I wrote this letter to Rick and Terri McGarry. Terri is our Kids Journey Designer at The Winds. Rick keeps her sane. Pray for Rick.


I’ve always admired your family. You have a way of being together that doesn’t feel forced. You joke around, but you squabble just as much. I’m not sure which makes you more lovable, but it all works. You make it work. You derive joy from the fact that it does. I love that you don’t take the whole thing too seriously, which is probably what keeps it cohesive. You do all the things you know you’re meant to do, and you mean them, and you try not to make it a big deal. You have the most abnormal characteristic of all.

You’re normal.

(And, yes, I realize that last sentence made you burst out laughing).

In the Second Testament, most churches began in households. Four different times in Paul’s letters, “specific congregations are designated as ‘the assembly at ___’s household’.[1]”[2]

This terminology didn’t just refer to the location of the church meeting, but to the basic unit of society from which the congregation arose. The concept of the household was much more elastic then than now. Household (and “family”) was not limited to blood relatives, but also included friends, coworkers, slaves, servants, employees, and neighbors. Anyone under your protection was in your household.

In today’s parlance, your household would be comprised of your “peeps.” It’s everyone who would come to your graduation party, everyone who you’d invite to your funeral if you could fake your own death to see who actually came.

We’ll develop this thinking a little more later on, but for now let it suffice to say that there are radical implications hidden in a simple statement like “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[3] When a person decided their entire household was making a decision for Christ, they then accepted the responsibility of making it happen.

In the case of the Philippian jailer,[4] that meant he would have had to go home and explain to his wife, his children, and all his friends and family that there was a man named Jesus who claimed to be God incarnate,

…that he was crucified, he rose from the dead,

…he promised his followers they would also rise from the dead,

…he sent his Spirit to live in those followers now in anticipation of literal new life later on,

…those followers gathered regularly to learn and give money and participate in charitable activity,

…but that they were persecuted for their religion,

…that this persecution was worth it,

…and that the jailer’s entire household would now be expected to share in that persecution because they would begin following Jesus also.

Can you fathom having that conversation with your spouse? Let alone everyone you consider part of your social circle? I can’t get my wife to buy the kind of coffee I like unless I go with her to the grocery store; how could I ever convince her of the resurrection of the son of a God she doesn’t believe in?

No matter how difficult it was, the earliest Christians accepted the responsibility of introducing their families to Christ. They loved their families so much they were willing to risk awkward conversations, potential arguments, heated discussions, and short-term fallout in order to secure their immortal souls.

How can we do anything less? How can we stand in the long line of Christian people who, for thousands of years, have been enduring remarkable hardship, tribulation, and suffering without being ashamed of our unwillingness to raise our families as people who belong to the Lord?

My friends, you are a great example to us all. You live as our Christian forebears lived, and my challenge to you is that you reproduce.

Please help me make more Christians like you.


[1] ‘he kat’oikon (+ possessive phrase) ekklesia’

[2] Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul, (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1983), 75.

[3] Joshua 24.15.

[4] Acts 16.25-40.