Conversation about family ministry

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about family ministry. He is a father to five kids and a husband. The conversation went something like this….

I asked: What does your church do to strengthen family ministry in the home? What role does the children’s ministry play in this effort? I am looking for great ideas. Please share!

He replied: My new church has a kids program for both the boys and girls, and each is somewhat like boyscouts and girlscouts. The kids are required to work on awards and merit badges with the help of the parents and siblings. For example, my son has allways helped me a great deal with firewood, as we cut, split and burn it for heat. The fact that he is involved in the family activities is accounted to him as part of the credit needed for one of his awards.

I asked: Are there any additional ways in which learning at the church is translated into family devotion and prayer at home? Great thoughts. Keep em coming….

He replied: I don’t think that it matters how or what it is, as long as the requirement or challenge cannot be accomplished alone. It is almost like forcing families to spend time together. If the family is devoted to the church and to God, it will be a positive thing – God will use that time to help all participants to grow.

I asked: “Together” is the operative word. I think you have hit on something that is so obvious, yet so counterintuitive to the US American culture, of which we are both a part. So often, spirituality is thought of as a private enterprise concerning individuals, rather than families or communities. As a father and husband and in light of our discussion, can you think of at least one thing your church has done to encourage faith development for your family? What did you like about it? Is it something your family continues to do?

Stay tuned. There may be more to come!

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4 thoughts on “Conversation about family ministry

  1. Getting families to practice spirituality with quality time with kids doing good things together is quite a different responsibility than to say get kids develop the discipline of personal devotion.

    Thanks for hitting us that kids ministry has to facilitate both.

    hmm… now how can I find chance to lunch with our family ministry people?

  2. Thanks for dropping by, rags. Always great to hear from you! I think that personal devotion flows best out of an ethos of Christ-centered family spirituality. As we form habits of worship and study in the immediate family and in our community gatherings, young people will emulate what is modeled for them. Think of it as a kind of spiritual formation apprenticeship, or as we more commonly consider it, discipleship mentoring.

    If we only tell them prescriptively what to do in private devotions, then they will be more likely to abandon the exercise as a lonely quest. But if we infuse Christ-centered spirituality into our family and community gatherings as a part of our regular daily routine, then it will more readily become part of their private devotions as well.

  3. Thanks Glen, what are the things to consider when doing this? If we can incorporate family time as part of the kids devotion, it’ll make it so much more meaningful. Something I really believe will make such a difference. However some of our kids are first generation christians, where their parents don’t come to church. i’m really wondering how a child initiated time can look like in this case.

  4. We have that issue in my church as well rags. It is a tough one. For me, it is a confirmation of the importance of family ministry. One of my solutions is to try to encourage community among families so they can positively influence each other, even if one or more of the families has non-believing parents. It is true that some non-believing parents will not necessarily be supportive of what kids are learning in church. Yet, in our case, it is these same parents who are bringing them because they want their children to learn moral standards. This provides a window of opportunity to speak into the parents’ lives as well, both directly and through their children.

    One of the objections I have faced with this concept of family ministry emphasis is the fact that we cannot forget unchurched kids and their families. It is a valid concern. I think this is where having strong ministry outreach from the homes and neighborhood groups is so important. To the extent we become the presence of Christ in our neighborhoods in our daily lives, others will begin to ask concerning the hope in us and some will begin the journey of discipleship. So I maintain that walking out discipleship in the daily rhythms of family life will be far more meaningful to those considering the claims of Christ, than just about any on-campus church program we can conceive, because it will be happening out there where the lost actually live.

    On the other hand, as we strengthen our witness in the community, there will be a natural corollary effect of people wanting to worship with us.

    Going back to your observation, I also think we can enourage kids with some basic discipleship tools, such as Bibles, prayer support, neighborhood enouragement, providing their are others in the church who live near them. And if that’s the case, they and their parents could be invited to the local home group for fellowship and learning. True, some parent’s will decline. But if we don’t ask, they will not even have that choice.

    I am still working through this. Again, you raise a very valid point with no simple solutions.

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