Church Health – Development in the Context of Family

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Article by Topher Smith

There are two principles I live by to position myself to not only be a good father at home, but also as a good father and church leader in the church body. In addition to these principles there are five essential skills that we need to parent well in the local church to create good church health. Let’s start with my principles.

  • Principle 1: If I position my heart well I can learn from everyone that I encounter. However, it doesn’t stop with me and my personal growth journey. The flip side of always learning, is always giving, which leads me to the next principle.
  • Principle 2: Steward what I have – freely give as I freely receive. For as long as I can remember, I have invested in giving away what God gives to me. I think that this is somewhat of a recipe for getting more.
  • Principle 3: Everything that we do for God’s kingdom must start at home. As church leaders it always begins with us and we cannot separate our concepts of family from our concepts of ministry. Even God refers to Himself in the context of family and generations with the phrase “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Since this is the case, we have to keep family as the focus to do church well.
  • Principle 4: We don’t get to pick our family but we do get to choose how we will respond to our family. The family institution is God’s design. Family isn’t perfect, and is sometimes messy but the reality is it is how we naturally grow and mature.

It is easy to see that in the natural, parents give identity. In a healthy family the children are loved well, given community, and taught how to grow and mature. When my wife and I had children we provided for them everything we had naturally and spiritually. We gave them their own things too, that they could take care of, first with our help, and then on their own. The older they got the more they learned from us and the more responsibility they had. None of this should shock you. What might shock you is that all of the same concepts apply to the church body!

The following are five essential skills that Michael Brodeur shares that spiritual parents need to facilitate church health:

  1. Relationally we need to be authentic with the people that we lead. We need to move through the layers of relationship to reach a place of deeper intimacy.
  2. Covenantally we structure that relationship.
  3. Reproductively we need to welcome new babies to the family.
  4. Developmentally we grow the church body, each one according to individual need, while keeping the family moving together in unity.
  5. Intergenerationally we create updraft as people in the family of God mature and are ready for more responsibility and they begin to train up those under them.

We can’t neglect development as we go after the relational side of church. We need to make disciple-makers and not just disciples. Everyone at each stage of development is crucial to the family dynamic.

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