Christ the King Association

Marriage and Family Life in Christian Community

by Tom Mangan, Senior Coordinator of the People of God Community, Pittsburgh

Christian community is a miracle. It s nothing less than that, and only the Lord is able to make it work! It is not built on vision alone, but on the efforts and sacrifices of all those who answer the call. When we began 25 years ago we were, for the most part, college students running to charismatic prayer meetings and Bible studies, enamored by the spiritual gifts and our new found life in the Spirit. Little did we realize then that many of us would marry and establish our families in Christian community. The Lord is always full of surprises. He led us from a playground of spiritual gifts and charismatic renewal to a battleground of real life issues in community and family life. We thought that all we needed to do was bring people to commitment to Christ, get them baptized in the Spirit, and then other issues like family life would simply fall into place. Our children would naturally and normally embrace our training and excel in the ways of the Lord. Well, things didn't work just quite that way, did they?

Development of Family Life in the Communities
Whatever idealism we took with us into the 1970s into building Christian community became quickly tempered by the stark reality of the world. This meant a strategy was in order. We knew if we were going to survive and thrive in our marriages and families we would need to work together and develop a support system for our lives. We knew that in society where fifty percent or more of all new marriages are projected to fail, we needed to join together with others to live out our commitment to marriage, to receive the necessary training and to offer mutual support for good family life.

In covenant community we have found stable relationships and the much needed Christian context for us and our families. Husband and wife meetings help us to remain unified and strong in our marriage relationships. Family prayer times and meetings give us the means to meet the daily challenges that confront us. In short, strong family life teaching provides the backdrop for our life together, and our family patterns like celebrating the Lord's Day, family meals, and chore days provide the context in which we act on what we've learned.

A Miracle in Our Midst
Who could ever have imagined what a difference this kind of practical support would make in our lives? A recent survey of marriages in our communities revealed a divorce rate of one to two percent. Twentieth wedding anniversaries are becoming commonplace among us.

Granted, our marriages and families are not perfect; but for the most part we see an order, direction, and peace which is rare in families today. By and large our parents are deeply committed to one another and to the welfare of their children, and regularly make great sacrifices for their families.

Our children tend to be well behaved, confident and industrious. Most of our teenagers have made a personal commitment to the Lord and are baptized in the spirit. Their participation and enthusiasm for the regional youth program continues to build. Because of the growing interest, we added a second mission trip this summer. Already we are considering expanding to three mission trips next summer. Surely the Holy Spirit is at work in our midst!

Our Marriages and Families Are a Witness
If our success were due to our own extraordinary abilities and efforts, we would have little to offer others. However, it is precisely because we are a fairly normal group of folks that we do have something to offer the Church and the world. What is different about us, and the key to our success, is that we have taken a corporate approach to marriage and family life. We have seen and can testify to the power of couples and families uniting together in a common effort in the power of the Spirit. What God has done for us, He can and will do for others.

This is truly "Good News". Just about everyone these days, whatever their political party or religious beliefs is concerned about the state of the family in North America. How marvelous it is that slowly but steadily the lord has drawn us into a corporate approach that surely points the way. We didn't set out to find good family life. Most of us were simply seeking renewed spiritual life and spiritual gifts. But the Lord had so much more in store for us. Who knows what new miracles even now are being planted by him in our midst!

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