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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.

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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Thoughts

 

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Reaching a New Generation of Families | redux

Last October, I had the privilege of leading a family ministry conversation at Group Publishing’s Kidmin Conference in Chicago. This next Fall, I’ll have the opportunity to lead a workshop where we will talk about the specifics of turning parents into partners in ministry.
I’m honored to be given the chance to speak on a topic that gets me as excited as this does.
 
 

Reaching a New Generation of Families

Practical Next Steps for Church Leaders

I walked away from some recent ministry conversations with the sense that a lot of people are talking about “Family Ministry” but are having a hard time navigating what their next steps should be.  Today, I thought I’d share three statements to keep in mind as your church moves toward a more effective family ministry model.

The Parent is the Expert

The reality: All too often, those who serve families in the church come across as thinking that they have all of the answers for the hard times of parenting.  However, most parents don’t see the need for your voice in the conversation – they’re the ones doing the parenting… so, obviously, they are the experts.  In a way, they’re right: they have logged more hours with their children than anyone else and they have the potential to be the greatest influencer of their child over the course of their lifetime.

Try this: Talk and act as though you are on the same team as parents. In front of children and their parents, support something that a mom or dad has said.  Follow up those moments by reminding those around you that you’re on the same team as the parents.  A healthy family ministry model is one that recognizes that you are not only serving children – you’re serving the entire family.  If parents see and hear that you believe yourself to be a member of their team, they’re more likely to treat you as a partner instead of just someone who spends time with their child while they go to church.

Families are Busy

The reality: Families are being pulled in more directions today than they were a few decades ago.  The childhood you remember doesn’t exist anymore. When you tell a family that bringing their child to church isn’t going to be enough – that there’s more to passing on the faith than simply showing up twice a month to Sunday School – you run a strong chance of overwhelming them.  Their calendars are already full.  They’ve double booked themselves at least twice in the coming week.  The don’t have time to do extra things and they’re more likely to give up on you than on Little League.

Try this: Cast a vision for younger families about what it will take to pass the faith on to their children. I’m fond of telling parents of toddlers and preschoolers to “Do what matters before it matters so that when it matters you’re already doing it.” In other words, the rhythms you create when your children are young matter – parents need to be intentional about how they’re spending their time.

Families of older children can be comforted to know that they are already doing many of the things that it takes to have spiritual conversation with their child.  Remind them about how they can leverage things they are already doing – sharing meals, bedtime routines, driving in the car & getting ready each morning for the day to come – in order to talk about the things that matter.  Don’t give parents an extra list of things to do – teach them how to add value to the time they are already spending with their children.

Not Everyone Cares

The reality: At best, 20% of the families at your church are fully committed to partnering with you in raising up the next generation (their children included) to love Jesus. 90% might check a box saying that it’s a good thing… but, at least 80% of the families in your church think that it’s the church’s job to teach people about Jesus – their own children included. And, to be honest, I’m probably being generous in saying that 20% of your families are bought in to partnering with you.  But, if I told you the real number, you might just get sad.

Try this: Don’t be upset when families don’t understand their need for partnering with you.  They’re at church – that’s a huge step in the right direction! Work on developing a tiered approach to partnership.  Think of commitment in terms of levels of engagement and work on moving families toward having a full commitment to spending time outside of Sunday teaching their children about Jesus.  If your church is doing its job, you’ll always have new families coming in and you’ll need an approach to getting them on board with partnering with you – start figuring out what those steps are with the parents you already know.  Want to find out what parents are committed to partnering with you? Try “forgetting” to hand out take-home pages this next Sunday and see which parents notice.  Warning: only do this if you’re ready for some hard conversations with parents at your church and with yourself.

Families are more diverse than they’ve ever been. For more reading on Reaching a New Generation of Families, check out this post: https://westcoastcm.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/reaching-a-new-generation-of-families/

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Kidmin, Orange, Thoughts

 

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The Orange Tour: Los Angeles

The Orange Tour Comes to the Los Angeles Area

Get the Tools Needed for Effective Family Ministry

Hundreds of regional church leaders will gather in the Los Angeles area on Friday, September 23 for The Orange Tour, an exciting series of one-day events across the nation created to equip and inspire attendees. This fourth stop on the tour will be packed with practical ideas, move teams toward a unified strategy and provide easy-to-implement suggestions for partnering with parents. Speakers Reggie Joiner and Sue Miller will focus on the nine core insights to shaping the next generation’s worldview.

Designed to be an interactive gathering of church leaders from specific geographic regions, the Orange Tour’s relaxed environment provides each leader with the chance to network with other leaders in their area. The relationships formed here can become an invaluable tool to help build stronger ministries.

The Orange Tour is perfect for every member of a ministry team—preschool, children’s, student ministry and senior pastors. The speakers they’ll hear from, the training they’ll receive, and the community that develops provides an excellent environment for growth. This gathering is also a great opportunity to get ministry-specific questions answered from our Orange Leaders, Orange Coaches, and fellow ministry leaders who have the same or similar experiences.

Information shared through the tour stems from the Orange Strategy, a pioneering concept that believes parents, as partners with church leadership, create the most impacting center of influence for children and teenagers. “Thinking Orange” blends two vital, yet often unconnected worlds to reshape the current ministry model.

The Orange Tour Los Angeles stop will be held at Glenkirk Church in Glendora. Registration is $59, including lunch, if registered on or by September 9, after which the price increases to $69. The one-day training opportunity can either be considered a stand-alone event or as a precursor to The Orange Conference, the 4,000-plus national event, which will be held April 25-27, 2012, in Atlanta. For more information about The Orange Tour, please visit http://www.OrangeTour.org, email tour@rethinkgroup.org or call 678-845-7168.

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I can’t begin to express how thrilled I am that our team and our church is hosting the West Coast stop on the Orange Tour this Fall.  I’d love to connect with those of you out here in California and the surrounding states if you’re able to make it to this event – drop me a line via facebook, twitter or in the comments section and I’ll make it a point to create time for us to talk shop and hang out while you’re here.

I’ve even added a link at the right of my blog for you to register – it’s that simple.

Hope to see you there!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange, Resources

 

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Kids in Alabama Need Your Help

Speaking of talking with your kids about death, I was just informed of an amazing organization that is coming alongside families who are recovering from the devastating tornadoes that hit the South last week.

Mitzi Eaker has put together a really neat project that is a very practical way for your family to lend a hand in bringing hope and love to kids who need to know that God and the Church are still looking out for them.  Think “Operation Christmas Child” – but in May.  Here’s some quick info I was provided by some friends who are close to the project.

“We are asking that families and children’s ministries across the country get involved by creating “Boxes of Hope” for children which will be distributed in disaster relief centers, emergency shelters, and area hospitals to storm victims. These boxes will contain a personal note to the children with scripture for encouragement, fun activities such as a coloring book, small toys or games, and a few toiletry items. “Boxes of Hope” are aimed at providing a distraction and encouragement to children who have lost everything in this heartbreaking disaster. As parents, we know that seeing our children receive such a gift in this circumstance would help put our minds at ease as well.”


Read more,  including how your family can be involved by visiting kids4al.com.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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