3 Family Ministry Models

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?


2 thoughts on “3 Family Ministry Models

  1. Shane,
    Great thoughts…I go to Crossroads (volunteering with 3 and 4 year olds) and I think the issue for us as a church is engaging the parent. Taking tools such as the music and teaching videos and putting them in the hands of the parents who have those thousands of hours is one step…helping them feel equipped is another.
    It’s funny, but our church has story after story of how the “spiritual orphans” ended up “bringing” Mom and Dad to church. The leader of our 0-18 ministry is just such a case. I knew of a group of kids on “the Big Island” of Hawaii in my Fuge days that started their own church.
    We give away kid friendly Bibles that put most of the Bible in “storybook” form. For a while, my son asked for the Bible out of preference over other books. He’s an early reader now, so I’m trying to transition that, too. My sweet mom made sure we read the Bible nearly every night together. She only had a 3rd grade education, and struggled a lot with the text, but I am proud and amazed at her persistence in this.
    Our church is big, but we’re staffed lean, and relies HEAVILY on volunteerism. That’s another tough sell…how do you get someone who feels like they are “maxed out” on their time to give away a few more precious hours?

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