This month, as we move into our new location in downtown Norman (110 S Crawford Ave), we asked 4 of our covenant members to write on how they have grown in 1 of the 4 core gospel identities since becoming a member of Providence Road. Matt Mosier, a member with his wife, Erin, and their 4 children almost since the beginning of our church, considers what it means to be a part of the family of God.
The idea of family, and who is and who isn’t family, is a complicated topic, particularly in our culture today. We often use phrases like “work family” or “church family,” or say things like, “They are family to me,” or “I consider you family.”
Further complicating the idea of family are our childhood experiences with family. Many of us have very positive family experiences and love the idea of family. However, many of us also have negative family experiences and are somewhat hesitant whenever people in the church start talking about family.
The biological family is one of the foundational metanarratives in the Old Testament. Biological lineage is critically important in the Old Testament, largely because the Jews were a race of people and because of the numerous prophecies linked to certain individuals. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us that God plans to bless everyone through a particular family:
“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Expectedly, the importance of the family continues into the New Testament, but the idea is broadened to include more than just the biological family. This is important not just because the vast majority of us are Gentiles (i.e. not biological Jews), but because it helps provide us definition and clarity on what it means to be children of God.
A few helpful passages include John 13:21-25; John 19:25-27; Romans 8:14-17; Romans 12:9-18; Ephesians 1:3-6; Ephesians 4; and 1 John 3:1-3.
These passages (and many others) contain a wealth of insight into how we became a part of God’s family and how God’s family should treat one another. One thing that’s important to note is that once we become followers of Christ, we are adopted into God’s family and become children of God (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:3-6). This is not a choice. Being a child of God, with many brothers and sisters all over the world, is part of our new identity.
In short, the theology of becoming a child of God shows us the new reality in which we find ourselves. But how does this all work out practically? How does God’s family act towards one another right now, in our current situations? What are a few things we can do to develop relationships with our brothers and sisters?
The passages above help answer a few of those questions, but those passages all assume one thing: that you are spending time with your spiritual family. For us, acting like a family starts with being together, with being present with those whom God has placed around you right now.
This means taking time out of your schedule to being involved in a Missional Community. Missional Community shouldn’t be something that you go to whenever you have time. It should be something you make time for, just like you would if your parents or other biological family was coming to visit you. Missional Community should be a priority because it is a set-aside time for you to get together with members of God’s family.
Another thing you can do is ask people to come along side of you in whatever you are doing. This is especially important for those of us that are older. While it is important for classroom-style discipleship, most of the discipleship Jesus modeled was “life-on-life”. His disciples followed Him around and observed what He was doing. We can do this as well. Parents, invite a college student over to help you prepare dinner or shop for groceries. Men, invite someone who is younger to help you with a project around the house or to help you work on the car. Women, invite a younger woman to go with you while you pick up your kids or you run errands. College students, ask someone you meet on Sunday to lunch or to study with you during the week.
We have several examples of how this has worked out in our family, each different in its own way. One such instance was a single lady who joined our MC several years ago. It took a while, but she eventually started joining us for dinner occasionally. Dinners at our house can be quite the adventure, but she was always gracious and loved our kids well, and they in turn loved her. We’d typically end those nights in the kitchen cleaning up and just talking. After doing this for a while, a mutual respect and trust was developed between us. As a result of this trust, I’d ask her to lead portions of our MC, especially those regarding prayer, which was something Erin and I admired her for.
We never developed an official discipleship plan or went through any specific material together. However, we were very intentional about including her in our day-to-day lives and talking about Jesus, scripture, the gospel, etc. There is no doubt in mind my that Erin and I benefited from this relationship, which was kicked off by us inviting her over for dinner and her being willing to join us.
Cultivating relationships with your spiritual brothers and sisters takes time, especially those relationships with people who aren’t in the same life stage. Friends, do not forget this! God’s design for the family is broad and rich but it all starts with just being together. Don’t be lured into thinking you have to have a perfect discipleship plan in place before you ask someone to join you. Being family means that you do the everyday stuff of life together.
Providence Road’s Mission Statement is this:
Living as disciples that make disciples, we seek gospel saturation through demonstrating and declaring the gospel in all of life.
If we seek to live out this mission statement, then we have to be committed to spending time together and cultivating relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.