What Only Family Can See

i-zsrqnllx0-i-m-priscillaI spent this past weekend (and then some) with my extended family. Some of them have known me since I was born. Some are recent acquisitions that have come through marriage or birth.  Most of it was enjoyable and full of laughter and celebration.

But a curious thing happened when I was at my extended family’s Christmas. I was part of several conversations where people who had known me forever made small, (to them) insignificant comments about their perception of me. None of them were bad, they were mostly complimentary, but they were surprising.

They were surprising because they identified things about me that I didn’t and at times still don’t see in myself. But as I grow, I’m finally able to trust that people see me better than I see myself, especially my family who has shown love to me more times than I deserve.

And this got me thinking about the benefit of family. Family knows you: They know your weaknesses, your awkward times, and your mistakes. Having seen you at your worst and your best, they are able to know the true you, not the you everyone else identifies you with. Many times they know you better than your perception of yourself.

But family also loves you: They’ve come to commit themselves to you beyond all of the negative things. They’ve seen your value and stuck around, not abandoning you because of your weakness. It’s what makes them still your family.

Family fulfills a dual role of knowing and loving, something that is hard to do in our world.

This is why it’s so incredibly crucial for the church to be a family. We were designed to need people who could see us as we truly are–who both know us and love us. Being known and loved keeps us from deception. They keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves and too lowly of ourselves. Spiritual families who both know and love the people in their midst can speak to a person’s potential, knowing full well where they are weak and where they excel.

And this is why your church, no matter how it meets or functions, needs to act like a family, not a meeting place, a club, a branch of the military, or a corporate business. Because only families can produce the kind of transforming love that our society is desperately craving and simultaneously rebelling against. And only the church as a family can weather the hardship of this hour to speak to us and transform us more fully into sons and daughters of God.

The world needs the church to be a family again. Because family can see what only family can see.



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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

5 responses to “What Only Family Can See”

  1. greg says :

    hey Travis. Blessings to you.
    Good timing on this post. I spent this
    last week alone, working in our paint shop, while my wife/4 kids spent xmas with my wifes family 500 km away. While we dont celebrate xmas, we do “celebrate” family
    daily, as best we understand, as the earthly depiction, and member of the heavenly one.
    The way my wife & I structure our family life has been intentionally to inculcate into our kids an everday working knowledge of how we experience & perceive heaven to be operating. Doing Fathers will, on earth, as it is in heaven. How we structure our personal time, gatherings, work, leisure and everything we can think of, is the architecture that the kids learn to frame their world/heaven view.
    Ideally, there should be no difference in their understanding and life choices, between their world or heaven view. The inability of our brethren to understand, desire and actually function as family begins in christian homes, and is reinforced by our many cultural, religous and familial institutions, that present architectural axioms of decentralized, fragmented and individualistic life. The brethren cant envision heavenly family on earth because we dont teach and train our next generations to live earthly family lives according to heavens, and the bibles pattern. We mentally agree with the concept of family, in a variety of itterations, but daily live differently to a large degree. Weve tried for several decades to answer christians puzzled queries about our intentional, and sometimes divisive daily lifestyle. All with little success. Meanwhile, their families fragment or divide, their church members wring their hands helplessly and church leaders lecture and/or counsel, with varying degrees of recovery rates.
    We think somebody, and preferably a whole bunch of somebodys would just stand up in the churches and chanel John the Baptist message. His message was one of calling idolotry and worldliness sin, and pointing to Jesus soon coming. Its not pretty when we do it. We have been “beheaded” as it were, several times, ostracized and betrayed, by the brethren. The more grace and graciousness we extend, while speaking the truth in love, the more anti love we draw. So, our thoughts are that we should stubbornly crack open this non conversation we arent having as Family, about how we arent really a very functional family, in both ways.
    My family return tomorrow, and while weve missed each other, absence makes the heart grow fonder of being with each other as much as possible.
    That hunger is missing among Fathers family, to a degree that leaves our kids looking outside the biological & spiritual family for love, acceptance & identity.
    This is a crisis, and a tragedy, and our corporate lack of deep emotion, and healthy rage is the measure of how bad things are. Your plea is refreshing, and my heart warmed as I felt your heart call to change. Again, blessing bro.

    • traviskolder says :


      I love this. I’m humbled that, given your history of trying to live this out, you were encouraged by my post. It’s crazy how easy it is to get away from the church as a family, but it happens all the time.

      I hear (and love) your heart to see church return to this pattern. Pray with me, would you, that God would do this more and more? I believe the Bible talks about a day when God will restore the hearts of fathers to children and children to fathers before the coming of the Lord (John the Baptist again!) and I long for that to happen in the church, now.

      Thanks for your greeting. It meant a lot.

      • Greg says :

        Im praying brother. And working strategically for a long time now, to build and restore sometimes our family in heavens image, and help other families to do same. Especially fathers.
        I dont think its any mystery to seeking hearts precisely why the church is floundering. Its because the family is floundering. The church and the nations families are comprised of the same people, and fathers are the leaders in both, or not.
        Satans highly successful strategy has been, using the industrial revolution and its new world order, to remove fathers from being the chief mentors and guides for the nations children. And in doing so, he simultaneously dealt a death blow to the church, because men, and specifically fathers, and ideally older fathers, are named in history and scripture as the earthly corollary to Father in heaven.
        Everybody knows that women, and mostly moms run the homes, and lately business and elected offices to a fast growing degree. Nothing wrong with any of that of course, unless they are doing double duty replacing men.
        And of course they are, and doing an amazing job too.
        But men, and boys, are losing our birthright more and more each succeeding generation.
        Some shocking statistics are here if u want to copy and paste the URL.


        I think the way the Lord is going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, so that the childrens hearts will once again turn to us, and by extension our Heavenly Father, is for boys and men across all strata of western culture to hear loud and clear that God will hold us accountable for our failure to be leaders everywhere He wants us to.
        Almost 45% of the nations kids live in homes without fathers or thier own fathers.
        80 % of prison populations in the US were fatherless, and the US has more than half of the entire worlds prison population.

        I think fatherlessness is pretty high among church folks because the divorce and separation rate among christians is almost as high as the national average.
        I know that at a conference for pastors and other leaders, a show of hands was asked to see how many men struggled daily with serious porn attractions or addictions, Apparently more than half the hands were raised.
        Most of those men are fathers, and they are the best fathers in the country, arent they?
        So yes, pray but also teach and train and exhort and correct.
        And and a healthy dose of panic might help too.
        Our current sad state reminds me of Isaiah 3, where God pronounced judgement against Judah and Jerusalem, and the judgement was that His people would be ruled by women and tyrant children would be their oppressors.
        That’s us.
        This dangerous situation has wide and costly repercussions, which history bears out.
        When men are no longer the guardians of culture, and by that I mean the teaching and training of children, in the words and ways of God, then not long after, traitors sell us out and enemies invade the land. There is no army to resist them. There is no alarmed and panicking populace, because the watchmen on the walls are playing on their computers, or watching TV etc or otherwise occupied in adolescent activities.
        The spiritual realm on earth is controlled and populated by the leaders who control the culture, and the children.
        Schools are the enemies best weapon since the fall in the garden,
        They inculcate myopic and self centred worldviews and life choices into all kids, and most christians send their kids there. So….
        Thats the place to start if we truly want to see the family restored, and the church not driven into slavery in spiritual Egypt.
        There’s not much time left for us before that becomes a reality.

  2. melissadugan says :

    The body of Christ is a family we just don’t know it yet! Your blog feeds me, Travis

    • traviskolder says :


      I agree! We just have to get better at walking out the identity that we already have. Glad this blog is helpful. Thanks again for being such a strong supporter. It helps me keep going.

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