How you read that question might determine where you stand on this topic.
Family Ministry. Let’s clarify. This is not the cynical question coming from the leader who might think it’s more important to focus on EACH age-group in ministry in church. It’s the question coming from the leader who also cares that ALL groups are met at once by ministering to the family as a unit. Both approaches are critical in the church. For generations, churches have done a good job of meeting the needs of each individual age-group while perhaps missing the mark with reaching the family. Is that good enough?
It is, in fact, very good. We should also consider that it is even better if a church ministers to and leads families. The reason is that it’s very clear in Scripture that God cares for the family, in its various forms and functions.
So while God clearly acknowledges specific age groups throughout Scripture (Matthew 19:14, 1 Timothy 4:12, James 1:27 among others), He also elevates the value of the family living and working together as a unit. We see this played out beautifully in Nehemiah 4:13 when “families” are stationed at holes in the wall as Jerusalem was being rebuilt. We see that there is clear instruction in Deuteronomy, chapter 6 on what a typical day should look like for the family that walks with the Lord.
So how does the church step into this? Isn’t that stuff what the family does AFTER they leave our buildings. Perhaps. But inspiring families to “connect” or “bond” or “be together” or “walk along the road” on Sunday is one thing. Giving them what they need to make it happen on Monday is altogether different.
As you lead families, consider that simply reminding parents what they already know, to spend time with their kids, is great, but that we need to teach them to focus on their collective relationship with Jesus. Lost parents spending 24 hours a day with their lost kids, will result in very well-connected lost families.
Allow the gospel, God’s story of love reaching into our brokenness of our world, to drive everything you do. Don’t assume that your parents know or are a part of that story. Many or even most of them are not. Tell them that’s okay. When they begin the journey of faith together with their children, it will result in authentic community in their home that will begin to spill over into your church. Perhaps the best thing you can do in leading the kids in your ministry is to lead their parents.
The greatest thing we can do for families is to connect them to Jesus.
Jeffrey Reed serves on the leadership team for Lifeway Kids. He came to Lifeway with a wide variety of ministry experiences including worship leader, director of children’s ministry, and executive leadership in several growing congregations. He, his wife Katherine, and their four kids attend Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN.