NFOB is a life raft. Well, an aircraft carrier.

The Nashville Family of Brothers offers family to Christian men called to vocational singleness, but we continue to invest in our local churches. We pray and work toward a day when those called to vocational singleness can find the family they need in their local church. NFOB isn’t the final solution, and it isn’t replacing local churches.

Nevertheless, those called to vocational singleness shouldn’t have to establish communities like NFOB in order to find family. They ought to be able to find that level of family in their local church. (To be clear, when we say family, we mean a group of people who live in the same house, pray, share meals, and celebrate holidays and vacations with the same people for 30+ years.)

For centuries, Christians lived in villages of multi-family, multi-generational homes made up of married and single people. Most lived in the same home and attended the same church for their entire life. This stability provided those called to vocational singleness an experience of permanent, lived-in family in the body of Christ.

Then the industrial revolution provided technology and wealth that empowered Christians to move away and live in single-family homes. Today, Christians live very differently than the village-life of the Early Church that provided family to those called to vocational singleness. It may be many years until the average Christian lives in a way that provides similar benefits.

When I shared with a local pastor that I felt called to vocational singleness, I asked him how I could find the experience of family I needed to meet my intimacy needs in healthy ways and thrive in my vocation. First he responded with honesty: “Unfortunately, you’re not going to find the level of family you need at this church. To be honest, I doubt you’re going to find that level of family at any church in Nashville. And it saddens me to admit that I don’t think any of our churches are going to get there anytime soon.”

Then he continued with a challenge: “So go start something. Build a community where you can find the family you need, and stay committed to this church. Let us see the beauty of that community and learn from that community how to be a family as a body of christ, and then maybe, just maybe, our church can become that one day.”

So that’s what we’ve set out to do. We started NFOB to be a life raft of sorts: a community to sustain us—to provide family—until our churches become places where we could find that family.

But it’s not just a life raft. It’s more life an aircraft carrier.

As my pastor noted, it might be awhile until any of our churches return to the Christian villages of centuries ago. We might need this life raft for a while, probably our whole life, so we need something sturdy and sustainable. But this community isn’t a cruise ship built for our leisure—it’s something from which we are sent out to do kingdom work. NFOB is a sturdy life raft on a mission: an aircraft carrier.

In the meantime, we will still be deeply invested in our biological families, local churches, and friends who are parents:

  1. Every brother will be required to be committed to the teaching, mission and community of a local church.
  2. NFOB will not replace biological family. Instead, when brothers join, their biological family will be knit into our community and encouraged to pray, worship, serve, vacation, and holiday with us.
  3. We hope NFOB serves as a seed for a larger experience of intentional Christian community in Nashville. We are already in conversation with parents about moving their families to the same neighborhood and having shared neighborhood rhythms of meals, prayer, worship, vacations, and holidays.

We’re an aircraft carrier, not a secluded island for those called to vocational singleness. We’re offering the family men need now, but we aren’t replacing the church.

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