The Family, the Church, & the Government: What are their roles?
At the Disciple Nations Alliance, we champion the role of local churches in social and cultural transformation. As our co-founder, Bob Moffitt is fond of saying, “God’s principally ordained agent for the advancement of His Kingdom is the Church. Local churches represent the single most important community-based institution for social and cultural transformation.” This is true because local churches have a mandate to represent God’s agenda for restoration (Mt. 28:18-20), its members are represented in all sectors of society, and most importantly, the Church has the promise of God to work through it to bless, heal, and disciple the nations (Gen. 12:1-3).
While the church plays a unique and powerful role in cultural transformation, there are at least two other God-ordained social institutions that play equally critical roles: families and civil government. God has given particular responsibilities to each of these institutions that only they can fulfill. Healthy, prosperous societies understand and protect the unique and vital role of each institution. Let’s look briefly at these roles from a Biblical frame:
Families are the first and most basic social institution of any society. They are created by God to fulfill the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:26-28. Man and woman–husband and wife–as joint image-bearers of God, reflect the unity, diversity and loving community of the Godhead. It is within this context that God intends children to be brought forth, protected, nurtured and educated. Because children are the future of any society, the family plays an immensely critical role in the health of a culture. As goes the family, so goes the nation.
Local churches–as community-based expressions of the universal Body of Christ–also play an indispensable role in fostering healthy societies. God intends each local church to be an embassy or outpost of His Kingdom, where His right-side-up Kingdom order can be visibly seen and experienced. The church is to be the steward and prophetic voice of God’s revelation in Scripture. Churches are to boldly proclaim the Gospel, disciple new believers, help them replace worldly cultural assumptions with the biblical worldview and live a life of Christ-like obedience. Local church leaders then equip and empower Christ-followers to bring truth, goodness and beauty into every sphere of society through their God-given vocations.
Both churches and families also play essential roles in caring for the weak and the poor. God intends families to provide for the needs of fellow family members (1 Tim. 5:3-4, 16), while local churches are to care for their own needy as well as the impoverished and downtrodden in their communities (Rom. 12:13; Gal. 2:9-10, 1 Tim. 5:16).
A key role of the civil government is to ensure these institutions–family and church–are protected, robust and vital.
-Scott D. Allen