During Christmas Break, my mind has been swirling on Family Ministry models.
Why? Well, first, I’m preparing to teach a class in Children’s Ministry in a couple weeks. Secondly, I am consulting with my home church in the children’s ministry area and have been thinking a lot about the suggestions I should make. And third, Jennifer and I have been discussing our own personal views on family ministry models in light that we have two preschoolers living in our house. How are we being equipped to disciple them? Are we thinking carefully about their spiritual standing before God?
There are really three major Family Ministry models floating around.
1. The Family Integrated Model – which removes all age-graded ministry to preschoolers, children and teenagers. This model encourages families to worship together, fathers to lead and disciple their families, and children to be involved in all aspects of the church alongside their family (e.g., missions, discipleship, worship, giving, prayer, etc).
2. The Family Based Model – which keeps preschool, children and youth ministry segments in the church led by paid ministers and caring adult volunteers (which might be parents), but offers many intergenerational opportunities for families to engage together. This model is probably the most prevalent in America being that most churches have youth ministries and more and more are forming established children’s ministries.
3. The Family Equipping Model – keeps preschool, children and youth ministry segments in the church but encourages parents to lead the vast majority of these areas. The paid staff and adult, non-parenting volunteers are there to minister to the “spiritual orphans” and to equip, coach, encourage, and guide the parents as they disciple their children.
We have really come to love the Family Equipping Model.
As a former youth minister, I recognize the mistakes I made in the Family Based model. No matter how much I wanted my parents to be spiritually involved with their students, they saw me as the primary discipler of their children. For them, I was seminary-trained, younger, and more qualified to discuss spiritual matters. Many of my believing parents did not see themselves qualified to teach or disciple themselves, much less their children.
I love the Family Equipping Model for two primary reasons. First, it puts parents in their proper place as the primary spiritual leaders of their children. Second, it allows the church and its ministries to build stronger families among Christian households and embrace spiritual orphans, as I was, when no believing prents are around.
Church ministries have no more than 100 hrs per year to disciple children. Parents have 3000+. Which is more effective?