Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Family Matters Blog Series Part 3: Contemporary Approached to & Leading Voices in Family Ministry

 Part 3:  Contemporary Approaches to & Leading Voices in Family Ministry

How do we get and keep our youth in church long enough to disciple them? That is the question we are attempting to answer this month. 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).  I am continuing 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 post explores ministry models and leading voices in family ministry.

There are four modern and contemporary approaches to family ministry.  They are the programmatic ministry model, the family-based ministry model, the family-equipping ministry model, and the family-integrated ministry model.
 The programmatic ministry model is the traditional age-segregated ministry model.  It places disciple-making responsibility with the church.  The latter models place disciple-making responsibility with the family, along an overlapping continuum that is compatible with to being mutually exclusive of the segregated model.  Many family-based ministry models are mere modifications of segregated ministries. 

Family-based churches incorporate intergenerational activities into segmented structures. Stinson explains, “Proponents of the model are quick to assert that the segmented programmatic paradigm is neither faulty nor broken.  The segmented perspective simply needs to be rebalanced so parents are empowered and intergenerational relationships are emphasized”  (Stinson, p. 26).  A leading voice for family-based ministry is Mark DeVries, author of Family-Based Youth Ministry.  Since 1986, he has served as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee.  
Dr. Randy Stinson and Dr. Timothy Paul Jones are the primary architects in drafting the theological blueprint for what has become known as “family-equipping ministry”—a recognition that the generations need one another and that parents have an inherent responsibility for the discipleship of their children.  Jones coined the term “family-equipping ministry,” and Stinson is the dean of the School of Family Church at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Also, Stinson organized a group of pastors to implement the family equipping model. Stinson and Jones describe family equipping churches in the book, Trained in the Fear of God.  These are churches that “cultivate a congregational culture that coordinates every ministry to champion the role of the parents as primary faith trainers in their children’s lives” (Stinson, p. 27).  Leading practitioners in the family equipping model include Jay Strother, Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee, Brian Haynes, Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, and Steve Wright, Providence Baptist Church in North Carolina. 

Pastor, professor, conference speaker and Bible teacher Voddie Bachaum is a leading voice of the “family-integrated” family ministry model.  He is a graduate of Southwestern and Southeastern Theological Seminaries.  Family-integrated models view the structure of the church as a “family of families.”  Adults and children worship together and, unlike some family-based models, there is no systematic segregation of ministries by age. “Our church has no youth ministers, children’s ministers, or nursery.  We do not divide families into components parts…In fact, we don’t even do it in Bible Study,” states Baucham. (Baucham, p. 193).  Family integrated models place an emphasis on education as a key to discipleship.  As a result, the model attracts a high percentage of home school families.  Baucham states, “Families who have decided to shoulder the responsibility for their children’s education find it refreshing that a church would expect them to do the same in the area of discipleship”  (Baucham, pps. 200-201).

In Part 4 next week, we will look at Active Churches in Family Ministry!

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