The Family Ministry Puzzle???

JMcGinnis May 2, 2013 1

The Family Ministry Puzzle??? Children\s Ministry YouthSo there they were, sitting around the conference table staring at the pile of little white pieces of plastic. To be honest, they weren’t even sure what it really was; not to mention what they needed to do with them. As I pulled out the remaining white squares followed by six sheets of multi-colored stickers the team recognized the basic elements of a traditional Rubik’s Cube.

Then came the challenge: Build the Rubik’s Cube…with no instructions. Now, I’m not sure what you’re thinking right now, but I need to be sure you know that this was so much harder than it seems. It was difficult for several reasons. First, everyone
there had varying experiences with Rubik’s Cubes. By that, I mean a few of us loved doing puzzles, a few of us hated them, a few of us have owned a Rubik’s Cube, and one had never touched one ever. To some extent, all of them were up for the
challenge, but none of them really knew how to build one from scratch. It started rough, but after several minutes of struggling and bickering, someone started the group down the right path and it wasn’t long after that they had successfully constructed a fully functioning Rubik’s Cube.

With a Rubik’s Cube, every turn has an affect on every other square. It is physically impossible to change the location of only one square. In a similar way, as we navigate the transitions towards Family Ministry, every decision that is made will affect multiple areas of the church’s ministry. Many churches look at this new focus on “Family Ministry” as being a puzzle that needs to be carefully put together piece by piece when in reality it’s closer to being a Rubik’s Cube. Not only that, but there really isn’t a model out there which works for every church. So, in reality not only are you solving the Rubik’s Cube, you’re building it first. Difficulty comes when churches want to move into the Family Ministry realm one piece at a time only to discover with every move, every decision, three other areas of ministries are affected. So what happens to most churches when they’re four or five “moves” into this transition and they look at the cube and discover that it’s a mess? Most churches have stopped working the puzzle and reverted back to what they know. They return to what they know to be comfortable and secure. They go back to the puzzle pieces. They say things like, “I know this will work, we use to do this every year and we built a huge ministry.” One thing that they are forgetting is that we have numerous hard stats that show that the “old way” of
the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s did not work. It only led us to the moral predicament that we find ourselves in today.

Confession: I don’t know exactly HOW to do this “Family Ministry” thing. I have ideas, I have opinions, and I have  preferences, but what I don’t have is the secret code thatunlocks the puzzle and makes everything run smoothly.

Here’s what I do know though:

1. Parents are not being equipped

Most of us know and understand that this is the primary driving force to the rise of Family Ministry. Groups like the Barna Research Group and the Center for Strong Families have adequately documented the reality that in the past 20-30 years,
the Western Church has poured more time, money and energy into the youth than ever before and yet the results show a complete failure. Our churches are losing kids in record numbers and their ability to articulate a Biblical worldview is at its lowest.

2. Parents are ok with what they’re getting from the church

Although many parents will complain that the decline in morality in today’s youth is at a record high, they have not shown their resolve to be sincere enough to change their church attendance patterns and involvement.

3. If you do the same thing the same way, you get the same results

Doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I’m NOT encouraged by the numerous churches that I have encountered that express a desire to effectively reach and equip parents; however, want to
do it without changing the programs and ministries they currently run.

4. All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

This is our call to Family Ministry. We are called to push for change. We are called to test new things. To TRY them out. To DO something different. Why? Because one thing we can be sure of is that if we don’t… nothing will change.

Last note of encouragement: If you’ve found yourself in the middle of this transition and feeling that you’re not sure things will fall together or fall apart… you’re in good company. This is how a Rubik’s Cube is solved – one turn at a time.

What have been some of your struggles as you’ve moved toward a “Family Equipping Model”?

One Comment »

  1. Katie Wetherbee May 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    Fabulous! Such important points. Thanks, Joe!

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