How would you answer the question – The church is like…? I’ve heard a variety of answers for this question. I think the answers reveal a great deal about the person and the church they are a part of.
There’s two answers that I want to highlight though today.
The church is like a family. The church is like a community.
These sound the same, but I argue that they are two different answers that convey two different sets of ideas. Neither one is better than the other. But the answer to the question has consequences.
If the answer is that the church is like a family, then here are some things to consider – how big is a family? Usually smaller than other groups of people. Is it easy to become part of a family? Not really – you usually have to either be born into a family or marry into one. A family also has some very positive things – strong relationships, sticking together through thick and thin, coming through for one another in a time of crisis.
If the answer is that the church is like a community, then consider some things. How big is a community? If depends. It could be small or large. In a community, it is relatively easier to join in, but also to leave. Some strengths of community is that a community is typically made up of many different families – but it is where people come together for a common purpose. And the amazing thing is that they come together willingly.
There are positives and negatives to both of these answers. Which is why the right answer is probably that the church is both a family and community. Sometimes a church leans in on its family nature more than its community nature. And other times it sways the other way. The challenge is for the church to take the positives from both and weave them together to carry out the mission of the church.