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Family with a Big ‘F’

One of the things adjectives (yes, it makes the transition into an adjective just fine) that Robin and I always use to describe the congregation we met and fell in love in (Grace Covenant Church) is “Family”; one of the things that made it very hard for us to venture out and plug into a new congregation when the Lord was shaking us up was an obvious lack of the same in so many congregations.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not a “we’re better than you” judgement.  It is just an observation and a “putting into words” of what so many believers around the country describe when speaking of their “churches” and their communities.  The Church has really been trying (and has been very successful in the last 10 years) to establish “communities”.  They base their programs and outreaches and home groups around common interests and even needs, and they really make a point to create small groups of believers with nice, clean authority structures - that have nice, clean teachings, and nice, clean meetings.  But, so many are still incredibly empty in relationships - real… Family… relationships.

The Lord has really been reminding me, and stretching me in this for the last several months, and it became the real focus of our time with Ben & Robin Pasley (100 Portraits / Enter the Worship Circle) this weekend.  I got the title of this article from some improv that Ben & Robin did at a house concert a couple of weeks ago that they posted on their website.  Check it out here: 100 Portraits Improv on the topic at a recent house show.

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. ” 1 Corinthians 4:15-16

We need Pauls for our Timothys.  We need to BE a Paul to a Timothy (or two, or ten).  But, man, guys - I am still really messed up.  I don’t treat my bride and my children like I think a healthy Christ-like husband and father should all of the time.  I’m sure I still have all kinds of doctrinal issues, and emotional issues, and wounds that I really don’t want to infect anyone else with.  But Fatherhood is one of the key answers to the emptiness present in our literal families (FIRST) and our church bodies.  It is also one of the keys to seeing the great end-time harvest, and one of the only means by which many will be protected from the great falling away:

“The hearts of the fathers turned to the children, and the hearts of the children turned to their fathers.”

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–
from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  (Ephesians 4:11-16)

It is time for the Fathers to “do their share”, and for The Family to get “joined and knit together” so that we may grow and be built-up in love “by what every joint supplies”.  It’s time for us to get past “community with a little ‘c’ and invest ourselves in Family with a big ‘F’” to take from what Ben Pasley sang so eloquently.  This goes far beyond just are local congregations, but, that’s a good place to start.

Who are you joined to in the Family of saints? Who are you joined and submitted to as fathers/mothers… really… like they’re really ‘watching over your soul’? Who are you ‘watching over’?  And, if you’re in the office of “pastor”, who are you REALLY fathering - not just teaching.  Are you promoting “community” or “Family”?

And, PLEASE, this isn’t one of those “let’s pray for strategy so we can devise a program to resolve fatherlessness” type things.  Just pray about one person or couple (at first) that the Lord would have you invest some of your life into - and start doing it.  Maybe I will, too.  :)


Comment from Nick Weisenfels
Time: July 17, 2007, 12:11 pm

Here’s another verse for you along this same vein:

“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask they father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” Deuteronomy 32:7

I could not agree more that spiritual eldership is a much misunderstood and under used necessity within Christianity today. In the Orthodox Church we have a rich tradition of such an office. In Russia these elders are known as ’staretz’ and in Greece they are known as ‘geronda.’ In the words of the Orth. Church,

“an elder is a spiritually experienced Christian who, having himself faithfully walked Christ’s path to Golgotha and experienced His resurection, has thereby experientially learned the secrets of the ways of spiritual growth. This ministry is administered in a relationship of complete freedon and love.”

This ministry is often practiced by Clergy, but it is not exclusive to the Priesthood. In many cases, Monks are spiritual elders. However, anyone may potentially be such an elder, as it is not a ministry that exists on an Official Level within the Orth. Church. We believe that this ministry, along with the Office of Holy Priesthood, is essential to the true functioning of the Body of Christ. St. Symeon the New Theologian termed this ministry the “golden-chain,” passed down from the Apostles since the time of Christ. Spiritual eldership and fatherhood is very important to us indeed.

Unfortunately, in the OCA (Orth. Church in America) there is a great lack of such individuals as are truly worthy of the title of Spiritual Elder, but I have a feeling that there are many laypeople who are holier than we know. I can think of one person in particular who is probably one of the most holy people I have ever met, and I take any opportunity I can to learn from her wisdom.

May Christ our God see fit to bestow upon the world such spiritual elders as have not been seen since the time of the Holy Apostles, not just for Orthodoxy, but for people of all Christian faiths. Glory be to God!

Sorry about this reply being as long as your original post. If you are really interested in Spiritual Eldership, you might like to check out a book entitled:

“Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: the lives and councils of Contemporary Elders of Greece.”

You can find it on for pretty cheap.

Comment from Jennifer Mckinney
Time: July 18, 2007, 12:37 pm

Family is great. I know I need to step it up. We get selfish with our time and tend to forget that people need us.

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