Perspectives on Family Ministry

Perspectives on Family Ministry is an incredible read.  I have been annoying my wife with all these great quotes!

Edited by Timothy Paul Jones, he enlisted three pastors who are all carrying out family ministry in different ways within their congregations.

Here are some of the top quotes from his introductory section:

  • “…in the future churches would begin to ‘build buildings to support segregation – and they will do it with excellence.  They will not build for racial segregation, but to support age segregation…” (12).
  • “The discipleship of children is perceived to be the task of the church’s programs, not the children’s parents” (22).
  • “The teenage years shifted from an intermediary life-stage with the goal of adulthood to a distinct social and cultural structure that resisted movement toward adulthood” (27).
  • “Rather than healing ruptured connections between the generations, significant numbers of churches unintentionally welcomed, and perhaps even widened, the chasm between children and parents” (34).
  • “This book defines family ministry as ‘the process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the persons primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children'” (40).
  • “The primary formation of a child’s faith is not a job for specialists.  It is a job for parents” (47).
  • “In the past, spending family time together and going to church were the same thing.  Now, family time and church time are not compatible ideas, because families are rarely together when they are at church” -Holly Allen (49).

Each contributor then had a chance to express his philosophy on family ministry.  The other contributors each got a chance to pushback on the chapter and then the minister would get a chance for a final rebuttal.  This entire Perspective series is like that and is one of the most helpful methods I’ve seen.

Here are some of their quotes:

Family-Integrated Ministry by Paul Renfro

  • “We reject the church’s implementation of modern individualism by fragmenting the family through age-graded, peer-oriented, and special-interest classes, thus preventing rather than promoting family unity” (55).
  • [Speaking concerning teenagers] “If we expect immaturity and irresponsibility in those years, that is exactly what we will get” (61).
  • “Never in Scripture do we find an example of systematic age segregation in temple, synagogue, or church” (68).
  • “In some cases a young person is so tightly connected to a youth group that he or she is more committed to that youth group than their own family.  That’s one of the sad results of age-segregated ministry – parents have lost their children’s hearts; and we face the challenge of trying to help them to rebuild those relationships” (74).
  • “How compelling is a religion that cannot keep its own children?” (90).
  • “The problems with public schooling are not merely supposed or perceived; they are very real, resulting in widespread, systematic indoctrination of children in secular humanism” (92-93).

Family-Based Ministry by Brandon Shields

  • “Family-based churches retain separate, age-segmented ministry structures.  The difference between family-based models and typical programmatic models is that family-based churches intentionally include intergenerational and family-focused events in each ministry” (100).
  • “All cotton candy and no meat.  For the last two decades, this seems to have been the prevailing perception of youth ministries, especially in megachurches” (108).
  • “…if the bulk of workers in a ministry are within a decade of their teenaged years, something is seriously wrong.  The Bible clearly couches discipleship in multigenerational terms” (109).
  • “Any ministry immersed in the world’s culture is a dangerous.  Watered-down biblical teaching inevitably contributes to weak-kneed Christian students with few convictions…they discover new temptations, sinful habits, and unhealthy friendships with peers who model values that are antithetical to a biblical worldview” (111).
  • “Shame on us as a church if we do not share the heart of Jesus for children in the way we structure our resources, ministries, and evangelistic efforts!” (136).

Family-Equipping Ministry by Jay Strother

  • “In our well-intentioned efforts to reach students for Jesus Christ, we had developed ministry models failing to call parents to embrace their role as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives” (142).
  • “The home has the greatest impact on young lives; with few exceptions, if we fail to impact the home, we will never make a lasting impact on students” (143).
  • “Family-equipping churches retain some age-organized ministries but restructure the congregation to partner with parents at every level of ministry so that parents are acknowledged, equipped, and held accountable for the discipleship of their children” (144).
  • “It is tempting simply to define family ministry as adding more ‘stuff’ for already busy families” (154).
  • “What is often missed is the fact that the family was the first and remains the best ‘small group’ anywhere!” (158).
  • “As a result of this societal shift, parents have increasingly abdicated their children’s spiritual development or attempted to outsource their children’s discipleship to ministry professionals” (160).

Stretcher also included this chart in his section which is spot on:

Powerful chart on how we are missing it! We are applying a business worldview over a biblical worldview when it comes to church.

Our family and discipleship teams have read this book and starting to discuss it today.  It sure has got me thinking!