While I do not condone are even rebuke any that pursue their own peppiness in this life, I do caution and forewarn those that do not take heed of the Word of God whilst proceeding in their own pursuits first. To delve farther into the background of family theology and how one can implement a strong foundation in their perspective congregations, family theology must be defined and refined to meet our current cultural needs. I do not mean the needs of your local town, area, or region. I mean the cultural needs of the Church. The Church and body of Jesus Christ, His chosen bride to accompany Him into eternity.
The first word in the phrase, family, is in fact the first sanctioned union given to an by God, through Adam and Eve. Once God had Adam name all of the animals, Adam realized that, while all the other animals in the kingdom had opposites, he did not. God created woman from man and wed them on the first day, charging them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill and subdue the world and all in it, and to always and forever be faithful to Him, who created and protected them. Family was around before sin fell on man and Earth. The marriage of man and woman was sanctioned before any other in time.
It falls before any youth program, any counseling, any bible school class and is truly only second in attention to God Himself. “Families are close to God’s heart” (Uniting and Uniting, 2006, Para. L). Uniting and Uniting add, “Even after they fell into sin, (Adam and Eve) God continued with His plan for families, and even spoke prophetically of the salvation that would come through the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:1 5” (Uniting and Uniting, 2006, Para. L). The second word of the title is theology. Family theology is parallel and synonymous with family ministry.
Family ministry, according to Stations and Jones, “describes how a church partners with parent’s so that the Christian formation of hillier occurs not only at church but also in the household” (Stations and Jones, 2011, p. 15). Theology, broken down by Elmer Towns, takes place, “Anytime someone takes several Scripture verses and synthesizes them into one sermon or Sunday school lesson, he is constructing a theology” (Towns, 2008, p. 5) He further explains that theology is similar to someone saying, “I know where you are coming from” when you make a statement. Theology describes an approach to a topic trot the point to view of the instructor. We identify these principles, categorize them, see how they fit into consistent pattern and how they relate to life. This is the role of theologize” (Towns, 2008, p. 9). Theology is simply the process of taking the Word of God and His works, in both the supernatural and natural, and rationally inquiring, using faith and the scientific method of demonstrating with a purpose of organizing the results into a complete expression that can be translated and defended. Systematically we can conclude that family theology is the study of the Bible and it’s teaching on family.
We culminate a constructive and plausible set of teachings designed around what God’s word says about the family. We then inject these biblical truths and ideas by any meaner necessary. Most commonly, the median in which the information is translated is sermons, bible studies, and occasionally modeling. As one looks around, however, and examines the current status of our nations families and it’s declining ability to fulfill the great commission biblically, it is clear that the current methods are no longer appropriate for secular and church culture.
Thusly, we as family minister must take drastic and radical shifts to realign our theologies back to the bible and centering on the family at its core. Too often, if a church even has a family ministry, it is centered around secular entertainment with an occasion scripture insertion to keep the elders and staff content with their purpose. Our ministries do not need more entertaining ideas, we need to re-root into our biblical ideas. We, as family ministers, do not need another DVD with attached fill in the blank handouts, we need families making their own DVD’s together and constructing their own theology as such.
We, as family ministers, do not need more programs and events to go attend together. We need to create our own events, entered first around God in worship and praise, then around each other in our perspective families. We, as family ministers, do not need to split up the teens from mom and dad, and then mom from dad, we need to be ministering as a whole family at the same time, and teaching dads and moms to minister to each other and their children. It is time for the first sanctioned union to come back to the first position in the family, instead of last or a close second-last.
It is time for family ministers to begin swimming against cultural flow and cut a path for other families to follow and disciple with. Life Way, out of Nashville, Tennessee, has created a great study guide and material plan for minister attempting to re-center their church culture around the family instead of individualism. They break out a system of five steps to help churches build families. First is evaluation of the current family ministry. For some, this will be an easy task as many churches do not have a family ministry.
Others have a limited ministry, or a ministry that may be similar, but not exact, such as marriage and family counseling, or a youth group that incorporates all members of the family on occasion. Life Way goes so far as to give you a free, printable evaluation sheet to fill out to assist in the effort. This form is easily found on the website listed in the bibliography of this paper. This writer does not condone or condemn the effectiveness of this evaluation nor have any affiliation with Life Way, only applauds them tort their generous Otto arts and ease to access and use.
Secondly, they describe creating a plan for ministry based on the actions and activities identified from the evaluation. “The evaluation may reveal that you already have the pieces in place to minister effectively to all age groups… However the evaluation may reveal gaps in your plan or ministries that need to be strengthened” (Anonymous, n. D. P. 3). Third is to communicate a comprehensive strategy. In this section, Life Way states to make regular updates regarding the family ministry page on your church website, make regular announcements in the services, and any other opportunities that come to pass.
I would strongly add that the primary method be face to face, person to person. In this way, by word of mouth and face to face, the message is personal to the recipient. Forbes Magazine posted an article on their website titled, “5 Ways To Make a Killer First Impression”. The author, Forewoman, gives some great secular pointers to follow that flow effortless for any minister as well. First, is to set an intention. This involves work on your part before you even enter into the event or meeting. Think about the kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have” (Forewoman, 2011, Para. 4). Next, is to think about your ornaments. This is, of course, not pertaining to the Christmas Tree, but rather your own apparel, such as shoes, Jewelry, watches, and even make-up (ladies). Forewoman suggests getting several outfits together and having friends and colleagues Judge them for you in accordance with the particular event or occasion. Make sure the way you look is appropriate to the portrayal of our Father and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Next, be conscious of your body language. Forewoman challenges you to simply be aware of the body language you present. If you find yourself having a hard time doing this, video tape yourself giving a sermon or lesson, or simply watch yourself in a mirror. She reminds us to notice where we point our feet, the position of the shoulders and the way you shake hands. Fourth, is to avoid bad days. Forewoman says that if you are having a bad day, stay home if at all possible. If you cannot stay home, find a way to snap yourself out of the bad mood.
For ministry, going home is rarely an option, therefore, we must find what motivates and encourages us. For myself, it is usually listening to certain songs of worship, such as the “Revelation Song”, by Kari lobe, or “Lead Me To the Cross”, by Hellion’s. For you the reader, that is something that you must prepare for well in advance of starting this process, and involves you and God. Lastly, is to be interested and interesting to he group and person. This goes hand-in-hand with the whole idea of servant-hood and obedience to Christ.
As effective ministers, we must take interest in the lives of our disciples. A very easy way to bridge the gap on the first impression or first introduction, is to serve the people, in some way, you will be ministering and administering to. The fourth item on Life Way’s list is to make their specific magazine part of your strategic resource. Again, I am not affiliated with this group, so I will alter this item by stating that as family ministers, we must use any and all resources at hand to be detective and nougat ministers.
Witt the advent to the internet, so many phenomenal resources are now available to all ministers and teachers. With the good comes great evil, however, and one must use a high level of caution when choosing what sources he will accept as true and appropriate. A minister must always put information and instruction to the test, the test of the Word of God. The last step in the Life Way list is to allow yourself to become a channel for Christian families and help them on a daily basis.
This is done by including a family emphasis in the congregation, such as a minute, comment or complete update urine worship times, asking members to share testimonies about the church and their family, starting a productive blob keeping families updated to new things happening with the ministry, have family based small group studies and sessions, have family geared outings that bring all members together, and other great ideas such as visiting the homes of each family and ministering to them there emphasizing things like eating meals together around the table, family prayer time, constructive TV viewing, praying for each other, and servant-hood. A recent survey conducted by Life Way Church Consultants polled several of their gained church participants as to what the top five concerns of their congregations were. They were, with percentages: “65% – Finances, Economy; 50% – Family, Family Relationships; 27% – Time Management (work and home); 26% – Discipleship; 10% – Illnesses” (Anonymous, 2011, p. 10). After examining several other surveys, very similar results are concluded . The top four concerns are all things that stem around and from the family and that we have direct control over. The last is simply a fact of life and must only be endured through.
It should be very clear and evident that the church is yearning for a change. It is yearning to be reconnected with its families. It should also be apparent that we, as family ministers, have at our disposal an arsenal of tools and ideas to assist in our efforts, let alone the most important key to all ministry, the personal backing of our Lord, Jesus Christ, whose purpose is so much greater than our own in our ministries. One of the most important ways to reach out to these families is a matter of which I have already brushed up upon. It is that ministers need to get into the trenches down and dirty with these families in their own territories.
This meaner that we have o be in the homes and dwellings of the lives of the families. Jesus Himself did most of His miracle and discipleship in small groups and processions. “Instead of working the crowd, Jesus invited a handful of men to Join Him in a three-year mentoring relationship” (Early and Guttering, 2010, p. 274). By this method alone, we are able to multiply ourselves. We show them what it meaner to follow and obey the Lord biblically in their natural environment. Eating at the table, praying together, worshiping together, loving and supporting each other, encouraging each other, and training each other to be better servants, all as a family.
We show them the pitfalls from our enemy and the most common problem starters, such as finances, employment issues, school and education of the children, fights with outsiders and each other, sibling rivalry, and media corruption. By snowing an active and personal interest in their family, they learn about true servant-hood, discipleship, and most importantly, the relationship a true man/woman of faith has with Christ. “Multiplication may be costly, and in the initial stages, much slower than addition, but in the long run, it is the most effective way of accomplishing Chrism’s Great Commission… And the only way. (Early and Guttering, 2010, p. 276).
Investing time in our families with multiply themselves over and over again and only exponentially increase the Kingdom and your personal Heavenly rewards. Another great and inspiring aspect of family ministry is gratitude. This is true with all ministry, but especially important to family ministry. If we are truly grateful ministers, then gratitude will be a common anthem in our sermons, writings, publications, e-mails, and conversations. Grateful ministers beget grateful worshippers! ” (Early and Guttering, 2010, p. 90). We want to be grateful for what the Lord entrusts to us, as well as mentor others to do the same. Our own example is the greatest way to show this.
Ryan Rush, author of Walls, why everybody’s stuck (and nobody has to be) makes many great and enlightening points in his book. He shows that we all face walls that separate and isolate us from each other and from God. He defines, “A wall is an unhealthy mind-set that keeps you from living life as God intends” (Rush, 2011, p. 22). The point I want to add to this is that a family as a whole can also construct a wall that divides them from the rest of the world, especially the church. Many times without even knowing it. For example, many families quite simply deny that they need any assistance at all from anyone, even though they fight constantly, yell and scream at each other, or even get physically abusive.
Or one parent is completely neglectful to the other or their children. This wall would be of pride. Family ministers are faced with exposing these walls and getting the family all on the same page as to what God tells us about these walls to begin to tear them down, brick by brick. I encourage any ministry pastor, leader, and even volunteer to take the Walls Evaluation online to get to understand their own walls and learn of the others that exist that will be encountered. The last, greatest, and sometimes hardest portion of family ministry is proper, biblical discipleship of our youth. With youth, and teens especially, proximity is everything.
Research is quite unanimous, “parent’s matter most in shaping the religious lives of their children. ” (Dean, 2010, p. 1 12). Youths ability to imitate the attitudes and Mind of Christ depend, to a daunting degree, on whether or not the parent’s do. But, many parent’s lack conviction and the confidence to provide and live out this faith, let alone teach it to their children. Therefore, we as family ministers, must yearn and strive to equip them to do so. We also must equip parent’s to be bi- lingual. By this I mean they must speak the unadulterated Word of God to their children and be able to explain it, but they must also speak the language of the youth, in a way that the youth can relate back and connect with their parent’s and mentors.
In conclusion, Tamil ministry is not dying in this world, it is changing. Like the ancient Roman civilization, if we do not adapt the Church culture, we too will fade into history. Our commission is both so very simple, yet impossible without the trench, conviction and motivation that the Holy Spirit gives to us. The family is the key element to the church. It is the backbone to the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. It was the first sanctioned union on this Earth and will be the final sanctioned and eternal union in Heaven, between Christ and His bride. Let us not only endure forward but blaze forth a new path into uncharted waters.