Jerry C. Brewer
An article I wrote 19 years ago, in which I dealt with the Ashdodic phrase “my church family,” stirred the interest of readers, prompting a few angry replies, along with some questions. Those are listed here with my answers.
“Why it is wrong scripturally to use the phrase ‘my church family’ in your speech?”
The Lord’s people (the church) are God’s spiritual family. I have no quarrel with the affirmation that the church is God’s spiritual family. We are certainly brethren in Christ, with one Father who is in heaven, the spiritual seed of Abraham, heirs of God and His sons and daughters. It is certainly God’s family of the redeemed. However, the phrase, “My Church Family” indicates ownership. But the church is the spiritual family of God (Eph. 3:15; 1 Tim. 2:15) which Christ purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The fact that it is God’s house precludes me from calling it my church family. For more than a half-century, I have heard denominational people refer to “My Church” or “Our Church” when speaking of their denominations. While that is true of denominations, it is not true of the Lord’s church. It isn’t mine, but His. Peter’s injunction for us to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11) prohibits our reference to the church as our personal possession. Jesus promised to build it (Matt. 16:18), gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25), is the foundation under it (1 Cor. 3:11), is its chief corner stone (Eph. 2:20), is the head over it and the Saviour of it (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Col. 1:18). It is His spiritual body, (Col. 1:24), His kingdom (John 18:36; Matt. 16:18-19), His church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28), and His family (Eph. 3:15; 1 Tim. 2:15). Therefore, if I call it my church family I claim something that isn’t mine by right of promise, prophecy, preparation, or purchase.
“Is the phrase ‘my church family’ directly associated with ‘Family Life Centers’ and other entertainments going on in the church today by the liberals?”
Perhaps I should have noted that not everyone who uses this term is a liberal, but most liberals I know are in love with it. Doctrinal corruption by change agents will be expressed in a corrupted language. While the church is God’s family, they have taken this concept and in a subtle manner used it to appeal to carnal desires. We can corrupt the pure speech of God’s people without noticing it. It takes very little, as Satan proved by adding only one three-letter word to what God had said to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:4). Words have meanings and the words of God should be used in the way God intended. Everybody—and that includes Christians—has a tendency to pick up and use popular phrases. I have done that very thing. For instance, I once referred to homosexuals as “gay.” But after thinking about that term and how they have appropriated a perfectly good word to describe a heinous sin, I stopped using it. The Bible refers to them as “sodomites” and that’s the term I now use.
There is nothing sweeter than the fellowship we have in God’s family with other Christians, but consider this: The family into which I was born and raised wasn’t my family. I was a member of it and had three fine brothers, but that family was my father’s family. He generated us, provided for us, reared us and prepared us for life. My family consists of my wife and six children of my own. God’s family isn’t my family it is His. He begat us with the word of truth (Jas. 1:18), provides all things for us (Jas. 1:17; Eph. 1:3), and we are beholden to Him for life itself (Acts 17:24-28).
“There are so many other things in the brotherhood today to be talking about rather than taking a complimentary phrase like ‘my church family,’ meant to praise and honor the Lord’s church and turning it into a dirty, nasty, shameful word!”
Does the phrase, “My Church Family” honor the Lord’s church or does it express something else? The word “church” (as you may know) is a compound of two Greek words, ek meaning “out of” or “from” and kaleo meaning “to call.” Ekklesia is the word translated “church” in the New Testament, and is a noun, meaning “the called out.” If I use the term “My Church Family,” I am literally saying “My Called Out Family.” That’s simply not true. It is God’s family which He has called out of darkness by the Gospel (2 Thess. 2:13-15). From the first New Testament occurrence of the word “church” in Matthew 16:18 to its last occurrence in Revelation 3:14, it is used 80 times according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. In each passage where it is used, it is a noun. The phrase, “my church family” makes the word “church” an adjective describing the word “family.” One may as well say “my kingdom family,” “my Lord’s body family,” or “my vineyard family.” The church is God’s spiritual family and it is His church, but it isn’t my church family any more than it is my church. The phrase “my church family,” which cannot be found within the pages of the New Testament, implies that the family is “mine.” It isn’t mine, by any stretch of the imagination or by inference. We are the sheep of his pasture, but that doesn’t make my fellow Christians, “my sheep.”
Let us call Bible things by Bible names.