Tuesday/Thursday Book Club:
Perspectives on Family Ministry
Foundations for Family Ministry, chapters 4
Beginning with chapter 4, Jones begins to provide a foundation for family ministry. The chapter serves as a lead-in for the four perspectives on family ministry presented in the chapter that follows. Many churches think of family ministry in terms of “family counseling”–merely as a means to strengthen and salvage hurting families. Others use “family ministry” to talk about church ministry as a whole. After all, the church is the family of faith. The family ministry perspectives presented in this book seek to provide practical models by which churches can equip the nuclear family to be the primary training ground for youth and children. Jones defines family ministry as follows:
The process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the persons primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children.
He then gives a brief outline of the major perspectives reviewed in the remainder of the book. One of the best things about this book is that the men who write the “perspectives” chapters are local church practitioners who have developed their philosophies within the trenches of ministry. So, here is a brief overview of what is to come in the next few posts:
The Family-Integrated Ministry Model: Family-integrated ministry is by far the most radical. In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated. There is no youth group, no children’s ministry, no age-graded Sunday school program. The generations learn and worship together, and parents bear primary responsibility for the
evangelism and discipleship of their children. Voddie Baucham, Jr., author of Family Driven Faith, has been the most vocal advocate of this perspective.
The Family-Based Ministry Model: In the family-based model, no radical changes occur in the church’s internal structure. The congregation still maintains youth ministry, children’s ministry, singles ministry, etc. What makes this model different is that the focus of each ministry shifts. Students may still experience worship and small groups in peer groups, separated from other generations. However, each ministry sponsors events and learning experiences (with inter generational curriculum) that are intentionally designed to draw generations together. Mark DeVries pioneered this approach in his book Family-Based Youth Ministry.
The Family-Equipping Ministry Model: In the family-equipping model, many semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact. But the church leaders plan organize their ministries so that they champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives. The church intentionally co-champions the role of both the church and the home in equipping students and families. Two strong advocates of this perspective are Steve Wright, author of ApParent Privelege, and Bryan Haynes, author of the forthcoming book, Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today.
The three perspectives are not mutually exclusive. There is overlap, but each perspective is nevertheless a distinctive approach? Where does your church fit? Have you adopted one of these models? Are you somewhere in between?