Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When the Church Was a Family by Joseph H Hellerman

Amazon Link for When the Church Was a Family

When the Church Was a Family
Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community
By Joseph H Hellerman

Product Description
Spiritual formation occurs primarily in the context of community. But as the modern cultural norm of what social scientists call “radical American individualism” extends itself, many Christians grow lax in their relational accountability to the church. Faith threatens to become an “I” not “us,” a “my God” not “our God” concern.

When the Church Was a Family calls believers back to the wisdom of the first century, examining the early Christian church from a sociohistorical perspective and applying the findings to the evangelical church in America today. With confidence, author Joseph Hellerman writes intentionally to traditional church leaders and emerging church visionaries alike, believing what is detailed here about Jesus’ original vision for authentic Christian community will deeply satisfy the relational longings of both audiences.

My Review
When the Church Was a Family depicts the author’s vision of what a church family should be based on life in the first century church. The author documents through Bible stories and scripture verses the hierarchy of family relationships and loyalty. Through this family relationship, the church family is adopted in.

The book is interesting, thoughtful, and well written. The author believes that the Bible shows that Christians should be accountable to the church family not only for his/her behavior, but also for vocation, spouse, and residence. The author believes that a Christian’s loyalty is to the church family over the spouse and children, based on the blood-based orientation to kinship. This Mediterranean-style family would require the male to be loyal to his brothers over his spouse and children (the church family being the adopted brothers and sisters).

Pastors, church leaders, and those wanting to learn more about the first-century church will enjoy this book.

My opinion is that this system in today’s society would be fraught with abuse and people who crave control. Jim Jones and David Koresh had congregations based on this system.


  1. Hi Linda! Just stopping by to let you know I have an award for you at One eyed stuffed bunny and ....

    By the way, I like the redesign of your blog. I have to do mine someday.

  2. Hi, I found your site while looking for Joseph Hellerman's book. I just bought it because I want to read the entire thing before I review it. There is a chapter posted online and I read it and was troubled by a few things so thought I should read the whole thing before I commented fully.

    Some things that came to my mind as I read it were the following:

    When Jesus said to His disciples, "Come and follow me", they did not check with their parents or their community first. They did not submit Jesus request to their community to see what they would say.

    When Peter asked about John, Jesus said, "What is that to you, you follow me".

    Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice and another they will not follow".

    I do believe God first, wife (if you have one) second, children third and church next. And I believe the church is a family. Just as you teach your children that they do not come between you and your wife, the church does not come between you and your relationship with God. Being in right relationship with God, wife and kids will create a healthy church. And a healthy church can help and assist the unhealthy families.

    I hope you don't dismiss me as a person from the "Religious System" with my comments. I have been in house churches for most of my walk with the Lord and have seen men walk in liberty and seen men walk in bondage. I have done both. Who hasn't?

    I remember the Shepherding/Discipleship error in the late 70s early 80s and here, people had someone assigned to them where they had to subject every decision to them. Bob Mumford and Derek Prince and Jose Luis Ortiz repented of that, and to be fair, it was a very subtle thing that overtook them.

    Here is the caveat. I have only read excerpts of this book and as I said, cannot FULLY review it, but am looking forward to reading and reviewing it.

    Thank you for letting me comment.

    I will post my review on jesusourallinall.blogspot.com


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