Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family Ministry, part 3- Roots

What is "family ministry"? 

Since I am a Christian, I will defer to God's Word (aka-The Bible) for some tips. 

Point 1- Parents have a primary faith influence (even if they are absent), either positively or negatively.  They leave a legacy whether they like it or not.

A brief overview of the first few books of the Bible will show us that things are passed down from parent to child. 
  • Cain likely learned about bitterness and anger from his parents, Adam and Eve.  No doubt, they spent many a day arguing and blaming one another about their former residence: the Garden of Eden.
  • Noah's sons learned to build an altar from him after the Flood.
  • Abram tried to pass his wife Sarai off as his sister, which would later be repeated by his son Isaac.
Point 2- This spiritual legacy is God's plan.
  • Deuteronomy 6:6-9- "Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
    • Understanding this verse is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL.  There are two types of conversations commanded here: informal and formal (More on this tomorrow).
  • Psalm 78:5-8- "He planted a witness in Jacob, set his Word firmly in Israel, Then commanded our parents to teach it to their children So the next generation would know, and all the generations to come—Know the truth and tell the stories so their children can trust in God, Never forget the works of God but keep his commands to the letter. Heaven forbid they should be like their parents, bullheaded and bad, A fickle and faithless bunch who never stayed true to God."
    • Notice the word "COMMANDED".
  • Proverbs 22:6- "Point your kids in the right direction—when they're old they won't be lost."
    • This implies consistent effort and engagement by parents.  
  • Ephesians 6:4- "Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master."

So, here you go:

Parents, you are leaving a legacy.
You are called to do so.

Here are two questions worth asking:

"What kind of legacy will you leave?"

"What does it mean for how a church practices ministry if the church and family are to partner together to make disciples through spiritual formation?"

Join the conversation!  Leave comments, questions and concerns below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Family ministry, part 2- Initial Thoughts

Part 1, here.

"Family Ministry" is the current buzz-phrase in the youth ministry circles that I run in.  Over the past few months, I've seen all sorts of churches looking to hire people, their job titles range from "Youth and Family Pastor" to "Director of Family Ministry".  But, a closer look at the actual job descriptions reveals a different story altogether; at best, it's all about the tweaking of existing programming to be more "family friendly" and at worst, they are simply looking to maintain the status-quo.

A friend of mine, in the midst of the job search process, confirms my observations.  He would ask them about steps taken to merge worship opportunities, he was met with resistance because adults liked being able to drop their kids off so that they could focus during the service.  He would talk about families serving together and those interviewing him would tell him that serving together sounded great, but that was something they were thinking about in the future.  In the end, for many churches, "family ministry" looks like parent handouts, a meeting every so-often, and weekly communication (guilty, guilty, and guilty).  Generally speaking, we don't spend a lot on time thinking about how we might integrate and unite families in ministry.  We don't think about the implications of sending kids to "their own worship" on a Sunday morning.  There are too many questions, the model too untried and ill-defined to dig deeply. 

Last week, I posted an introduction to this current series of posts on family ministry. This requires us to think differently, to think outside our box.  If a church goes to a family-ministry model, and promotes it, that church needs to think in advance about what it might be like for the various people in their midst... the single mom or dad with three kids...the empty-nesters...the unmarried college student or career-person.  In essence, the word "family" will need to be defined within the context of the family of God. 

Love to hear your thoughts:

How would you define "family ministry"?
Do you feel that your church is "family-friendly"?  How?
What are some possible (positive or negative) implications of building a church model around families?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Family Ministry, part 1

This past weekend, our family was blessed to attend Group Publishing's "KidMin 2011" Children's Ministry Conference.  Anne and I helped in "The Shelter"- their prayer room, our boys helped out before and after the main sessions, and our daughter helped out with a band's merchandising table on Saturday night.

I also attended all of the sessions that Brian Haynes led; it was solely focused on family ministry.  Over the next few weeks, I'll post some thoughts about the sessions, his philosophy of ministry, and some ways that we might equip parents to lead their families. 

Here are some introductory thoughts right out of my notes from his first session:

Theological premise/foundation for family ministry?
-There is a generational training plan in place
-Parents and families must intentionally integrate faith into daily life
    -They do this by modeling spiritual service and evangelism

All disciples of Jesus are given the mandate to make disciples as the church.  The family has a distinct role to play.
  -Deuteronomy 6- community-wide and around my table, by the way that we live- church oversees the family by equipping them.

Family of origin has the most influential impact on the lives of kids.
   -Deuteronomy 6 to Psalm 78 to Proverbs 22:6 to Ephesians 6:4

Parents have a primary faith influence, either positively or negatively (even if absent).  They leave a legacy whether they like it or not.  They abdicated their role to us and we called them to us and told them that discipleship happened at the church.  Now, faith takes place in a certain building, in a certain place, on a certain day, at a certain time. This is called "compartmentalization."

What does this mean for how we practice ministry if the church and family are to partner together to make disciples through spiritual formation?  How are we to "do" ministry?

Help me write this blog!  Please post your thoughts, comments, questions, and your PUSH BACK below. 

For more detailed information about who Brian is, what he does, and a lot of specifics, Brian has a website where he lays his model out at  Brian also blogs about his journey at his blog  I know that he'd love for you to check it out and connect with him.