One Word We Get Wrong In Family Ministry

Having just returned from a wonderful children’s ministry conference (CM Conference 2017 by CM Connect) I was struck by something that I hear said repeatedly, but erroneously, in regards to family ministry. It’s said with good intention and it’s stated with emphasis, but it misses an important fact that cannot be overlooked.
conceptual-1280533_1280Over recent years there has been a movement in churches towards a more family-focused, intergenerational ministry environment. One major platform proponents of this transition stand on is that “the home should be the primary place of spiritual formation.” Entire curricula, such as Orange from ReThink Group and Faith 5 from Rich Melheim, are predicated upon this premise.
As a family minister, I happen to agree with this viewpoint with one caveat – I do not believe that the home should be the primary place of spiritual formation, I believe it is the primary place of spiritual formation.

The question isn’t should it be that but rather, since the home is where faith is formed, how should that affect how we do church?

Any number of studies, secular or sacred, about the impact of influences during childhood and young adulthood will consistently lead to one conclusion – the parents and/or caregivers have the most lasting impact on worldview and faith formation.

The Sticky Faith group at Fuller Youth Institute have studied the reasons young people walk away from the church, looking for a “silver bullet” for churches and parents to use to keep that from happening.  Their top finding was that time spent talking and living faith in the home was the biggest indicator of a faith that sticks in kids.

According to Jim Burns at HomeWord ministries, kids that talk about their faith at home with mom and dad have a 80% chance of remaining in church once they leave the home.


Now, it may not be the kind of faith that we as ministers in the church would like to see formed in children. It may be no faith in God at all. But regardless, faith is being formed at home all the time, everywhere, for every child.

So what is our response?

As ministers, we cannot assume that what we share on Sunday will become lived out on Monday unless we are somehow impacting and reaching into the home. We must connect outside the four walls of our church. We must continue beyond the initial engagement of an outreach event. We must recognize that even if our title is still Children’s Pastor, we are also Parent Pastor and Caregiver Counselor and Home Helper. Sunday may be our landing zone, but our work must be done outside home base.

It is no longer a question of whether or not the home should be the primary place for faith formation and spiritual growth. We do not have to wonder if parents should be spiritually leading their kids or discipling them in faith.

These things are. They simply are.

And the question for us is, “What do we do about it?”

(This article was taken in part from an article written by me and  originally published in February 2015 at Children’s Ministry 

For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

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 and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and  Seedbed

CMConnect – Connect, Serve, Advance!

Hello from Louisville (which is pronounces “Lew-vull” apparently) and the first ever CMConnect Conference.  I am so excited to be partnering with an amazing group of Children’s Ministers and bloggers for the next few days as we connect around the incredible world of Children’s and Family ministries in the global church.  It’s been great to hear from and interact with people from all over the world and people close to home as we share together our hearts to see kids discipled, homes equipped and God glorified.

This morning I had the chance to meet with Michael Chanley, the head of CMConnect and organizer ofth the conference, and I asked him, “What is most important that we as bloggers can share with our readers about CMConnect?”  I was immediately taken with his answer: “Tell them our mission; that we are here to connect people in ministry to one another and God and we are passionate about equipping and supporting under-resourced churches.”

I have seen the truth of this statement evidenced in the atmosphere around me.  Breakout sessions are being led by those “in the trenches” sharing practical and meaningful tips that others can immediately put into practice in their home church.  I have seen ministers praying for one another in the hallway, new friends gathering to share vision over lunch (from the food trucks who brought it right to the door – with something called “Boss Hog Nachos” on the menu!!), and I’ve seen old friends encouraging one another and sharing the burden of ministry in a safe place where Jesus is lifted up.  And, in the middle of that, I have had person after person say to me, “I got a scholarship to come here.  We could never have afforded a conference at our church, but I was given the chance to be here for free.”  The vision of CMConnect is being fulfilled!

During the session last night, Andy Kirk, a fellow minister from Australia, reminded us that “The who you are brings the power to the what you do.”  In other words, when we find our identity not in what we are doing but in who we are in Christ, the work we are doing becomes kingdom work and the lives we are touching become “heaven on earth”, the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.  What a great reminder that we are not our own, but His own, and when we are found in Him, we have no reason to fear.   Like Jim Wideman shared a few minutes later, “If God has called you, He thinks you can answer the call.”  Place your trust not in what you are able to do but in a God who is able to do anything!

CMConnect is about living that call.  A vision that seven years ago started with 12 people desiring to connect to each other and to God in order to serve children and families has grown into a global group of over 12,600 members and now a conference where they are doing that connecting face-to-face.  childrens-ministry-conference-logo

If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, as a minister or a parent who is doing that faith forming work at home, check out the 2016 CMConnect Conference website and start planning now to join this amazing group!

If you are interested in reading more about what is going on this week, check out G.J. Farmer’s blog at where he is live blogging from several of the sessions.

Or head over to Twitter and search for the hashtag #CMConnect where you will find other bloggers, session notes, and updates on all the great things happening at the conference.

For more information about practical discipleship in the home or transitioning to a more family-focused ministry at your church, go to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page.

About the author

familyChristina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partneringsmallbadge 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 and is a contributing blogger at