I once knew a couple getting ready to celebrate their anniversary. The husband had cooked up an elaborate plan to surprise his wife. He took her on a hike and when they reached a certain spot, he had a table ready and a meal to share right there in the middle of the woods. A few years later, my husband and I went out to eat with that same couple and the wife made a comment about how much she enjoyed going to eat out a restaurant, “not like that time we ate dinner in the woods” as she teasingly elbowed her now sheepish husband.
I couldn’t help but laugh. We had all remarked about how sweet her husband was and how he did such a romantic thing, and here she didn’t even like it. As a young married couple we learned a valuable lesson that day; if we really want to say “I love you” we better find out what our better half loves.
Sometimes it’s tempting to look around at other families or other ministries and think, “Wow, what they are doing is so cool! I’m gonna do that for my family/ministry! But it’s really, really important to make sure that what you are doing is what you should be doing for the ones you love and serve. The coolest, most innovative, eye-catching resource in the world won’t be worth much if it doesn’t meet the need that exists.
One-size-fits-all just doesn’t apply to ministry or families.
Before you run ahead, prayerfully consider the following:
- Is this the best option for my family/ministry? There are a lot of amazing ministry tools available today, many of them for free and many of them highly recommended. But it is important to make sure that the needs your family has or your ministry has are being met by whatever resource you use. Otherwise, your energy bears no fruit. (To consider different types of family ministry models, click here)
- Will this take us deeper in Christ? If you are going to put time or money into doing something for your family or ministry, make sure that the end result is that you walk away closer to Jesus and each other. That might mean to take a trip to the movies as a family or hold a lock-in at the church for your tweens but make sure it’s meeting our greatest need of all – the need for Christ in our lives.
- Will it have positive lasting results? Whether we intend to or not, we are always leaving lasting impressions on our kids at home and at church. If we are planning to move ahead with a devotional, a curriculum, a change in rhythms and routines at home or a transition to a new ministry focus at church, it will leave lasting impressions on the children involved. Strive to ensure that those impressions are ones of a loving God, a caring family and an involved church.
- Have I sought input from the ones I wish to serve? Sometimes we do all the research, ask other parents, talk to other ministers, and then charge ahead with our “dinner in the woods.” But if we haven’t asked those we serve how they feel about something, what we see as a blessing, they might see in a different light. Ask for their thoughts. Seek out their opinions. You may still choose to move ahead, but it will probably be with a more informed slant and a plan to address any disappointment that may be expressed.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list and ultimately, we can do our best and still fail at time (thus the beautiful gift that is GRACE). However, if we take a moment and step back to consider these things, we have a much better chance of blessing the ones we love and desire to serve.