Here are four key thoughts on family ministry as I strive to figure out how to apply it to my ministry context in light of the broader conversation occurring in the Western Hemisphere. They represent some of the concerns I face heading into this new season at my church.
1. Family ministry which swings the pendulum so far that we forget about responsibility to mission and ministry to the unchurched is an unfortunate and unnecessary result of focusing inordinately inward on internal needs and applications at the expense of Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations. There has to be a balance. Discipleship implies mission and evangelism. It is not a separate component. Consider Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28-19-20. “Go and make disciples of ALL nations, teaching them everything I have commanded you.”
2. We have only begun to see the tip of what is to come in family ministry, partly because there will be new leaders who apply the very helpful principles developed by the pioneers and early adapters of current family ministry models to a broader definition of family which includes orphans, widows, singles (especially single parent homes), the disenfranchised, the homeless, and varied configurations of family (e.g., grandparents who raise grandkids, foster homes which see frequent transition, etc). In other words, family ministry is wide open for continued development.
3. Family ministry models which are the most transferrable will encourage contextualization culturally, with mature missional insights for practical application in local situations. My concern is to introduce expressions of ministry to and with families that do not create a familial gentrification, thereby disenfranchising, even uprooting, certain people who do not fit a particular demographic, either sociologically (e.g. mom, dad and kids, single parent homes, or foster homes) or economically (e.g. both parents must work due to financial constraints).
4. I genuinely love the kids, plus their dads, moms and various other caregivers in my church and neighborhood. My simple question is, how can my church be a place of refuge for them in their journeys so that they all become disciples of Jesus Christ for life? Part of this implies mission to reach out to them; part implies expressions of creative ministry which will model for them what family discipleship can look like in the ordinary routines of their lives. And so we continue the journey. More to come on that in the coming months as I introduce specific initiatives to my church.