January 29, 2022

Facing Dysfunction


Every biological family is somewhat dysfunctional. Some common signs of dysfunction are ongoing conflict, addiction, perfectionism, abuse, neglect, unpredictability, fear, conditional love, lack of boundaries, lack of intimacy, and poor communication. It becomes problematic when a family is so marked by these things that family members begin to believe that their situation is normal. Dysfunction must be acknowledged and addressed if the family is to work toward healthier relationships.

When we live church family, we can expect wonderful moments of awe and joy, of deep friendship and sharing. We can also expect some dysfunction. The dysfunction may be revealed by some internal stress caused by leadership rivalry, socioeconomic divisions, immorality, and hypocrisy. The dysfunction may also be revealed by external stress due to cultural or political shifts in society.

It is important to acknowledge that we often carry the relational patterns learned at home, good and bad, into our spiritual family. As a result, every spiritual family is a bit dysfunctional. The important question is this: How does God want us to face the pain of dysfunction in our spiritual family?

Questions for Reflection:

  • If your experience of spiritual family dysfunction has left you disillusioned or sidelined, how might God be inviting you to re-engage with your spiritual family?
  • How might you help those who are struggling to engage with the church family because of past experiences (with their biological family or spiritual family)?