From a friend of Ministry Architects, Pastor Kevin Allen, guest blogger
If the goal in Family Ministry is to help parents train up children who, as adults, are making disciples on their own, it may feel at times that it’s just wishful thinking and hopeful praying.
It can definitely seem overwhelming when a parent is cradling a newborn and trying to imagine what that child will be like as a young adult. Whether it’s picturing them on the mission field, leading friends to Christ, or even guiding their own family spiritually one day, uncertainty begins to creep in. Parents soon realize, children don’t just grow into spiritual champions, do they?
No, they do not. In fact, there’s something in the Bible about training them up. But many parents feel they don’t know enough about the Bible to lead spiritually. They begin thinking about how they didn’t see discipleship modeled in their own childhood home and, frankly, don’t want to try because they don’t want to fail.
Family Ministry Leaders, it’s our job to help our parents see that they can, indeed, complete the job God has given them.
The end goal can be difficult to imagine when all a parent can see in the present is their kid constantly getting pennies stuck up their nose. So it’s our job to help. We need to give parents identifiable markers to aim for at each stage of their child’s spiritual life.
One approach for this good work is the Four Stages of Family Discipleship:
When parents view their job of training up their children in bite-size goals, it becomes a little more clearer, as well as attainable. In fact, it can be very rewarding to look at a chart like this and see, “Oh, I’m already doing this and that. And we’re already on Stage 3 with this goal!”
Something to take note of in this chart is that it doesn’t start off with the spiritual aspect. This is important because building a strong house in Stages 2-4 requires the foundation of a healthy relationship in Stage 1. You can’t really do the last three stages if you’re not spending time together, having meaningful conversations, and if you don’t have consistent expectations. Some families will feel great that they’re already ahead in the charts, while others will see Stage 1 as a healthy wake-up call.
The Four Stages of Family Discipleship puts the responsibility on the parents, where it belongs, and we, as family ministry leaders, get to support by providing resources and strategies along the way.
For a generation that was mostly dropped off at church and who needs to relearn what discipleship in the home can look like, a model, such as this, can be a gift and a relief. To see a process that’s broken down into manageable parts doesn’t take away from the role of the Holy Spirit, but offers a way for families to experience measurable success and easy wins.
Interested in reading more about family ministry?
Check out Family Ministry Matters!
Kevin Allen studied Christian Theatre at Hannibal-LaGrange College in Hannibal, Missouri and received his Master of Arts in Theology from SWBTS in Fort Worth, Texas. He’s served in churches that have been small to mega and is currently the Pastor to Children and Young Families at First Baptist Church of Stephenville, Texas. He loves (most) activities with his family like camping, games, and movie nights. Kevin is available for speaking, coaching, or just plain brain-storming! Email him at KevinFamilyMin@gmail.com to get connected!