the weblog of Alan Knox

The Holy Spirit and the familification of the church

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in blog links, community, fellowship | 15 comments

Dave Black is writing a new book about the church. He has tentatively (or maybe permanently) titled it Seven Marks of a New Testament Church.

Over the last few days, he’s shared several excerpts, and they’ve been really good. But the latest except was exceptional (to me) because he also refers to another book that I highly recommend.

Here is that latest excerpt from chapter 4 of his new book (from Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:12 a.m.):

In this chapter we have seen some of the marks of genuine community that characterized the early church. What a magnificent picture of life together! Maybe theirs was an idealism that cannot be repeated today. We may talk about community, but if we continue to behave like a group of individualists, no one will believe what we say. The picture that Luke gives us of the earliest church should make us stop and think.

Joseph Hellerman, author of When the Church Was a Family, has some interesting comments to make about the vitality of the church (p. 143). “It is time,” he writes, “to inform our people that conversion to Christianity involves both our justification and our familification, that we gain a new Father when we respond to the gospel. It is time to communicate the biblical reality that personal salvation is a community-building event, and to trust God to change our lives and the lives of our churches accordingly.”

Our modern churches could learn a thing or two from the genuine love of the first Christians. Theirs is a shining example. And if we ask the secret of it, we do not have far to look: the secret lay in the presence of the Holy Spirit. His power is available to us all. And it is life-changing. Just imagine what the Spirit could do in our churches if He were allowed to have control. It could happen again.

First, I love the term “familification” that Hellerman uses in his book. It points to the fact that there is a change that happens that moves us from not being a family to being a family.

I also love that Black points out that this is a work of the Holy Spirit. If we are becoming a family, it is because we are submitting to the Holy Spirit.

And, if we are not becoming a family…


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 9-24-2013

    I LOVE his emphasis on Chirst’s body being a family. We left our church 8 months ago because i realized i didn’t know anybody, really. I After we got married 7/19/12 i asked numerous couples and individuals if we could meet socially outside church, (1500 members) and noone responded! I am an outgoing person who coveted real relationships, but not one response??? Does anyone know of o good church in the Boston area???

  2. 9-24-2013

    I too appreciate the idea that church is a family. God is our Father, the Lord Jesus is our brother and other saints are our sisters and brothers. So family is never far away. See a “Tale of the Family Journey” on my blog at

    John, you are already a member of the best church in the Boston area (the church of God in Boston!) It is composed of all them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus in Boston. (See I Corinthians 1:2) Now you need to find some of those saints meeting in someone’s home in your neighbourhood, OR open your own home and begin inviting other saints into yours!

    Bruce Woodford

  3. 9-25-2013

    Dear John, as a brother in Christ I would echo what Bruce has said, I would ask you to pray and ask God, that question, and if the answer you feel in faith do it, there will be others who will seek God in prayer, After all we are family!! yours in Christ Richard

  4. 9-25-2013

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    I have talked with many people who desire family relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ but who cannot find that kind of fellowship for different reasons. I wish I could provide a formula that would lead to finding or building these relationships, but I can’t. My encouragement is to trust God and to let him bring you and others together as and when he desires. Just keep your eyes open, because the people may be the ones you least expect.


  5. 9-25-2013

    18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.
    19 Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord,
    20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
    Amplified Eph. 5:19, 20

    How amazing that the first mark of being “filled” with the Spirit is “speaking to one another” – a very family reality, particularly with singing as the dynamic.

    I hope Dr. Black includes a section on the inclusion of children in the personal expression of God’s word. Every week the children are ready and their expression is powerful.

  6. 9-25-2013

    The men in our fellowship have been reading through Voddie Baucham’s 2 books “Family Driven Faith” and “Family Shepherds”. These are teaching towards what is called family integrated church. They have a severe flaw. They say nothing about the inclusion of the whole family in personal expression of faith in the gathering of the saints. He still leaves the expression to be dominated by an expert or possibly elders. He teaches men to be shepherds at home but sees no value that they be preachers/ communicators in the gathering. If men are leading their families in the Word at home, they are qualified to share that same message in the gathering. The same goes for the children.

  7. 9-25-2013

    Familification– cool word. Understandable concept. Will this concept become another buzz word like ‘mission minded’? The ‘problem’ with the family concept is that it’s pretty hard to ‘do’ in a church of 1500 or 5000. It almost ‘requires’ smaller, local bodies. I actually applaud that reality!

    I think however, that the real issue was the secondary one (tragically)! Churches and Christ followers must be submitted to the Holy Spirit! At that point, it doesn’t really matter what the buzz word of the day is or which leadership model is used or which church government is applied. Godly men and women, submitted to and obedient to the Holy Spirit, WILL be both transformed and transformational. God, in His unique ability to be creative and multi-faceted will use any and all forms and emphasis the world over.

    My one prayer is that I, my family and my fellow Christ-followers will not only hear His voice… but that they (we) will OBEY that which we hear. The rest will follow.

  8. 9-26-2013

    Bruce, Richard and Alan, thank you very much! Yes, trusting in the Lord with all my heart and not leaning on my own “understanding” in this matter is perfect advice. Then He gets all the credit when the proper doors are opened. Lord bless all! This saturday is the annual “Boston Night of Worship” in city hall plaza so we can at least rejoice and worship God together as His family in Boston! Not a bad start……

  9. 9-29-2013


    I have only read FDF a few years back and agree with your findings. I was not interested in the other book as a result. I’m afraid that as a young father he may have been convicted of some things, realizing his then current vocation and way of meeting was incompatible with that (the original, “centrality of the home” speech circa 2006). However, after some of those convictions were voiced I saw he was quickly co-opted into the group “casting a vision (forum) for homeschoolers” and put on a different pedestal. They plainly declare that there must be more than one mediator between God and man, or else you are a “rebel”. I found it ironic that his young daughter authored a book advising others (as is the pattern of the vision (forum) casters) which contained criticism for fathers who were not leading, when her own father and their “business” expressly prevents it.

    These high profile groups are appealing to many families, but beware some of the teaching.

  10. 9-29-2013

    The fact is, of course, that only those who truly have a living relationship with Jesus Christ,can ever know the experience of being family.

    Someone who is merely a devotee of a system of religion which calls itself church, will search in vane.

    The word “familification” implies “becoming” family is something we can do. We ARE family by being born into a family, both humanly and spiritually speaking.

  11. 9-29-2013

    Do keep in mind that the early Christians, as family, had family problems, as we see in Paul’s letters. Sometimes in church relationships we think that all should be happy and light and getting along with others in an intimate way. Living a long time has taught me that families all have problems and church families even more, it seems. Dealing with our problems prayerfully, thoughtfully and with time often gives the answers. If not, sometimes God has some other “family” for you and opens the doors for that, with all the pain that may involve. Even in the pain, God promises to be with us.

  12. 10-4-2013

    I have appreciate the comments on this post, and I’ve been thinking about them for several days now. When we are accepted as God’s children, we immediately become family with one another. We do not have a choice in this; we cannot choose this person as our brother but that person is not our sister. Like other abstract nouns in Scripture, such as “justification” and “sanctification”, “familification” does not point to the process of becoming a family, but the process of learning to live as the family that we already are. Primarily, like with physical birth/adoptive families, “familification” means that we learn to love and accept and help each other in spite of our problems and relational friction.


  13. 10-4-2013

    Hi Alan,

    I agree wholeheartedly with you that being family as sons of God is an established fact for all who are saved. In our physical families we often face difficulties in relating to siblings, parents, cousins, aunts or uncles. Many families are dysfunctional and relationships are strained or broken between family members.

    In the same way, relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ can also be strained, broken or alienated by wrong attitudes toward one another, wrong teachings which we embrace, religious control by religious systems etc. But I wonder if God has given us the many “one another commands” of the New Covenant scriptures to guide us in the lifelong assignment He has given us to “endeavour to keep (guard) the unity of the faith in the bond of peace.” (Eph.4:3)

    Personally, I believe that false doctrines (unknowingly embraced by us as sound doctrines) are the primary means which Satan uses to divide us.
    We have all concluded that doctrines which are “different” from our own are “false doctrines”! But few (if any) of us have been taught how to Biblically distinguish between sound doctrines and false doctrines which we, ourselves have embraced! I have been “Googling” “marks fo false doctrines” and related searches and have found no web sites dealing with how to clearly distinguish between all sound doctrines and all false ones!

    Because unity in the Body of Christ has long been a burden on my heart, I have recently commenced a blog called “False Teachings Sabotage Church Unity” at I would invite you to visit the blog and add your own comments.

  14. 10-4-2013


    ” the process of learning to live as the family that we already are.” SPOT ON!!

  15. 10-5-2013

    I would also say, that as a family, we are growing into the likeness of Jesus, maturing, that such, as me can be identified with Him is astounding,we all have to allow the Holy Spirit, “to allow” this process,of making this stone smooth. As family we are are united in one purpose, joyful to be in the presence of God building up one another serving,each other submitting, in joy when the world can see this,people are saved not by human effort or program, but with God.
    yours in Christ Richard