I recently read a story about a baptism, a young girl who was the eighth generation of her family in that one church.
That’s a lot of ‘begats.’
Most people wouldn’t be able to come up with names for eight generations of their family. Eight generations back from my grandchildren would reach to my great-great-great grandparents. Having spent fifty years researching family genealogy, I can list that far back from memory which would include some direct ancestors born in the late eighteenth century and quite a few Civil War veterans. Most people have a real life and deal with live folks. I was always fascinated by dead folks.
It’s a great joy for me to be in a church with my children and grandchildren, three generations, but hearty congratulations to the family who can claim the eight generations in the same church. Guess some of that clan stays put and doesn’t move around much.
As a pastor of average sized Southern Baptist churches that were over 200, 125, and 100 years old, respectively, I saw a lot of “old” families in the churches.
I had been prepped to be wary of family-dominated churches, of people whose people had been in the church for multiple generations. It was an unwritten rule that many generations in a church was probably not healthy, that those people would reflexively side against their ‘outsider’ pastor.
Bah, humbug. Bad advice.
What’s the alternative? Tell people from the third generation on that they are not welcome in your church?
No, treat people like people. Share the Gospel with all but recognize that long family ties may impact decision making and other administrative matters.
One church I pastored had a family whose roots went back to the church’s founding in the 19th century. There were lots of cousins who attended, served, and worshipped at the church. Over time things changed and I recently learned that the last of the family had left the church. Mostly a normal progression of things.
I was somewhat saddened but churches change over time.
Pastor, if people in your church are tied to the real estate or history more than Jesus, try discipling some of them rather than disparaging them. If you look askance at the ‘cousins’ isn’t that showing partiality, negatively?
It is recognized that mature churches have different challenges than newer churches. Most of the SBC’s congregations are rural, small, and old. Some need to close. Some need to be revived. Some may need to be relaunched. Some are healthy and are doing just fine, thank you.
All need a pastor who will love the Lord and love the congregation whether or not they are mostly related to each other.
Try this exercise once you are well established in a church. At a fellowship divide the group progressively into those who have been in the church for 5 years or longer; 10 year or longer…25…50. You might be surprised at how the house divides.
Serve well and long and you will almost be adopted into the family. They will joke with you about that.