Whatever it is, we all feel the need for family — a place to belong, to be a part of a group of people who know us as we really are and who still accept us. Perhaps even like us. Maybe even celebrate our uniqueness!
For most of us, we are not talking about our family of origin. Dysfunction is the first and last word that leaps to mind when we think of our family of origin. Certainly this is true for my family of origin — amazingly dysfunctional! In fact, from what I hear from others, this is typical of most family systems – dysfunctional and full of dysfunctional characters. As I have gotten older, I now laugh when I hear someone confess –“My family was dysfunctional.” I too have made this confession, but if we really believe what the Bible teaches us about the all pervasive nature of sin, it’s a wonder that any of us ever grows up in a “healthy family system.”
I wish I could say the church provides family. This is certainly God’s intent for his people according to the New Testament. Yet many congregations are very lonely places. You can participate for years and years without making a connection, let alone a real friend. Numerous congregations build their programming on the old traditional nuclear family — working dad, mom, kids under 18 at home. Today this family typology makes up about 11% of America’s households. That means the church is ignoring all the normal people and families (the other 89%) in favor of ministering to a tiny slice of the pie.
In my experience, most effective “families” are intentionally built. They are not biological, they are not a church program, and they are not a random event. A group of people who are open, caring, fun, interested in exploring the human condition, willing to discuss spiritual and life issues, and hoping to learn to be friends for each other, can be developed. You could do this.
Martie and I are currently engaged in a little experiment along this line. Every other Wednesday night we meet at a local Pizza Hut and have “Pizza Night.” Besides ourselves, this eccentric little group is composed of a single woman friend going through a nasty divorce, a middle-aged couple who have never had children, and an older couple who just moved into our town from some where in the Midwest. Others are on the invitation list: a single schoolteacher in her early 30s, and several other retirees. In terms of faith, a few are believers, one or two are seekers, the rest include atheists and unidentified. When we meet we discuss life, our lives, and we are learning to be friends. Eventually, I hope this group will become family for one another.
Have you ever experienced this kind of family? Please comment.