Family Ministry Conversation Day 2

OK, it’s been almost two weeks since I went to Costa Mesa for this conversation with David C. Cook and RockHarbor Church. I was able to post about the first day quickly, but day 2 was a whirlwind of half a day of meetings and then boarding a plane to come home and then the busyness of ministry life caught up. Finally, a respite to post my thoughts on the last day of the conversation!

On Day 2 we got to hear from the president at David C. Cook about the company and what they were doing around the world. The one thing that really stuck with me that I had not realized (and I don’t think many people realize) is that David C. Cook is a non-profit company! That really floored me… and it gave me a greater respect for the company and desire to buy stuff from them. What they do is charge for resources in areas of the world that can afford it (North America, most of Europe… the developed and developing areas of the world) and then turn those “profits” around to give resources to under developed areas of the world that can’t afford to buy them. Wow! I don’t know why David C. Cook doesn’t put that fact out there at the front of everything they do. I simply assumed, like most people, that David C. Cook was just another publishing company out there to maximize their profits for their pockets. (OK, that seems harsh towards other publishing companies, but you have to admit that is what crosses your mind… Maybe it would be better to say that David C. Cook’s motivations for profit aren’t primarily for paying salaries but for providing free resources to those who can’t afford them.) Knowing that they are non-profit and why they are motivates me to look at them when I am searching for resources. My two cents for David C. Cook: let everyone know your are a non-profit and why… more people will look at buying from you as giving to a cause rather than simply buying resources!

Anyway, the rest of the time before lunch (and the end of the Conversation) was spent talking about the partnership between David C. Cook and RockHarbor. Without saying too much about the specifics, they are partnering to come out with a new curriculum that ties in families. The goal is to have a curriculum that is more centred around the story of God as redeemer that is shown throughout the Bible, seeks to be more relational, is easily customizable, and follows a more formational approach to teaching.

I am very interested to see what this curriculum is going to look like… it hasn’t been written yet. They are in the process of doing it right now. It is an interesting way of doing curriculum. David C. Cook has sent some of its team to be at RockHarbor to write curriculum, and the RockHarbor team is driving the philosophy and theology behind the curriculum. In essence, the RockHarbor team sits down with the Cook team and says, “This is what we are wanting to do.” The Cook team then gets the necessary info they need to write curriculum and give it back to the RockHarbor team who then looks it over, refines it, uses it, makes notes and then gives it to another Cook team to refine and edit to be sent to be beta tested at selected churches to be refined even more. This is a very ambitious project, and one that I think is pretty revolutionary for a curriculum publishing company: partnering trained curriculum writers and theoreticians with experienced and passionate practitioners to bring a curriculum to life. It’ll be interesting to see and hear how all of that progresses over the next year as they write and test the curriculum. In my estimation, I think Cook and RockHarbor are paving the way for a new paradigm in curriculum development.

Anyway, in specifically dealing with the curriculum they are working on, I can’t comment on it because I haven’t seen it. I think they have some great ideas in having a more family aware curriculum, but I am not holding my breath. I’m sure it will be good, but my thoughts on family ministry (which have been developing over the past 8 years) have been rapidly evolving and changing in this past year. I will blog more about that later. I just don’t think that a new curriculum is what we need in order to help parents as they try to pass on faith to their children.

One thing thing that was said, in reference to an ideal curriculum was that it should be “home-based and church-supported.” My first gut reaction would be, “YES!” But what does that actually mean? Do we send parents home with a curriculum they do? Do we tell parents that unless they are “teaching” their children what they’ve been learning at church that they are not doing their jobs? Yes, that ideal sounds good, but I don’t know if I agree that is what our goal should be. It’s like telling all parents that they should be homeschooling their children as the ideal.

The remaining time we had at the Conversation, Michelle Anthony who oversees Families Ministry at RockHarbor shared their objectives and values at RockHarbor. I’m sorry to disappoint all of you, but I won’t go into them because they are unique to RockHarbor. You can always try and contact RockHarbor to get it from them if you really want to. I will say, though, that none of what they had is really new if you’ve looked at other family ministry paradigms. What they have is just tailored for their specific context.

All in all, it was a privilege to be a part of this Conversation. I look forward to seeing what comes out of this Conversation and from the partnership between David C. Cook and RockHarbor. They are sincerely trying to bring out a resource that many churches can use as they try to facilitate a ministry that is mindful of families.


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