Thinking Toward a Family Ministry Approach (repost)

As I see God’s heart for multigenerational faithfulness and the needs present in the local church, I become more deeply passionate about family ministry. I believe the Church is God’s chosen avenue for spreading His love and His Word to the world. It is in this setting that we need to be actively engaging and encouraging individuals, couples, and families in their walk with Christ. The church should be the place of guidance, support and correction as we seek to emulate Jesus.

The first priority is an individual’s personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is essential that we build into our thinking the idea of growing people in an understanding of God and His heart for the world. In the church today, we have many religious people but few who are truly deep people, especially in terms of their faith and spiritual growth. In order to see families and generations transformed for the cause of Christ, we have God’s incredible Word by which we seek to teach, train, correct, reflect, and grow. With a strong foundation of biblical truth and sound doctrine, individuals will develop a God-heart and a God-perspective of their life, the lives of others, and their place in God’s kingdom. John 15:12 records these words of Jesus – “My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you.” It is illogical to think that we can love others or change families or influence the world around us without first experiencing, rejoicing in, and increasing in the love we’ve received from God. His love for us should overflow into a love for others.

As God’s plan for multigenerational faithfulness is revealed in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we understand that God must alone be our God. We also see that loving Him completely will spill over and be connected to our relationship with others. Jesus made this clear in his teaching on the greatest commandment – Love God, Love others (Mark 12:19-31). Comparing this love of others to God’s plan for families in Deuteronomy, I believe the church needs an emphasis on building strong marriages. This is not as an exclusion to the singles (see above) but a building upon that as an illustration of Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:25). It is my conviction that Christian marriages are one of the greatest evangelistic tools at our disposal. The converse would also be true. As such, a lost and dying world is in desperate need to see deep individuals and God-honoring marriages. Time must be given for teaching the truths about marriage and family to couple at every stage of their relationship. They need to be encouraged, corrected and connected with others on the journey. Bringing couples together in mutual growth and accountability will provide a healthy way for them to grow as models of Christ’s love for the world.

Individuals grow in giving and receiving God’s love. They begin to love others, especially their spouse, after the heart of God. A strong marriage, then, is foundational to biblical parenting. Parents struggle with all the positives and negatives of their personal experiences growing up, and many Christian parents realize their need for help and growth in this area. Sadly, churches have not typically been good about being a place for that support. My heart is to walk with parents to help them understand a God-perspective of parenting, as He is our Father. We need to provide a solid foundation of biblical wisdom in raising godly children. The focus should not be on behavior modification but on spiritual transformation. Parents, again, need the support of others walking the same path in order to provide strength, support and perseverance. Every child is different, and we need to understand and respond appropriately in their language with the never-changing truth of God’s Word. The most important “pastor” in the life of a child is their parent. Parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children in the faith (Deut. 6), and the church should not replace but support them in this endeavor.

Recognizing children are unique and are developing at different rates and stages, I believe a healthy church ministry should include relating God’s Word to where they are. Again, this should not be seen apart from the parental responsibility, but as a way of reinforcing what we pray the parents are teaching at home. I’ve seen many positive ways through which churches have sought to build their training/curriculum around the concept of furthering the family’s ability to connect and relate outside the church walls. Yet, churches have a tendency toward extremes, and our age-related segregation has also resulted from this swing. Whether a child is from a broken home, healthy home, or comes alone, they each have a need for adult role models and influences. As such, my heart for ministry is not simply relating to an individual’s stage in life, but in also providing opportunities for the church to grow intergenerationally. I’ve seen ways through which this can be done through carefully planned and executed events as well as programmatically in a setting which encourages all ages to be in attendance (not simply the morning worship service). The connections to other generations are healthy not only for our children, but for adults who all too easily pull away from the younger generations.

As a minister of Christ, my heart is to see individuals, marriages, parents, children and families grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I believe this requires much time, experimentation with new ideas and forms, and relational connection among the members of the church body. This depth is what the world is looking for. These needs are prevalent outside the church walls as well. Each part of this ministry can be an open door for evangelism and sharing the heart of God. As a Church, we are part of God’s Kingdom. I believe our homes are embassies, and we each are ambassadors for Christ. Each aspect needs to be considered as we share Christ’s love with others. A lost and dying world is in need of a Savior who changes lives, and our churches should model a place of change and life transformation by our foundation of the work of Christ and the Word of God.

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