A Message on Family Ministry
I read this quote this morning when it popped up on my twitter feed (@kevingarycook) and it really spoke to my heart. As the Assistant Pastor of Family Ministries, I find that we so often segregate Family Ministries down to either Children's Ministry or Youth Ministry. In essence, it's ministry to minors... but that's not truly "Family ministry" at all. Families include marriages. Families include parents and grandparents. Families include relationships built between people.
Enter Timothy Paul Jones. His focus, in this quote, isn't on the kids, or on the youth, or on programs... it's on the parents. Coordinating a ministry's proclamation (what's being said) and practices (what's being done), for what? So that the PARENTS are:
- Held Accountable
Wow what a difference in mentality! Family ministry shouldn't just be about kids and youth.
Family ministry should acknowledge the parents, their place in life and in the church, their struggles and hardships, the questions they have and the assistance they need.
Family ministry should train the parents, equip them with tools and resources and best practices for being the primary influences in the lives of their children. It's not the church leader's responsibility to influence kids for Christ, it's the parents! Discipleship is done in the home. Church is where the fellowship of disciples come together.
Family ministry should hold parents accountable "as primary disciple-makers in their children's lives," but we can only hold that expectation if we adequately train parents to meet it.
If you are a parent reading this, this may be a reality check for you:
YOU are the #1 influence in your son or daughter's life. YOU!
Not your pastor. Not your children's or youth minister. Not your kid's friends.
No volunteer, clergy, or church employee, no matter how wonderful, can ever replace YOU and the level of influence YOU have in your children's lives.
Without YOU intentionally using your influence in leading them toward Christ, they will be lost.
This is the main responsibility of Christian parenting: Discipleship. It's from the same word as Discipline, and you know what happens when kids don't properly receive discipline, right? It's the same with discipleship and their faith. You have a responsibility.
But we as the church, and especially as church leaders, also have a responsibility to YOU... to empower you, to equip you, to comfort and strengthen and encourage you, to give you tools and resources and guidance on how to make disciples in your home. And we as a church, both at St. Peter's, and around the globe, haven't lived up to our responsibility either.
We're sorry, and we want that to change.
We want to be a place parents turn to with questions, where community is built around shared stories and struggles, where families build their foundations on Christ and discipleship is the norm at every age in every home.
This Fall, St. Peter's is making strides toward growing and developing our Family Life Ministry - and no, that doesn't mean Children and Youth Ministries. We want to give couples time to strengthen and nurture their marriage. We want to equip and train parents to faithfully and successfully raise their children in the faith. We want to empower families to make their home a place of discipleship, of learning and growing and walking together in faith.
Starting this Fall, St. Peter's will have monthly Family Life events for just that purpose. We will also be putting together a Family Resource Center with all sorts of books and tools to help train and equip our parents for family discipleship. We will be launching Life Groups, in-home fellowship and accountability small groups geared toward growing deeper together in Christian spirituality.
Like Timothy Paul Jones, let us "intentionally and persistently coordinate" our Family Life Ministry's proclamation and practices toward parents. You are the greatest influence in your children's lives. So let us invest in YOU, so that the seeds sown in all our children may grow deep roots in the love of Jesus.