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My church family

I love my church family. That’s what I call the people who belong to my congregation.

Do you see the difference between calling church members “the congregation” and calling them “family”? When we think of the congregation, we picture an organization with a constitution and prescribed activities. When we talk about our church family, we focus on the varied loving relationships we find there: shepherd (pastor) and sheep (members under his care), church council and member in the pew, teachers and students, staff minister and congregation leaders. And let’s not forget the precious connections between the people who worship together. Widows befriend each other. Parents of small children sit together and help each other. Handymen in the church often help members with home maintenance projects.

I love my church family. They challenge me, comfort and encourage me, and pray for me.

We are a church family because within these differing relationships the Lord cultivates a mutual love and commitment to each other. Jesus commanded his followers to love one another (John 13:34). Loving our fellow Christians is carried out most frequently within our church family. It can be challenging because our sinful hearts easily see people’s flaws and forget the grace that brings us together as part of Jesus’ family. That’s why the apostles wrote so many encouragements to love one another. Love requires forgiveness.

A church family has prodigal sons just as much as our personal families. We long to have them return. In one church family, a woman left her husband and moved in with another man. For months, two members of the church called her repeatedly and begged her to come back. When the affair ended, she returned to her church family. She knew they never gave up on her.

The same care and devotion is needed for all church family members—despite challenges.

Can we neglect frail senior members who need help hearing the service or accessing the building? Can we ignore the spiritual needs of the young adult with autism or the child with developmental disabilities? What about the person struggling with addiction? These are children of our heavenly Father, brothers and sisters of Christ our Savior. We have a commitment to bring the gospel to one another and to love one another as the Lord himself instructed us. As we grow in caring and develop expertise in serving members with various personal challenges, we become a home for others who have the same challenges.

Besides caring for each other, church members also bring friends home to meet the family. These “outsiders” are drawn in because the family has blessings to share. We call it friendship evangelism, a natural way the church grows. What an opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, and family to meet your church family and share in the blessings you have—including the message of eternal life.

I love my church family. They challenge me, comfort and encourage me, and pray for me. They understand what Jesus means to me. In my church family, I’ve had many spiritual fathers and mothers, many close brothers and sisters, many children in the Lord. I look forward to the family reunion in heaven.

Our church family is united in our Savior. The preaching of his redeeming love renews us. His passion to rescue sinners for eternity motivates us to keep all of our church family on the path to heaven.

Learn more about WELS Special Ministries, which provides resources to help reach all the members of your church family, at wels.net/special-ministries.

Author: James Behringer
Volume 110, Number 02
Issue: February 2023

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