In a new book released in the autumn which I’m looking forward to reading, Timothy Paul Jones defines family ministry as “The process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the persons primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children.”
Jared Kennedy is blogging through this book at the Sojourn Kids blog and gives an overview of the three main perspectives or models of family ministry:
The Family-Integrated Ministry Model: Family-integrated ministry is by far the most radical. In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated. There is no youth group, no children’s ministry, no age-graded Sunday school program. The generations learn and worship together, and parents bear primary responsibility for the evangelism and discipleship of their children. Voddie Baucham, Jr., author of Family Driven Faith, has been the most vocal advocate of this perspective.
The Family-Based Ministry Model: In the family-based model, no radical changes occur in the church’s internal structure. The congregation still maintains youth ministry, children’s ministry, singles ministry, etc. What makes this model different is that the focus of each ministry shifts. Students may still experience worship and small groups in peer groups, separated from other generations. However, each ministry sponsors events and learning experiences (with inter generational curriculum) that are intentionally designed to draw generations together. Mark DeVries pioneered this approach in his book Family-Based Youth Ministry.
The Family-Equipping Ministry Model: In the family-equipping model, many semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact. But the church leaders plan organize their ministries so that they champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives. The church intentionally co-champions the role of both the church and the home in equipping students and families. Two strong advocates of this perspective are Steve Wright, author of ApParent Privelege, and Bryan Haynes, author of the forthcoming book, Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today.