Family Ministry Conversation Day 1

Well, it’s been a full day of brainstorming and sharing. We started off by filling word/phrase descriptions of families and then categorizing them. We then chose some and listed the challenges and opportunities they all posed. Then we talked about how we want parents to get “it” or give parents “it.” So the conversation surrounded what “it” was. We then looked up scripture for our “it”s. After lunch we did an exercise where we pretended that we were doing a church plant and came up with what that looked like.

Overall, I’m still not sure what David C. Cook is going to do with all of this. From all the conversations, people are all over the map when it comes to family ministry. It definitely cemented my belief that we really can’t nail down Family Ministry. It is not a program or even a strategy, per se. It is more of a way of life and philosophy, I believe. That is hard for people to accept and grasp because we can’t quantify it. But I think we just need to get over ourselves when it comes to that and ministry, in general.

My big take-away from today is that family ministry is about creating a positive culture where we all care for each other and build each other up. That’s not necessarily what was concluded… it is my conclusion based on all that I was hearing…

Here are some random thoughts that I jotted down during all the conversations:

  • It was said that the goal of family ministry is to help parents “pass the baton of faith” to the next generation… While I agree with that on a surface level, the reality remains that how we pass the baton is just as important as passing it. We are assuming by that statement that parents are doing it or trying, which I don’t think is necessarily true. One think we need to consider is how do we pass that baton in such a way that it is desirable for the next generation to take it…
  • There is no silver bullet for family ministry… no one program or paradigm or model
  • There is a lot of experimenting going on out there of how to come alongside parents
  • It was mentioned quite a bit (and is mentioned all over the place) that parents think that dropping their kids off at church for Sunday school or kids’ church is doing their job… We then scoff… But one question to ask ourselves is what’s to say that doing that isn’t doing their job… At least they are doing something… Yes, there’s always the examples of negligent parents, but they could choose to not bring their kids at all! We need to start somewhere with parents. Instead of wagging our finger and saying, “You’re not doing enough! You’re not doing YOUR job!” We need to commend them for what they ARE doing first, build relationships with them, and vision casting for more from the church and family.
  • I like the analogy from A Community Called Atonement about having many different atonement metaphors in our atonement golf bag and pulling each one out as needed instead of just using one club for the entire game. I think the same metaphor can be applied to family ministry. There are many paradigms, philosophies and models and we need to be able to use all of them at different times.
  • It was said by some, “We care more than the parents do!” Um… I don’t think so. Yes, we are passionate about ministry to children and families. But we see things from a certain perspective… from a certain set of glasses. If we were to enter into the shoes of most of the parents in our ministries (honestly do it) we would see that they are the ones who care more than we do because it is their children and they love their children more than we ever could. (Again, there are exceptions we love to point out… forget about those for now!) We need to come together mutually and respect each other first and then work with each other towards a shared goal.
  • Another thing was said: “We need to inspire parents to take on their God-given roles!” What does that even mean? Who’s interpretation of God-given roles? Mine or yours? Talk about a guilt trip that we could put on parents and ourselves. I think it would be better said that we need to inspire parents to continue taking their family on a spiritual journey towards wholeness and that full life promised to us and encourage them to connect with others in the family of believers to continually get better at it.
  • We are only going to be able to truly partner with parents if we re-prioritize our time to build relationships with the families around us (inside and outside church) as well as our own. It’s only in relationship that we can grow together towards Christ.
OK, so I just let my thoughts flow… Sometimes it’s good to do that.
What are your thoughts on my thoughts? Or maybe your own thoughts on family ministry?
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8 thoughts on “Family Ministry Conversation Day 1

  1. Chris Yount Jones says:

    Henry,
    Amazing! I read through your thoughts and just kept nodding. I love that your heart toward parents believes the best and is filled with grace! It’s the kindness of God that draws us in. That’s what I always sense from you!

    Sounds like you’re having typical discussions around family ministry that it’s many things to many people. And one size doesn’t fit all. I’ll look forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Rob says:

    Great conversation! Let’s get into this one.

    I do think that parents care but they lack the vision, strategy, practical “how-tos,” and grace-filled accountability needed to effectively nurture their child’s faith. Many times they lack a faith to pass on.

    So what it is our role in all that? We need to help provide those things I listed. I think it is through discipleship.

    Most of the people who serve in our kids’ ministry are parents. So we strive to help them develop a ministry mindset and experience God working in and through them to impact others.

  3. aaron says:

    Great conversation going on there. Family Ministry is a paradigm, a directional shift in all standard, or seemingly standard, approaches to ministry.

    But let’s be real for a second: I think parents WANT to engage in family ministry. I think that culturally we are at a vital stage in reaching the family.

    Do you remember when family movies did horribly? Even the Disney giant would push hard for a #3 spot opening. Beverly Hills Chihuahuahauahaa (I can’t spell it, so I don’t try) has been #1 for two weeks in a row. It’s certainly not a startling piece of cinema. What’s the trend?

    Family movies have been on the upswing since mid 2002. This isn’t necessarily because they are better than they were before. Rather, I believe, (and we can analyze reasons for it later) there is a cultural shift underway that emphasizes family.

    Now – at stake in this process is how our culture defines family. What does it look like? If I don’t understand what a family is, I can’t begin to take in what the roles of each person in the family is to be. What is the role of the parent? What is the role of the child? What responsibilities does each have spiritually?

    Now, what is the responsibility of the church?

    The other thing to consider is that, if you are like me at all, it is our full time job to think about these things. I wake up in the morning with my brain turning about what can be done better. I have dreams (sometimes nightmares?!?!) about it.

    I do know this. Parents want to be engaged. They want what is good for their family. If the kids are excited, the parents are excited. What parent, if his/her kid shows a passionate interest in something, would deny it to them?

    If we grip the kids, we grip the parents. Then we engage the parents to engage their kids at home. It is cyclical.

  4. Rob says:

    Aaron,

    I am like you. I think about it constantly and sometimes it keeps me up at night. This morning during a great run I had some thoughts.

    I always think about it from the angle of how I can help parents pass on their faith since many don’t know how. This thought came to me…is it that they don’t know how or they don’t have a faith to pass on?

    Parents know how to pass things on to their kids, they do it all the time. As a matter of fact, they can’t help but not pass things onto to their children. How many parents have I talked to that are frustrated because they parent their kids the way they were parented even though they don’t want to?

    I live in SC near Clemson. Clemson football is huge here! (even when they are losing) I know many kids who are big Tiger fans, all decked out in orange and white. Some of those kids couldn’t tell you anything about Clemson football. They are just fans. The true is, dad has passed that passion onto his children. If he can do it with football whay can’t he do it with his faith?

    I say if we grip the parents, we grip the kids.

  5. aaron says:

    Well, how much do the parents know about football? How much do they know about spiritual life change?

    For example, a great many of the parents I have to minister to are just learning what that means themselves. To ask them to pass that on to their kids is like handing them a pennant and saying, “Give this to your kid to cheer for this team” but the parents know very little about the team also!

    But let’s be honest. We’re talking about more than a football team. It’s more than a t-shirt, more than a fan card, it’s a daily push. It’s off season and in-season.

    For example, we had a worship service this past weekend specifically for families. We promoted on both ends, BUT several parents over and over and over again said to me, “My kids would wake up and ask, ‘is tonight FUSION night’?” and “My kids have been asking a lot about FUSION. What is that?”

    No one really said, “Hey, I heard the pastor talk about FUSION, so I came.” Granted there may have been a few.

    To reach the parents, we do have to reach the kids. I will not deny the opposite is true, but this is where equipping parents comes in. This is where aligning an entire leadership team of a church comes in. There are several models out there of course that are striving to do this with success in some areas and weaknesses in others. The ORANGE concept and the BIG IDEA both seek to integrate parents into the strategy from all angles.

    We have to continually evaluate these and other ideas, while being willing to risk new ones to find out what works best for each individual member of the family. We have to equip parents. We have to equip kids. We have to come at it from both sides.

  6. henryjz says:

    Thanks everyone so far for the comments… Family ministry is soooo much bigger and broader than many of us would care to realize… I will post more about that one later.

    Rob, my sentiments exactly… “I say if we grip the parents, we grip the kids.” We put so much on CM, which is important, but we need to put just as much into “gripping” the parents. The football example you gave was priceless… I hope you don’t mind me using that one… They live and breathe football in all aspects of their life. If only we could get people (not just parents) to do the same with their relationship with God… get people to live and breathe loving God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength and loving others as they love themselves… Wow! that would just pass on!

  7. henryjz says:

    It does need to come from both sides. I don’t think too many churches are having a hard time with getting to the kids, though. Not everyone gets it, but many do. Most churches have heard the spiel about how important CM is and to some extent have bought in. I wholeheartedly agree that CM is important and that it is integral to the growth of a church… The tendency, though, is to put ALL of the pressure on CM when adult ministry is just as important. So, yes, we need to reach everyone and disciple everyone.

    I am just finding in my journey through this family ministry paradigm thing (at least 6 years) that we need to broaden our scope of what family ministry means. Otherwise we will just create a bigger silo that is separate from the rest of the church. Ministry needs to be holistic in approach. That take creating a culture that permeates everything from staff relations to how people relate with each other… I plan on blogging more about those thoughts in the next couple of days… I’ll expand on what I mean.

  8. Rob says:

    Ok, I just want to say first that my hope in the discussion is to listen and share so together we might come closer to effectively changing families.

    Aaron, you are right, parents lack spiritual understanding. Many parents I talk to would say, “I don’t know how to pass my faith onto my kids.” But I think it is more about a lack of faith to pass on.

    Dennis Rainey has always said, “All parents will leave a legacy for their kids. The question is what legacy will they leave.” That was the point of my football example. We need to help change the hearts of parents so they can change the hearts of their kids.

    We do play a role in reaching kids. It is a huge role. We work to teach, encourage and build excitement. I personally want to be cautious in the ministry I lead to not develop a constant mindset of “draw in kids and they will drag their parents along too”

    So what does it look like? I am not sure but I know we have to stop seeing “parents” and “kids” as separate things but instead think family.

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