By Josh Hughes
Of all the word pictures the Scriptures use for the church, “family” is perhaps my favorite. Why? Because even when it’s difficult, family is pretty wonderful. In a family, we give and receive care. We work through conflict. We bear burdens. We hold one another up in prayer. We share what we have without expectation of reciprocation. We delight to be present with one another. We give ourselves away for each other’s flourishing.
I left our family meeting last Wednesday with a renewed sense of wonder and a heart filled with gratitude at the fact that God has made us a family. It’s a great joy to walk with the people of Four Oaks in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
My wife recently took a few well-deserved days away with some beloved friends, and I was reminded of how desperately a family needs every member playing his or her part in order to be healthy and functional (turns out that for whatever progress I’ve made at our family’s version of “dad-stuff,” I’m lousy at the “mom-stuff.” I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that relative to the omni-competence of my wife, I am a complete idiot). As I was thanking God for my sweet Katie and all that she does to make our family go, I took a minute to thank God for the many who are steadfastly serving in our faith family as well. Here’s a sampling of what I came up with:
…for our community group leaders who struggle with us in the word and prayer over the application of the gospel in our lives so that care, mission and community might thrive.
…for our many deacons who have been generously giving of their time and energy to scheme service and care for our family and for our neighbors.
…for our myriad of Sunday volunteers who give up a measure of Lord’s day rest and time with loved ones to play music, teach and pray over our children, show hospitality, and serve behind the scenes so we can gather.
…for the dedicated souls on our staff team who are constantly coming up with creative ways to maximize the resources of the church for mission.
…for my brothers on the pastoral team who labor diligently and humbly for your sake.
…for the non-vocational elders who serve us generously and wisely with their perspective and care.
…for our men’s and women’s Bible study leaders who apply themselves every week to the Scriptures for our up-building.
…for our redemption group leaders who gladly step into the mess of difficult care situations so that hurting people might make progress in the gospel.
…for our student ministry volunteers who patiently shepherd souls through the labyrinth that is adolescence.
I could go on and on. The point is, to everyone who sacrifices to make Four Oaks go, I thank you and I love you. What a joy is to dwell in unity with you. Together. As a family.