What is the answer for a Christ-less culture? Family ministry or the Gospel?
As a strong proponent for family ministry through the local church, I am asked questions all of the time that cause me to think critically of my own life, my own work and my own ministry practice. This week I interviewed with Tony Kummer, a well known Children’s ministry leader. You can listen to the short podcast here. The particular issue raised by Tony that must be addressed is this: Are some churches subtly substituting family ministry for the Gospel in their efforts to impact the culture? Are they getting so enamored by family ministry models yielding healthy families that they are ineffective with the broken, hurting, and overwhelmed people of the world where the Gospel is needed desperately?
If you have read either of my books, SHIFT or The Legacy Path, you know my theology of spiritual formation and consequently cultural reformation is intimately associated with the family. I see clearly from the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Psalm 78, Proverbs 22, Ephesians 6:4 and so many others) that God intends for parents to intentionally disciple their own children. This is central to the spiritual formation of a generation and a culture but it is not clean and only targeting picture perfect families.
Though not the only conduit for the Gospel, family ministry is an important and primary vehicle for the Gospel but the Gospel is the solution, the good news and the powerful catalyst for culture change. We need to keep this in perspective. The seminal question is, “What do people need at their core?” People in all of our sin and brokeness need peace with God that only comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Before they can ever think Orange, walk The Legacy Path, or celebrate a milestone, they need redemption that only comes through Jesus.
So why do I passionately address the issue of family ministry? For the sake of the Gospel. Families in America have lost their passion and ability to transfer the Gospel from one generation to the next with authenticity. We, as the church, in our efforts to make disciples, should equip families to become Gospel incubators from which a new generation of Gospel centered Christians emerge.
To answer Tony’s question bluntly, “Yes, some churches get so enamored with family ministry that they lose site of the Gospel.” The family ministry movement in our day is an awakening for sure. I believe it is a gracious move of God in our country to bring us back to His way of living. We, as churches, should implement effective strategies to equip families and minister to them in their brokenness. Never should this effort become an obstacle or an idol that hinders the Gospel. Family ministry done well will propagate the Gospel throughout the generations and it will reach out to hurting and broken people at their deepest point of need. Give people the Gospel they are crying out for and use family ministry as one strategy to do just that.