When the Church was a Family by Joseph Hellerman

Book Review by Alina Shmakov

What does it really mean for a church to be a family? What does Joseph H. Hellerman mean by “When the Church Was a Family’? Isn't it considered to be a family now? That's what got me curious enough to read this book. What is our culture doing wrong that we aren't as strong of a family as the early church?


This book goes over what being a real strong family means, what western culture has made the church become now, what we chase after in relationships. Hellerman talks about our church family being a surrogate family, and when push comes to shove our church family is who Jesus wants us to value.


“Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who were sitting in a circle around Him, He said, “Here are My Mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother” -Mark 3:31-35


Joseph H. Hellerman argued collectivist groups were more interested in their family rather than individualist-set groups. He also talks about the desired church’s structure, as in, the leader structure within a church. Warning us to stay away from churches that have only one leader rather than an elder’s council. He stresses that we cannot love our God and be fully devout to him if we do not dedicate ourselves to our church the way we dedicate ourselves to our family.


Joseph H. Hellerman is a pastor at Oceanside wrote this book to show people what Jesus intended the church to be. He includes a lot of personal and real experiences that help his points come into perspective. The personal experiences he shared in the book helped me understand his points and made it more relatable to me. I liked reading the different perspective on things in this book, it gave me another way of looking at something.


When I picked up this book I was in a time where I was trying to figure out why I feel like I’m at a plateau with Christ. And it just so happened to be that Christ was directly speaking to me on why I might be feeling kind of distant and on hold with him.

I learned a lot from this book. Even though I did not agree with some of his thoughts, there was a large take away and I think everyone should give it a read.


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