Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Family Matters Blog Series Part 2: Biblical Basis for Family Ministry

Part 2:  Biblical Basis for Family Ministry
I am continuing a blog post series on Family Ministry as a way of training up youth in the Word of God and keeping them in church.  This post examines the biblical basis for family ministry.  Forthcoming posts will explore active churches, strengths and weaknesses, and several family ministry models so keep checking back over the next few weeks.

Proponents of the family ministry movement cite two Scriptures consistently, among others, to support their position that the primary responsibility for discipleship of children is with parents.    The first passage is Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NIV), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your heats.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Brian Haynes, author of Shift, states, “Do you see the clear progression?  We love God.  God’s words are in our hearts.  And we then impress them upon our children’s hearts in daily life….  This is why I say it’s biblical as well as practical.  The average parent has exponentially more time to invest in a child than even the most active church” (Haynes, p. 20).  Timothy Paul Jones echoes the sentiments of Haynes adding, “The ancient heritage of songs, statutes, and ceremonies foreshadowed the coming of Jesus and explicitly recognized the primacy of parents in the formation of their children’s faith” (Jones, p. 77).

A second passage cited as the foundation for family ministry models is Ephesians 6:1-4 (NIV), specifically verse 4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Family ministry proponents believe parents and the church have abdicated biblical mandate to cultural norm.  Voddie  Baucham, author of Family Driven Faith, states  “I’m not saying that I wouldn’t welcome help,…from someone…, who has proven himself as a parent, and is well trained and competent in handling the Scriptures…However, I am not about to turn my children over to a youth pastor for their discipleship.  Again, that is my job (Ephesians 6:1-4).  I simply cannot ignore the biblical mandate in favor of the culture norm.”
Proverbs and Psalms bear out the discipleship principles in Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6.  Referencing Proverbs 1:8 and Psalm 78:2-4, 6-7, Jones states, “In the prologue to his proverbs, one of Israel’s ancient sages reminded youth to learn divine wisdom in the context of their homes,” and “Even in the songs of Israel, parents were called to impress on their children the stories of God’s works”  (Jones, p. 78).

Although mandated by Scripture, parental disciple-making has become a lost art for 21st century parents.  Haynes cites three reasons for this: 1) families are busy; 2) parents think discipling their children is a job for professionals; and 3) parents are not sure how to be primary faith influencers.  The church bears responsibility as well.  Many church leaders operate under the erroneous assumption that Old Testament principles are of lesser value than New Testament priniciples.  Also, the church-growth movement has redefined success.  Haynes states, “We built magnificent organizations, but we produced a version of Christianity that is compartmentalized and humanistic.  Our culture is now paying the price for ‘our version’ of Christianity”  (Haynes, pps. 36-37).
Many churches with segregated youth ministry models often use Titus 2 to support employing youth leaders to disciple other children.  Family ministry proponents say Titus 2 has been taken out of context and misapplied.  Voddie Baucham, referencing Ephesians 4:11-12 states, “The job of the church is to equip the saints to do their jobs, not do it for them” (Baucham, p. 186).
Opponents of family ministry church models say there is no clear mandate in Scripture to support a family focus.  William Easum in Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers writes,
Family is never a priority in Scripture. It is mentioned only six times in the New Testament and never in relation to a congregation. Family is always secondary to Christ's claim on us (Matthew 10:37). On several occasions Jesus de-emphasized the importance of family. Family obligations came behind the demands of discipleship.  (Yount Jones)

It is precisely this kind of belief that has caused divorce, family disunity, and burnout in the lives of many church leaders. Where church leaders have personal difficulties ministering to and maintaining their own families, the likelihood is greatly diminished that families will be given priority or focus in the church.
In Part 3, we will look at the leading voices in family ministry!
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Be Clothed And Ready!

Be Clothed And Ready!
By:  Min. Angela Lee Price

 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Ephesians 6:10-18.

Ephesians 6:10-18, is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. No matter what anyone says about how to dress for success, this is what successful dressing looks like. I don't dispute the need to look your best, to put your best foot forward for that important interview and important meeting. You should do that!   We should make it a habit of being well-groomed because you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.   Some young people make the mistake of going on job interviews clothed but not ready.  They lack the education, skills, and training to meet the job requirements.  Further, they cannot articulate why it is that they are the best candidate for the job.  Still, others make the mistake of being ready but not clothed.  The men go in with pants sagging, no belt, no tie, tennis shoes; The sisters go in wearing mini-skirts, halter tops, and showing too much cleavage.  This is okay if you’re applying to be a lifeguard by the pool, but in a professional environment, we should dress professionally.

In February here in the Ohio Valley, we had to get creative, add on layers of clothing, and leave early in order to get to work on time because a lot of inclement weather came our way -- snow, ice, sleet, rain and sub-zero, frigid temperatures. But if you really want to be clothed and ready for whatever comes your way, you must put your armor on, and no, I don’t mean Under Armor, the fitness line. I am talking about putting on the full Armor of God!  
We have an enemy, Satan.  Satan wants to throw much more at you than a little bad weather.  He wants to throw much more than a foot or two of snow.  He wants to steal, kill, and destroy you!.  He wants get you kicked out the choir.  He wants to see you kicked off the basketball team. You can be all dressed up, swanky and pretty on the outside, but if Satan has his hands on you that’s not how you look on the inside.  The Bible tells us man looks at outward appearance but God looks at the heart. Ephesians 6: 12 states,  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  

I want to remind you to be clothed and ready, not in Under Armor, but in the full armor of God.  Some people think wearing Under Armor and working out will keep them one step ahead of the devil.  They think being physically fit will protect them from the schemes, the tricks of the enemy. We should be physically fit, yes!  I say all the time, how can you reach your purpose, if you can’t reach your toes?  Former University of Louisville point guard Chris Jones worked out!  He was physically fit!  He was one of the best players on the basketball team!  And yet, he is no longer on the team.  While being physically fit is good, it is more important to be spiritually fit!  Draw close to God in times of trial, heartache, difficulty. Draw close to God when all hell breaks loose! Draw close to God in the sunshine and He'll have your back in the rain! Draw close to God when you feel like it and when you don’t!  Draw close to God and He will draw close to you! 

What does it mean to be clothed and ready?  

First, recognize that you are in a spiritual battle. We lose the battle because we fail to realize we are in a spiritual battle in the first place. Ephesians 2:1 says this world is controlled by “…the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” This prince’s power extends not only to the air, but also the air waves, television, radio, and the internet. 

History tells us that the great preacher and Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in April 1963 when he wrote "Letters from A Birmingham Jail" an open letter defending non-violent resistance as a strategy against racism.  Later, he said it was the longest letter he had ever written. The apostle Paul, too, was in a jail cell near the end of his life around AD 60-61, most likely in Rome when he wrote this letter in defense of Christianity. It is believed he wrote Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians at that time.   Even in jail cells these men were clothed and ready to speak out against injustice and defend the faith!

Each day and every day, put on the full armor of God, the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Be ready to speak the truth!  Be ready to do what is right!  Be ready to testify about how good God is to you!  Be ready to walk by faith and not by sight!  Be ready to hope for tomorrow assured of your salvation because Jesus has the keys to death, hell, and the grave!  It was not Don Cornelius, but Jesus Christ himself who was the originator of Soul Train.  He led captivity captive in His train and gave gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8). Be ready to quote the Word and use the Word as your offensive and defensive weapon!  Be clothed and ready!  I said be clothed and ready!

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, more valuable than Under Armor is the full armor. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. This is how we dress for success. Are you clothed and ready?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Blog Series: Family Matters, The Family Ministry Shift - Introduction

By: Min. Angela Lee Price
A tidal wave of change is beating against our global shores. The Millennial Generation is coming of age, and with more than 78 million members, they are coming in like a flood.  For the marketers especially this means good news. They whistle while they work targeting goods, services, and experiences to a generation that has moved beyond the final frontier of space and time to boldly go where no man has gone before. However, the Psalmist declared in ancient of days, “I will cause Thy name to be remembered in all generations” (Ps. 45:17).  The Psalmist declared, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praises shall continually be in my mouth.”  The question that begs to be answered and remains to be seen is will the Millennial Generation born between 1980 and 2000, and raised in a postmodern era where choice is abundant, there are no absolutes and technology is ever-changing – will they bless the Lord? 

If the Millennial Generation is to “bless the Lord at all times,” they will need much more spiritual nurturing and guidance from the preceding generations, Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the Silents.  Although there is a lot of good news to report statistically, relationally, educationally, and potentially financially for the Millennials, one ominous statistic remains, this population is largely apathetic to and uninvolved with church.   Roughly, only one-fourth of Millennials attend church weekly.  Consequently, many Millennials do not know what they believe.  Getting to know young teens and young adults ages 14-34 must become priority to the church as no church exists without a multi-generational mix of some sort.  This is a vast mission field.  Helping Millennials come to know and remember the name of the Lord is how we advance the Kingdom in this age.

One approach to keeping our youth in church is called family ministry. Timothy Paul Jones, a leading proponent for family ministry offers this definition,  “Family ministry is the process of intentionally and persistently coordinating a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that the parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives” (Jones, p. 33).  For the next six weeks, February 16th - March 28th, I will post a blog series entitled "Family Matters, The Family Ministry Shift", with an overview of the historical roots, biblical basis, leading voices, active churches, and strengths and weaknesses, and conclusion of family ministry.  This series is based on a research paper I completed in 2013 for my last class in graduate school,  Innovations in Contemporary Church.  I hope this series is a blessing to you and will provide you with some food for thought as to how we can minister differently to our young people.

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Blog Series: Family Matters, The Family Ministry Shift - Part 1: The Historical Roots of Family Ministry

By:  Min. Angela Lee Price
For the next six weeks, February 16th - March 28th, I will post a blog series entitled "Family Matters, The Family Ministry Shift", with an overview of the historical roots, biblical basis, leading voices, active churches, and strengths and weaknesses, and conclusion of family ministry.  This series is based on a research paper I completed in 2013 for my last class in graduate school,  Innovations in Contemporary Church.  I hope this series is a blessing to you and will provide you with some food for thought as to how we can minister differently to our young people.
This post explores the historical roots of family ministry.   Timothy Paul Jones, a leading proponent for family ministry offers this definition,  “Family ministry is the process of intentionally and persistently coordinating a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that the parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives” (Jones, p. 33).   
Family is a God-ordained institution with strong biblical basis and is subject to civil, moral, and spiritual laws. The historical roots of family ministry date back to the book of Genesis.  In the beginning not only did God create the heaven and earth but also man and woman.  The family unit is built on the command of God for a man and woman to be fruitful and multiply within the confines of marriage (Gen. 1:27-28).   God commanded Noah and his sons to be “fruitful and multiply (Gen. 9:1)” and promised “fruitfulness” to Abraham (Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5), Isaac (Gen. 26:4, 24), and Jacob (Gen. 28:14; 35:11).  The twelve tribes of Israel were based on the family unit dating back to the book of Numbers, and the prophecies foreshadowing the birth of Jesus pointing to His family line coming from the house of David. 
God, in creating the family unit, mandated that parents raise children to love and fear Him.  The Lord pronounced judgment against the house of Eli, the priest because his sons, Hophni and Phinehas were rebellious, and Eli did little to correct them. (1 Samuel 2).   Eli died an old man, but God determined that in his family line there would never be another old man (1 Samuel 2:30-31).   David was a great king, but he was one of the most incompetent parents in Scripture.  He loved his sons, but would not discipline them.  Tragedy upon tragedy resulted, first with Amnon, then with Absalom and Adonijah.  David appointed his son Solomon to succeed him as king. After learning some hard lessons with his sons, David, before his death, instructed Solomon saying, “Obey the Lord your God.  Walk in his ways, and keep his laws.”
Joseph of Nazareth was given a very special role in history.  He was the father chosen by God to provide protection and nurture to Jesus.  He struggled as an ordinary father to Jesus, his other children, and as husband to Mary.  When he discovered that Mary was pregnant and the child was not his, he decided to divorce her privately.  This story is example of godly obedience to the will of God (Matthew 1 and 2; Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-50) for family. 
In the 1880’s  pastor Samuel W. Dikes launched Comprehensive Coordinative Family Ministry in his church in Vermont.  It soon spread to thousand of churches, but was discontinued in 1907.  The purpose was “for the congregation to partner with parents so that the faith training of children occurred both in classes at church and in the day-to-day context of their households”  (Stinson, p.19).  The segregated ministry approach rose to dominance in the American church in the 20th century.
Timothy Paul Jones includes an interesting quote from Jay Strother in his book, Family Ministry Field Guide.   It suggests that the history of age-organized, segmented ministry in the church is partly the blame for the spiritual destabilization of the family unit.  Jay Strother states,
As we examined our church context, here’s what we concluded:  In our well-intentioned efforts to reach students for Jesus Christ, we had developed ministry models that failed to call parents to embrace their role as the primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.  The church had tacitly encouraged this parental abdication by relentlessly promoting benefits and life-changes that would accompany increased participation in ministry activities.  As a result, the church and families were being split spiritually along too many key fault lines. (Jay Strother in Family Ministry Field Guild, p. 32)
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Keas Tabernacle CME Church Women's Ministry Discover "YOU-nique Gifts & Talents"

By:  Min. Angela Lee Price
On Saturday, February 7th, I conducted a workshop, entitled "YOUnique Gifts and Talents" at Keas Tabernacle CME Church  in Mt. Sterling, KY. Approximately 25 women came out for the Women Ministry's Retreat, additionally a few men were in attendance including my husband Bill. The Ladies received information on the importance of using their spiritual gifts, discussed the difference between gifts and talents, completed spiritual gift assessments, and discussed putting their gifts to use.
This was a glorious workshop! There was great dialogue. Some women received confirmation on what they're to do this year while others were surprised by what their assessments revealed.
The Holy Spirit was present, and everyone seemed to have been inspired to either use or begin using their gifts! I told them that there are too many people sitting on the premises instead of standing on the promises in the body of Christ. As a result we have people being "toss to and fro by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:16). The more people operating in their gifts, the less burnout there will be, and the stronger the church will be! We serve an AWESOME God, and our primary mission is to accomplish His will on earth, "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done!" This can only be done as each of us is mobilized to serve in our proper places in the body of Christ.

We give a BIG shout-out to First Lady Felice Farris who was persistent for one year in scheduling this workshop.  Here is a note I received from Keas Women's Ministry member Mary Garrett, who assisted us in preparing materials for the workshop:
"Minister Angela I just wanted to say THANK YOU again for being so gracious to come to Keas Tabernacle last Saturday.  I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and learned by taking the assessment that I have grown in areas since I took my last assessment and showed me that I need to improve in others.  I thank you for that.  I am looking forward to seeing you next month at our Women’s Day program.  The colors for that day are white with black accessories, if you wanted to blend in with the rest of us.  I was not aware that you knew my cousin Cynthia Garrett Freeman until I saw the posts on Facebook.  It still amazes me how God lines people up to meet, for His purpose.  Take care and thanks again for such a wonderful presentation."  Mary Garrett, Keas Women's Ministry:  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sermon Recap: Get In Where You Fit In

By:  Min. Angela Lee Price
Often I recap other preachers' sermons, but today I get the opportunity to recap the message I preached Sunday, February 8th at New Century Fellowship Christian Church, Pastor Syvoskia Bray Pope and Bro. Larry Pope, Ministry Leaders.  It was entitled, Get In Where You Fit In, based on Acts 6:1-7.
In order to get in where you fit in, you need to assess your current situation - turn your “bad luck” Friday into Good Friday.
You know what a “bad luck” Friday is, don’t you?  It’s your current “Friday the 13th experience”. It's those situations, circumstances, people that keep you from being effective for the Lord. It’s those excuses you keep making for not serving in ministry.  You have to face them! Post it on Facebook if you need to! My current situation -- I'm broke, busted, and disgusted!  God won’t fix what you won’t face! Oh, but I’m not having a Friday the 13th experience, you say?  You better check your calendar and look again because Friday, the 13th is on the way!!
The apostles faced their current situation.  They turned their “bad luck” Friday into Good Friday in Acts 6. In the midst of all the good happening, people coming to the Lord, they recognized that they were not serving effectively, that they were out of position, that they were not doing what God had called them to do.  The text says they did something about it beginning at verse 3, Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (vs 3-4), another translations says,  “They gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry for the Word of God in order for us to wait tables.”...
In order to get in where you fit in, 1) assess your current situation - turn your "bad luck" Friday into Good Friday;  2.  Assess your position in Christ - Forgiven; 3) Assess your resources - find your business and mind your business; take a spiritual gifts assessment,  and 4) Assess your opportunities to witness - get out.  It was when the apostles got in their right place in ministry that the “hard to reach,” the priest (v7), accepted the Word of God.  Then when Phillip "got out" as an evangelist, a whole city, the city of Samaria (Acts 8:14) and the Ethiopian Eunuch accepted the Word of God, and later, in Acts 21:20 thousands more came to the Lord.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Where Is the Love In Secular Songs and In Society?

If song titles containing the word, “love,” are any indication, there has been a shift in the postmodern ra in what is on the collective hearts and minds of Americans. We must again ask, as Roberta Flack did back in the day, where is the love?
The decades of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s each saw a decline over the previous decade in love-titled popular songs on the year-end charts. However, at least 100 love-titled songs made the charts all three decades.The first decade of the new millennium saw the fewest number of songs in 50 years containing the word “love” in the title on the Billboard Top 100 year-end charts. From 2000 to 2010 only 44 songs with “love” in the title appeared on the Billboard year end charts compared to an average of 92.4 songs per decade for the previous five decades. Could it be as Rose Royce sang in 1978, "Love Don't Live Here Anymore?" (

It has been said that if you want to change the culture, change the music. Songs today speak less about love and much more about sex, lust, and self gratification. To change popular music though, there must be a renewing of the mind.    In the piece, "The Purpose of Christian Education," Rev. Eugene A. Blair states in the Urban Ministries Inc. (UMI) Precepts for Living 2013-2014 commentary,
"Christian Education must help believers unlearn wrong ideas about love. People have many different ideas and thoughts about love. Love is often confused with sex and sex with commitment. The radio fills the airways with songs about the hope, sorrow, joy, and tragedy of love. But usually all of these thoughts ideas, and songs fall short of the deep, rich and abiding qualities of love we learn about in Scripture (1 Corinthian 13). If Christian education is to liberate believers, it must liberate them from the woeful and lacking ideas about love today" ( Ogbonnaya, Precepts for Living, 2013-2014, p. 299).
At least a few philosophers saw a day coming, with less love in songs and in society. With the critically acclaimed book, The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis saw in the 1940s a coming age of brute beast, people who although intelligent lacked the heart and character to act responsibility and make godly decisions. Lewis was one of the most accomplished Christian authors of the modern era, and The Abolition of Man, one of his most highly debated works.

Author David Vandrunen made a similar observation 2009.  In the book, Bioethics and the Christian Life Vandrunen stated that if Christians are “the wrong sort of people when a particular bioethical dilemma confronts them, then they are much less likely to respond in the right manner (Vandrunen, 2009, p. 70)” Vandrunen saw five virtues as being necessary for proper decision making, faith, hope, contentment, wisdom, and love. “The whole Christian life must be a process of striving after the virtues to which Scripture calls us. God indeed uses crises in order to build character, but he also builds character beforehand for the purpose of bringing us through crises” (Vandrunen, 2009, p. 70).

Educator and philosopher Cornel West has defined postmodernism as “the age of the American Empire alongside corporate globalization” (West, 2008, p. 221). He, too, pointed to a loss of values as a critical malady of this postmodern age. In the book, Hope on a Tightrope, West stated, “For the first time in black history, there are no viable institutions and structures in black American life that can effectively transmit values like hope, virtue, and sacrifice – institutions that put the needs of others higher than those of oneself (West, 2008, p. 174.) Are these three philosophers right? Is society becoming increasing void of virtue, including the greatest of these, love? 

Is this cursory (and unscientific) music search of love-titled secular songs symptomatic of a real trend?  In an age when more money is being spent on Valentine's Day, is society less loving than in previous decades? Whose responsibility is it to teach virtue, parents/family, school, church, media and society? 


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