Just doing ‘the Open Bible Institute’ with some of our apprentices (it’s an adapted version of a TCH course called ‘Welcome to Gospel Ministry’). This is a little exercise that I found quite striking.

“Families eat together, play together, cry together and laugh together. Families provide for one another. They share something of the task of bringing up children and they look after their older members (or at least they used to). Family members do not go and join other families when they are fed up with things. Families do argue and fight, but they do not stop being families as a result – they have to find ways of working things out. And you cannot opt for another family just because it shares your taste in music or reading or whatever. When you are with your family you can take off your shoes and slump on the sofa. They provide identity and a place of belonging. Families define for us what is ‘home’.

Read that paragraph again substituting the word ‘church’ for the word ‘family’ and you will begin to get a sense of what Paul means when he calls the church ‘the family of God’ in 1 Timothy 3:15.”

This also relates to how we want to do mission. As we ‘do’ mission we are calling people to come home, to come into the household of God by Jesus’ death for them (Ephesians 2). So what we want people to see is us living in that household, that family, so they know what we’re calling them to, and they want to become part of it. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this kind of family?!

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