In the New Testament, there are a lot of references to the familial relationship Christians have with God and Jesus. It makes sense then (especially in light of other verses about how the church should function) that the church should be like a healthy spiritual extended family.
Yet over the last few years, relationships among people who attend church together have gotten more and more superficial. Most Christians would find it almost impossible to tell you the most casual details about their brothers and sisters in Christ – much less what help they may need spiritually.
You may not have any control over what happens in your church as a whole, but you can control the atmosphere of your classroom. Your goal should be for every child to feel like the others in the class are beloved siblings or cousins.
How can you accomplish that? It starts with talking about their relationships with each other. Encouraging them to share their hearts by the types of questions you ask. Helping them find ways to be supportive of one another. Having a zero tolerance for unloving behaviors towards each other.
If you really want your class to become a family though, you are going to have to go the extra mile. You will need to find ways for them to spend time together outside of class serving others, extending classroom learning or in guided activities to encourage emotional closeness.
What happens if you can make every student feel like their classmates are their family? You will increase their resiliency. When their peers at school mock them for their Christian choices, they know they have another peer group at church making the same choices. When they feel unpopular, they have a group of peers who loves and accepts them no matter what. When they are tempted to miss church, they know they will also miss being with the people who love and appreciate them.
Turning your students into a family is biblical. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.