A few weeks ago, Thom Schultz posted “Family Ministry: A Letter from a Parent” over on his blog. I posted a brief response on his site. Here is a longer one.
Thanks for your letter. I wish that you would have given me this in person, so we could head over to my other office, Starbucks on Collins Rd. There are so many things that you are to be commended for in your letter.
- I’m glad that you understand that it is your role to raise your kids in the Lord. Time is our most precious commodity. With so many things going on, it can be tough to carve just 10 minutes out for anything! Our church and ministry exist to come alongside you and help.
- Based on your story about overhearing your oldest boys conversation, you are indeed “doing” family ministry. You get it! You and your husband talking about God’s good work and care in front of your children is exactly what kids need to observe in their parents.
- You are asking for help. You’re right, we have failed you miserably in both equipping you and allowing you opportunity to have a conversation with us. This takes guts. One of the things that we have struggled with as a church is the expectations of communication. Sadly, many churches have adopted the entertainment model where the people come to watch, see and hear a performance. The pastor gets up and gives an inspirational speech on how we need to “do better.” This is neither the gospel, nor the is it helpful. Thank you for calling us out on it.
Here are some other thoughts:
- I appreciate that you put “family ministry” in the quotes. Because the western church, specifically the American one, is program-driven,, we have limited “family ministry” to something we “do”…just like “service projects”, being “seeker-sensitive”, and “caring”. Often, these are just buzzwords used to perpetuate a broken system and draw people to us. God has called us to BE these things out of who we are in Christ.
- Raising our kids in the Lord is not about working through a devotional book. Raising kids in the Lord is about being faithful to God and reflecting both what He’s done and what He’s doing now. The certainly involves Bible reading/study, prayer, and those awesome God moments that you’re already having, but it (raising them up) is certainly not limited to those activities.
- Bible knowledge and theological correctness are tough! They are meant to be. We live in an age where God’s Word is maligned daily. I think that this takes place because we, as Christians, are more often looking for rules (programs, models, etc) to follow that we are in being who and what God has called us to be.
- Finally, back to your comments about us equipping you. One of the things that I’ve been striving for in our ministry is more ministry opportunities between the age groups. I would love to see parents, kids, families, young and old being ministers together. On the surface, it may seem like I am advocating more programming, the thing I spoke against a few points up. I am not. Rather, I envision a church where we come together and minister and serve and learn in community. We discuss, contemplate and praise God in unity. The things that we discuss take into account the various age groups among us. And then, as you suggest, we go out and put it into practice immediately.
In closing, here’s what I would love to do. Let’s talk face-to-face. I want to meet with you and talk about what these things might look like, practically speaking. We are all on this journey together. It’s time that we helped one another.
-A Youth Minister