The church (ekklesia) is a family and is to be led as a family. When the apostle Paul was looking for men to lead the church, he looked for men who were good husbands and dads. Paul understood the family essence of the church and that the same principles that build a healthy family are the same values that will multiply the kingdom of God. He writes: “He (the overseer) must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church (ekklesia)?)“ (1 Timothy 3:3-6)
Multiplication in a family is a natural and anticipated result. Good parents create an environment that is not only safe for the child but also one that moves the child onto maturity. Parents understand that the maturing process takes time but it is balanced with the expectation that someday this child is to leave their home to raise his own family. There is something unnatural about a 27 year old still living at home.
Jesus used the example of yeast and a seed to illustrate the multiplication nature of the kingdom of God. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:23-25). The multiplication principle of “death brings life” was taught and demonstrated by both Jesus and Paul through the love sacrifice of their own lives for others. Paul writes to the disciples in Thessalonica: “…but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (1 Thess 2:7-9).
The marked difference between how parents approach their children and an organization their members is sacrificial love. Just as a child learns love through the daily sacrifices his parents make for him, so the love of God is taught by the believers laying down their lives for other believers. We demonstrate to the world the love of God when we, as the family of God, lay down our lives for one another. The disciple John wrote: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us“ (1 John 4:9-12). This is why the church is to function as a family and not an organization.