modernfamily_promo_borderThe hit comedy show on ABC called “Modern Family” is reflective of modern urban American culture. Below is a short video trailer with the premise of the show. As you watch it consider this question: How can the church exist today to love and serve people living as a “Modern Family”?





Modern Family Tag Line: One big (straight, gay, multi-cultural, traditional) happy family.


MODERN FAMILY centers on the daily lives of three different but related families. There’s Jay and his second, much younger wife, Gloria, and her son, Manny. Jay’s grown daughter, Claire, lives nearby with her husband, Phil, and is a full-time mom to their three teens. Claire’s brother, Mitchell, and his gay life partner, Cameron, are raising their adopted daughter a stone’s throw away from the rest of the family. The series chronicles the ups and downs of parenting, marriage, and family relationships. Later seasons have seen developments like Claire and Phil’s oldest daughter leaving for college, Mitchell and Cameron’s attempts to adopt another child, and an unexpected baby on the way for Jay and Gloria.

As you watch the video trailer and read the description of these three modern American families, assuming they are not Christians, how does a Christ-follower love and serve these people? What is the role of the church in creating places where these people can learn that God is for them and not against them?

In my opinion Gateway Church has done something Sunday mornings that I have not seen in my church experiences. It is the ability to provide a safe place for the Modern Family to come to church. We have created a ‘Come As You Are Culture.’ It is a culture of grace-giving acceptance for everyone. Jesus seemed to offer grace first in his encounters with others, not judgment. We have also found a voice, or language, that speaks to this generation in our Sunday morning service. We have scrubbed much of the Christian jargon from our lexicon to better communicate to people who are un-churched, and wouldn’t understand most of it anyway. We use arts and creative elements to speak to people with emotion, and not just their intellect. We understand cynicism, expect jaded religious experiences in their past, and anticipate resistance to our teaching from the Bible.

How people get to our services is important. In the early days of Gateway there was a high invitation culture among the core of the church. People were inviting their friends to Gateway because they felt like it was the first church that really, “Got them.” Most first timers to the church felt a different vibe, it certainly wasn’t like their grandma’s church. We also used funny radio ads on the local independent and rock radio stations. We poked fun at ourselves in public recognizing that much of the Christian church was humorous to people. It worked. People liked that a church could make fun of itself. It meant we were self-aware. We were being honest. People liked this. This is still true at Gateway today. Bringing people to our Sunday morning service is a great introduction for the Modern Family into exploring God.

Does ‘Come As You Are’ mean we have changed our theology? No. Does changing our language mean we aren’t a deep church because we don’t use big theological words? No. Gateway has a conservative theology but with grace giving practices. Jesus came in Grace and Truth. We believe this firmly. We choose to offer grace first to an often hurting group of people that need hope. We also teach truth, but primarily we provide truth in relationships where we have gained trust with people. When people know that you love them and are for them they are more willing to hear truth. Gateway has been effective at helping people find faith and follow Jesus, even as the Modern Family. I believe this is true because of our starting point of grace – creating a culture of grace-giving acceptance where No Perfect People are Allowed. Our Sunday morning services are a huge part of creating this culture.

How would these Modern Family couples feel about your Sunday church service? Try to listen with ‘their’ ears at your next Sunday service and see if they would find a grace-giving place where they could understand that God is for them and not against them.