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Core Values: The Church Is a Family

In the same way that everyone is born into a natural family, every Christian is
born into God’s spiritual family. God is the Father of all believers. The local church
we are part of is a local manifestation of God’s family (the universal church). In our
local church, we have fathers, mothers, older and younger siblings, and new babies
being born in our spiritual family. We receive benefits as family members, but we
also have responsibilities.
At New Hope International Church, one of our core values is that the church is
the family of God. This influences our priorities and how we treat one another. We
have the same regard and commitment and love for our spiritual families as we do
for our natural families. We don’t just want to meet together once a week—we want
to commit our lives to one another.
What are the characteristics of the church family?

1. The church family is committed to Jesus and to one another


Natural families must have commitment among members. When a husband
commits to the wife, she feels that her home is safe. In the same way, when the
wife commits herself to her husband, he feels supported and ready to go and do his
best. When the father and mother are committed to one another, the children feel
protected and safe. Commitment means “I am going to pursue your best interests
not because I feel like it, but because I make a decision to.” None of us feel like
getting up in the morning to go to work or school, but we decide to do it because of
our family. Sometimes my wife and I get into arguments so that it doesn’t feel like I
love her, but I decide to act according to commitment, not feelings.
Commitment is necessary for deep relationships where we can mature and
grow. Members of the church family need to commit to one another if we want to
mature and grow spiritually. We all need to commit ourselves to Jesus first, and then
based on that commitment, we commit ourselves to our brothers and sisters. You
may not feel like going to caregroup because everyone is boring and the group is
studying lessons about basic Christianity. But you go because you are committed to
your brothers and sisters. Remember what commitment means: “I am going to
pursue your best interests not because I feel like it, but because I make a decision
to.” Commitment in the church means we are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of
our brothers and sisters.
God demonstrated His commitment for us by sending His Son Jesus to die for
our sins on the cross. Because of this, John says we ought to love one another with
the same type of unselfish love.

1 John 4:9-11
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the
world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that
he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since
God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
When we have this type of commitment in the church, it creates an
environment where we are all in the boat together. We enjoy good times together
and thank God, but we also stick with each other during difficult times. In fact, if
there are never difficult times, then we can never know if we are committed or not.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and
convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

1 Chronicles 11:10-19
10 These are the leaders of David’s mighty warriors. Together with all Israel, they
decided to make David their king, just as the Lord had promised concerning Israel.
11 Here is the record of David’s mightiest warriors: The first was Jashobeam the
Hacmonite, who was leader of the Three—the mightiest warriors among David’s
men. He once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle.

12 Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah.
13 He was with David in the battle against the Philistines at Pas-dammim. The
battle took place in a field full of barley, and the Israelite army fled. 14 But Eleazar
and David held their ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.
So the Lord saved them by giving them a great victory.

15 Once when David was at the rock near the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army
was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty—an
elite group among David’s fighting men) went down to meet him there. 16 David
was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied
the town of Bethlehem.

17 David remarked longingly to his men, “Oh, how I would love some of that good
water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.” 18 So the Three broke through the
Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and
brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as
an offering to the Lord. 19 “God forbid that I should drink this!” he exclaimed. “This
water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to
me.” So David did not drink it. These are examples of the exploits of the Three.

Because of the commitment of David and his men to one another, they were
able to accomplish great feats together during the times of challenge and difficulty. I
believe that because our church is committed to one another, we will be able to
succeed in coming difficulties. There will be difficulties involved with pushing
forward the Kingdom of God in Seattle and around the world. There will be
difficulties as we work together to launch a new worship center. Let’s remember
that, as we go through difficulties, these are the times where we demonstrate
commitment.
2 . The church family is a place of nurturing and maturing
Everyone is born into a family. God instituted the family structure so that
people would be taken care of and become mature. The church is where we get
trained and built up for our Christian life.
God gave the “five-fold gifts” to the church to prepare and train people to do
God’s work, and to help the church overall reach maturity. These leadership roles
are for the universal church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
Pastors are especially given to the local church to provide parental care for
us, in a spiritual sense. They provide us with spiritual nourishment, challenge us and
help us develop our God-given gifts, and help us to develop a strong relationship
with God.
I want to read a few scriptures that show how Paul expressed his parental
concern to local church congregations:
• 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12
• Galatians 4:19-20
• 2 Corinthians 11:27-28
• 1 Corinthians 4:15-16

We need people like this in the church. We need people who have a strong
desire to see their brothers and sisters in the church built up, to lift them up and see
them succeed in their Christian lives.
Because the Bible describes pastors as having parental concern, we don’t run
advertisements for pastors in the newspaper. We don’t believe the qualifications for
a pastor are a Bible-school degree. Instead, our church believes God calls men and
women who are faithful, love God, and show the fruit of their relationship with God
in their lives. These people are called by God to fulfill a pastoral role before they
receive a formal title in the church. In fact, a title of pastor doesn’t make you a
pastor. What counts is whether you are a pastor—whether they call you that or not
doesn’t matter.
I believe God has called many people in our church to fulfill a pastoral role in
some capacity. In fact, anyone in our church who helps to care for others is at least
to some extent fulfilling the role of a pastor. If you have been delegated some
pastoral responsibility, such as mentoring or leading a caregroup, please recognize
that this is an extremely sacred calling. God has bought these people with His own
blood. Each one is precious to Him. You must give an account to God, your Chief
Shepherd who will reward you.

3. Members of the church family have responsibilities


Parents have ultimate responsibility for their families, but the children have
some responsibility as well. In the same way, everyone in the church should have
some level of responsibility, whether it is serving in the church on Sunday in some
capacity, taking care of people, or contributing to caregroup activities. Even the
young children can contribute to the church. Since the children’s classes started
their “Clean Hands, Clean Hearts” campaign, they’ve gone around the church
premises each Sunday to clean up trash.
When we go into the bathroom, we should clean up any mess we see. Don’t
just leave it for someone else to clean up. This is your house! I hope you don’t leave
messes around your house waiting for others to clean it up!
Our church offers lots of opportunities to participate in different areas,
according to your gifts and ability. I don’t want to try list all the areas because I’m
sure I would miss at least half. We have so many people serving in many areas of
the church. This is the body of Christ functioning.
Another responsibility of members of the church family is tithing and giving.
It is a privilege for us to contribute to the family of God. Of all the things that you
spend your money on, this money should be the easiest to let go of. This is your
family.

Acts 4:32-35
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his
possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power
the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much
grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from
time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from
the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he
had need.

We have a responsibility to practice hospitality to others, both inside and


outside the church. We should not consider our homes our personal palaces that are
only for our own private enjoyment. That is not a biblical attitude. Instead, we
should open our homes when we can to our brothers and sisters, and also people
outside the church.
One reason caregroups are important to church life is because they bring the
church into our homes. Church is not a building, but sometimes we think church and
church activities are all about this building. In fact, the early Christians frequently
met in people’s homes and even today there are many churches that start in homes
and continue to meet in homes. New Hope International Church started in Ps. Lao
and Ps. Da’s home. In the early church, they celebrated “love feasts” in homes. This
was their communion, or breaking of bread. The church life was in people’s homes.
In our church, we don’t want the church to be excluded from our homes. We
should teach our children that people from church are our family. When we invite
people into our home, we invite them into our lives. It’s no problem for your family
member to come to your house, but it would be odd to have your boss or co-worker
over, right? Thankfully, we have a close relationship in the church family so can
meet in each other’s homes.
Finally, we have a responsibility to share the good news to those outside of
God’s family. We should desire to see people join God’s family. We want to see
people come back into a relationship with their Creator, their Father in Heaven. We
don’t want to stay a closed family. We wouldn’t be like our Father, who is seeks the
lost like a shepherd who seeks the lost sheep.

Luke 15:11-24

If you don’t know God as your Father in Heaven today, this is an opportunity
for you to come back to Him …