"My church is a family."
This statement intrigues me. Even before I was a pastor, describing church as a family would not have occurred to me. When I ask people to say what family in the context of church means, they give me many different descriptors, including vulnerability, transparency, openness, caring. I find all of these relational qualities things that I seek in key relationships in my life. But not necessarily from my church.
The community system of which many Legacy Protestant churches exist, the ideal of family doesn't match what the organization communicates. "All are welcome!" is a frequent mantra of congregations. But intimacy fails to match the concept of welcoming anyone and everyone. It is not humanly possible for each human being to be intimate with one another. For introverts, intimacy with all is too exhausting. For extroverts, they may acquaint themselves with many, but there is not enough time in a year, or a lifetime, to build intimacy with all.
Yet, because of old demographics and a model of church from Europe (how is the church doing there?), Legacy Protestants have built many large church facilities in the United States. Today, these Legacy Protestant churches are stressed for a variety of reasons. The ability of shrinking memberships to support larger facilities (either decaying, debt ridden, or both) and decades old methods of making followers of Jesus diminishes by the year.
If intimacy and family truly and ideally drive the goal of Christian community, it is foolish to maintain a façade of large church facilities and an "all are welcome" mantra. Our Legacy Protestant congregations and denominations could live with integrity of mission if resources are invested in house churches. God finally acquiesced when the people clamored for a king. Maybe it's time for Legacy Protestant denominations to acquiesce to a people who clamor for intimacy, because it's probably not going to happen in our Legacy Protestant public temples.