Exhort [an older man] as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
1 Timothy 5:1-2
Every once in a while a Facebook post or a Tweet which really makes me pause comes across my feed. This is one of them that I saw just yesterday:
I was thinking about singles and sitting alone at church this morning and realized: Maybe one of our greatest witnesses to a broken world would be a church that sat in our pews like one family, not a bunch of little families who happen to hang out in the same place.
(From @KaitlynSchiess on Twitter)
I don't know Kaitlyn at all. But the suggestion she makes is a powerful one to consider. We at Covenant describe ourselves as a family. It is important for us to think about how that can not just be rhetoric or an aspirational phrase we never actually move towards.
How can we actually function more and more like a big family - one that includes everyone?
Families. Couples. Young single people. Married people without a spouse present. Older single people. Youth whose family's aren't present. Empty nesters. Women. Men. Those grieving. Those with health issues - physical and mental. New family members. Longtime family members.
I don't have all the answers, but the question is an important one for each of us to consider and work towards. Here are a couple of examples that I've seen which might spark your own thinking:
- In our previous church, our family got connected in a small group that included single people, couples with no kids, and families. Those without kids became like aunts and uncles to the kids. The single people became like welcome siblings in the homes of couples and families. We had one single friend who regularly was at our house for family dinners or games nights. She became one of our best friends.
- I know a single mom with two kids who posts an open invitation online for people to come and hang out at their apartment on days that may be hard for people who are alone (e.g. Valentine's Day, Family Day). She has some kind of simple baked good and the kettle on and says, "Anyone is welcome!!" I'm sure there are specific invitations sent out to others, too.
How can we be a Jesus centred family better together? How can you be a part of creating that family space where everyone is included?