Recently we had a great time having dinner with our network in Rollingwood which is made up of several families and singles from 5 different small groups and serving teams. We talked about the need for extended family in our world today – especially in a city like Austin where so many live here without a network of relatives.
(We use the term network rather than missional community since our network includes people who do not yet follow Jesus).
- The word “household” in the Bible doesn’t refer to the nuclear family but an extended family. In our culture we have worn down the meaning of “family” to just a nub.
- The number one show on television in the 1980s was Home Improvement (and The Cosby Show) which was the Baby Boomers last attempt to uphold the nuclear family.
- My generation gave up on the family and our number one television shows were Friends and Seinfeld.
- Now, the number one show on television is Modern Family, a show that shares the adventures of an extended family.
- A cluster, network, tribe, or even house church is made up of several small groups that can serve together.
- A small group is small enough to share but not big enough to dare.
I am incredibly fortunate to have such a great extended family. Some of my favorite memories for my extended family include sharing meals, sharing stories (the more embarrassing the better), playing games together, and working on projects together to help each other. Extended families also help us raise our children and keep us accountable on going in the right direction in our marriages and in life.
When the Bible speaks of the importance of “brotherly love,” I find that to be somewhat ironic. I don’t think there is anyone on the planet I have fought with more in my life than my brother. Now he is truly one of my best friends, but to me an extended family also means overcoming hurt feelings and working through healing relationships.
What are your favorite moments with your extended family?
How can we get better at creating an extended family in cities filled with disconnected people?
Dr. Eric Michael Bryant leads a cohort earning a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary. Eric serves with Gateway Church in Austin, a church known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.” Prior to Gateway, Eric served as part of the leadership team at Mosaic in Los Angeles. Eric’s book, Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World, equips people to engage with others no matter what their differences.