Family ministry has become a hot topic lately. Google it and you will find plenty of statistics and research explaining the importance of regaining a biblical perspective on God's vision for the role of parents. I find this a pretty exciting trend, especially as a parent looking for resources (sometimes I feel clueless) and encouragement (parenting is messy). However, there are some aspects of "family ministry" that can be concerning if not clarified and kept in perspective. Here is a couple that come to mind:
-"The family ministry "model" will save our kids and transform parents." No model/program will keep your kids in church or activate a parent's heart. Only Jesus can do this. Family ministry is not the Gospel. When forgetting this, the "model" will quickly become your church's idol. As you may be aware, God isn't very keen on idol worship. Can a family ministry approach help equip our families, engage our children, and produce intergenerational connects? Absolutely! If that is our purpose for this type of culture, let's embrace it!
-I've heard this said a handful of times, "My family is great, were doing well, that's why we don't always make it to church as much." This is a pretty common one as well, "Our family is so busy right now, we just don't have time to get involved in any more activities." We are a society of busy people, that is for sure, but can we really do Christianity without the church community?
This is a huge topic, that will require more space and time, for now let's look at a couple points on the importance of church community regardless of how busy or great family life may be.
1. Deut. 6:4-7 These are go to verses for family ministry, instructing us on how to pass faith to the next generation. I like how Moses kicks it off though by saying "Hear, O Israel". Moses was calling all of Israel together for instruction, not just mom and dad. All means uncle, aunt, grandparents, brother, sister, cousins, close friends, and of course mom and dad. Moses was telling the community (church) of people that to pass this faith to the next generation all must be active participants in impressing these truths on the children.
2. Research shows that teens who had at least one adult from church make a significant time investment in their lives were more likely to keep attending church. More of those who stayed in church --by a margin of 46% to 28%--said five or more adults at church had invested time with them personally and spiritually.
One of the greatest values of the church is providing a community for you and your kids. A place where they can feel safe, have meaningful discussion with a caring adult, and to ask the tough questions. We all need this type of community.
I realize we didn't define "family ministry", that was intentional. Still working on it myself! But I believe we're heading in the right direction when viewing family ministry as a way of coming along side families to train up the children to love God with all of their heart, soul, and strength.
Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connecting your family to a wider community