How can family ministry best serve parents and kids?
Have you ever had a disagreement with another ministry or ministry leader? You know, like when they use up your supplies without asking or leave that room a mess every week before your ministry uses it? Maybe you got a peek at their budget one time and realized you aren’t exactly working from the same starting point. Or the ultimate test, when they talk one of your best volunteers into jumping ship and serving on their team, leaving you with a huge hole to fill.
I’m sure that never happens in your church.
Family ministry is hard, because ministry is hard. There are enough challenges without having to battle each other along the way. We all know the energy we expend working against one another; it also takes away from our ability to serve families. Jesus taught us the importance of being unified when He prayed that His followers would be one, so the world would know the reason He came and the love God has for us.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23).
Being unified is crucial as we seek to carry out God’s mission to reach the world. Oftentimes we struggle to have unity even within the church. I don’t mean the kind of disunity where there is infighting and battles, though sadly that is far too common. I simply mean the lack of unity that comes from having ministry silos that work independent from one another.
If we want a family ministry that truly comes alongside parents, acknowledges their role as the primary spiritual leaders of their children, and does everything possible to set them up well, we must be unified. Our ministry must be one. You have probably heard it said that the best thing parents can give their children is a great marriage. Unity in the marriage relationship is a gift to children. In the same way, unity in our ministries can be a gift to the families we serve.
A unified family ministry can give families many gifts of one.
Being one as a family ministry starts with being one as a staff team. We all want to be on teams where we have each other’s back … where we are open-handed with our resources, our volunteers, and our time … where we celebrate the successes of our team members and encourage one another wholeheartedly. Being one as a team also extends to our volunteer teams. Families with kids in multiple age group environments should see distinction among ministries, but unity among the team.
A strong family ministry is led by one point leader. That leader may also serve as the ministry leader to a specific age group, but there is someone who has the responsibility of leading family ministry and ensuring unity throughout. The old adage of “If everybody owns it, nobody does” rings true here. A solid staff team that is committed and unified can help a family ministry survive without a point leader, but it can thrive with one.
A unified family ministry has one overarching strategy from birth through high school. From the very beginning there is a clear path we hope all children will take as they grow up and move from one stage to the next. Just like the first day of kindergarten, transitions can be hard for kids (and harder for parents!) A unified strategy makes the most of those transitions by helping parents navigate them well. Having one aligned strategy allows one component to build off the work of another.
A family ministry that acts as one shares a common culture. The approach within each age group changes, but the core values that define the family ministry overall are the same. Culture is largely shaped by language, and a unified family ministry speaks one language. Small groups for kids are called the same thing as small groups for students. Parents find comfort, and have greater buy-in, where there is familiarity.
All of this works to point them to our one and only Savior, Jesus. Families in our church and in our communities need family ministries that are unified. They need churches that are thinking about their children and their journey from birth all the way into college. They need children and student ministry staff who work together to best serve families. Like Jesus prayed, let’s show families God’s love by giving them the gift of one.