As a freshly minted associate pastor of family ministries, I’m struck by how far the implications of such a responsibility reach.
There are things to do and truths to expound, of course: classes and retreats, counseling and mentoring, listening and recommending. In the end, couples should care more for each other and parents should engage more with their kids.
But frankly, everyone in the church family is, well, family. Family in this sense is a quality of congregational life, not just a social and legal obligation to be better managed or understood.
This means any single woman in our church should be welcome in any home as a sister in Christ, each single man esteemed for any act of service to his God, each child treasured as a son or daughter in the Lord. Our faces should brighten when we see each other.
To welcome each other in this way is not just a lost art in a hurried world, but a neglected responsibility. And it requires more than smiles and hugs. Genuine hospitality should flourish in a healthy church.
1 Peter 4 says “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
So we serve each other in this way, and we do it without grumbling. Such hospitality begins at home. If we can’t cheerfully serve each other there, we can’t do it at church either.
Put differently, healthy families change the spirit of a congregation as much as they change the spirit of a home. And by grace even that distinction can blur.
In a healthy church the widows are cared for, the orphans loved, the stranger welcome. Strong families can do this. Weak families can’t.
That’s because dysfunctional families often turn inward, hiding their pains and focusing on their problems while healthy families turn outward, opening themselves to others, sharing God’s blessings without reservation.
As a pastor I want each wife to feel cherished. I want her husband’s heart to leap with gratitude each time he sees her. I want the husband to feel respected, even if his wife no longer swoons. And of course I want a church full of obedient, cheerful children, even if they are teenagers.
But I want more than this. I want the family of God to reflect the love of God.
When this happens, no one will have to eat alone.
Wally Metts will be installed as associate pastor of family ministries at Countryside Bible Church on September 19, 2010.