Summary: Message 2 of 6 dealing with our vision statement, particularly about how to help create strong families.
Text: Matthew 28:16, Title: RRB 2: Strengthening Families, Date/Place: NRBC, 6/21/09, AM
Opening illustration: "A family is not a collection of individuals who happen to live at the same address. They are people who share an intimate and complex connection with one another, being related by marriage, birth or adoption. Together they form something larger and more significant that the contribution of each person taken singly. That association, locked together by love and lifelong commitment, must have a secure place in the American legal structure. To continue to undermine its foundations and erode its authority is to destroy the very fabric of American life." –James Dobson, According to 2005 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 32 percent of Newark children are being raised by their parents in a two-adult household. The rest are distributed among families led by grandparents, foster parents, and single parents--mostly mothers. An astonishing 60 percent of the city’s kids are growing up without fathers. It isn’t that traditional families are breaking up; they aren’t even getting started. The city has one of the highest out-of-wedlock birthrates in the country, with about 65 percent of its children born to unmarried women. And 70 percent of those births are to women who are already poor, meaning that their kids are born directly into poverty.
B. Background to passage: The primary unit for going through life together is the family. Many of us run the risk of idolizing the family. But our culture at large is seeing the complete disintegration of the family. And we must realize that if we are to have an effective ministry, we must train our families how to go through life together in a culture that screams that family is unnecessary. They will not learn to practice family biblically from the culture, and by and large they will not learn it from the church, as most statistics from society are not significantly different from the church. In general the church struggles with divorce, adultery, debt, fatherlessness, out of wedlock births, alcoholism, pornography, premarital sexual activity, child abuse, etc. And if you disagree, it is only because you are ignorant to the truth. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend that it doesn’t exist; else we wake up in a few years, and the family is the exception not the rule. This was the way it is in Maine right now. Discernment is necessary, but you already know of most of the evils, so no need to further curse the darkness. Let’s bring some light, for the solution ultimately is the same for every one of these vision messages and issues: we must be revived in our absolute loyalty and love of Jesus Christ before tangible results will come.
C. Main thought: So how do we protect the vehicle of the family at New River?
A. Encourage Genuine Fellowship
1. One of the ways that the disciples kept their focus between the initial appearances of the resurrection the subsequent meeting in Galilee on the appointed mountain was to journey together. This seems like a stretch, but that’s what they did. They were a band of believers sharing life together. They had formed, and continued to maintain close personal relationships that reminded them of their commitment to Christ.
3. Illustration: tell about the church in WF that spent the whole weekend together at a church wide campout, Bonheoffer’s book on the church was called, Life Together,
4. Just as a family is not a group of individuals that happen to live at the same address, a church should not be a group of individuals that just happen to meet together at the same address on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Families need to have close relationships with other families. And close relationships are not simply formed at “church events.” Fellowship is more than food. They should learn to share life together. And really this should be our mode for discipleship as well. And it is a great model for our families to see members taking genuine interest in the well-being of another. Our transient world offers less commitment to relationships with depth, because we will only be here for a while. Be even in a society like that, we MUST be intentional about forming relationships. Dads need good ideas about being better dads. Moms need input about how to be better moms. We have a wealth of wisdom in our older generations, but due to the failure of the generations to interconnect, it doesn’t get passed on. Within genuine fellowship there is not only knowledge and wisdom, but accountability and security, which we all desire and need. Therefore we need to strive to end fakeness, engender real concern with tangible expressions of care, and begin to prioritize our time to build relationships in the church and in our family lives.