your family?

I take a rest from doing the work of the church but not from being the church

Sabbath at my home must become like a taxi – always room for one more…


~ by John on December 11, 2009.

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