Posted by: Adam Roper | April 6, 2009


In our North American culture there are number of significant things experienced by people that are, for the most part, glazed over instead of explored and dealt with. One of those things, though it is a basic and obvious necessity, has to do with family.

I was sitting in chapel today and the speaker was talking about the transition students take from depending on their families to establishing a life for themselves, away from family.  Leaving a family is meant to be a welcome departure. Ideally, a child leaves home and comes back stronger, offering more to the family than if they had stayed the whole time.

In “Through Painted Deserts” Donald Miller explains that “Everybody has to change or they expire… everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons”. Every child has to, eventually, leave their family and find an identity for themselves.  This journey a child takes is even better when the child is “sent” instead of forced to leave.

A child who is never “sent”- who has never had someone to encourage their gifts- is left incomplete. The trouble is our society is comprised, largely, of people who came from such a background. A lot of people have come from homes where if they weren’t physically or verbally abused they were simply not loved enough. It is tragic when a person comes from an un-supportive family. It is even more tragic when this occurs in the Church.

The Church’s essential task, identical to the family’s, is recognizing the gifts of each individual person then encouraging that person to go to the places where their gifts will best serve the world, and both Churches and families can miss this point. The family exists for love, and the Church exists to be a family to the family-less.

To be the Church is to seek to become a family- one which both seeks to send people where their gifts are needed, but also welcome people in. At a youth conference last year Marv Penner, author of “Help: My Kids are Hurting” suggested that for the first few weeks in September churches should make welcoming students a priority, as many students leave their youth groups looking for a church to continue building their faith. If they don’t feel welcomed into a church family their faith can just fade out. Not that it’s about trying to keep kids Christian, it’s about discipling students into a hurting world that needs love.



  1. I think in order to love more, the Church needs to pull back on programs sometimes. We need to spend more time just being together, eating together, having conversation, and going to our youth’s soccer games. Love comes more naturally through everyday things.

  2. Yeah Adam… there is so much truth here.
    Keep on writing buddy-O!

  3. True. I was probably being a bit pessimisstic here, because I have seen great people come from great families in my life. The church can become an extension of those families, or it can be a place to find a family. Either way, there is no such thing as a self-developed person. Every person’s thoughts and ideas come directly from influencing voices in their lives, positive or negative, then eventually a person begins thinking for themselves and making connections.

    Whether the decisions a person makes based on their own thoughts are self-serving or selfless has to do with how love is expressed to them, I think.

  4. ya, but alot of the time that ‘family’ ends up being a cult. You know what I mean? Because when you think about it, it was weird requirements to really be a part of it. Yup. A cult.
    But a solid post on all counts. You should add links to things you reference to gain google cred.

    • add links? how do I do that?

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