Many of our conversations at RCC involve how loving local families can reshape communities.
“The family is both the fundamental unit of society as well as the root of culture. It … is a perpetual source of encouragement, advocacy, assurance, and emotional refueling that empowers a child to venture with confidence into the greater world and to become all that he can be.” MARIANNE E. NEIFERT, Dr. Mom’s Parenting Guide
We are a Church who values people over process and transformation over transaction. The result of this focus is that we are compelled by Scripture and the Holy Spirit to engage the call of diving deeply (as opposed to ankle deep) into the lives of others in our community.
The nucleus of our message is that God loves and values all people as His creation which He longs to care for and redeem. We can point to this life saving message by pouring the love of Christ into the families we encounter in the community. In this way lives, along with our social landscape, can experience a shift.
We do this because we passionately believe that all people have basic value given by God. (Genesis 1:27) The family is the unit of society where adults are shaped and our children begin their journey (for better or for worse) in the world.
However, there are obstacles with this approach to people that we must navigate.
As soon as the general conversation on family is started, we can see a disconnect. We’ve seen and heard many calls by Christians and others to “Help the Family”, while we’ve found that not everyone can relate to the idea of “family” as the Bible or any one person describes it. (Genesis 1:24)
Why? I believe it’s due to the sweeping generalizations made by those who attempt to help families. When families are considered, we talk in terms of “should” or “ought to”. This is immediately awkward because families naturally exist in some state of repair or transition that makes applying the word “normal” at the onset of the conversation impossible.
This has proven true in my own life. I have found that I am a person in need of repair. This need has emerged not simply from my childhood, but from my life as a whole. No matter what I do to “fix” myself, I come back to the imperfection, flaws and damage of my humanity. This inevitably affects the ones I love.
What about you? Look at your own family. Can you say there’s unbrokenness and normality in your family? Of course you can’t. Families are weird little worlds. How can we ever approach families from “ought to” or “should be”? Our families are solemnly important to us. Families, no matter how they might implode, explode or take damage, are so essential to us that we carry the desire to return to them, repair them and protect them. This desire welcomes any hope that might become the building materials of the repair, but wages war on anything that might criticize us or those we love so dearly.
For this reason we must accept and approach all people and families as they are, with the grace and compassion of Christ, who’s so much better at repairing things. In fact, His business is repairing things. (2 Cor. 5:17) He is far more trustworthy and has a better track record for restoration than we could ever have.
What does this look like for us? Maybe it’s cooking a meal or two for a new mom or taking time to mentor a young person who lacks trusted adults. It could be a simple word of encouragement or listening to someone tell their story. The “what” isn’t as important as the heart and reason we have in doing it. It’s quietly finding a real need, any need, and meeting it not for our significance, but for that of Jesus Christ.
This effort to help families in honor of and to make known Jesus Christ is very important, not just for His sake, but for ours. You’ll find that meeting needs in our own name is a well that runs dry. Meeting needs for the good feelings of benevolence we experience will become a passing enthusiasm for those whose motivation is to feel “humanitarian”. That energy and interest will fade. While meeting needs for the name and renown of Jesus Christ is a well that produces and never stops.
The needs of the families of the world are great, we can never meet all of them. The needs of the families in our country, states, counties and towns are great, neither can we meet all of them. But when we introduce others to the hope, love, compassion and name of Jesus Christ, we will gloriously see that Jesus will meet all the needs of those who lean into Him and find Him. (Romans 8:28)
May we be a Church who meets families at their need so that, through our proclamation of Jesus, they can have their deepest needs met from His supply that never ends. (John 4:13-14)