We’re celebrating T-B Day today, although the real date is August 21. T-B Day is the anniversary of the day the adoption for my three youngest children – Katrina, Shannon, and James (AKA Britt) – became final. It’s a special day in our lives and we always try to have a grand time. We’re thinking picnic on the Missouri River for the celebration.
Adoption is one of those important concepts in the church too. Sure, there’s the whole theologic part that says when we become disciples of Jesus then we’re adopted as Children of God (see John 1 if you somehow were wrongly taught that “everyone is a child of God”). Adoption is equally important when it comes to how guests in our churches become part of the tribe. For instance, after a small group has been meeting for over 6 weeks, and in as few as 4, it becomes a “closed” group. That means those members of the group, no matter how well intentioned, have created enough history together in terms of stories shared and events witnessed that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a guest to “break in” to the circle. Unless … the group as a whole decides to adopt the guest. Then, with adamant intentionality, they recreate themselves as a new group. This re-creation can be facilitated by each member sharing their personal life story within a spiritual framework (such as, their faith story that culminates in how they came to be a disciple of Jesus, etc.).
In a family sized church, i.e., churches typically between 0-50ish, the only way a guest becomes a family member is for an intentional church-wide attempt to adopt them. If only a handful of people engage in the adoption, the guest is unlikely to become part of the family and will drift away from the church. This, by the way, is why so FEW family sized churches ever jump past their size-ceiling. It’s work to adopt someone … whether it’s three young children or a family of guests.
So, if you want to grow your “family,” I heartily recommend adoption. Whether it’s my three youngest awesome kids (okay, the youngest is 22 now), or a guest in your small group, or a new family is your church … adoption is the answer to many of life’s and church’s little questions.