Spiritual parents

Family meal

If the primary metaphor for church in the New Testament is family, then the primary model for leadership of an individual house church is spiritual mothers and fathers. Healthy families need healthy parents. Parents care what happens to their kids. They are always looking out for their good. They love it when their kids succeed. Their greatest longing is that their kids do better than they have done. With good  parents, there's no envy, no one-upmanship.

A good parent will not do something for their kids that they could do for themselves. They assist their kids towards maturity in every area of life. Their goal is that their kids don't remain dependent on them any longer than necessary, but that a healthy interdependence results. In a healthy family, the kids will leave home and start their own families.

A good parent doesn't dominate their kids lives. When they sit down for their family evening meal, Dad doesn't pontificate for an hour on what he's been doing at the office. Everyone shares, and everyone takes an interest in what's been going on each person's life. The parents don't talk about things that are above their kids heads, or if they do, they explain to them in ways the kids understand so that they can take part in the conversation too.

Our own kids are now our best friends. We love getting together, and with those in town, do so frequently. What a privilege!

Within simple/organic church, spiritual parenting is the natural form of leadership. These more mature believers help those in the group to listen to Jesus and respond to what he says. They encourage and equip each person to follow the vision that God has given each one. They facilitate rather than take a dominant role and train others to do the same. They are an example to those in their spiritual family. They strengthen the weak, encourage those who are discouraged, care for those with needs.

What is your experience of good leadership within a simple/organic church context?


9 replies on “Spiritual parents”

oh. I so like that more 🙂
I was reading in one of Paul’s letters this week how he prayed CONTINUALLY for his people. I was greatly challenged by that. He says similar things in a few places….
I don’t think I’ve been the greatest parent, but I try. But it has to be the best model.

I was challenged about the people I have led to the Lord and/or discipled…did I pray continually for them? No.
Did they want it/need it…YES
Boy, what kind of Christian would I have been if that had been my experience as well?
Lord, make us parents in the you.

Being a parent makes it easier to understand the concept of “spiritual parenting”. However, there are some differences between the two. One difference is that “spiritual children” are often grown adults. This dramatically changes the overall dynamic. Question: Is a “good” spiritual parent something that occurs naturally or is it something that comes through intentional training and practical experience?

I have a friend in a small home church that has recently been rocked by this idea of spiritual parenting. The oldest couple of the church have declared they are the spiritual parents and feel they are responsible to God for those who meet in their home and thus have been trying to control their “spiritual children”, demanding certain behaviors and attendance. I love the idea of spiritual advisors but I don’t like the idea that any human thinks they can have authority to call the shots of another persons life. I don’t see this supported in Scripture.

Interesting. doesn’t the reaction to the word/concept ‘parent’ reveal ones own experience? Mine I think was relatively healthy! The concept of ‘parent’ reminds me of my own father’s unconditional love! And his wisdom.
Its a good point made above that the ‘children’ are grown ups on the whole. but again, my experience is that one of God’s ‘leaders’ or ‘parents’ as I prefer, is someone who doesn’t control, manipulate but has the burning desire to help the young in God learn how to hear, obey and follow THE leader, Jesus. their hearts are full of love, shared from the Holy Spirit, and they go the extra mile, laying down their own rights and needs. Absolutely nothing is more important than helping the young one grow, follow Jesus and learn how to stand in Him in this world. And silly titles are irrelevant
I have a little experience in this.
i’ve been challenged by the scriptures in Romans, Thess, Galatians where Paul describes his continual praying for those he has reached/built up. I have been greatly challenged by that as I have a lot of children out there that I haven’t had such a heart as Paul for….not children I claim as my own, just children I’ve had the privilege to help as part of their journeys but who I can’t help but feel love for.
Another leader, 20 odd years ago said,whatever our ‘ministry’ it was charlatan UNLESS it was motivated by the heart of the Shepherd. That has stayed with me.

I totally agree with you. There’s no evidence in Scripture of people controlling other’s lives in the sort of situation you describe. To me that’s often a sign of insecurity in the would-be leader.

Rob, I agree with you. I think training and experience are important. Maybe that’s what the 5-fold ministry gift of “pastor” is supposed to do in equipping the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4)–train the leaders of individual house churches how to be spiritual parents.

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