Family-Style Adventure

Chilly —  April 25, 2014 — 13 Comments

This blog post was inspired by reading some of the amazing comments on my post, When the Adventure becomes a Job <– click.  (this post set records in views, over 1,000 per day). You may want to read it BEFORE proceeding with today’s…

The past few days, I’ve really been thinking and praying about the ADVENTURE that God has called me (us) to live. And, obviously, my post about this really hit home with so many others.  I’ve been asking God, how can we have discipline, planning, and order without getting all business-like or turning my adventure into a job? Then, I said something in one of my responses to a comment, that began to help me understand – here’s what, in part, I said…

Courage Church

Courage Church Detroit, “4Days” 2013

My family would be chaotic without structure! Hmmm… Maybe I just stumbled onto something…

“Family” not business, organization or even church. Decisions created out of love not results.

I think this is brilliant (said best with British accent)!  Adventurous ministry is done best Family-Style! LOVE and LIFE are the keys. We’re doing life together with crazy, awesome, love!

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5

Here’s how the family-style adventure could be enjoyed.  

Salvation – born, by faith through grace, into the joyous life found in God’s family. Jesus death & life leads us to forgiveness, repentance and new life in God’ family (confirmed by the Holy Spirit). NO coercion, guilt, threat or requirements. It’s not joining a church but becoming part of the family.  Note: it’s natural for kids in a healthy family to grow up and desire kids of their own.

Discipleship – deliberate desire to see our spiritual kids grow like Jesus grew: mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. Sure, it involves discipline and structure but, more importantly, it requires those more mature to BE examples. Classroom discipleship is not discipleship at all. It must be modeled, lived out and organic. It allows for mistakes. It develops a heart that loves to learn (and never outgrows this).

Worship – singing, dancing, running, shouting, snuggling, laughing…  Rather than upfront band performances; infuse the gathering with art, poetry, testimony, video, discussion, music and deliberate, focused prayer for needs of family.

Community Outreach – we love our neighbors because we know them! Our community is where we live, play, ride bikes, interact, protect and invest. The city, community, parks & schools provide our outreach opportunities as we look to serve and enjoy neighborhood endeavors.

And, when we invite them into our ‘house,’ we’re hospitable like we would be in our own homes. Provide food, coffee, conversation, comfortable seating and freedom to leave when they need to get going.

Bible Study – fun, imaginative, focused and alive — infused with memorization, interaction and other creative approaches. Songs and drama integrated into these teaching moments for maximize retention and application. Make room & time for practice and skills development.

Serve the Word, family-style, knowing that portions each individual can handle WILL vary. Sometimes people seem to check-out of the discussion because their ‘full’ not bored. Don’t keep force feeding, just smile and offer a mint.

Missions – is relational. We support brothers and sisters who have journeyed to other lands to extend the love of the family. Perhaps if churches didn’t try to fill their walls with $50-$100 per month commitments but instead ALL covered the expenses of those within their household of faith, ALL missions work would flourish.  Am I being naive?


Hmmm… this Family-Style approach sounds so AWESOME (at least to me). But, can it happen? When I read about the New Testament church in the Book of Acts, THIS is what I picture happening when it says, All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Acts 2:42

My thoughts and points in this post are deliberately undeveloped and vague — because I want YOUR input! In the comments, share your take on any of these thoughts. I think this conversation could be really helpful and encouraging.

Loving my Family-Style Adventure,

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Chilly is a follower of Christ, husband of a queen and father of avengers. Executive Director of Instagram: @thechillychilton Twitter: @iChilly "I LOVE: my wife Netta, our 5 amazing kids, Buckeyes, good coffee, U2, Nike shoes, anything Apple, sushi, my dog Jack, beach vacations, sports, books & YOU!"

13 responses to Family-Style Adventure

  1. Disclaimer: I serve as lead pastor at Courage Church (Detroit) and I also serve as Church Planting and Network pastor at Mount Hope Church (Lansing). I LOVE serving BOTH! And, this post, and any of my comments is NOT written with ANY cynical, critical or rebellious attitude. This is meant as a provocation to our personal process and philosophy — it’s also meant to spur us on to BE the change we wish to see in OTHERS.

  2. Discipleship being family-style has impacted my life more in the past 4 years than anything. It brings the vulnerability that builds respect. Paul said he wanted Christians to follow him as he followed Christ, but you have to live life with someone to see how they follow Christ. I think this is the area where family-style is most neglected, but possibly most important.

    It creates and vulnerability to be hurt deeper than in any area of ministry and life, but it also allows for the greatest joys and rewards. Discipleship is messy, painful, difficult, and invasive, but it is also the way of Jesus. It was what Jesus used to plant His Church on earth. He showed us that even through the betrayal that comes, there is more positive and life change that happens when He saw the other 11 stay faithful. Not to mention the 70 who had been with Him His entire earthly ministry.

    Thank you for discipling this way Pastor, It has changed my life and I want to be that encouragement and reward in your life that it’s worth it and you’re doing life and ministry as Jesus did! Love you!

    • Austin, you truly define ‘spiritual son’ in my life and as it pertains to the context of this blog post. I really appreciate you and your humble, honest life and your consistent example to so many. Thank you for following me as I follow Christ — your destiny is far greater than mine!

  3. Well, here goes some “family-style” conversation! Family is messy right?

    A few thoughts…in no particular order. The church should step back and encourage (from a distance) the family to be the family…dads and moms should be the ones that “take charge” and teach their sons and daughters how to live. I experienced more (comfort, affection, wisdom, etc.) from ten minutes in a canoe with my dad and mom than five hours in a classroom learning from well meaning Sunday school teachers (however that is not to demean the value of learning). So, who’s your daddy? Mommy/daddy—are you being mommy/daddy? I’m sure there are some who have a “less than stellar” family…so “be the parent” you wish you had. (Feel free to roast me if this statement comes across as insensitive y’all.)

    Families are meant to example outreach. My father on earth is the best candidate for being a reflection of my Father in Heaven—and it’s his example that teaches me to “love my neighbor as myself” (or hate my neighbor.) In Jewish culture—the one Jesus grew up in—it’s all about family. The old uncles get together and add understanding to the young nephews plans (using their wisdom of course.)

    Worship…now that’s interesting—here’s another side of the coin. Worship is an act of obedience. Did people like burning their prize calf on an alter or giving their first fruits (the best) after a hard days labor? Nope. Likewise, we should also save our best for our kids, wife or husband, and those we love after we come home from a hard day of work…now that’s worship!

    Missions—yes, perhaps…give to those you know—personally—that are making a measurable difference. This way you can actually (really) measure the “fruit.” Those we support need to know there’s someone they care about who is sacrificing to help them so they can help others. But, again…isn’t this what family is for?

    They say honesty is the best policy…hopefully that’s true. Maybe you “old wise men” out there can add another layer of understanding to this cake and share some of your hard earned wisdom.

    • Really appreciate your thoughts, Tim! I especially like what you wrote in worship: “we should also save our best for our kids, wife or husband, and those we love after we come home from a hard day of work…now that’s worship!” – SO true!

  4. Good stuff again Chilly, I have lived this way for the last several years and have started writing a book called “Are you building a house or a shack”. Psalm 127 starts out saying” unless the Lord builds the house the laborers labor in vain” and the word “build” in Hebrew means to mason, build, and also the obtaining of children. So it could also be translated unless the Lord son’s the house,the builders build shacks”, for if we are not bringing son’s and daughter’s to glory which is one of the main reasons that Jesus came according to the book of Hebrews than we are building shacks, or as Absalom did, he built monuments to himself because he had no son’s. The rest of the context of Psalm 127 is about son’s and daughter’s and family. Jesus in John 17 says to the Father,”I have finished the work you sent me to complete” this was before the cross, so there was a finished work before THE finished work. His work according to the rest of John 17 was the 12 son’s and discipleship, I believe it is why He would run off crowds to spend time with the 12. Jesus was not crowd motivated but son oriented, so I have taught all of my leaders that what we do on Sunday is NOT our work, but the son’s and daughter’s that we invest time and our hearts into during the week is the work of the kingdom, because nothing else lasts. Sorry, didn’t mean to hijack your blog it just stirred all this up to get me writing some more. Blessings

    • YES! Ultimately, ALL of this is about making disciples (the way Jesus modeled and expects). Read the response from Austin (first comment of the thread), he is one of my spiritual sons — who I first met as his youth pastor when he was 12 — he is now, 22 and an AG pastor on our team (working secular job in order to serve with us). His take on ‘family discipleship/adventure’ is from first-hand experience!

      GREAT discussion so far!

  5. Good stuff Chilly. I love my church family, the whole crazy messy lot of them. The more time we spend focusing on those attributes you mentioned the better we’ll be.

    I especially loved when you mentioned. “Missions – is relational”. I’ve talked to a lot of missionaries that are frustrated with Pastors not returning their calls, not letting them share their heart and vision, or throwing a $50/month sponsorship just to get them off their backs. Then there are others who tout their missions giving as a badge of honor within the district. Motives mean everything and relational value is worth more to our church family than a monthly pledge that we only talk about once a year.

    Pastors and church leaders need to correspond with their missionaries, have them in our pulpits when their in town, show our people pictures and videos of their field work, and take our people on trips to see it first hand.

    • Roger, thanks again for responding. I love what you’re saying about missions. And, trust me, I get it… I’m still Home Missions — last year I sent 100+ emails to churches & friends asking for support (at least, prayer) and I asked for a reply email to simply know they care (even IF they can’t give financially). I got ONE reply and it was from the other church that I now work for… IF we as churches SENT more missionaries, we would be happy to welcome them back and visit them with teams — because they’re family.

      Sigh… We need change.

  6. I think this is all summarized so perfectly by the verse you quoted at the end. If we can get back to living life together, I think this Family-style Adventure will happen so organically. I think that’s exactly how it happened for the early church. As long as we don’t approach it as some sort of new program for growing the church and we stay focused on growing relationships.

    • Exactly! Let it happen, and IF someone tries to package it, market it & sell it, STONE’EM!
      — thanks for reading & responding! Praying for God’s best in & through your life!

  7. Ah… maybe it was our time in Detroit where our hearts were reformed… I feel as though I am reading some of my own thoughts and words! Now that’s Family-Style discipleship!

    When we planted New Life Church in a coffee shop, we felt strongly to not have any Sunday School or Children’s Church ministries taking place during our Sunday meetings. The Lord really put this on my heart (I believe largely because of planting in an over-churched, lower-Bible Belt city). I have to be careful the way I say things down here, especially being a “Yankee,” so I asked the Lord how to communicate our reason for not having said programs, and this is what He gave me:

    The Church has become a place and an event, but biblically the church is people. We are the family of God. When families come to my house for dinner, we don’t send the children to my daughter’s room, tell them not to bother us until we are done with adult time, and close the door. Instead, we allow the kids to be around us. They run, play, and act silly. Yes, we attempt to keep some order in regards to noise level and safety, but that’s about it. They eat with us, interrupt us, and enjoy the time together. In the meantime, we all will sit and talk and enjoy the family time; which often includes the Holy Spirit working through encouraging words, prophesy, and prayer. Why, then, do we act so differently when we gather together as the Church? The reality is, the way we are in our home should be the way we are as the Church!

    The Lord has given my children to me, and my responsibility is to raise them up knowing Him. When I stand before the Lord and give an account for my life, and when He asks, “So, how about your children…?” I can’t say, “I don’t know, ask the Children’s Pastor, I paid him to take care of that.” The spiritual aspect of our children is the most crucial part, yet culturally we tend to more involved in every other area of their lives!

    I want my daughter to know the voice of the Lord, how to pray, worship, and grow relationally within the Family of God. As a result, she is included in every aspect of “church life.”

    In other words, we do things Family-Style!

    Chilly, I think the next step from this is taking Family-Style to the next level. This is something that the Lord has been doing in us recently. We have been joining with other churches and ministries in town, and have been not only eating dinner together, praying with each other, but also worshiping together and even sharing pulpits. (With much prayer and caution to start, of course. Partnering with like-minded brothers is important.) Family-Style City-Wide!

    Great stuff!

    • very provocative thoughts, Steve. I’m praying that your generation will INSIST on doing church Acts-style and make missional more than a cool ‘word’ in the church leader vernacular.

      let the ADVENTURE take flight!

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