God calls his children to love one another. And he doesn’t just want us to love one another from afar; he wants us to be deeply close. Jesus calls his church to be a family—to care for one another and share life together. As parents, let us teach our children to draw close to our local church family, building sincere friendships within the fellowship. This will be a source of tremendous joy and blessing to them.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, because you love one another. – John 13:34-35

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:11-13 (emphasis added)

Loving each other as Jesus taught us will please God and draw us closer to him, and will give us warm, close friendships in our local church. When we were raising our children, we sought to build relationships with other families in our church, consistently spending time and having fun together. We encouraged our children to build their closest friendships with kids who would encourage them spiritually. As the Bible puts it, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” – Galatians 6:10.

Of course, the more time we spend with others, the more opportunities we have for conflict or misunderstanding. When our kids have conflict with friends at church, it is an opportunity for learning about repentance and forgiveness. Let’s help our children to overcome their mistakes and express or accept any needed apologies. We also may sometimes need to humbly and lovingly work with other parents as we both seek to help our kids work through their conflicts. Paul teaches us that we are to help each other to grow as we speak the truth in love to one other:

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:15-16

Helping our children develop friendships with spiritual kids will bear fruit for many years. As our children grow older, they will need godly friendships more and more, especially as they enter the preteen and teen years. And of course, let’s seek to stay close to our own Christian friends, knowing that our example will show our kids the greatness of God’s plan for warm, caring relationships in the church.

As we see in the passage below, God calls upon us to respect spiritual leaders in his church:

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Let’s encourage our children to have respect for leaders in our church, to develop relationships with them, and to learn from their teaching. Our children need heroes and mentors within the church to help strengthen their faith.

One of God’s most wonderful plans for us is to be close to our fellow disciples—to truly be a family. The relationships we build in God’s family will give us spiritual guidance, great encouragement, and lasting memories. What a blessing!

Come on over to our YouTube channel for more on this topic in the Sittin’ With Sam series! Shared from Sam Laing’s Warrior for the Lord.