“House visitation,” “consistorial call” or “family visitation.” It’s not important what we call it, although the latter is preferred, but we must be sure it has an important function in our lives.
In our age the question, “Why?” is outstanding. Therefore I ask, “Why do we have family visitation?” It cannot be answered because it has been practiced since the early churches, as the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Cyperian prove, but it must have a purpose.
By 1215 A.D. the universal practice of the Roman Catholic Church, which was very large, was that of confessions. This left no room for spiritual guidance by the elders and ministers, since the people went to the priest when they felt they needed it. Then, starting with Luther and reaching a climax in Calvin’s life, family visitation was revived. But now it is 1972 and we have to cheek what level it is at right now.
One basic purpose of family visitation is the preaching of the Word, but also it allows us to discuss our spiritual lives; 2) to get to know our leaders and they us; 3) to strengthen the bond of unity of the church, 4) to aid the minister in making his sermons whereby he, as an undershepherd, can feed the spiritually hungry; 5) to know the spiritual condition of the church.
Now that we know what family visitation should do, let’s see if this is being done. When we are having family visitation, do we sit and worry about what questions we will be asked or do we listen to the questions asked our parents and the responses they give? Would our answers be similar? Seems like this would be an ideal time to grow . . . grow spiritually, so when the time comes, we have the roots of being Christian parents for our children. We must use every opportunity God sets before us.
God has given us leaders and therefore we must trust them, and see them as pastors and overseers over us, the flock, whether it be for instruction or admonition. Both of these, instruction and admonition, are vital because we must ask, Lord, what wilt thou have me do? and when we do as we desire, admonition must follow. Sometimes, I think, we’re much too proud. Like at family visitation how many of us can willingly mention the meetings we attend without saying or even thinking of the Young People’s meetings we’ve skipped out on a couple of weeks ago, or even worse, the society we’re not even members of because of lack of concern (outgrowing it)? This seems to be a real problem in our churches. I think it’s pretty sad, but then again, maybe our Young People have such high spiritual levels that they needn’t use these God given societies for food for the soul.
At family visitation, we can also express our love for our church and its doctrine, yes, even young people must express our love for the truth and specifically our churches. We must also be certain of being ourselves at family visitation. No outside polishing can keep God from seeing the real me, and at family visitation it is especially important because this service is personal — just for me, just for you. Our ministers must know the needs of their flock before they can prepare a sermon to feed their souls.
When God has given us leaders like we have, “to feed the flock,” there is no reason for starvation. So let’s use the utensils God has given and grow spiritually.