Original Research

The necessity of an empirical study to determine if church congregations function as a family

Rika L. Roeland, Gert Breed, Rudy Denton
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3070 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3070 | © 2024 Rika L. Roeland, Gert Breed, Rudy Denton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 February 2024 | Published: 14 May 2024

About the author(s)

Rika L. Roeland, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Gert Breed, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Rudy Denton, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

Scripture’s reference to believers as the ‘family of God’ may indicate that believers should mutually care for one another like members of a caring family do, and not merely that members are part of a ‘spiritual’ family. From this perspective, the article investigated the extent of mutual care within congregations. The increasing need for pastoral care, within and outside church congregations, reveals the need for mutual care between members. The necessity for empirical studies within church congregations were revealed by the differences in the intensity of the answers by the participants. Without knowledge about the experiences of church members, leaders of church congregations may overlook potential needs of their members. A quantitative empirical study was done through an anonymous online survey with church members, pastoral counsellors, and pastors and ministers from various denominations who completed the survey, according to their experiences within their individual church congregation. The concepts of fellowship (koinōnia), service (diakonia), care, and family were used in the survey to determine the experiences of mutual care between members of the church congregation. The deficiency of mutual care between members of the congregation may motivate leaders to intentionally develop relationships through fellowship (koinōnia) to foster mutual care between members, and intentionally develop members to serve (diakonia) one another and their community.

Contribution: This article contributes to an interdisciplinary discussion between pastoral theology, practical theology, and systematic theology from a Reformed perspective with a focus on the practical participation of members of the church congregation in pastoral care as the ‘family of God’.


Keywords

Pastoral care; empirical study; church members; family of God; koinonia; diakonia

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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