The Bible is full of descriptions of the church as family.
We are fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters (1 Timothy 5:1-2). The term “brethren” refers to fellow Christians over 100 times in the New Testament, and is often translated as “brothers and sisters” in contemporary translations.
Paul set an example in this regard by taking Timothy under his wing as “my beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2), as well as Titus, “my true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4). He requested that the saints in Rome greet his friend Rufus, and “also his mother and mine,” or as the NIV puts it “his mother, who has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:13).
We have each been “adopted to sonship” (Romans 8:15), and we live together in the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19), united in “brotherly love” (1 Peter 3:8).
We not only have familial ties to each other, but to Christ. He is the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29), and a faithful follower of His is His “brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)
This role of church as family is extremely important. Many, including some who we may not suspect, may have suffered the lack of a healthy or functional earthly family, and the church has a special opportunity to be supportive to them.
The truth is that all of us, in today’s fast paced, individualistic society need the social, emotional, and spiritual closeness and support that the church offers. What a tragedy when a church ceases to embody the role of a family.
What can you do to bring more familial love into your congregation? Family members ought to spend time with each other, teach each other, provide for each other, eat meals with each other, have fun with each other, and be supportive of each other. For some, these things come naturally while for others, they are a real challenge. But for each and every person, God’s invitation is to be a part of the family whose defining characteristic is love (John 13:35)