Social Vs. Familial Groups

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In a recent post entitled “Finding Your Tribe”, I mentioned that as you discover your purpose and passion you may discover that the people around you do not share your passion or your vision. I recommended that you continue to pursue your purpose and trust that God will surround you with people who love and support you. The piece that I did not fully address is the difficulty associated with disconnecting from the group that you have grown accustomed to.

The Americanized version of church is a social group at its core. Their convictions are held in place by social pressure. There are so many churches to choose from that attendees often choose one where people think and believe the same way they do. As a result, the bonds that connect them tend to be more social than spiritual or supernatural. That is in stark contrast to the Bible’s view of Christ followers. According to the Bible we are to be brothers and sisters in Christ. This familial relationship was intended to be based on our common father, not on the ideals that we share inside a brick and mortar building. This distinction is important because as you begin to wake up to your calling and passion, you may find that you are part of a social group. If that happens you need to be aware that social groups behave differently than groups that share a familial relationship through Christ (Christ followers). I have spoken to several “Sleeping Giants” recently who, like our family, have awoken to discover that they were in a social club, not a group of brothers and sisters. That is why I am taking the time to address this topic.

In the post “What to do When You Don’t Fit In”, I shared the account of a church that was faced with members that felt like God was calling their family away from the group. In the post I detailed how beautifully this was handled. The members were sad to see them go, but their departure was not a threat to the group, because the group’s cohesion was based on a familial relationship, not a social ideology.

Social groups tend to be cliquish. You are loved and welcomed as long as you share the ideologies and expressions that form the core of the group. If you voice disagreement or act in a way that disagrees with the group’s core ideology, you are no longer welcomed in the group. For example, if you join a dog lovers club and then decide that cats are more important than dogs, vocalizing that will cause a distance between you and the other members of the club. This will most likely result in you no longer being welcomed to speak on behalf of the group. That is how a person gets removed from a social group.

In contrast, a group that is based on a familial relationship through Christ has another way of handling things. The Bible clearly lays out the process for confronting someone who is straying from core ideologies. The first step is a one-on-one conversation about the issue. I have found that these type of conversations solves a lot of problems. It allows a person to state their case and for two people to come to an understanding. Often what we perceive as a huge problem is simply a misunderstanding. If two are not able to come to an understanding the next step is to invite some others to witness the conversation. Finally, if the person still persists in their error, we are to treat them the same way we would treat someone who is ignorant of our core ideologies; with love, respect and kindness.

As I stated earlier, the Americanized version of church is social at its core. So, do not be surprised or offended if you are treated poorly when you begin to voice something other than the group’s core ideology. It does not mean that they are evil or out to hurt you. They are simply in a social group and are restricted to function within those parameters.

On the other hand, if you find yourself being confronted about your actions, as is detailed in Matthew 18:15-17, then you can rest assured that you are in a familial group of brothers and sisters, through Christ. You should take the opportunity to explain your actions, ensure your actions are Biblical and welcome the other person to speak into your life. Never assume that you, alone, hear from God. The familial structure is there to offer much needed balance. My sincere hope is that you are surrounded by brothers and sisters that are willing to weigh God’s direction out with you and that together you can be part of an experience that I detailed in “What to do When You Don’t Fit In”.

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