One of the main objectives of my recent sabbatical leave was to start working on a project with my friend and fellow pastor, Shawn Bergen. Shawn and I crossed paths five years ago when he served on staff of a church in our area. Within a year, through some unusual providential events, he joined our pastoral team at Grace as the Pastor of Church Planting. He took over the leadership in beginning a new church in East Lee County, which today exists as Providence Church in Lehigh Acres. Though we no longer serve on the same staff, we remain good friends with many shared concerns and priorities including those related to church and family.
We arranged to take our sabbaticals at the same time so that we could spend
10 9 days sequestered on a ranch in South Texas to start fleshing out an idea that was hatched two years ago. Our concern is the intersection of church and family. Specifically, what should a healthy family in a healthy church look like (NB: “healthy” does not mean “ideal”)? Through our individual studies and personal experiences, both as dads and pastors, we have recognized several flash points in the relationship between church and family. We also recognize the importance of each institution to the other.
So we spent time last month thinking, praying, meditating, studying and writing about these issues. We are convinced that a healthy family in a healthy church should not find the church to be working at cross purposes to the family. Nor should a healthy church full of healthy families find those families to be working at cross purposes to the church. Yet, too often, that seems to be happening.
If the gospel of Jesus Christ is central to our homes and churches, then the resources that are found in Christ should be sufficient to resolve any conflicts that might emerge between a family’s concerns and a church’s concerns. A central part of that resolution, it seems to me, resides in the agenda-setting-authority of the gospel for both church and home.
That’s what Shawn and I spent
10 9 days deliberating. We are scheduled to continue working through these issues in the months ahead. We are very open to suggestions, ideas or other issues that should be considered as we proceed. So, if you have any insight, experiences or questions, please share them.