Anchor # 5 - Function as Family

The 10 Anchors of Union Church are theological convictions and philosophies of ministry that we are tied to in order to remain faithful to our core values of Gospel, Community and Mission. These Anchors inform everything from our partnerships and budget to our church government and Sunday liturgy. We believe that a strong commitment to these Anchors will create a culture that will bring God glory and us joy.

Anchor # 5 - Function as Family

We are committed to functionally organizing and operating as a local family. The church is like a bride (Eph. 5:25-27), like a body (1 Cor. 12:12), even like a temple (1 Cor. 3:16), but she is not like a family, she is a family (John 1:12). More specific than a generic community and more intimate than a nation-state, the family is the Bible’s overarching metaphor for the people of God, capturing both the doctrine of spiritual adoption (Rom. 8:14-17) as well as the practical aspects of discipleship and pastoral care. Therefore, the family is not a token analogy but the primary organizing principle of our ecclesiology.

Before there is any biblical example of human community we see the holy Trinity eternally existing as a spiritual family – Father, Son, and Spirit. It is this Trinitarian God that created the world and deemed it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). And it was people, male and female, not an individual person, that reflects this divine community’s image as earth’s crowning achievement (Gen. 1:27).  God ordains this family to be intentionally set apart (by laws and rituals) and gives them the responsibility of both caring for one another (Lev. 19:9-18) and blessing the whole world (Gen. 12:2) in order to fulfill the original mandate - to fill the earth and cultivate it (Gen. 1:28).

The Apostles use the family to articulate the New Testament church’s foundational theology, structure and objectives. Both Peter and Paul use familial (1 Peter 2:13-3:9, Titus 2:2-10) and marital (Eph. 5:22-33) language to establish normative expectations for interpersonal relationships within the Church. James’ primary understanding of the church’s mission is to extend the internal care within the family to those outside of it – claiming the very essence of the Christian religion is to care for those who do not have access to the benefits of family life (James 1:27). This family dynamic is so important to Paul, that his primary qualifications for senior church leadership include having the temperament and reputation of being a good father (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). Elders/pastors, therefore, function as local dads – leading, feeding, caring for and protecting the family of God, who then train and deputize mature sons and daughters (as deacons) to lead various ministries of the church.

The Old Testament law and the New Testament logic states that if God is our collective Father, then individual Christians, by definition, are brothers and sisters, who have an obligation to love one another (John 13:35). This love not only serves as an apologetic witness to those outside the family but also accurately reflects the Father’s care for His children.

Our church is organized to take this dynamic seriously. This is reflected in how we assess and train leaders, the size and capacity of our small groups, our membership process and the role of the Sunday worship gathering.