On the way to church, I pass another church, one that has recently decided to change their name. Draped over the old name by the street is a black banner that says “Family First Church.”
I find the new name extremely unwise. First, on its face, it’s idolatrous! The church is not to lift up family first, but Christ first. And to be honest, most people put family before God. Why feed that common (though understandable) idolatry?
Second, it sends the wrong message to singles. Committed Christian singles like myself have come across churches that treat singles with benign neglect or, worse, as second class members. There are many churches where opportunities for ministry are limited if you are single. And I have experienced my singleness even being held against me by a past church staff member. I’ve been told in so many words by such that I’m single because something is wrong with me.
I don’t want this to become a litany of church wrongs against singles. But having experienced or at least seen these wrongs, alarm bells go off for many of us when a church puts “family” in its name. Guess what was one criteria that ruled out a church when I was looking for a new one recently? That’s right. If “family” was in the name, forget it. (Now “Holy Family” if referring to the family of Jesus is fine with me, of course.)
Yes, family is great and invented by God. And one of the things I love about my new church is it’s like a family. But singles, including this single, are treated as full members of that family. Too many churches can’t say that.
There has been so much churchly exalting of families over singles and resulting hard feelings from many singles that I consider putting “family” in a church name unwise at least. And a church named “Family First”? Oh, dear. . . .