It's Not What You Think: Vision, Mission, and Purpose for Family - Part II

In my previous article, “It’s Not What You Think: The Nuclear Family - Part I,” I laid out a bold vision and discussion to highlight the model of the modern-day nuclear family as it seems to strike directly against God’s heart, vision, mission, and purpose for family. In part two of this article, I want to continue to add to the discussion, particularly around God’s mission and purpose for each family

To understand mission, vision, and purpose, the appropriate place to start is understanding the origin of family. An origin story gives us a compelling platform, a launching pad, to understand the more prominent ideas of when God laid down the foundations for the mission, vision, and purpose of family. As always, we must be careful to remove our cultural blinders; otherwise, we will miss what is written regarding family in plain sight. As we remove our Western, post-enlightenment thinking and reading lens, we are opened up to a vast poetic, beautiful, and ancient mission, vision, and purpose for family

Genesis 1. 

The story opens with the heavens and earth being made. Creation was void and formless, without shape, function, or filling. God began to do what He does best. Create. He did this in two specific ways—form and fill. 

He first gave his creation shape and function. Day from night. Land from sea—Sun, moon, and stars. Then, God filled His creation with beauty, goodness, creativity, and order. The crowing act of this grand creation narrative and story is ha’adam (Adam/Humanity). Adam was formed from the earth, and God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. Jefferson Bethke (2021), author and speaker, shares, “Being formed of the earth points to two things: One, that we are made from dust. But a vapor. And two, our creative potential is what makes us unique—and truly to be made in God’s image”

Just as the earth held new potential at the dawn of creation to bear new things and possibilities, so do we, as ha’adam (Humanity), are given a divine mission, vision, and purpose to harness the potential to bear forth new things and possibilities. We reflect God’s image best when we exercise our divine mission, vision, and purpose to bring order, goodness, and beauty to a world where there currently isn’t any. 

I want to pause and reflect on the phrase “The Image of God.” 

The creation narrative first gives us a glimpse into the phrase “The Image of God” not through some treatise regarding individual freedom or dignity (although this is true) but rather through the plural. A Team. 

Genesis 1:27, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female, he created them.” 

“God created two symbiotic halves,” Bethke (2021) writes, “He did this by making a team. He then put this team in the Garden of Eden to work it and to keep it. This team instantly was given a job to do.” In other words, “Here is your mission, vision, and purpose.” 

When reading the Genesis narrative, we often imagine the earth as a tamed, ordered, beautiful, lush, fruitful place. However, when we removed the lens I spoke of earlier, we saw this was not the case. That was a small space within the earth called Eden. God did not make the whole world look like Eden. God created Eden as a prototype, made divine diplomats and priests as agents and ambassadors of his rule, placed them in Eden, pointed to the rest of the earth, and said, “Your job is to go make the rest of the world look like this.” 

Genesis 1:28a, “Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern (subdue) it.” 

Our divine vocation is to garden. We govern (subdue) the earth by cultivating it, harnessing the world’s raw potential, and creating something more and new out of it. This is the vision, mission, and purpose we are still doing today and will do until we reach the end of time. It is no coincidence that the Bible starts in a garden (Genesis 1) and ends in a city (Revelation 22), which is just a bunch of “gardens” (places where people have made order and beauty out of nothing) all put together. 

But this is a massive job. God says, “You will need much help, so make sure you multiply yourself to get the job done.” Have a bunch of kids (i.e., create a family)—or make a bunch of “images of yourself” and go govern (subdue) the earth by cultivating it. 

God’s answer to the first massive roadblock in our story was family. Furthermore, when I say family, many think of a picture most cannot attain. That is NOT what I am referring to here. That is just the cheap Western rendition. I love John Mark Comer’s definition of family, “A network of committed covenantal relationships and a team that commits to one another and is interconnected through a web of long-standing relationships. Family is layered, complex, and multigenerational and works toward the common goal of bringing forth blessing into the world” (Comer, 2015). 

And this definition of family brings good news. You can be a young single adult, you can be divorced, you can be old, you can be married, you can be whatever current season of life you find yourself in, and you instantly find yourself part of the multigenerational larger story that God is telling within the world. 

However, this vision, purpose, and mission for the family have been lost in our culture today. Bethke (2021) states, “Family has been put on the back burner—the last priority. Family is not where we go for identity, mission, or purpose (usually reserved for work). Individuals’ freedom and proliferation and uninhabited ability to say and do anything they want is the ultimate value we prop in families today. We believe we achieve this utopia by stripping away any limits. Limits of linage. Limits of team. Limits of mission, vision, and purpose.”

Many couples do not think about the general mission God gave us within the garden. They do not fully absorb the truth that both husband and wife are a team and unit designed explicitly by the Creator of the universe to create their team (i.e., family) to accomplish a specific job that is different from every couple out there. Do you see your family’s primary vision, mission, and purpose to be cultivators, gardeners, and territory expanders for a heavenly Kingdom slowly, over time, permitting every fabric of human life? Or do you view a family’s primary vision, mission, and purpose to raise children until they are 18 years old only to launch them off to be productive members of society, hoping they, too, follow your footsteps to create another family to do the same? 

Below are resources to kick-start conversations within your family, small group, or individual reflection. 

Grace and Peace,

Andrew M. Forbeck MA, PLPC, SATP


(In Part III, I want to write for you how we go about accomplishing this vision, through cultivating and creating a Multigenerational Family Team—expounding on how to establish, create, and maintain God’s vision, mission, and purpose for family.)



Bethke, J. (2021). Take back your family: From the tyrants of burnout, busyness, individualism, and the Nuclear Ideal. Nelson Books, An Imprint of Thomas Nelson.

Comer , J. M. (2015). Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human. Zondervan.


Additional Resources

The Nuclear Family is the Cancer, Not the Cure w/Jefferson Bethke - The Spillover with Alex Clark (Podcast) 

Garden City by John Mark Comer (Book)

Family Revision by Jeremy Pryor (Book)

Bible Project - You're Suppose To Rule the World (Here's How) (YouTube Video)

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