One of the images used in Scripture for the church is that of family. For example, Paul uses the term “household of God” (Eph. 2:19, 1 Tim. 3:15). Many of us know that Christians can rightly call each other “brother” or “sister” (James 2:15). God is our Father, of course, and in Christ we are his adopted children (Gal. 4:5). More references and examples could be given – it’s pretty clear that Christians are part of God’s family. And it’s proper to think of your local church fellowship as your immediate Christian family. Lee Eclov discusses these things in his helpful book, Feels Like Home. In fact, he calls the church the Christian’s “first family.”
Here are some quotes that I thought were helpful – and they’ll give you an idea of the contents of the book:
“I’m motivated as a pastor to help create the right kind of environment for a church to be healthy and effective. That environment, to me, is best described as a home. As a pastor, I’m a ‘homemaker.’” (p. 20).
“The family members are the primary concern of a healthy home. So it is in the church. It sounds nearly heretical to say so, but the lost are not our first concern as church leaders nor as church members. Our first responsibility is God’s household…” [cf. 1 Peter 5:2; Gal. 6:10] (p. 24).
“In our congregation there is one complement we especially love. It’s when someone new says, ‘When I came here, I felt like I was home.”
“…I’ve seen too many Christian families who are not anchored in the relationships of God’s first family, the church. Christians are raising children who, like them, see church as an event, not a family; who see being with God’s people as an optional weekend activity. They skip church for all manner of activities, and do not regularly connect their families with others in the congregation” (p. 49).
“A healthy church home is God’s gift to any family” (p.52).
In this book, Eclov discusses the biblical nuances of the theme “church as family” and explores various applications of this biblical theme. He also highlights the importance of Sunday worship, prayer, fellowship, welcoming visitors, pastoral care, and other similar topics. It might not be the most detailed book on the topic, but it is a good one to discuss in a group setting or for personal information. I really appreciated this book and I think it’s given me a more robust view of “church as family.”