If you want to be truly successful it won’t be because of your income or bank balance. Neither will it be because of your social media popularity. Success is measured by who we are — which determines how we relate to others, especially those closest to us. This is why we are so surprised when we learn that many rich and famous celebrities are so desperately lonely and depressed and unable to succeed in love. I have met many high flyers who are publicly admired yet, secretly, feel they are failures because their marriages and parental relationships are dysfunctional. This is why I’ve come to see “success” as being measured by a person’s ability to know how to be a good person who engages with people appropriately.
Something very unique in human history happened part-way through the twentieth century and it has had a devastating impact on local churches all around the world! The concept of ‘family’ went nuclear. A ‘nuclear’ family (dad, mum, and the kids, living in a house with a white picket fence) somehow became regarded as the family. What made this concept of the family so out-of-step with how nearly all cultures for time-immemorial have viewed what a ‘family’ was, is that this twentieth-century Western concept of family completely dismissed the role that grand-parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even great-grandparents have played in the understanding of family.
Our theme for this year is Welcome home and there’s good reason for it. I pray regularly that God will bring into our church the hurting, the lost, the lonely, and the broken. Of all the things that these people will need it is most especially: love, care, support, understanding, acceptance, friendship, and rules. These are the things that a good home provides and they are also what our church can deliver. But it will mean that we will have to be very clear about the rules for achieving this because hurting, lost, lonely, and broken people are all too often hardened, bitter, self-pitying, and very negative people.