“I want to start moving towards family ministry at my church, but I have no idea where to begin!”
“I’d love to do discipleship at home, but we’ve never really talked about those things – how do I even start?”
These are two of the move frequent messages I get from ministers and parents since I started this blog in November last year. And that’s understandable. Whenever you are embarking on something new, there’s always that initial, “But I don’t know how” feeling that pops up. It’s such an uncomfortable place to be where you can envision where you want to be and you can imagine what things could look like, but you have no idea how to get started.
I imagine that Timothy (as in from the Bible) felt much the same way. From all accounts, we can assume that Timothy was a bit younger than most of the other apostles and ministers. When Paul writes to him, he does so in a tone that is almost fatherly in context referring to him as “my son” and asking him to run personal errands for him like bringing him his cloak. There’s a familiarity in the letters that set them apart the rest of the epistles with an almost familial tone.
And while I think it is a great model to use for a glimpse at a powerful intergenerational relationship between a mentor and a mentee (just had to throw that in there) what stands out to me is where Paul tells Timothy to start. You see, Paul is instructing Timothy on the basics of setting up church. The whole first chapter, Paul is telling Timothy that he needs to be alert and aware of false teachings and God’s grace because “some have rejected these and so shipwrecked their faith” (1 Tim. 1:19b).
I imagine Timothy being much like us and saying, “Yes, Paul, I hear you! I don’t want my faith to be shipwrecked. I want to be faithful, to the fight the good fight like you have, to understand the truth. But seriously, where do I even start? I’m young. People aren’t going to listen to me. What if I’m not good enough? What if they walk away? What if I fail them completely? How do I even begin to set up a church?“
And Paul, being human and getting the fact that we all need somewhere to start says, “I urge, then, FIRST OF ALL, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone…this is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:1, 3).
First of all…
Of all the things Paul was going to go on and tell him. Of all the instructions Timothy was about to receive. Of all the places Paul could have told him to start…prayer, specifically, requests, petitions, intercessions, and thanksgiving.
“Oh yes, of course prayer. I mean, yeah, I pray. We all pray. But, what’s really the first step? New curriculum? Is the a family devotional I should buy? Should I go to seminary?”
First of all…PRAY. Paul makes that pretty clear. He has a lot to say about a lot of things but his urging is to first of all, before everything else, pray.
That’s where it starts. That’s where it has to start.
Because prayer does this wonderful work in OUR hearts of letting us know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is ultimately not our words, our actions, or our wisdom that will accomplish anything…it is God who changes hearts, draws hurting souls, heals broken lives, and grows disciples. We are merely vessels of His Spirit to do His work in the lives of the people He loves. And we must always, always start there.
So, if you are looking for where to begin, may I urge you, first of all, to do these things:
1. Request – Tell God what is on your mind. Tell Him the burden of your heart to see families, maybe even your family, growing in faith, at home, at church, and in the community. To see homes strengthened, parents equipped, and children excited about Christ.
2. Petition – Tell God what you need. He wants to hear from you. And if God is the one putting the burden on your heart, He is very interested in meeting your needs
3. Intercession – Pray for your kids. Pray for your family. Pray for your church. Pray for your community. Pray for your home. Pray for your country. Pray for your leaders. Repeat.
4. Thanksgiving – Give thanks for your kids. For your family. For your church. For your community. For your home. For your country. For your leaders. Repeat.
If you are feeling God calling you to transition your church or home towards a family ministry model, the best place I can tell you to start is here. Sure, there are tips and strategies and books and trainings and a plethora of other things that are available and yes, I’d love to share those with you as well….but…I urge you, first of all, to pray.
Join the conversation on Facebook at ReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry.
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, Seedbed, and D6 Family.