If you’ve been involved in Children’s Ministry or Family Ministry for any length of time, and have been engaged in any way outside the walls of your church, then you know that there are big conversations happening right now about Family Ministry. I’ve been asked repeatedly by churches I’ve worked with: “Should we be doing Children’s Ministry or Family Ministry?”
My answer is always the same: “YES!”
The reason I answer that way is because I came to the conclusion years ago that:
Children’s Ministry IS Family Ministry and Family Ministry IS Children’s Ministry.
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Why do I believe this? Because…
- …we all know that there are families who engage well with the traditional “family ministry” approach, but there are those who don’t (or can’t). Those families who don’t engage in the family ministry approach – who really don’t assume the responsibility for spiritual investment in the home – leave kids who need the church to do what it can to make that investment for them, which is the traditional “children’s ministry” approach.
- …the spiritual investment in children is primarily the responsibility of parents. If this is true, then any ministry to children automatically involves engaging and equipping parents to fulfill their spiritual responsibilities to their children. We can’t rightly (Biblically) assume that responsibility unless circumstances require it.
- …our ministries are stronger and more effective when we do everything we can to engage and equip parents – whether our department is called “children’s ministry” or “family ministry”.
I think a better question than “children’s ministry or family ministry?” is simply to ask “how can we best serve the people who are in our church?” It’s not really about “children’s ministry or family ministry”. Your church is unique (as is every church), and rather than think in terms of one or the other traditional model, instead evaluate according to your needs, your resources and your abilities. Of course, for definition sake you will probably call your department “children’s ministry” or “family ministry”, and that will probably go a long way to define how you do things. But, whatever it’s called, I would encourage you to think “both/and” rather than “either/or” when it comes to your approach.
Here’s the bottom line – whether we are calling it “children’s ministry” or “family ministry”, our ultimate goals ought to be:
- teach children the Word of God when they are in our programs without parents;
- engage parents as much as possible with what’s happening in our ministry;
- equip parents to spiritually invest in the lives of their children in the home.
For ideas on how to do this, check out this post: What Is Children’s Ministry?