The History of Family Ministry, Part 4: The Family Ministry Movement

UncategorizedJared Kennedy1 Comment

The Family Ministry Movement (present day) is seeking to address and deconstruct the departmentalizing /compartmentalizing of the church’s people by re-connecting church and home. Listen to Reggie Joiner.

  • Reggie Joiner, “Chapter 26—Where Do You Start?” in Collaborate: Family + Church, (2010)“If we can be more effective at engaging parents to partner in our ministries, and improve the quality of relationships in the family, we will increase the possibility of a child having a dynamic and authentic faith.”

    “When we partner with ministries, we call this an ‘Orange’ way of thinking.  If the color red [warm nurturing hearts] represents parents and the color yellow [bright missional lights] represents church leaders, they need to combine to make orange.  Orange is the idea that two combined influences will make a greater impact than either of the two influences alone…  [So,] family ministry is ‘synchronizing church leaders and parents around a master plan to build faith and character in their sons and daughters.’”

Most practitioners agree with Reggie, but few agree on how to go about the changes that need to be made.  Here are a few contemporary family ministry models:

Family Integrated—Family integrated ministry is by far the most radical.   They have solved the problem by going back to Baxter.  In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated. There is no youth group, no children's ministry, and no age-graded training program.  The generations learn and worship together, and parents bear primary responsibility for the evangelism and discipleship of their children.

Family Equipping—In the family-equipping model, many semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact. But the church leaders plan and organize their ministries so that they champion the place of parents as primary faith trainers.   The church intentionally co-champions the role of both the church and the home in equipping students and families.  As such, there is a clear focus on church insiders.  Family pastors champion family worship guides, parenting classes, and milestone strategies (baby dedication, baptism, rites of passage, etc.).  Often parents are required to serve.

Family Based—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.  Gospel mission—reaching outsiders—remains the primary emphasis of the church as a whole even as ministry areas shift to draw generations together. Students may still experience worship and small groups in peer groups, separated from other generations, but each ministry sponsors events and learning experiences that are intentionally designed to draw generations together.

The greatest danger in the family ministry movement is that all these models are pragmatic methodologies. While principles drive these methods, the methodology chosen by each local church is a matter of Christian freedom—a matter of conscience and context.  One potential danger for family ministers is allowing the family emphasis to eclipse the gospel so that ministry becomes family-driven rather than gospel-driven.  Our prayer for SojournKids and Sojourn’s Student & Family Ministry is that it remains gospel-driven rather than family driven.  Thanks for praying for us while we've been at the Orange conference.  Please continue to pray as we return and serve at Sojourn.  We're driving back today.