Archive for the ‘family ministry’ Category

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Family Friendly vs. Family-Centric

May 26, 2008

It’s funny how being on a trip with a friend gets you to ponder things you normally don’t ponder…

On my trip to see RUSH, my friend and I were told by our wives to stop at IKEA since there isn’t one anywhere near Thunder Bay. I had to pick up some boxes for shelves that we have.

My wife and I have always been impressed by how IKEA is aware of families in their decorations and the little things they have so that kids don’t get bored in their MASSIVE stores. They’ve got play stations throughout the store. They even have a kids’ eating area in their restaurant.

This time around, I realized that there is a big difference between family-friendly and family-centric. IKEA is family-friendly. They are aware that families come to their stores, and they want those families to enjoy their time so they continue to shop and want to come back. They also have many customers that aren’t “families.” They have customers that are singles. They have customers who have no children. They have customers whose children have grown and leave home. These customers don’t in any way feel left out or alienated or ignored by IKEA’s family-friendliness. In fact, their family-friendliness is just there. It’s not “in-your-face.” If you have kids, you notice it. If you don’t, then you probably don’t.

When it comes to family ministry, I think IKEA has got something. When it comes to doing church, we need to be family friendly. We need to do ministry with the thought of how we can equip parents and engage kids and keep families coming back and growing without excluding everyone else.

What I am seeing in current family ministry trends is a push to make church family centric. Families, namely families with young children, are the ones that church is encouraged to program for leaving out everyone else. OK, I may sound extreme, but that is what it looks and sounds like. I am all for encouraging, empowering and equipping parents to be faith models for their children. My fear is, though, that we program so much on the side of “family ministry” that we make everyone else cater to that.

Our efforts need to go towards creating whole adults who realize that they are to be transformed beings created in the image of God. We need to help adults come to a point where they no longer compartmentalize their “spiritual life.” We need to do that in a family friendly way: encouraging people to live out their lives so that children catch what is being modeled, having programming and environments that engage children so that parents can be discipled as well as their children.

Children’s ministry is, and will always be, important. Hey, I’m a children’s pastor and like having a job 🙂 But we can’t make church family-centric and have it revolve around what we are doing in children’s and student ministries. What we do need to do is restructure what we do so that what we do is family friendly: is valuable and helpful to families while not excluding everyone else. I’m concerned that current conversations surrounding family ministry are too weighed towards the church becoming family centric rather than family friendly.

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My Take on Family Ministry

May 15, 2008

(photo by Patrick Q)
Family Ministry is a buzzword in children’s ministry. I hear people talk about the problem of family ministry. We talk about how we need to partner more with parents. We talk about it as if this is a new and revolutionary idea that we need to find new and revolutionary solutions to. We talk about how things used to be done reminiscent of “the good old days” way of talking.

I do think that it is good that churches are trying to be more intentional in how faith is integrated into family life. My concern, though is that most solutions are still based on an institutional and compartmentalized view of spirituality. We are looking for family programs, partnership initiatives, and shared “worship” experiences to deal with the questions of helping parents share faith with their children.

My concern is that these “solutions” do not help families live out their faith in authentic ways as they live out life. Families are inadvertently told that “THE WAY” to pass on faith to their children is by going to a church service together or by having family devotions that include some sort of learning activity or by following a curriculum they take home to use in the car and at the dinner table.

While these things are not bad, I don’t think we need to focus more on helping families realize that faith is lived out in the day-to-day things they do. Parents need to be encouraged to live out their faith from day-to-day and model what it means to live a transformed and authentic life with all its ups and downs. Parents need to be equipped to use everyday moments – teachable moments – to model faith for their children. Parents need to be empowered to be a faith model for their children.

While family ministry programs and systems and initiatives and whatever else you might want to add are good, I don’t believe they are the answer. We, as ministry leaders, need to model for our community that church is more than just a building… that worship is more than just a church service… that everyone in God’s family is a minister and needs to be doing ministry in the greater community together as families… that all parts of our lives need to be lived out as worship… that wherever we are, we carry the image of God as lives transformed by the Holy Spirit…

What does that look like? I’m not sure. But I’m not convinced that all these programs and solutions that are being talked about are the answer. I think the answer is much more simple and organic.

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Mother’s Day

May 14, 2008

(photo by MontanaRaven)
Mother’s Day was a lot of fun at our church. I had the privilege of putting the service together. We entitled the service “Snapshots of Motherhood” and weaved a number of skits, monologues and dance together with the message. We also had the JK and SK kids share a song as well as had some Grade 1-4 kids join the adult worship team to lead music.

The message of the morning was that motherhood is hard yet many pictures are painted for mom’s about what “the perfect mom” is supposed to look like. These pictures only serve to discourage and weigh mom’s down with guilt and disappointment. These images come magazines, books, TV, and… us! I encouraged mom’s to look to the creator of the universe who gifted each of them individually for a picture of the “good mom” each of them needs to be. I also encouraged everyone else to stop painting pictures for moms of what they should be.

I used the story of Samuel looking for a new king of Israel among Jesse’s sons. I then pointed out 1 Samuel 16:7 that says God looks at the heart while we look on outward appearances. God chose David to be king whereas Samuel would’ve picked one of his older brothers. I then made the parallel that God is the only one who sees the hearts of each mom and is the only one who can accurately paint a picture of what each mom needs to be for her kids and her family.

It was cool because the skits were realistic snapshots of motherhood at different stages. Many moms left thankful for the permission to “just be mom” whatever that looks like for them.

I think we, as children’s ministry leaders, need to do more of this kind of thing. Cheering on parents and encouraging them to be the parents God has created them to be. We need to stop telling parents what to do and let God paint his picture of what they need to do and who they need to be. Then we need to come alongside them and encourage them in that.