Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three Models of Family Ministry

We’ve spent the last few weeks in our Gospel-Driven Parenting class building towards seeing the Family-Equipping Model here at New Beginnings. The Family-Equipping Model is one of three family ministry models that churches have began to implement in order to compensate for many families being separated in “silos” in churches as well as the drop-off and drop-out factors. This is not an attempt at pragmatically “fixing the glitch” of family ministry. It is restoring the main thing, generations loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, back to its place as the main thing. 
Check out some of the things we covered in Sunday’s lesson. (You can listen to the lessons online here. Then click on the arrow in the blue box on right side of page to see all lessons. www.nbchurch.info)
We saw the “Drop-Out Factor” where over 85% of regular church-attending youth dropped out of church at age 18. 
We saw the “Drop-Off Factor” where 85% of evangelical parents recognized that they bore the primary responsibility for their children’s spiritual growth. 
But when you asked those 85% parents what they were supposed to do in raising up the next generation to love the Lord—62% said “Take them to church.” They expected that it was the churches job to spiritually lead and disciple their children. 
We see God’s design and desire in Psalm 78. 
Psalm 78: 1-8
A Maskil of Asaph.

[1] Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
[2] I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
[3] things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
[4] We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
[5] He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
[6] that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
[7] so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
[8] and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
[9] The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle.
[10] They did not keep God's covenant, but refused to walk according to his law.
[11] They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.

We’re looking for a better way. We can do better than this. It will take us being intentional and purposeful—but we can do this for the glory of God. 
—85% of youth dropping out of church at age 18. 
—Churches using programs and pragmatic approaches to try to retain kids.
—Churches separating parents and children in age-segregated “silos.” (EXPLAIN SILOS SEPARATED MINISTRIES)
—Parents dropping kids off at church with expectation for church to disciple them. 
A Summary of Family Ministry
“In the space of a couple of centuries, the generations have drifted so far apart that recalibrating an entire congregation to engage in family ministry appears radical, perhaps even impossible. The majority of parents have handed over the task of discipling their children to professional ministers. Churches have constructed entire ministry models on foundations that strain family structures instead of drawing family members together.” TPJ Foundations of Family Ministry, 50.

1. Family-Integrated Model
“In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated. Thats right: No youth group, no children’s church, no grade-segmented Sunday school classes. Generations learn and worship together, and parents bear primary responsibility for the evangelism and discipleship of their children.” TPJ Foundations, 42. 
“The Biblical family is a scripturally-ordered household of parents, children, and sometimes others (such as singles, widows, divorcees, or grandparents), forming the God-ordained building blocks of the church (2 Tim. 4:19). 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.” National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (TPJ Foundations, 42)
—No youth groups nor youth pastors. No children’s ministry nor children’s ministers. No age-segregated events/programs/classes at all.
“In our congregation, we work through a prayer guide in the bulletin early in the worship service. This bulletin lists five families within our church and government officials as well as an unreached people group. The bulletin also provides the needed tools for fathers to lead their families in worship at home, even if they’ve never led family worship before. The worshiper finds a hymn of the week, some catechism questions, and the prayer guide. There are also NT and OT Scripture readings that can be broken into smaller sections during the week.” Paul Renfro in TPJ Foundations, 57-58. 
Lord’s Supper “Each father gathers his family, guiding them toward reflection, repentance, and reconciliation before a time of prayer. Those without families gather with a family, or they can pray alone.” Paul Renfro in TPJ ibid, 58. 

2. Family-Based Model
—No radical shifts occur with the church’s internal structures. The church still maintains youth ministry, children’s ministry, singles ministry, and so on. Age-segregated classes may remain in all areas. 
—They tend to be the “mainstream” churches that fell into the thinking, “What would it take to get more people to come?” They unashamedly aim for the “biggest impact.”
—These churches tend to be the most programmatic and believe that the answer to the problem of separation is to add parents to their already existing programs.

3. Family-Equipping Model
—We recognize that in all the well-intentioned aspects of “Church-Growth” (last weeks wrong assumptions) and “Seeker-Driven” attractional programs—churches have failed at acknowledging, educating, equipping, engaging, and encouraging parents in their role as primary faith trainers for their children. 
—This is a slow process to shift the culture of parents who were not discipled by their parents. For father’s fighting passivity, who have never seen an example of this to pick up the torch and run with it in order to hand it off. This is process-oriented. It is not quick growth nor busyness. 
—With the Family-Equipping model, church leadership begins to restructure every ministry in order to truly equip, train, and engage parents to be their children’s primary disciple-makers. 
—With Family-Equipping model, church leaders do NOT merely want to add parents to existing programs at the scheduled church services (ONE OF BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS). 
—These leaders understand that “activities” and “events” are not what truly produce lasting change in people’s lives—but instead training people and giving them small concrete steps on a consistent everyday basis within the home. 
—The Family-Equipping Model answers the problem of the “Drop-Off” Factor where parents had, for a couple of generations, been well-intentioned in bringing their children “to the church” for programs and activities. In later assessing true spiritual fruit, much of it could be seen as busyness, entertainment, and activity. 
**What is your goal in parenting? —Would you change/modify that goal if you found out you were acknowledged in the Bible to be your children’s primary disciple-makers?
**What is your goal in parenting? —Would you change that goal if the church challenged you through Scripture and then gave the tools to equip you to lead family devotionals? 
**Are you planning and thinking and running yourself (and them) ragged pursuing shallow, temporarily fulfilling, self-centered goals? 
Sankie P. Lynch

Many thoughts sparked and discussed in:
Timothy Paul Jones Foundations in Family Ministry (B & H Academic, 2009). 
Randy Stinson, Timothy Paul Jones  Trained in the Fear of God (Kregel Academic & Professional, 2011).

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