I would like you to read these two short quotes from an excellent book by James Hollis, “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life”. Of course, when I read this, I applied it to my own family of origin and then to my own family that Lisa and I and our children have made. But I finally applied this to church. What if churches read this?
Don’t suppose that I am negative toward, or cynical in approaching, the idea of family. Of every family we must ask, “How well did the soul flourish there; how much life was lost through the failure of modeling a larger life, granting permission to follow one’s own course, or was constricted by the glass ceiling of familial fears and limitations?”
What would happen to our lives, our world, if the parents could unconditionally affirm the child, saying in so many words: “You are precious to us; you will always have our love and support; you are here to be who you are; try never to hurt another, but never stop trying to become yourself as fully as you can; when you fall and fail, you are still loved by us and welcomed to us, but you are also here to leave us, and to go onward toward your own destiny without having to worry about pleasing us.”
Replace “family” with “church”, “parents” with “pastors”, and “child” with “member”. What a different church world it would be!