Family Ministry

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

At Southern Seminary Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is researching, writing, and talking Family-Equipping ministry.  He is persuaded that our churches must recover a healthy view of family ministry.  I am convinced of this as well.  We must do a better job of ministering to our families as a whole. 

The way that we go about this is often debated.  There are a number of approaches to family ministry floating around today.  Family-integrated, Family-based, and Family-equipping are the three major schools of thought.  Dr. Jones edited “Perspectives on Family Ministry” that lays out the case for each position.  This is a helpful resource for ministry leaders who are seeking to encourage healthy, God-honoring families within their church.

Here at Oak Park Baptist Church we stand firmly on the side of the Family-equipping model.  For us this simply means that we are going to be strategic about partnering with parents.  We want to partner with them in a number of different ways.  From working with our people to strengthen marriages to training single parents how to disciple their children, we are seeking to support what should be happening in the home. 

For us this does not mean doing away with age-graded ministries (like the Family-integrated model).   Nor does it mean adding a bunch of events to an already busy calendar.  Instead it means that we look at the things we are doing already and ask how we can impact the family as a whole through them.  We want to be strategic about making sure to develop points of contact (POC) between the church and the home.  For instance, what a child learns in Sunday School is sent home with the parents in some type of Parental Resource packet.  Our hope is that mom and dad will continue the lesson throughout the week.  By providing them with material we are equipping them to disciple their children by giving them helpful resources.

 There are other things we do as well.  Our Family Worship Guides (coming this summer) are another POC.  Each sermon will (in the near future) have a family discussion guide that will go home with mom and dad.  Our hope and prayer is that families will meditate, discuss, and apply what God is saying on Sunday morning through the sermon.  We also try to capitalize on things like a Children’s New Believers Class.  This class lasts for 5 weeks and seeks to introduce children to doctrines such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the church, and the Bible.  During the first week one of the pastoral staff  takes the parents of the children involved and gives them an overview of what their children are learning, answer doctrinal questions, and encourage them to fulfill their duties as parents.  A Baby Dedication is also a good opportunity to get parents together in an effort to train.  In the past couple of weeks Pastor Nathan (our senior pastor) has had the chance to get a number of young families together and talk about what a Baby Dedication is and is not.  This also provides another opportunity to train our parents to disciple their children.  All these things are meant to connect the church and home. 

I met for a bit with Dr. Jones last week and asked him how historically we have gotten to the point where church and home are not working together.  He points back to the Industrial Revolution as dad began to go off to work and spend the majority of his time away from the family.  Before that time, for centuries families worked the family business…the farm.  They were around each other more often than not.  Dad and mom were usually around to disciple their children.  The church did not have to “fill the gap.”  When the Industrial Revolution comes around we find fathers who begin to disengage and churches begin to “fill the gap.”  With the church doing that, the parents were free (and have been ever since) to abdicate their responsibility.  The generations have suffered.

Today there is a push to challenge mothers and fathers to pick up the mantel.  Oak Park Baptist Church wants to lead the way.  We are committed to making sure that we are equipping the family to honor Jesus in all they say and do.  For His glory, not ours.

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