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re:thinking, re:working, re:imagining missions

Room for the Family

Family. We all have one. Some may want another one, but they make us who we are. A few months ago I took on the leadersh...

Family. We all have one. Some may want another one, but they make us who we are. ...

Room for the Family

Family.




We all have one.

Some may want another one, but they make us who we are.

A few months ago I took on the leadership of a group that meets on the campus where my church gathers called the Family Room.

The Family Room is a unique group. We gather together on Sundays, we sing songs with a live band, we listen to a message that is broadcast live on video (well most of the time it’s a video, but about once a month I do the teaching live in the flesh), we try and foster community and growth and service, and of course we drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of pastries.

We are kind of a church within a church.

The Family Room has lots of families - most with small children. Our gatherings are a bit less formal, we have an intermission, we have snacks, we incorporate kids into our program all because we love families and want to create a space to bring the family together. But its not just families. Singles, younger couples, and empty nesters are finding their way to the Family Room and finding a home.

They don’t have a “family” so why do they feel connected in the Family Room?

This question has me revisiting and redefining my concept of family. Here are some thoughts.

Families are bound by blood.


We can’t see it, but the DNA we share with our families connects us to our parents, siblings, ancestors, and to our history.  These invisible bonds draw us to one another:
  • creating relationships where they really shouldn’t exist
  • forming alliances amongst enemies
  • allowing for forgiveness in the midst of incredible pain 

What stronger tie can we have than Jesus’ blood?

Families share spaces.
 

Whether it’s a house, apartment, car, tent, or the place we gather as a church we build our home with the people around us. They are our family. We learn who they are, what they like, and what we don’t like about them. Bumping up against someone, the same someone, day after day gives us an appreciation for their person and forces us to think, even if just for a moment, about someone other than ourselves.

Families share moments.


The Good Moments – we talk about them. They consume us with joy and drive us to celebrate with the ones we love. Nothing says party like a good ol’ church potluck and we have them in the Family Room!

The Bad Moments – we show them. Words aren’t needed, it’s written on our faces. A kind word, a hug, or taking time out of the program to pray can be a game changer for one of our own that is hurting.

The Ugly Moments – we hide from them and the ones we care about. Disappearing and pretending to be invisible may bottle up our pain, but our absence tells the true story. It’s hard to get lost in a family.

Families help each other.


We may not like asking, but we know that the family has our back. A phone call, text, email, or shout will bring help running. It might be a few bucks, a meal, or the use of a pickup and some muscle to help with a move, but family comes through.


Sometimes people can feel lost and disconnect a large church, but I assure you, all of these things can, and do, happen in even the largest of groups, but only if we leave space for them. If we want to feel connected we need to make room for the family not only in our homes, but in our churches. Here are some practical ways:
  • Don't adjust your family around activities, adjust your activities around the family, church family included. 
  • If your church is large with many gathering times - commit to one. Seriously just pick one! If you bounce around its hard, if not impossible, to be part of the family.
  • Get to know SOMEONE in your church! Not everyone, just someone. Connect with another family, couple, or single in your church and just hang out. If you can't figure out what to do, try cooking and eating (everyone loves to eat).
  • Take the classes. Your church has some sort of plan for assimilation, but it only works if you engage in it. You may think you know everything and you probably do, but...TAKE THE CLASSES ANYWAY!
  • Find a way to be needed and serve somewhere in your church. They need the help. TRUST ME! 



steve wright


Speak Up!

How do you make room for the family? in your home? at your church?




Actual reactions from people when they found out I’m a pastor: Apologies I’m s...

Meet the Pastor




Actual reactions from people when they found out I’m a pastor:


Apologies


I’m so sorry for _______________________ in front of you. 
[Choose from the following: swearing, gossiping, getting angry, wearing a beer shirt]

Excuses


I’m so sorry I haven’t been to church lately. I’ve been busy with__________________________. 
[Choose from the following: work, school, family, working on the house/car/yard]

Piety


     I’m not really into church, but I’m really into _____________________________. 
[Choose from the following: reading the scriptures, spirituality, helping others, giving to others]

Confrontation


Oh, are you one of those “Christians” (using finger quotes) that _____________________________? 
[Choose from the following: hates homosexuals, believes women are inferior, thinks I’m going to burn in hell]

Reactions I wish I received:


Oh.

Interesting.

Not my thing, but cool.

Can you answer some questions?

The truth is that I swear, sometimes gossip, get angry, wear beer hats, get busy with work, and school and family and working on things, read the scriptures, am spiritual, help others, give to those in need, but I’m not the judgmental self-righteous person you might think I am. I'm actually a lot like YOU!

I want real conversations with real people about real things.

Hello, I’m Steve. I’m a pastor – lets move on!

steve wright


Speak Up!

Do people judge you when they find out what you do/where you're from/what you believe in?




To ALL my fellow Pastors on this last day of Pastor Appreciation Month.  You Are Loved! Whether they call you Pastor, Revere...

Pastor - You are loved!

To ALL my fellow Pastors on this last day of Pastor Appreciation Month. 


You Are Loved!




Whether they call you Pastor, Reverend, Vicar, or Priest
You are loved. 

 When your sermon is over and emailing begins. “Your teaching – too shallow.”  “Your illustrations – too thin.” When the words used to “sharpen your skills” hit your soul like they’re meant to kill.
You are loved. 

When you’re hard to reach for all the right reasons. Your family needs you despite this tough season.  You need a rest, but your voicemail sings - “You really should carve out some time just for me.”
You are loved. 

When things are just different – oh my what a shame. “That’s not what we did when we had, what’s his name.” “The colors too subtle.” “The stage is too bright.” When everything you do feels like a fight.
You are loved. 

When numbers are counted, and things, well, you guessed it. Attendance is down and the offering pathetic. The people are rumbling, the elders are scared. Do you have to cut staff? Or pay them yourself?
You are loved. 

When everyone asks, but no one gives. When people think – “Its for me the Church lives.” “Clothing, and food, and shelter some lack, and Pastor its YOU that should pick up the slack!”
You are loved. 

When you’ve given your best to everyone else, and there’s nothing left to give to yourself. When your heart grows heavy, your soul feels dry, and when you’re you break down and cry.
You are loved.

You are loved by God. He has called you and trusted you with his people.

You are loved by your people. The complaints, frustration, hurt, even anger comes out of their brokenness. Their words hurt because their souls hurt.

You are loved by your family. They want to see you around so at least once in a while choose them! 



Pastoring can be a tough, even thankless calling. In the crucible of ministry our love of Jesus, people, and altruistic intentions strain under the intense pressure and scrutiny of the broken people we serve. What emerges can either be a lump of pain and bitterness or it can be shaped, cut, and polished into a beautiful jewel that brings beauty and light to a dark and hopeless world.


steve wright


There is nothing shameful about reaching out to someone - a fellow pastor, a friend, a counselor. You are in good company if you need a shoulder to cry on.




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