Bro isn’t the familial term that it was when I was growing up in small Baptist churches.
Back in the day members of the church would refer to each other as Brother Jones or Sister Jones. This included the pastors and preachers. But whenever a bulletin or a flyer announced a person, the term brother would be shortened to Bro. An announcement for a guest preacher would probably read something like, “Brother Smith – Guest Preacher”.
This was an expression of the theology of the church. The church was viewed as a family and members were thought of as siblings with God as the Father. This differed from Catholicism and other traditions that referred to leaders as Fathers.
This tradition is still being practiced in some circles, but not like it once was. Now the term bro is more often found in the common vernacular of our culture.
The most popular cultural references of its usage do not convey a family type of love. In fact, consider two references which actually indicate an adversarial relationship.
Do you remember the University of Florida student named Andrew Meyer? He interrupted a 2007 speech by Senator John Kerry. When the security force could not quiet him, one of the guards attempted to stun him into submission.
Meyer responded to the actions of the guard with a phrase that reverberated across the nation, “Don’t tase me, bro!”
A few weeks ago Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks did a little trash talking to Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. The Seahawks had just defeated the Patriots, when Sherman approached Brady. He posted the following picture and words on his Twitter account (it has since been removed).
I think I like the old Baptist way of using the term better than the way it is being thrown around today. The real question for we who are Christians is whether we think and treat each other in the church as loving siblings with an amazing Father.