Category Archives: family ministry

Hey dads…what the heck?

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul gives a long list of the physical things he endured as a follower of Christ (these things are the “suffering” spoken of in Acts 9:16); at the end of the list he writes, “I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches”. Paul is NOT talking about the buildings, or even the institution of the church- he IS talking about the people that make up the church. As I approach year 11 of vocational ministry, I understand this latter “suffering” more and more.

My heart is heavy today dealing with families in which the father has simply jettisoned his spiritual responsibility to promote and proclaim the gospel of Jesus to his family and spouse.

Last night in our Family Life Small Group we discussed the concept of biblical fatherhood. Rob Rienow said something like, “as the father goes, so goes the family; as the family goes, so goes the community, as the community goes, so goes the nation.”

As we lament and lament our current political climate and choices, maybe it’s time that we, the church (the people AND the institution) take a good, hard, honest look at what we are doing and not doing to hold fathers to the standard that God does.

To paraphrase Paul in Philippians 2- “Does Jesus matter to you? Do you find any comfort in knowing him? Are you living with the Holy Spirit? Is your heart receptive at all to God? Make my joy complete and lead your families spiritually. Because picking up the pieces of what you’ve shattered in your pursuit of self, talking with your wives as they cry and watching your kids fall into destructive patterns is getting really, really old.”


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Filed under Christianity, family ministry

So…about the past 5 hours.

5 hours ago, I was sitting in Naperville Illinois on the phone with a receptionist from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. In the background, I heard the sounds of fire department members from CR as they worked to stabilize Nathan, our oldest son. Nathan was at school working outside when he felt chest pains, shortness of breath and radiating pain down his left arm. All this I heard on the line.

I listened as they asked him questions, and more importantly, I listened as he responded, weakly. As every possible scenario was running through my mind, all I could think about was how quickly I could get to CR from Naperville.

I then spoke to the FD captain who assured me that the EKG he was on looked good and it was likely an anxiety attack of some sort, but they were transporting him via ambulance to St Luke’s in CR to be sure.

Leaving, I went home to talk to Anne, as her cell phone was in my car.

Walked into the house, upstairs and asked her to sit on the bed. I was at a loss for words so all I could say was, “Someone called from Kirkwood, and Nathan is ok.” We both got more anxious but I was able to share what I knew. By 11:15, I was in the car, driving.

A bit later, Nate called me. He has pulled a muscle in his chest; when he was shoveling at school today, the muscle was irritated and hurting, which caused the shortness of breath, which led to hyperventilating, which led to me listening in to what sounded like my son being kept alive by the hard work of medical workers more than 4 hours away. Maddening. Scary. Possibly the most helpless feeling ever because at least I was sitting in the same zip code with my wife as they pulled a cancerous tumor from her and them pumped her body with poison and zapped radiation at her for 8 months.


God’s got a plan. He’s always got a plan.

So, as I sit in the Starbucks on Collins Road in Cedar Rapids waiting for my son to get out of class so that I can hug him and tell him how much I love him and am glad that he’s ok, I’ll rest in the knowledge that when Jesus says, “Peace! Be still.”- the world stops and rests in the anticipation of when all of the possibilities of death and destruction, be they weapons of war, car accidents, errant cells or simple overuse and stress and strain…that all goes away.

Because God Always Does.

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“Suffer the little children…”

The other day a friend of mine posted this on Facebook: “Could it be that most adults have MORE than abandoned teens in our culture? That now adults actually HATE & loathe adolescents?”  Before we recoil in denial…

In Luke 18:15-16, we find parents bringing children to Jesus for a blessing.  It was common in that time for parents (mothers, particularly) to bring children to their rabbi for this sort of thing.  Interestingly, it is the disciples (NOT the pharisees, or the teachers of the law) that rebuke and scold the parents.  Jesus, however, rebukes his disciples, telling them to “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

Sadly, at times we tend to respond to the presence of families, children and teens like Jesus’ disciples. We do this…

When we turn and look at the family when an infant cries during the service, especially communion.

When we glare into the “youth area” of a church when a cell phone goes off during the service (usually, it is the phone of an adult).

When we refuse to allow students to have some creative control over an aspect of worship.

When we relegate their inclusion to “youth Sunday.”

When we fail to equip families to discuss the faith at home.

When we decide that it’s easier for us “to do it ourselves” rather than take time to teach students.

When we don’t greet them in the hallway.

When we don’t greet them by name.

When our facilities do not take into account small children.

When our ministries fill their schedules with events and programs that separate families.

Jesus rebuked his followers for their treatment of children.

Are we in need of rebuke for the way we treat families, children and teens?




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Filed under families, family ministry, youth ministry

What might “family ministry” look like?

It’s the current buzz phrase.  “Family Ministry” or “Intergenerational Ministry” or “Multigenerational Ministry”.  What is it?

Family/Intergenerational/Multigenerational ministry might be:

  • parents and their children attending the same Bible studies outside the home
  • parents and their children talking about faith within the home
  • parents and their children talking about their faith outside the home
  • parents and their children living out their faith inside the home
  • parents and their children living out their faith outside the home, perhaps by going on mission trips, service projects, conferences, etc,  together
  • parents and their children taking a few minutes at the end of a meal to read a Bible chapter together
  • parents and their children watching a television show together and discussing it in light of what the gospel says about that topic
  • church leadership having an honest discussion about the involvement of kids in ministry
  • church leadership equipping the body for acts of service, and providing intentional opportunities for families to be together
  • a Sunday service designed with the outcome of family discussion
  • teachers learning different teaching methodologies and using them
  • blending adult and student classes on Sundays according to learning style
  • families/other adults “adopting” those kids who do not have parents that attend church on Sunday and take them out or have them over for lunch afterward
  • events both in and outside of the church building designed to specifically engage the generations together

How would you add to this list?

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Filed under family ministry, Uncategorized

Some post-SYMC thoughts

This past weekend, I had the joy of attending the SYMC in Chicago. Attended some great workshops, got to know one of my sponsors really (or is it RRREEEEEEEAAAALLLLLLLYYYYY?) well. I even had fun at a Toby Mac concert on Sunday night.

Here is a sampling of the things heard (classes, workshops, songs) from the weekend:

“You’re the defender of the weak…which is us.”-Tim Timmons

“You’ll never abandon me, you never will, you never will
You’ll never forsake me you never will, you never will
You’ll never disown me, you never will, you never will
You never will break your word.”-Tim Timmons

“If we favor Outside-In (we go and get the unchurched) over Inside-Out (our kids bring them in) we may end up losing our jobs because Christian parents and clergy perceive us as failing. If we favor Inside-Out work over Outside-In, then we may keep the church happy but we may not achieve all we hope for in our outreach work.” (29, God at the Mall, Pete Ward)

We are to pass on our faith. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 clearly communicates this to us. These verses (the Shema) teach us that:

  1. There is one God.
  2. We are to pass them on to the next generation. We do this by:
  3. Practicing God’s presence when we are at home, on the road, when we lie down and wake up.

“Our kids come from a family system that is more influential than our Bible studies.”– Jim Burns

“Small, non-glamorous, choices now lead to much fruit later.”

“A life of baggage is not the abundant life Christ has promised us.”-Skit Guys

“An adventure has three key components: danger, challenge and involvement.”-Rick Lawrence

“Adult vs student ministry- at least the students cuss you out and talk bad about you to your face. Adults just do it behind your back.“-Derwin Gray

“It is the responsibility of the local body as a whole to reach the lost.”-Dave Rahn

“Don’t let theology get in the way of ministry”-Jim Burns

“I hope that I will not be ashamed, but rather, be courageous, that Christ may be exalted in me“-Philippians 1:20

“Who is Jack Bauer?”-Guy sitting behind me

“A prophet is not welcome in his hometown”-Jim Burns quoting Jesus

“Ministry to parents cannot get too far until there are structures in place to minister to them”-Jim Burns

I am convinced, now more than ever, that it is the responsibility of parents to disciple their children. And…it is the responsibility of the body of Christ to equip parents and families to do so. This is the resolver of the tension between “Inside-Out” and “Outside-In” ministry formats. Family discipleship is the “both/and” to the equation.

If families are ministering to the 99, then we can go and get the 1.

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Filed under family ministry, symc, symc 2010, youth ministry