As your associational director of missions, I frequently use the metaphor of family to describe the best possible relationship we have within our fellowship of churches. At the top of our website at www.ColumbiaMetro.org is the tagline “A Family of Baptist Congregations in the Midlands of South Carolina.”
Within biological families are parents and children and grandparents and grandchildren. There are also cousins, aunts, uncles and other expressions of relationships. While of extreme importance in life, these are not the family relationships I would emphasize when talking about the association as a family of congregations.
Congregations are sisters and brothers. You are of the same generation within our family of congregations. You are all adults with an equal relationship with one another as a family of congregations. Just as in life, at times we need to lean on our sisters and brothers for support, encouragement, challenge, and help in addressing a great opportunity and challenge. That is one aspect of being a family of congregations.
Within our family I am having conversations with member congregations about being open to adoption. This is where congregations facing unique challenges within their life ask sisters and brothers if they would adopt them, come alongside them, and express deep family love for them. At times this needs to be a temporary situation and at other times a permanent situation.
Recently I was presenting this idea to a congregation in need of being adopted by one or more family members. Someone asked the question, “Is this like them becoming our parent?” I loved that question because it gave me an opportunity to clarify the concept.
“No,” was my answer. “Every congregation is an adult. This is more like asking a big sister or big brother to come alongside you and help you with the next steps in your ministry. It involves deep trust. It involves a family relationship where there is deep love and care for one another.”
Both the congregation being adopted and the congregation adopting can benefit from this type of relationship as congregations seek to fulfill the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment.
Would your congregation like to talk about an adoption relationship with one or more members of our family of congregations? Do you need to be adopted by a sister or brother congregation? Do you desire to adopt a sister or brother congregation?
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17 NASB)