This week I spoke to several leaders seeking a simple definition of family ministry. What is it? What does it look like? Here is a short answer from a big picture viewpoint.

Out of shear necessity 21st century American evangelicals are diligently working to define “Family Ministry.” A sense of urgency stems from a recent awakening to the cold hard facts as presented by leading sociologist Christian Smith and supported by the research team of George Barna. Truly, during the greatest years of programmatic development and with an abundance of practical resources, the discipleship ministry of the local church has not produced a generation of adults who embrace a biblical worldview. The missing link is not another well executed program at church but instead a return to God’s original plan for spiritual formation. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and dozens of other passages point to the family as the leading vehicle for discipleship. As the church is rediscovering this ancient truth, it is struggling for strategic practice.

Understanding family ministry is more about adjusting our practice of spiritual formation. Family ministry is spiritual formation and spiritual formation is family ministry. Biblically, the two should not be separated. The family and the local church are two sides of the same “discipleship” coin working together to form the next generation in Christ. To this end the strategic process of family ministry in a local church can be seen as the life path of spiritual formation for any person seeking to follow Christ and grow in him. The older generation is always leading the younger to grow spiritually (Psalm 78). The church equips (Ephesians 4:11-12) adults of all ages to make disciples. When those adults are also parents the church works to equip and resource them to effectively disciple their own children. This shift in thinking is the essence of strategic family ministry practice.

To learn how this definition of Family Ministry can make sense for your church visit or read Shift: What it Takes to Finally Reach Families Today.

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