Almost 10 years ago God laid on my heart a desire to begin working more closely withparents, especially with parents of young children. At the time, I was a youth pastor with a pretty regular group of kids that were active in the church, growing in their faith, and, most importantly, sharing their beliefs with others. The idea of Family Ministry, while not new, was not on the lips of as many people as it is today.
To be honest, I had no idea what it would mean to minister to families rather than just the kids, so I began to seek God, read what others were saying, and dream about how I could minister to the whole family rather than just the children.
Since that time, I’ve had two children of my own, completed seminary, attended dozens of conferences, and have been called into a position where my job description includes ministering to both children and their parents. Sometimes I feel like I am no closer to knowing how to answer that question.
However, it is a question that we must explore and I am glad to be part of a blog tour seeking to discuss this thing called Family Ministry. As I sat down to write my post for the tour, I found that one post simply won’t be sufficient. Over the next few months, I’ll be bringing this topic up at least 2 more times – but for today, I’ll attempt an overview of my answer to “What is Family Ministry?”
I believe, that in order to properly answer the question, we have to back up one step and first answer…
What is Ministry?
The Church has the privilege of working to fulfill Christ’s mission to make disciples (Matt 28:19-20) but we must remember that the mission is temporary; one day the mission will cease to be. However, worship is timeless. Ministry is understanding that all that we do in service to the mission of the church falls under the more ultimate purpose of worship.
I’ll unpack that just a bit more to explain that worship isn’t just about Sunday morning, songs, or other types of religious activity. Worship is the joyful submission of our whole lives in response to the love, authority and provision of God in Jesus Christ. Worship is about living our lives in a manner that bring glory and honor to God.
With that in mind…
Family Ministry is Holistic Discipleship.
Family Ministry gives the Church an opportunity to be intentional about a holistic approach to discipleship that begins at birth. The mission of the Church isn’t to stand in a fixed location and create worshipers when they happen through the door, we are to make such disciples as we travel along the path of life. Family is those we are traveling with the most so it’s logical too see this as a starting place for the creation of worshipers.
Family Ministry is Spiritual Formation
In The Present Future, Reggie McNeal points out that “in premodern and postmodern cultures the home was and is the center for spiritual formation.” Family Ministry provides the Church with an opportunity to help parents (and any other sort of guardian) navigate spiritual leadership.
There is often a disconnect between what parents say they believe and what they do. Most parents believe that they are responsible for the moral values of their children, but feeling incapable of instilling these values, most seek help and are willing to abdicate the responsibility to anyone with a hint of a plan. Parents are asking.
Family Ministry is about partnering with these parents to offer help and support while refusing to take on roles that belong to the parent; especially that as primary faith trainer. It is about encouraging a biblical plan that tells and shows families (of all shapes and sizes) what to do to create worshipers within their household.
Family Ministry is Counter-Cultural
The culture has devalued family. Most parents are fixated in making sure that their children have the right ‘experiences’ to set them up for success later in life. The news is replete with stories of parents who struggle to get their child into the right preschool in order to groom them for the Ivy league.
Success, even by worldly standards, is more often contingent upon relationships rather than experience. Family Ministry is about helping parents connect their children to others adults (and children) that share a biblical worldview.
Family Ministry Declares Christ Supreme
As a parent, I know how easy it is to lose focus. In wanting what is best for my children I can lose sight of eternity and become short-sighted, only dreaming of what career they will have or how they will raise my grandchildren. Family Ministry must call parents back to an eternal perspective. Family ministry must remind parents that our children are hopelessly lost with our Christ. Our focus must be changed from earthly success to a focus on the supremacy of Christ.
Family Ministry seeks to help parents find how God has gifted our children and helping them understand how they can bring God glory through those gifts. It’s about creating a generation of men and women who pursue God with abandon.
Family Ministry is Reconciliation
The Church is a place of reconciliation through Christ Jesus. God wants us to be in relationship with Him and also with one another. Our world needs its generations to be reconciled to one another and to their Creator.
Family Ministry is about partnering an older generation with the younger. Psalm 78 instructs the Israelites to share all the stories of faith; not to even hide the darker stores from the children of the community. By partnering older mentors with younger parents, we help ensure that stories of faith are not lost.
While this is not a comprehensive list that answers “What is Family Ministry,” it’s a list that must be included. There is no one way to do Family Ministry, it comes in all shapes and sizes – just like families. If you’re looking for a good starting place, take a peek at Family Builder’s list of Family Ministry models, then visit the rest of the Family Ministry Blog tour and start dreaming about what God has in store for your church and your family.
This is part of a blog tour answering the question, “What is Family Ministry?” Articles are being posted through the months of July and August. For a complete list and to read other articles in this series, see Matt Norman’s blog.