Family Ministry

Posted: January 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

I have enjoyed the last couple of weeks as I have read a few books (6 to be exact) on the issue of Family Ministry.  As a pastor I want to make sure that I am helping strengthen existing family units and not pulling families apart at every event or program.  What I have read has been helpful as I continue to think through my role as a shepherd.

 There seems to be a movement among churches to hire a Family Pastor or Pastor to Families instead of the traditional Youth Pastor.  The whole idea stems from a conversation about what model of ministry towards the family is healthiest and most biblical.  In the book “Perspectives on Family Ministry,” edited by Timothy Paul Jones of SBTS, there are three main views explained and critiqued:

1.  Family-Integrated–In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated.  A Proponent:  Voddie Baucham.

2. Family-Based–In a family-based model there are no radical changes in the church’s internal structure.  There are, however, events and programs that are developed within each sphere of ministry that is meant to bring families together.  A Proponent:  Jim Burns.

3.  Family-Equipping–In the family-equipping model age-organized ministry remains intact.  The difference here is that every ministry is designed to work together to champion both the family and the church.  A Proponent:  Timothy Paul Jones.

Depending on what model you agree with determines much about how you do ministry.  How you put a ministry calendar together, work with other staff members, and how you partner with parents is determined by what model of ministry you operate within.  Personally, I find much to like in all three positions (with Family-Equipping being where I stand for now).  I would suggest reading the “Perspectives” book to gain a better understanding of what the conversation is about and what is at stake.  If we fail to entrust the things of God to even one generation then many generations to come will feel the effects.

Besides the “Perspectives” book, the literature that has come out on this specific topic is interesting.  Reggie Joiner of Northpoint Community Church, where Andy Stanley pastors, has written “Think Orange” and called churches and parents to combine their efforts.  This book quickly became one of my favorites.  With God establishing two primary institutions, Family and the Church, it only makes sense to get these two institutions working together.  Reggie Joiner drives his point home as he repeats this concept over and over again: “When you combine two influences, you increase the odds.”  The idea is to call the church and the parents to link arms in raising the next generation to love Jesus. 

Other books that have been helpful are “reThink” by Steve Wright (his plan for parents is helpful–RTI–Resource, Train, Involve).  “Youth Builder” by Jim Burns, “Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry,” by Jim Burns and Mike DeVries, and “Youth Ministry in Small Churches” by Rick Chromey have all helped broaden my thinking in this area of ministry. 

The bottom line:  I believe we need to encourage healthy families by equipping parents and engaging students for the exaltation of Christ.  This happens best as parents take Deuteronomy 6, Colossians 3, and Ephesians 6 seriously and as the Church comes alongside of parents to provide support for the task.  Raising the next generation to love Jesus, love His Word, love the Church, and love the lost world is a community project.

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