Sunday, October 14, 2007
WHAT DOES A HEALTHY CHURCH LOOK LIKE? (8. FAMILY)
‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in’ (Robert Frost).
In a funny/sad episode of The Simpsons Maude Flanders – a devout Christian lady who practised the qualities of ‘faith, chastity, and charity’ attended a Bible Camp to learn how to be more judgmental! That episode was cited in online correspondence with an atheist this week!
Healthy churches are like healthy families. In your family, you had no choice about your siblings: ditto in God’s family. If I had to pick the members of the church I attend, I probably would not have chosen all of them, and I’m sure some of them wouldn't have chosen me! However, the more I get to know them, and hear what God is doing in their lives, the more I’ve come to appreciate them.
Healthy families are united-in-their-diversity. They manage conflict well. Children and teenagers and adults and seniors are all accepted/respected – their differences are celebrated! Healthy families practice open communication, forgiveness, serving one another. They play and laugh and work together.
One of our choruses says ‘We are family, we are one.' But our songs sometimes don’t match reality. Unhealthy families – church and other - are ‘dysfunctional’: they are rigid (with some unbending rules); they don’t have healthy boundaries, or cope with differing ideas, repressing disagreement with the powerful people; they are abusive: some want to exercise inappropriate power over others; they play ‘conspiracies of silence’ games… and so on. (See here for more).
So let’s practise this: ‘As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you... Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful’ (Colossians 3:11-15).
Rev. Dr. Rowland Croucher
John Mark Ministries