In our staff training lately, I have been leading us through what Scripture says about family discipleship. It has been some great discussions as God shows us the standard by which we should be equipping parents to do this work of ministry (Eph. 4:12).
So much of church methodologies focus on the up and coming generations.
- How can we attract teenagers?
- What kind of programming will keep children wanting to come back?
- If we reach those generations, then we will get their parents, right?
Apparently, it doesn’t work that way.
Reaching children does not mean that you automatically reach their parents.
I came across these statistics in Perspectives in Family Ministry that were absolutely alarming to me:
- If a child or youth comes to Christ, there is only a 3.5% chance that the family will follow.
- If a mom comes to Christ, there is a 17% chance that the family will follow.
- If a dad comes to Christ, there is a 93% chance that the family will follow.
[Stats taken form “Want Your Church to Grow? Then Bring in Men” by P. House on bpnews.net.]
Do you see the gravity of this situation?
When fathers are reached for Christ, 93% of those families will follow after them.
Most of our efforts, programs, and endeavors focus on evangelizing the younger generations in order to reach families. Statistically, that rarely happens. Evangelize a child and plant them in a home that doesn’t treasure Jesus and that seed has a narrow chance of growing (Matthew 13)!
If you really want to impact a home, go after the dads.
You may or may not like that statement, but this is seemingly the reality right now. I know many children who are trying to live for Christ but in a home hostile to that effort and they rarely find longevity. I know many women who are begging their husbands to come to church and surprised when their children buck up against going to church as well (I wonder where they get that from).
It is the rare case for a father to prize Jesus and to commit to a church and not see his family follow hard after him.
I was talking with a pastor of another church a few months ago. This smaller congregation was looking to hire a youth pastor full-time. This jump was significant for them. When asking me what kind of person they should hire, I gave him some advice he didn’t see coming. “If I had the salary to add one more position at your church, I would hire a Men’s Pastor before a Student Pastor. If you get the men, their children will follow after them.”
The greatest neglect of family ministry is failing to reach and to equip fathers to fulfill their biblical responsibility.
Right now, I am sorting through a stack of plans on my desk regarding family ministry. I have never been so overwhelmed yet so hopeful at what is heading our way. God is allowing so many things to come together for a relaunch of sorts regarding family ministry come this August. I cannot wait.
But with all our plans regarding things in the home and things on our church campus, we will fail dramatically if we neglect reaching fathers.
There is a reason why Paul singles out fathers (Eph. 6:4) in a discourse on families. There is a reason why we are going to as well.
If you want to reach the home, you better focus on the fathers.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.