RSS

Monthly Archives: April 2015

3 Questions to Ask Before Planning A Family Ministry Event

3 Questions to Ask Before Planning A Family Ministry Event

As I’ve spent time with other children’s and youth ministry leaders over the years, I’ve noticed that the idea of “family” ministry has seen a resurgence amongst churches of various denominational backgrounds and sizes.  However, many peers in ministry (and you might be one of them) have been given the role of “Family Ministry” without being told what exactly that title means.

For many churches, the assumption is that, once someone is given the responsibility of “Family Ministry” they’ll simply run a couple “Family” events during the year and meet some sort of unspoken quota by which families will then feel cared for and invite their friends to the church.  Though family ministry is more than simply just running a couple picnics during the year for your congregation, it’s important to ask yourself 3 questions before planning a Family Ministry Event at your church.

1. Would a Dad want to Show Up?

I begin with this question as someone who has written and spoken at great length about reaching out to modern families and understanding that not all families have a father present in the home.  Also: not every dad is the same – offering an electronic shooting range during the event or a BBQ competition isn’t the simple answer to getting dads to show up.  It will take some time for your team to think about dads in your context and what kind of an event would draw their attention.  With that said, your most effective Family Ministry events will be ones where dads are excited about bringing their families.

When marketing a Family Ministry event, keep in mind that you’re often not marketing to the children in the family – they’re not the ones who will be driving the family there anyways.  Instead, parents are your primary audience and churches tend to struggle at creating events that husbands and fathers want to attend.  If you’re planning an event that you want the entire family to show up at and you cannot name why a dad would want to attend, you should start your planning over.

2. Why would a Family Bring a Friend to this Event?

Our churches should never be just for those who are already in attendance and our Family Ministry events should keep that idea in mind as well. Aside from thinking through how you’re going to equip families to invite their friends to your events, you should also be asking yourself why a family would want to invite their friends to attend with them.  If your events are announced in front of the congregation during your weekend services, consider naming this during that time – “This is a great event to bring your friends to because…”

If you’re unable to name why a family would want to invite a friend to your event, the answer might be closer than you think.  For some churches, large events provide a chance for visitors to spend some time at the church outside of a worship service as a first step into church life – attending a Back-to-School carnival is less intimidating for some neighbors than attending services on a weekend.  For others, Family Ministry events feature inspirational bands or speakers who can craft a message that offer families an encouraging word in the midst of busy and hectic lives.  Whatever your answer is – make sure that you can name why a family would want to invite a friend to your next event.  If they don’t know why they’d invite a friend, chances are that they won’t.

3. What’s the Next Step for a Family who Attends?

It’s easy for those of us in church work to feel as though we’re becoming cruise directors at times – we run so many events that it’s easy to forget that we’re actually in the business of seeing lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus.  So, before you plan your next event, consider what the next steps are for a family who attends.  Are you creating a clear path from that event into your next weekend worship gathering?  Do you have clear invitations available for parenting classes or small groups that you want to direct parents toward?

Every event that you host at your church should lead a family toward a next step in their journey of faith – even if that next step is simply to go home and have a discussion at bedtime that night about where they’ve seen God at work in their lives during the week.  However – families won’t know that’s your objective unless you’re intentional about what your goal is for each event that you host and what you want a family to do next after attending.

Though Family Ministry is SO MUCH MORE than running events, there is an expectation in many of our churches that we’ll run events for families during the year.  Because of that, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re answering the three questions you need to be asking in order for those events to be successful.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Thoughts

 

Tags: , , ,

Investing Beyond the Walls of Your Church

Investing in the Church Beyond Your Walls

For those of us called into local church ministry, whether it’s in a staff or in a volunteer leadership position, our job descriptions rarely ask us to look beyond the walls of our own church facility.  And, when we are asked to do so, it’s generally in order to bring families to our own church in order to sit in our seats and hear our weekend message.

Yet, if you do the math, the amount of unchurched people in your town could never fit inside the walls of your church – it just isn’t possible.  Which means, if we’re going to actually reach our neighborhoods with the Gospel, we’re going to have to learn to work together with the church down the street.  Today, I’d love for you to consider taking a step toward partnering with another church in your community – not because you need more friends, but because your neighbors need to know who Jesus is.

Building a Kingdom, not Castles

A few years ago, I was asked to contribute to a book which asked a handful of ministry leaders to choose one word that they felt represented the most important concept for people in Children’s Ministry as we looked toward the future of our field.  My word: Kingdom.  I went on to write, and still believe, that our churches would be more effective at ministry if we understood that each congregation in a community has a unique calling and purpose in their context and that, by working together to build the kingdom, we’d better be able to reach those who are lost and hurting in the world around us.

For those of us who find themselves at churches who have legacies of castle building, where the idea of working with other churches in the community might sound like heresy, let me assure you – I’m not asking you to stop inviting people to your church gathering.  In fact, I strongly believe that people will be more willing to worship in your faith community if you have a friendly relationship with other churches in town.  But, with simple math in mind, there simply aren’t enough seats in your church’s sanctuary or worship center for everyone in your neighborhood to sit in if they showed up on a Sunday.

The Three Mile Challenge

Being able to name what makes your church unique and what you bring to the table in a partnership first requires you to know what other voices are in the conversation.  But, in order to do that, you need to know what churches are in your neighborhood.  A quick Google search (if you just type “churches near” and then your church name, Google will give you a map of the churches in your area) will give you a great place to start.  From there, choose 5-10 churches within three miles of your church and check out their websites – what stands out to you? … what would they offer to a family looking to visit them on a weekend?  … who would you connect with on staff if you sent them an email?  … if you already know something about that church, what have you heard?  Your first steps into partnership should be with the churches on that short list who you already have some connection to.  Don’t make this harder than it has to be.

Next Steps into Partnership

Some of us might get intimidated by the idea of partnering with other churches because we think it means that we have to run joint events – massive VBS initiatives that will require us to rent out local stadiums and spend thousands of dollars.  However, that’s not what partnership has to look like.  Kingdom building begins with relationships long before it ever (IF it ever) leads to events.  So, beginning with that list of churches nearby, consider what it would look like to begin praying for three of those churches.

In my marriage, I can generally measure the health of our partnership by how well I know my wife’s prayer requests.  That is to say, if I know what’s on her heart and how to pray for the things that she cares most deeply about, then – chances are – we’re probably closer to being on the same page than when my prayers for her are more general.  In a similar way, the more details I know about how to pray for the churches in my area, the higher the chances are that I’m in relationship with those churches and that I actually care about the ministry taking place there.

In my community, I’m blessed to be surrounded by amazing friends at Grace Church of Glendora, Cornerstone Church, Grace Church of La Verne, Church of the Open Door and Foothill Church – and, because we pray for each other, I have a better sense for the hearts of the people at those churches and can tell local families what they might find in those congregations that my local church might not be able to offer.  Through partnering with those friends, the impact we can have on our community becomes multiplied and our seating capacity on a weekend increases exponentially.

If you want to try something new in caring for your community, try investing in kingdom building by getting to know another church in your area.  Though it might not be in your job description, you might get a new friend out of the effort – and, even if you don’t need another friend, your neighbors need a place to worship where they can hear about the Gospel of Jesus.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Thoughts

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: