One of my favorite moments is when the whole family is gathered together. Ana and I have formed a beautiful family and we enjoy it very much. It is not a perfect family. We have problems and differences, but that doesn’t stop us from loving each other or growing together.
Many pastors and believers want their churches to be a perfect family. They get frustrated and discouraged when problems occur. No one is perfect and a community of imperfect people cannot create an ideal church.
Making a congregation into a perfect family is a disproportionate aspiration. One of the greatest dangers for a church that pretends to function that way is that it tends to enclose itself in its own circle. It is difficult to enter into an environment of strong bonds and family culture.
The second danger is that when a problem occurs or there is a clash in relationships and the impact on the rest of the group can be harmful. The third danger is that the pastor of a family church would invest a great part of his efforts and abilities on maintaining the harmony and the coexistence of a group that is varied in age and background.
The church of the New Testament had many problems. The letters from the apostle Paul reflected the conflicts, mistakes and the complexities of the churches of the first century. The meaning of the mission of the church is not to form a tight-knit community that’s trapped in strong bonds among its members. Wanting to be like a family can lead us to end up like a sect.
In many family churches, the demands of its members for attention, especially the older members, is sometimes greater than their desire to fulfill the mission. This causes pastors to become trapped in a closed circle. The church stops growing and other conflicts arise. These people criticize the big churches because no one knows each other.
The mission of the church is not to be a perfect family.
It is to be a community of acceptance, love and forgiveness.
In order to achieve this, it is necessary to be an open community. Imperfect in its composition, but perfect in its mission. This means being clear on the objective to be salt and light, a refuge and hospital for the brokenhearted, and a training school for life and for the mission.
Trying to have a perfect church like a country club will consume all our energy and we will not be able to win those who are lost.
Ultimately people have to be attracted by Christ, not by our friendliness.