The more I’ve worked in the “church world,” the more aware I have become that this whole “raising up the next generation” and “growing the Kingdom of God” thing is really a team effort. And by team effort, I mean, it involves all. the .people…not just the ones who get paid or do a specific job or raise the children.
Recently, I had a parent share with me one of their struggles with raising their kids in the faith. It wasn’t that they had a hard time talking to their kids about God or the Bible or even the tough issues of the day. It wasn’t that their church didn’t have a good ministry to kids and youth or that they felt left out of what was happening there. It wasn’t even that they were too busy or they were too tired or they were too ill-equipped.
Their struggle was simply this – there’s too much going on.
The church they attend is what we tend to refer to as “siloed.” The children go one place on Sunday morning, the youth another, and the adults another. The children have one lesson, the youth have another, and the adults another. The children have their group of friends, the youth have theirs and the adults have theirs. A ne’er the two shall meet…at least within the church context.
So besides all the separate events, lessons, and friendship, there is also the struggle of trying to have a unified conversation. Because in their youngest child’s eyes, the children’s pastor is her pastor. Their teen sees the youth pastor as his pastor and, of course, the parents see the senior pastor as their pastor. It is…confusing.
They all go to the same church, but in a very real sense, they go to three separate churches.
Now, this isn’t a post to discuss the pros and cons of this approach (although I’d be happy to hash that out at some other time), rather this is a wake-up call for those of us who serve in ministry to consider – what message are we giving to families?
And by that I mean, do we work as a team to keep one vision, one mission, and one message in front of families so that they can unite around one faith community and join in one mission?
Or do we tend to focus on our own area, making sure that we take care of our “congregants” and our curriculum/sermon (totally looking at myself now too!)?
I know there are some churches out there that do this fabulously! But some of us struggle with this disconnect. It’s not that the staff doesn’t want to work together; it’s that most of our materials, trainings, and curriculum are set-up on a way that leads to a division rather than a coming together.
So what can we do?
- Be Intentional about being a TEAM – Talk to one another about what each area is doing and find ways to connect with the others. Go serve in one another’s “spaces”. Learn each other’s “language” and find ways to have a common message or voice.
- Be Intentional about being ONE church – Even if your church expresses itself in multiple ways, seek to create a single mission/vision that the church can built itself around. Use that singularity to help fuel all the expressions.
- Be Intentional about holding ONE conversation – There are a lot of ways to do this. Curriculum like D6 2Gen and Group’s Faithweavers that have the whole church look at one Scripture. Create units based around certain themes or Scriptures that the whole church walks through together. Offer special Bible study or small groups through the year that the church does together.
- Be Intentional about learning TOGETHER – So many training opportunities and conferences are built around specialty areas and not applicable to the whole team. That’s one reason I love D6 Conference. It’s for the WHOLE team. There’s something for everyone and more importantly, something for the group as a whole, to learn together and vision together.* Find ways to grow together so that vision gets instilled across the entire team.
As much as I love children and family ministry (and I do!), I am realizing more and more that if we are going to effectively raise the next generation in the faith and grow the kingdom of God, we are going to have to strive to create a space that emphasizes community on mission together, with one heart, one vision, one conversation that continues throughout the week, at home, at school, and at church.
*If you are considering finding a way for your team to grow today, I highly recommend D6 Conference. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions. If you decide to attend (yay!), when you register, use the code “RefocusD6” to receive $20 off each registration. And…I’ll see you there!!
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and Seedbed