What is Family Ministry?

God’s plan to reach the world has always included the family. It doesn’t surprise me that the family and the church are under such attack. I’m glad we’re waking up; I just hope we repent and change our actions in time! In the early days of the modern Children’s Ministry Movement (1970’s) it would have ready helped if we had read our Bible. Most of us were telling parents, “Go to church and give us your kids.” I now see without the church and family working together our kids will suffer. Two powers working together are stronger than either one on their own. To me, family ministry is just helping the family want God’s best for their children at every age.

Psalm 112:1-8 (NIV) tells us…”Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, ?who finds great delight in his commands. 2 His children will be mighty in the land; ?the generation of the upright will be blessed…?6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. ?7 He will have no fear of bad news; ? his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. ?8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; ?in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.” This is hard to walk out as a parent, let alone lead other parents to walk this out for their families. The world can be a cruel place; it can be an unsure place. This is our time, but they are hard and troubling times for the church.

A large percentage of Americans believe it will get worst before it gets better. When you look at what’s happening in the news, on TV and even in the church, it’s pretty scary out there, but it’s times like these that makes us ask the big question: Do you really believe and practice what you teach and preach? As for me… I BELIEVE THE BIBLE!… John 16:33 tells us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Man, that’s good news for busy Children’s and Youth leaders. Families need God’s peace, not just his plenty!

Also in Proverbs 14:26 it tells us…He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. This is what the homes of us in the church should be: a secure fortress for our children. Is what you are doing for families in your church doing this? That’s a great question to use as we evaluate our programs.

Home should be a place of comfort, a place of safety, a place of refuge, a place where those who lead it get to control what happens… that also means they are responsible for the behaviors and outcomes of those who live there!

God’s plan has always been the same:

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

Remember yourselves and teach the children. Every feast and every holiday was the same. I have had a blast this year telling my grandson the God-story of our family. I am going back though our lives and bringing him up to date with all that God has done for us. I will retell him those stories every opportunity I have, as long as I’m alive for two main reasons: so I can remember myself and so I can pass it on to Sparrow. God’s done some amazing things in Widemanville, and I believe with all my heart the best is yet to come!

Deuteronomy 6: 1-8 says: “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

It is amazing to me that parents want better for their children than they have had in every area of LIFE but one. We want them to have more opportunities financially, educationally, and socially. We want them to have a better marriage, drive a better car, wear nicer clothes, live in a better house, and the list could go on forever. But when it comes to spiritual things, we don’t want them to go overboard…

We’re happy if they turn out just as spiritual as us. As long as they are not bad….VERY FEW PARENTS HAVE A VISION OF THEIR CHILDREN TO BE SPIRITUAL DYNAMOS! It’s not the same priority and desire we have for them in other areas. TWENTY-NINE TIMES THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT WE SHOULD LOVE THE LORD WITH ALL OUR HEART, ALL OUR SOUL & ALL OUR STRENGTH!. That’s our goal!

So with that in mind, here are seven steps for us to pass on to parents how to desire God’s best for the inhabitants of their homes and practice practical family ministry.

1. Establish who’s the king of the castle! Joshua 24:15 says “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

What does this look like for your family? (It’s more than attending church once or

twice a week! It’s getting involved on a daily basis. Every educator knows that the

students whose parents are involved in their education do better! What changes need to happen for Jesus to be the king of your home.

2. Parents set the example…(it starts with you!) The church cannot do this for you. The

church has its part to play. Deuteronomy 6:6: These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Be an example of living the scriptures. Be an example of serving, going to church. Let your children see you praying, speaking the word, and needing the Lord!

3. Your home should be a place of learning God things! Deuteronomy 6:7: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. It’s our job to take back the time you have with your children. This calls for consistent, intentional actions, Watch out for mixed signals and too many voices in your home.

4. Keep your marriage strong. If you’re not married, keep your relationships pure. INCLUDE JESUS IN EVERY RELATIONSHIP! Establish house rules that line up with scripture. Ephesians 4:32 is a great place to start: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. A second is Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Remember it’s your job to model love to your children!

5. Be willing to parent each of your children differently. This doesn’t sound fair… All kids are not the same… Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. That way is different for each child. Be willing to let some things go… (Major on the majors… minor on the minors…)

Your child may never make an A in biology… They make not ever make their bed automatically without being told. But they need to love the Lord with all their heart, and all their soul, and all their mind. (This was number one at the Wideman house over anything else!)

6. Have fun as a family. Laugh together, sing together, play together, read together, eat together, pray together! Invite God in the middle of all good times! Proverbs 17:22 (MSG) “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”

7. Make church, small group, youth group, & serving a priority. Hebrews 10:25 (CEB): Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. A great habit to develop is as soon as you get home…talk about what your learning as a family!

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO MAKE RIGHT DECISIONS, It’s never too late to prioritize and create a plan to help the families that you serve and the children at your house to desire a deeper relationship to Christ and to truly love the Lord with ALL their heart and ALL their mind and ALL their strength! Family ministry to me starts at your house and the homes of all believers, and it’s fueled and encouraged by the church and spreads to the world to reach people who make up families so all can know Christ.  

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Jim Wideman is an internationally recognized voice in children’s and family ministry. He is a much sought after speaker, teacher, author, personal leadership coach, and ministry consultant who has over 30 years experience in helping churches thrive. Jim created the Children’s Ministers Leadership Club in 1995 that is known today as "theClub" which has touched thousands of ministry leaders each month. Jim believes his marching orders are to spend the rest of his life taking what he has learn about leadership and ministry and pour it into the next generation of children’s, youth, and family ministry leaders.