The Family of Love

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The Family Of Love was the official name of The Family International for the period of time between 1978–1981.

The Children of God abruptly ended as an organizational entity in February 1978. Reports of serious misconduct, financial mismanagement, and abuse of their positions by a number of the established leaders caused David (now often called Father David) to dismiss all leadership and to declare the general dissolution of the then existing COG structure. He had entrusted and delegated the organizational leadership of the Children of God to others, and many of them had misused their authority.

This radical shift was known as the "Reorganization Nationalization Revolution" (RNR). In all, over 300 leaders were summarily dismissed. A third of the total membership chose to leave the movement, and those who desired to serve the Lord together with Father David became part of the reorganized movement, dubbed "the Family of Love," and later, simply "the Family." David and his wife Maria reorganized and trained the top leadership, and each community was required to elect new shepherds. In an effort to reduce dependence on American leadership, one member of each community's pastoral management was required to be a national of the country in which they resided.

In reaction to the heavy-handed style of the former COG leadership, the Family of Love era was characterized by much looser supervision of its members and communities, as well as far fewer set standards of conduct. Each community was self-governing and largely autonomous. Any new leadership was freely elected by all members of their community and confirmed by a vote every six months. New leadership were named "servants" to emphasize that their role was to be one of service to those who elected them. They were not to become authoritarian rulers or "lords over God's heritage," as many of the previous overseers had unfortunately become, but they were to be kind, concerned servants and "examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3 NKJV).

In the ensuing vacuum left by the loss of the previous overseers, the move from close oversight by existing shepherds, and the departure of one-third of the membership, there initially existed a period of great independence, lack of direct supervision, and a general reluctance to cooperate and communicate between communities. However, Family members did retain their missionary zeal, remaining fervent in their desire to keep evangelizing the world. With the previously restrictive influences and local policies lifted, members found themselves with much more liberty to follow the Lord according to their personal faith and convictions, which had been David's original intent.

"Flirty Fishing"
In part as a response to the sexual liberality of the early '70s, Father David presented a more intimate and personal, voluntary form of evangelism, which became known as "Flirty Fishing" or "FFing." He offered in his writings the challenging proposal that since Jesus is the physical manifestation and embodiment of God's love for humanity, then we as Christians are in turn responsible to be living samples to others of God's great all-encompassing love.

New Ministries
In November 1978, those who opposed new religious movements (NRMs) attempted to capitalize on the Jonestown tragedy to incite the public and the media to adopt very hostile attitudes toward all NRMs. With much of the media fueling public outrage and fears, extreme prejudice and animosity toward NRMs were the order of the day. In response to this, in January 1979 Father David published a series of Letters entitled "Nationalize, Reorganize, Security-wise." In these Letters he proposed a number of steps the Family could take in order to adapt to current conditions. He proposed that members integrate more into their local community and shed any methods or mannerisms from their hippie beginnings that could be misunderstood or misconstrued. One of those steps was to further decentralize the large Family communities into smaller ones ("Homes").

This also spurred members on to new forms of ministering and outreach in addition to street distribution of literature, which had previously been one of our main methods of outreach. Some members explored mass media approaches to witnessing, both on radio and television. One radio ministry, called Music with Meaning (MWM) in English, and its Spanish, Portuguese, and French counterparts, was promoted and given free air time by hundreds of radio stations worldwide. MWM enjoyed enormous success, eliciting favorable responses from the public, especially in some countries hitherto closed to the Gospel, such as China. In the Philippines, a children's television series of puppet characters called The Luvetts, developed by Family members, won that country's National Catholic Children's Award.

Also in the early '80s, many members and communities departed from the developed nations of the West, opening new outreaches in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Far East. By the mid-'80s, communities of musicians began to produce inspirational music cassettes for public distribution. Family artists and writers created full-color posters with Gospel messages. Video production and distribution opened up a whole new method of reaching and ministering to people. Literature creation and distribution became a full-time ministry in itself, involving a great deal of work to translate, print, and distribute materials in many different languages and countries.

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