People watching, I’ve loved to do it for a while. What I’m seeking to do is not pass judgment (which is a constant Spirit work in my heart), but make observances. I’ve been doing family ministry (or involved in it) for about 6 years now, so it always peaks my interest to see what I see.
I am sitting here today at my local sanctified chicken establishment. Watching families as they eat lunch, use their technological devices, and play on the indoor playground. Here are just a few glimpses into families in Little Rock. I guarantee you can find families like this in your neck of the woods, and probably in your church as well. More questions for that at the end.
1. A Mom and teenage son and daughter arrive in a purple Escalade. Mom didn’t say a word to either since they got out of the car. Son has earbuds in his ear and hasn’t said a word since sitting down. Daughter is struggling with her weight (like the rest of family) and is wearing VS Pink sweatpants. Mom finally spoke – when her cell phone rang. Other than that they are all not talking to each other and are all on their devices, whether texting or listening to music.
2. A business Dad on his lunch break (has on bank nametag and in a business suit, so I’m making an assumption here), has a quick lunch break with his son. They exchange a few words, then they depart after being here less than 15 minutes.
3. A runner-Mom (attire fits the description) allows two toddlers to play in the playground while settling into a conversation on her phone while they play.
4. A group of young moms sit together and chat while their children play on the indoor playground. They seem like they are having fun and the kids are playing nicely together.
Here are just four snippets into American life as we know it. Now, how does this apply to our churches and family ministry?
1. Family Ministry isn’t perfect. We can have the best parenting classes and programs, but our programs aren’t perfect nor our teachers – neither are the people in the class. Sin has damaged every family since the beginning of time (see Genesis 1-4).
2. Are we ready to ministry to dysfunctional families? Rarely do you see intact families these days: one marriage, kids in the family. Is that really typical? Not anymore? I’m not saying we need the 2.5 kids, white picket fence, and golden retriever, but how do you minister to families that don’t have it all together?
Answer: Prayer, biblical counseling, and coming alongside them – not just preaching at them. Share your life with them. If there is no Dad in the picture, Dads – be a Dad to those kids. If a widow, then be the church and practice true religion by loving and serving them.
3. How do our church members relate to those incoming families that may not look like everyone else? Do our members or staff want to only ministry to the put-together families or do our members and leaders want to get our hands dirty. I admit it is hard. The family I grew up in is far from perfect. There would be much I would want to change in my own family now as we raise our son. But, ministering to families who are completely different than you is hard. It takes faith and grace.
How does your church minister to families? How are you reaching a familial society that doesn’t communicate and are seldom sitting down together to talk, eat, share a meal, or even play games or do an outdoor activity or trip together?