We all have experienced family in some way, shape, or form within our lives. And like me, you probably had a rough patch (or many) in your family over the years. The word family might even trigger negative memories, signaling an alarm of past hurts. On the other hand, the word family may stir good memories in your mind.
The good news is that family doesn’t have to look like our past. The word "family" has become somewhat of a buzzword in our society. Everyone wants to be a family. However, an important question to ask is: how do we truly become a family? Let’s look at the life of Jesus and his disciples. He is the greatest father example ever, and gave us a written account of what family looked like with him in the first church community in Acts.
Here are 5 examples of how the early disciples did family and how we too can live like them based on Acts 2:42-47:
They shared a common union of prayer and worship.
They built relationship around the dinner table.
They gave extravagantly as anyone had need among them.
They grew in the knowledge of God together through the scriptures.
They had fun together.
Here in Raleigh, we have a community of young adults who meet weekly for what we call The Table. For us, this has become our attempt and a learning process of what it looks like to be a family. We gather together every Sunday afternoon to enjoy a home-cooked meal, worship Jesus, and sometimes just play games and have fun. From this place of friendship and family lifestyle we pray and minister to each other, and give to the needs among us. It has been transformational in the lives of the students that gather! I want to encourage you to learn what it looks like to create a space where people feel safe to participate and experience what it means to feel important and needed in a community. Sometimes it’s not easy to set healthy boundaries that feel inclusive and beneficial to everyone and it can be a struggle to consistently love someone who shows up each week with lists of needs. We don’t always get it right when we are trying to lead a community. It can be hard to confront people for their attitudes, actions, or shortcomings.
However, building community and a culture of family within it is a learning experience that will make you a better leader. Family is messy and hard, but the joy of what comes out of community doesn’t compare to the pain of the process.
At the Table, we have experienced deep friendships and love for one another in just the first semester meeting together. People came in broken and hurting, with deep wounds of regret and rejection and we have watched the Lord heal their hearts. Others have taken up the call to fast and pray for their own families and experience ridiculous breakthroughs, healings, and total life transformation.
However, family doesn’t mean doing more events together, or scheduling lives to overlap, it is a commitment to love and serve those around you more than yourself. You can’t be a family by talking about it more or by doing stuff. It must be a decision to love and be loved, challenge and be challenged, serve and be served and to lay your life down for others.
When we experience family as believers, it causes faith to be stirred in our hearts for God to build the same thing in our own families. My favorite testimony from this past semester is about how God did that in a young woman’s life. She began fasting and praying for revival in her family back in October, asking God for restoration in her mom emotionally, relationally, and physically. Her mom shared with her this past Christmas break that a few weeks after her daughter began fasting, the Holy Spirit convicted her to write a list of unforgiven sins she had committed against her husband. Upon meeting and sharing, the husband, tearfully repented as well and reconciliation began. Her dad related to her not long after that and said, "I don't understand what you are doing but your mom and I have not had a better marriage in 20 years." Wow!
I want to invite you to believe for this in your community, your personal family, and on your campus. That when you focus on family living like the disciples did in the Book of Acts the wonders of God broke out!
Unity and revival starts when we become family.