[This post is a contribution to a "Blog Tour," consisting of a gazillion bloggers who are one-per-day answering the question: "What is family ministry?" You can get a link to all the other posts here. I think I'm blogger #18, and there have been some tremendous posts put out there in the blogosphere already.]
What is family ministry?
“Late to the party.”
Yup. That would be my initial response.
Let me explain. I am doing premarital counseling for the first time this month. I’m really excited about it. My heart is really in this one because I care deeply about this young man and this young woman’s success. So, yeah, I’m going to talk about the typical things that premarital counselors would talk about (I think…I’m new to this): family history, money, conflict, “love languages,” expectations, etc. But…then I realized that I was leaving a gaping hole in my plan of action. What about the charge in Deuteronomy 6 to families? Are we even going to talk about the importance of being Orange as a family? Much to the chagrin of my hypocrisy-o-meter, I wasn’t planning on it. Woops.
And I wonder, is family ministry often late to the party in our churches? What can we do to ensure that couples, when they are getting married, KNOW what is expected of them as far as being the primary spiritual influences in the lives of their kids? We talk about all the good stuff that Reggie Joiner and the Orange Crew talk about by the time they hit our ministries, but wouldn’t it be cool for our young couples to pray for their future families in a Psalm-139-I-prayed-for-you-before-you-were-even-in-your-mama’s-womb kind of way?
The stakes of “making it personal,” “imagining the end,” “creating a rhythm,” “widening the circle,” and “fighting for the heart” are high. Wouldn’t it be cool to speak a vision into our not-yet-marrieds of how important it is to have a vital relationship with Jesus, to talk about what you want your family to be about, how that’s going to look day-in-day-out, how others can help, and how we never quit on one another?
And, why stop there? Family ministry may actually start in ministering to college/young adults. They need to be thinking about these things before they get down on one knee or say, “Yes.” It was awesome to talk about the Orange family values recently in our college/young adult ministry. Believe me, they want to figure out how to be healthy husbands, fathers, moms, and dads.
We know that the seeds are planted in our young people when they have been a part of healthy ministry themselves from pre-K to high school; but I’m thinking that this partnership shouldn’t be neglected in the young-adult, yet-to-have-a-family-of-my-own-years.
I was kicking this idea for this post around with my church’s Family Ministries Director. She looked at me all weird and told me that she had a dream about the wedding I mentioned earlier. In the dream, I looked up at everyone during the ceremony and said something like, “You are all witnesses to an amazing thing. A family is being born today.” I got goosebumps when I heard about that because it’s a freaky coincidence, and I was (and still am) staggered by the truth of how God does that. He makes families. He is the Family Maker.
I know this is a different take on it all (and, honestly, some of the other posts have already covered some of the things that I would have said in my “standard” answer); let’s figure out how we can partner better and better and better– and as early as possible. It may start earlier than you think. We don’t want to be late to the party.