All posts written by Jared Kennedy

Tuesday Book Club: Family Ministry Assumptions

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:

perspectives-on-family-ministry1. 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.

More Tips and Encouragement from SojournKids:

Memory Monday 06/08/09

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart” (Psalm 9:1a)

Question #1: Who made you? God
Question #2: What else did God make? God made all things.
Question #3: Why did God make you and all things? For his own glory.

This kicks off the first week of “Memory Mondays.” Each week I’ll post Scripture and Bible doctrine memory work from the previous Sunday’s children’s Bible lessons. Here is the challenge! Learn the memory work together as a family. Then, kids, come to our Sunday gatherings next week and recite the memory work to Mrs. Kelsey Barnes (St. Matthews campus), Mr. David Kidd (Germantown campus) or me to receive a reward.

Think Tank: Baby Dedication

Children's Ministry Ideas

I tapped out of the latest edition of the Children’s Ministry Think Tank. I have lots of excuses… preaching, web site crashes, etc.  But none of them are really that good, because the latest topic is a really important one.   So, even though I didn’t make the posting deadline, I thought I’d go ahead and answer the question here… and provide a link to thoughts from other children’s ministers.

Think Tank #3 Questions About Baby Dedication

What is your church’s practice of baby dedication? Does it integrate with a family ministry strategy? Are their membership requirements for the parents? What do you include in the ceremony?At

At Sojourn, our dedication service is a time we set aside to celebrate the children that God has given us.  Member families from our church community come to go public with their desire to bring up new children by God’s grace and according to his instructions.

Our service is simply called a Dedication. Some churches think about it as a baby dedication, but it is better called a Parent Dedication. This is not a water baptism, but it is a heavy thing–serious business for the parents involved. The dedication is a covenant–a holy commitment made between the parents, God, and our church community. It is serious business for our church as well. We don’t believe that God made children the responsibility of the nuclear family in isolation. Continue Reading…

Defining a “Family Equipping” Ministry

Here are some bullets from Steve Wright of InQuest Ministries and Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.  What do you think?

• Ministry that seeks to make Christ above all else beautiful and that declares an uncompromising Gospel to those who do not know Christ (Galatians 1:6-9).

• Ministry that is measured by lasting disciples rather than attendance campaigns and focuses on the glory of our matchless Savior (John 15:1-15).

• Ministry that truly partners with parents and seeks as a priority the task of resourcing, training, and involving parents as the primary disciplers of their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

• Ministry that prioritizes and champions equally the two institutions that are God-given: the Family and the Church (Acts 2:42-47).

• Ministry that seeks men who are biblically qualified pastors rather than charming activity directors (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

• A ministry environment that is healthy for a student pastor and his family; an environment where pastors will desire to stay long past today’s destructive low tenures (Matthew 10:10).

• Ministry that seeks to mentor students for adulthood, marriage, and family rather than seeking to develop lifelong youth group attendees (1 Corinthians 13:11).

• Ministry that invites, expects and teaches the biblical responsibility of older generations to invest in those younger in the faith (2 Timothy 2:2).

RT: Lasting Divergence

Tuesday Book Club: Perspectives on Family Ministry

perspectives-on-family-ministryTuesday/Thursday Book Club:
Perspectives on Family Ministry
Confessions of a Well-Meaning Youth Minister

I’ve recently had the chance to meet Dr. Timothy Paul Jones.  We live in the same city, St. Matthew’s, KY (one of Louisville’s neighborhoods and the home of Sojourn’s newest campus), and we had a chance to sit down for coffee while we were in another city, Minneapolis, for the Children Desiring God conference.  Dr. Jones currently serves with the children’s and family ministry at Highview Baptist Church’s campus in  southern Inidana–which sort of makes Tim into Dr. “Indiana” Jones.  He also serves as Associate Professor of Leadership and Church Ministry at Southern Seminary.  Dr. Jones has recently edited a book entitled Perspectives on Family Ministry. It is slated to be published by B & H Academic this October, but Tim was kind enough to send me a preview copy.  I’ll be blogging through it for the “book club” over the next few weeks.  This first section, “Why Every Church Needs a Family Ministry,” chapters 1-4, gives Dr. Jones’ reflections on family ministry.  The second section, outlines and contrasts three contemporary views of family ministry from the perspectives of their advocates.

Confessions of a Well-Meaning Youth Minister, chapter 1images

In his first chapter, Dr. Jones writes from his own experience as a youth minister, and he speaks to several major questions facing church’s today  Here are some of the key questions that he asks:

(1) Should “fun” be a priority in youth and children’s ministry? Jones quotes the mantra, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.”   Then he asks, “Is this statement true? How has this statement been applied in youth and children’s ministries? How have these attitudes affected ministries to children and youth?”  Mark DeVries has responded, “It might be more of a sin to suggest to young people that the Christian life is always fun and never boring.   Keeping teenagers from ever being bored in their faith can actually deprive them of opportunities to develop the discipline and perseverance needed to live the Christian life. It is precisely in those experiences that teenagers might describe as ‘boring’ that Christian character is often formed” (DeVries, Family Based Youth Ministry)

(2)  What causes so many youth ministers to quit? Jones observes, “For many years, youth ministers tended to remain only a year or two in the same congregation. In the twenty-first century, youth ministers are staying longer.”  A 2002 Journal of Youth Ministry survey revealed an average tenure for full-time youth ministers in each congregation of four years, seven months. The most frequent reasons given for leaving a church included inadequate salaries and conflicts with a senior pastor.  Why do you think so many youth ministers burn out and leave their posts?

(3) Is your youth or children’s ministry a one-eared Mickey Mouse? Like Mickey’s ear, is it only barely connected to the rest of the body?  Does it operate on its own–pursuing its own vision and philosophy apart from the vision and values of the church as a whole?  If so, what assumptions led your church to this point.  Jones suggests that one result of this ministry model is that “parents are not perceived as having primary responsibility for the spiritual growth of their offspring.“  How can we work together to correct this false assumption in our churches?  Jones asks, “Do your church’s programs and structures contribute more to coordination or to separation within each family in your church? How could your church do a better job of bringing families together?”

Before exploring Jones’ conclusions, how would you answer these questions?