I have found in many family ministry conversations I’ve been in, there is always this ideal of what a family should look like that gets touted out. Laments about the state of the family and the lack of parents taking their role as spiritual teacher immediately follow. Discussions like these always have ended up with someone elevating a certain family in his or her church to demagoguery status because that family is what all other families in the church should aspire to be.
In her book entitled The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, Stephanie Coontz challenges the notion of an historical traditional family. “Myths that create unrealistic expectations about what families can or should do tend to erode solidarities and diminish confidence in the problem-solving abilities of those whose families ‘fall short.'” I can’t agree more! Even my confidence starts to wane when I compare my family to “perfect family,” and I’m supposed to be the professional with all the answers!
One huge reason I maintain respect for the ReThink Group and believe that Orange is a conference worth investing in is the belief by Reggie and the rest of the Orange crew that there is no such thing as an ideal family. Families come in all flavors and conditions. I remember watching Reggie speak a few years ago at the opening session of an Orange Conference. He held up a picture frame holding the picture of a “perfect” family and bluntly stated that no such families exist and never have. He, then, proceeded to show pictures of real families–families that don’t fit into our neat and tidy boxes entitled “traditional family.” He emphasized the need for a strategy that helps all of these families grow closer to God that includes both the home and the church.
Where are you gonna go? Where are you gonna go to be inspired to expand what it means to minister to all families? Where are you gonna go to connect with other ministry leaders who are trying to figure out this family ministry thing? Where are you gonna go to get what you need to put together a strategy for your church to reach families in your community?