Week 4, Response to Jenni Perkins

October 22, 2007

Jenni writes, “As my husband and I are talking about starting our own family, this placed increased importance on the way we live our faith together (and eventually with our children). I want my home to be a place where my children (and their friends) experience Christ’s presence, see the story of Christ, participate in prayer, and feel loved by my husband, myself, and by God. I do want my house to be a church.” In the same way I noted in my earlier post reflecting on the ecclesiastical dimension of marriage mentioned in chapter 3 of Fuellenbach, I both agree and have concern about this way of thinking. I do want to see the home as a primary place for discipleship of both family and others who may come through the doors. It is important that parents take responsibility in nurturing the faith of their children.

However, I also think that the emphasis on the family as church also can reflect the individualism imbedded in our culture. Often these kinds of theologies sanction a worldview that is concerned primarily with oneself and one’s closest blood relatives. Jesus clearly shows a different understanding of family, one that is based not on kinship, but on commitment to those who are following God with him as brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus’s call to love brothers and sisters in Christ and those who do not yet belong to a community of faith is not incompatible with the call to nurture the spiritual formation of one’s family. I think that what should be included in this understanding of the home as the church is a definition of how outward engagement with others is then integrated into this context. This will be countercultural to the American dream and some of our traditional understandings of family as presented by the Church.

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