One-on-One with Lee Eclov on ‘How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything’

“When Christians look for a church, they are looking for a home.”

Ed: You experienced a significant paradigm shift when you began to see your church as family. What were the implications for you personally and pastorally?

Lee: I had always intuitively thought of the church as family and viewed my role more as a parent than as a leader, even though I don’t remember hearing that emphasis from others.

It seems like the books geared toward pastors at the front of sales displays are about leadership, management by objectives, mission statements, alignment, and the like. They always fit me as poorly as Saul’s armor fit David! I truly tried to follow these models but found that I couldn’t pastor that way very well. I always felt like I was failing even though our elders consistently felt that God was pleased with the health of our congregation.

When I realized the biblical philosophy of ministry was centered on our church’s environment rather than her enterprise, and that this environment is family—a home—it was a huge relief.

Personally, I felt like the organizational monkey was off my back. Pastorally, I was energized by recalibrating our efforts to this approach. I was like a new parent. It seemed so natural. Our elders embraced the idea immediately with a kind of “Of course!”response. We reworked the language of our core values to reflect this perspective. We didn’t really change our values, just the way we expressed them.

Ed: What are the dangers of viewing the church primarily as an organization?

Lee: It’s tricky because the church is an organization, of course, but it shouldn’t be seen primarily as an organization any more than a family should.

We must have structures, calendars, leaders, and the like, but when we view the church …

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