Influence in Our Church Family

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Influences can be good or bad, and we need to make a concerted effort to surround ourselves with good influences while also being a godly influence for others. At work, at school, among our families — our conduct informs the type of impact we’ll have on those around us. This is no different when we’re with our spiritual family.

Whether we intend to or not, we influence and are influenced by people whenever we’re around others. We are always being an example and seeing examples, and negativity can be very contagious. A negative influence spreads quickly, and we can find ourselves succumbing to negativity all too easily. When this happens in our church family, things can begin to fall apart.

Godly Influences in the Early Church

Barnabas in Acts 9 is a great example of a positive influence in the early church. They even call him by the name of Barnabas as a direct result of how encouraging he is. When Paul converts to Christ, Barnabas is one of the first Christians to accept Paul, take the new convert under his wing, and try to help others accept him. He helped make sure Paul had a place in Christ’s family at a very delicate time in Paul’s relationship with the church.

Paul then becomes a large positive influence on the church. He helps set up numerous congregations and works to make sure they are well-founded. Paul took time to mentor a young man named Timothy who would later become another strong force of good in Christ’s church. Both Paul and Barnabas were able to be such great influences because the time they took to build relationships and forge bonds between themselves and others.

Relationships and Influence in the Church

The right words and attitudes can make a bad situation better, but the opposite is also true. The church’s worst enemy is not what’s outside our walls. Rather it can be the lack of love and positive attitudes inside. It’s a lack of relationship-building and care for others. We can’t encourage each other without love and good relationships. We also can’t correct error without having a positive loving relationship first. Our love for each other and our love for God has to be evident for growth to occur.

We should be loving God with all of our heart, mind, and soul. When we have that relationship, then we will be putting other positive relationships in place. This is especially true among our brothers and sisters in Christ. This also means our brothers and sisters see the same conduct outside the assembly that they see at worship and in Bible classes. Our words and actions must agree.

Godly Influences Outside of Worship

Our church family and God’s work should be important in our everyday life. Hebrews 6 tells us God rewards those who diligently seek Him, and this is a faith that comes into every part of our lives. We spend time seeking after God; we dedicate time to build up fellow Christians; we make our faith center to every aspect of our lives.

Paul and Barnabas gave up time to dedicate themselves to encourage other Christians. We can get ourselves so busy with work, with extracurriculars, with school, and with hobbies that we may squeeze out any time we should have to encourage our fellow Christians. What kind of influence can we be if we are not allowing time to study, to pray, or to encourage. Ephesians 4:2 tells us to work with each other in love and gentleness. This takes time. It’s a commitment.

What Does This Look Like?

  • Bring a good attitude to worship.
  • Put God and church first on your schedule.
  • Prioritize church gatherings and activities.
  • Show support to those taking responsibilities.
  • Avoid criticism and complaints.
  • Take time to help those in need of support and encouragement.

We have been so blessed by God, and we should be focusing on those blessings every day. We should be bringing love and a positive attitude to our church family, and we should express enthusiasm and excitement for the work of our congregation. We should be living graciously and gratefully toward each other, doing all that we do for the Lord. There’s more than enough negative influence in this world. Let’s help build each other up to be the closest and most encouraging church family we can be.

lesson by Mark Ritter

Family Influence

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We’ve discussed influence as having the ability affect or be affected by someone else. It’s the ability to alter someone else’s opinions, behaviors, and attitudes. We know that God should be our ultimate influence, but we also know we’re influenced by our friends, by our coworkers and managers, people in the media and other public figures, and we can be influenced by our families.

If we tally up all of our immediate and immediately extended family, many of us (though not all) will come with a larger number than we might expect. Spouses, parents, in-laws, children, siblings, nieces and nephews — we share love and influence with all of these people. Some may lead us to good decisions, and some might not. Some may set good examples, but others may not. What about me, however? What kind of influence do I have on my family?

Negative Family Influences in God’s Word

We can find plenty of examples of family dynamics in the Bible — both positive and negative. With Adam and Eve, we see Eve persuading Adam to eat the fruit forbidden to them. She allowed a bad influence to sway her, and she then influenced another to make the same bad choice. Likewise, Samson let the women in his life lead him astray, culminating in sharing a weakness with Delilah, which she then shared with his enemies.

In Isaac’s family, we see Jacob being treated as a favorite son, and Jacob uses that to his advantage at the counsel of his mother. Rebekah helps Jacob deceive his father and brother. Our example, our advice, and our guidance will determine what kind of influence we have. Ephesians 6:1–2 tells us to obey our parents in the Lord, and our children seek and desire our approval. We have to respect that influence, so we aren’t like those families in the Bible that misused their family influences.

Positive Family Influences in God’s Word

In contrast, look to Noah’s family. How crazy it must have seemed that Noah undertook the task that he did, but Noah had a positive influence on his family, and that influence saved their lives. Furthermore, we see Timothy in II Timothy 1:2–5 being raised by a mother and grandmother who were tremendously positive role models and teachers. We see no evidence that Timothy’s father had any interest in Timothy’s spiritual growth, but his mother and grandmother were. They affected a spirituality in Timothy that would serve as a great foundation for his lifelong service to God.

Our families can learn so much from us, and, in some cases, we might be the best chance some of our family members have at seeing Christ’s love in action. We can be a positive influence like Noah and like Lois and Eunice. We can share wisdom, morality, faith, and more. The truth is, we will sometimes slip and have a bad influence, but we should be striving for the good so they can see Christ in us more than the world.

Building a Christ-Centered Family

We might recognize a bad temper or impatience in ourselves. Perhaps we are unkind at times. We can replace these with patience, with encouragement, and with generosity. We can strive to be gentler, kinder, and more loving. This begins with the relationship we have with God, and it extends to the relationship we have with our families. We have to build relationships so we can be the good influence God wants us to be.

If we can let Christ be the center of our families and we are building the relationships with our family that we should, we have a foundation upon which we can build a strong Christian family. Let’s use the time we have to build our families up, to guide and correct where needed, and to encourage a Christ-centered life.

lesson by Aaron Kadel