I’ll never forget the day a friend of mine told me she didn’t think she could come to church anymore. I was on staff at the church, and this woman was a friend – she volunteered in the ministry I led. She was a single mom, raising her son basically by herself. She pulled me aside one Sunday after worship and said, “JR., I’m not sure I can keep coming here.”
Of course, I said, “Oh no. Tell me what’s wrong!”
She said, “When the senior pastor talks about families in his sermons, I know he’s not talking about me and my son.”
My heart broke in that moment – in part because I knew she was right. That church didn’t make a lot of space for families that didn’t look like Leave it to Beaver. Dad, mom, 2.5 kids. Dog optional.
My friend’s family didn’t look like that, and she felt it.
As a kid raised by a single mom, I felt it too. I was also single at the time – still a few years away from marrying. So I felt it personally.
That church was a really good space for the typical nuclear family. But we didn’t do so well with creating spaces for anything else. Isn’t that strange?
After all, Jesus was single. So was Paul, who wrote more than a quarter of the New Testament. And yet it’s pretty common these days for people whose families don’t look like the so-called ‘traditional’ family to feel as though the church isn’t really a space for them.
I don’t think I have to tell you that’s wrong, do I? Today, I want to look at how we understand family. Because the early church understood the Church to be a family, one based not on biology but faith.