Common vernacular at church gatherings is to refer to the collective whole as the “church family”.
That is a big claim. Family is close, it carries baggage, it is incredibly complex. To call a group “family” is to either enhance or dilute the term.
It is true that according to Scripture, the church is to operate congruently with family because the gospel is often described in familial metaphors, alluding to the reality of the type of relationship that is and can be enjoyed with eachother as we participate in the Trinity through union with Jesus.
So, why has the term remained in the periphery?
Because there is an enormous difference between operating merely out of subscription and operating out of conviction, when it comes to the family of God.
Subscribing to the profound reality behind Scripture’s familial language, ensures lip service on the periphery. It remains on the periphery because subscription doesn’t drive action. A church may call itself family without actually moving toward an actual family dynamic. This is subscription, and God hates it.
Subscription can lead to conviction, however. And when it does, that is when change occurs.
The family of God is largely an ethos. That is, the church dispositionally operates at the family level. It is not primarily a doctrine to subscribe to (though, it is that).
I believe that “church family” language should be used often and in a primary way. In order to capture the essential reality behind such language, church’s must speak often and boldly to cultivate the family ethos. Anything less would be to dilute or deny the reality. May the church live and move in the missional family of God.