Being a parent, youth pastor, coach, and mentor has brought a perspective to family structures that I did not have in my youth: that all families are dysfunctional (the extent is the only thing that varies) and that every parent screws up their children (again, the extent varies).
But as I spoke with a group of twentysomethings a few weeks ago they pointed out some things that I thought spoke mountains into the life of faith communities in churches and into their perception of families.
The question was posed: if you could transfer one blood family attribute into the church (which is supposed to operate like a family) what would it be?
They answered twofold:
One: That they could share their thoughts, feelings, fears, successes, struggles, and doubts without worry of gossip, rumor, emotional abuse and wounding. I don't think was this to say that all of their families were free of such things but rather that they saw this as a vital function and feature of "healthy" families.
Two: That disagreement could occur with respect. That "legalists", "liberals", "conservatives", and everything in between could come to the table and realize that opinions are simply opinions and everyone has them but that, at the end of the day, we love each other. For instance, if you have a brother that is acting like a jackass you still want/need to communicate with him because he is your brother. However, churches often treat relationships with other believers as expendable- that if we disagree or the conversation becomes too uncomfortable or you are too mean then I can just walk away. Not only is this not biblical it is hypocritical since we refer to each other as "brothers" and "sisters".
Just some thoughts. I'd love to hear if anyone thinks another rule or two could transfer over.