Tuesday/Thursday Book Club:
Perspectives on Family Ministry
Family Ministry Assumptions, chapters 2-3
In his remaining introductory chapters, Jones give an overview of some assumptions that are common to leaders within the family ministry movement. While there are varying views of how a family ministry should be organized (reviewed in the second half of the book), there are at least two common assumptions. Here they are:
1. The task of training children in faith is too significant to be surrendered to professionals. Ministers, elders, and deacons should equip parents, but the task of training children (like the task of dating one’s wife) is too significant to be surrendered wholly to professionals. From a biblical standpoint (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21), parents are the primary faith trainers of their children. According to the Barna research group, Christian parents commonly agree with this assumption, but the majority generally rely upon their church to do all of the religious training. According to the research, the majority of parents do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children. They do not feel equipped to do so. Sadly, very few student ministires are talking about how to partner with parents to disciple children.
2. The “teenager” is a cultural invention. Believe it or not, the term “teenager” was never used until 1941. Of course, the fact of adolescence is ancient. After all, the book of Proverbs is written to address the young adolescent man. But, according to Jones, the social function of the adolescent years changed during the latter half of the twentieth century. “What emerged for the first time during these decades was a distinct adolescent culture that differed radically from the culture of parents and other adults.” The teenage years were no longer viewed as an intermediary life-stage with adulthood as the goal but a distinctive “youth culture” or “orientation” that resisted movement toward adulthood. The 20th century church responded (some would say accommodated) to this phenomenon with a preponderance of age-focused ministries. They began as para-church ministries (the YMCA, Young Life, Youth for Christ) then church youth groups began to imitate the para-church ministry models. Youth groups developed “their own distinct expressions of Christian community, disconnected from the faith of their mothers and fathers.” The Family Ministry movement in its various forms seeks to address and deconstruct in various ways the departmentalizing and compartmentalizing of the church’s people.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with these two assumptions? How is your church addressing them. More to come soon as I continue to work through Dr. Jones’ book.
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