If you have been wrestling with the question of trying to define family ministry, you likely have come to realize that the definitions are varied. I doubt that will ever change. But it raises a critically important question which deserves serious consideration. What is family? Dad, mom and at least one child? Dad, mom, children and grandparents? What about uncles and aunts? Nieces and nephews? How about extended family? In-laws? Single parent homes? Homes with no children? Are they any less of a family? Widows, orphans and foster kids? Caring friends? Or even singles who live in the margins of the culture and who feel that no one cares about them until they get a ring on their fingers? What about them? Why do we think first to create isolated ministries designed primarily to help them be around other singles with the unspoken hope that they will grow up and “settle down?” (Such a dreadful expression to the vast swath of never married adults).
What is family? In my view, all of these and more. Sure, there is a natural nurturing closeness to our birth families, and rightly so. Yet, I have also experienced the privilege of closeness with families in which I was not placed by birth. I sense it is a taste of what Jesus intended when he asked his disciples, “Who are my mother and brothers?” And then pointed to the packed room indicating that all present were included.
What is family? When we discover the answer to that question, we will be better equipped to plan and implement effective expressions of family ministry.