Family language is appropriate because:
- It’s theologically meaningful. Jesus calls us brothers and sisters (anyone who does the will of my Father is my sister and my brother...Matthew 12:50)
- It’s psychologically meaningful. We need to belong, and some of us don’t ‘belong’ in our biological families for a number of different reasons. Church is a place for loving each other - and for practicing doing it well.
- It’s honest. Whether we like it or not, our family issues leach into our church relationships. Often this causes confusion or conflict, but it also gives the opportunity for healing.
- Church relationships are not the same. They are much more fluid and often superficial - Churches experience a fluctuation of who is there and who is absent. Some members prefer to keep a low profile and just worship and leave. We, as a church, accommodate that but in a family, those things would probably indicate problems.
- Families express themselves in ways that are not appropriate in the church family. Conflict, affection, and decision making in churches must be modeled more after a professional organization than a family.
- Families are not wide open systems - healthy churches are. In churches it’s important that newcomers be invited in and easily find their place as members and participants in the common life of the community. In a family, this would be unhealthy.