Just a quick note to point out that there are numerous discussions about family ministry currently underway. On this blog I have posted frequently on the topic here. Also, you can go to Kidology.org to read their forum section which is devoted to the topic of family ministry. I am encouraged to see the emphasis which is being placed on it among those of us who are practitioners in the field of children’s ministry. Contrary to the concerns of some and the open advocacy of others (a vocal minority I think), family ministry should not and need not spell the doom of children’s ministry. Children’s ministry and family ministry ought to walk hand-in-hand, rather than at odds. In my view, both have their valid places and will be most effective if worked out in complementary expressions, rather than in conflicting patterns.
It is a balance of nurture and mission, something which I will be exploring in depth in my dissertation in the coming months. We are rightly challenged to strengthen the ministry of parents to their own children. Correspondingly, we are reminded of our mission to make disciples of the nations, starting with our own local neighborhoods. In those neighborhoods we will find all kinds of people with kids who haven’t the faintest idea how to disciple their own children. Some of us also will find street kids, foster kids, kids with parents in jail or strung out on drugs, kids who roam the streets by day (both those who have and who do not have parents), but who will visit our churches as a place of refuge when we invite them to safety for all kinds of programs. There are so many other possible scenarios.
The key is to exegete our culture as missionaries, applying biblical principles to the practical concerns of our ministry contexts. We should be cautious about jumping on popular ministry bandwagons without first discerning the appropriate applications for our ministry situations. Many jobs have been lost because church leaders move too quickly and with too little communication in initiating change. So be patient, wise, discerning, communicative, and bold. And no, I do not think having bold and patient in the same sentence is a contradiction in terms, especially when it comes to treading carefully the interface of children’s ministry and family ministry in our churches.