One HUGE responsibility of those in local church leadership/ministry is the strengthen the Christian family! Whether we’re preparing young people for future family, teaching them to honor their present family, counseling engaged couples, strengthening marriages, counseling parents, or encouraging grandparents—a huge percentage of scripture and of day to day ministry involves family relationships.
Someone emailed me recently and simply asked, “What does your church do to equip families?” Great question. Here is a short list and I’m sure you can add to it:
1. A Steady Diet of Solid Biblical Preaching and Teaching—obviously from the Pastor primarily, this ministry trumps all else! When it is biblical and balanced, there will be a steady flow of principles that will strengthen every family relationship. Years ago I heard a spiritual leader say, “There isn’t very much in the Bible about the family…” I wondered if he and I were reading the same Bible? If you preach the Bible you won’t be able to avoid family related topics.
2. Regular Teen Parent Meetings—about four times per year we invite all the parents (not just the parents of teens) to stay after church for a 30 minute meeting. This meeting offers well-prepared lessons, informative ideas, and scriptural principles that parents can put into place immediately. Many of the posts on this blog (those under family or student ministry) were originally a part of a teen parent meeting.
3. Biblical Teaching through Adult Classes—our adult Bible class ministry focuses on specific age groups, and those with couples or families offer regular teaching about marriage, child-rearing, and Christian home life. The more specific the age groups, the more focused the teaching.
4. Parent Training Classes—several times per year we offer Wednesday evening “electives” on a variety of topics. Church family can sign up for these and attend a special topical elective as opposed to the regular Wednesday evening Bible Study. Several times each year a parenting or a teen-parenting elective is offered as well as other topics such as financial management, etc.
5. Recommending/Giving Good Books—I try to recommend good parenting and family books at every teen parent meeting, or at other contexts when such recommendations are appropriate. Also, whenever I counsel a family, I almost always give them a book to help and encourage in their particular area of need. As a practice, giving good books to growing Christians is always a wise investment!
6. Family Counseling—our pastoral staff is available for family counseling and we all do a good bit of it. The church family knows we are here to serve, to encourage, and to help. It’s a great joy to be able to see relationships restored or strengthened through these appointments.
7. Constantly Encouraging the Teens Toward Their Parents—in teaching times for young people we are constantly trying to build home relationships. If you minister to young hearts, you cannot over emphasize honor and obedience in the Christian home. Honor and obedience is God’s place of blessing in their lives. Youth ministries that support families usually have the support of the parents!
8. Writing Encouraging Letters—an encouraging letter goes a long way! Most of the times that we spend individual time with a young person, that is followed up with a letter to the parents letting them know how their young person is doing. As a parent, that encouragement is valuable. Parenting can be difficult and discouraging at times, and your positive letter home to a parent might be just the thing that strengthens a Christian parent to keep going forward!
9. Home Fellowships—when I’m healthy, we love to host groups of young people (by age) to our home after Sunday night church. We enjoy pizza, fellowship, and testimonies; and it’s always a great time. One of our favorite things to do is invite some parents to come along. They love watching what happens at these fellowships! We get to know each other better, and the family is always encouraged!
10. Biblical Models—one of the most powerful loudspeakers for the Christian home, in your church, is your family! Your church family will watch you more than they will listen to you! If your relationships are loving, sweet, kind, rich, and balanced; they will desire the same, and your spoken message will be more powerful. Stop and consider, through your own family, what message are you sending? What model are you uplifting? Make sure you are uplifting a model of family life that includes plenty of time together, close relationships, loving attention, and together ministry.
Ok—your turn. What are some ways you equip families through your ministry?