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.