In our first Coffee Chat, many participants expressed a desire to better help parents nurture their children's faith at home during the week. The Rotation.org board sees family ministry as part of our mission by helping church leaders explore ways to encourage and equip parents to continue the Bible exploration and faith conversation throughout the week. This topic is a collection of some ideas and resources to help churches help their families.
But first, what is Family Ministry?
Many great minds have been at work on this subject. Here are some things to read:
Family-based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries was the "go-to" book across the Church in the 90's and early 2000's. Jim Burns, one of the more famous youth ministers to come out of Youth Specialties, writes a short essay on Mark's book at Youthworker.com. When reading Mark's book, substitute "Sunday School" and "Children's Ministry" wherever he used the word "Youth." You can do the same with Burn's summary.
If you just want to "listen" to Mark, here's a good YouTube video where he discusses family ministry on the 25th anniversary of his book's release. Again... substitute "children/Sunday School" wherever he says "youth" and see what it makes you think about.
Tim Jones has published a three paper history and redefinition of Family Ministry that builds on DeVries' vision. It's well worth reading, especially as it critiques the "generational segmentation" of church programs and learning. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Related information and family resources here at Rotation.org:
- The Faith Mentor ~ Family ~ Intergenerational Workshop Concept: a proposal to have one workshop in each rotation where a parent attends, and works with and talks to their child about faith through the activity in that lesson plan.
- Ways to Improve and Increase Sunday School Attendance includes this suggestion: "Have a thriving family ministry and young families ministry. This is probably the single greatest way to help families feel connected and responsible to each other. Doesn't have to be fancy or complicated." (A few other suggestions in the list also incorporate family activities.)
- Discussions: Preteens in Rotation, Intergenerational Rotation, and Spiritual Development
- Supporting Member Barbra was inspired by the Coffee Chat to share her VBS idea: Return to "in-church" Sunday School Option~For Families
- During the pandemic, Rotation.org created numerous "at-home" lessons based on its Writing Team lesson sets. These are now found with the WT sets when you look them up by Bible story.
- Family at-home response pages created by Beth Tobin to encourage families to continue the conversation and explanation at home during the week, for a variety of Bible stories. Take a look at what she created and share them with your families, or use them as a model for creating your own:
- Family Ministry Faith Resources for Home and Church Use - take a look at The Connectional Journey, a website filled with things like family devotions and worship ideas from long-time Rotation.org Supporting Member Barbara Patterson.
What are you doing to engage parents in your congregation in the faith formation and discipleship of their children? Reply with your suggestions, brainstorms, programs, and questions below.