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Meeting Families Where They Are

 

Meeting Families Where They Are

Family Ministry Connect Group Reflections

I had the privilege this last weekend to have spent some time in Chicago at Group’s Kidmin Conference.  While there, I led something called a “Connect Group” – a multi-day conversation and gathering of ministry practitioners who spend time connecting over a common subject.  The group I facilitated was focusing on Family Ministry – specifically answering the question, how does the church best partner with parents and families in order to pass the faith on to the next generation in relevant and lasting ways?

While spending time together, I noticed a common theme.  Those of us around the table were talking about ministry ideas that we’ve tried in order to reach and equip families – both the ideas that have worked and the ones that have failed – and the ideas that worked almost sounded like a broken record… churches are succeeding when they meet families where they’re at, rather than telling them what would be best for them.

Making the things you’re already doing count

Most of us know the story and the power of the movement behind an organization called TOMS shoes.  Their founder, Blake Mycoskie, decided to leverage an action people were already doing – buying shoes – and use that buying power to help children in need obtain a higher standard of living.  It’s a great example of meeting people where they are and making it count.  I tell high schoolers and young adults all the time – if you want to do the MOST good, your $60 can help out an organization like Compassion tremendously.  However, if you’re already going to drop that kind of money (or more) on a pair of shoes, then why not buy a pair from an organization that will pass on a pair to a child who has never owned shoes?

I say that to say this – from the conversations around our circles, it sounds as though family ministry is most effective when churches find things that families are already celebrating or doing (Halloween Parties, Christmas activities, lunch after church, parenting conversations, celebrating milestones… among others) and lean into those times to equip and resource families and often give them a shared experience alongside other families who are committed to raising up their children well.

Family ministry, it seems, is more than just handing out take-home pages.
Who knew? 😉

I’m looking forward to continuing those conversations throughout this coming year… and we’d love to have your voice in the mix – what has your church done to meet families where they’re at?  Are you connecting with parents on Facebook, spending time at school events and soccer fields to meet families in your community, or something else creative?  Use the comments section to let us know!

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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Kidmin, Thoughts

 

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5 People to Meet in Twenty10: Meeting CYJ

Christine Yount Jones

A few months ago I made a list of people I wanted to make contact with in 2010.  This week, I was able to sit down with Christine Yount-Jones, executive editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine and Champion for Children’s Ministry at Group Publishing.

To say that it was an amazing opportunity would be a gross understatement.

When I first wrote about CYJ, I wrote this little blurb about why she made my Top 5:

Christine is legit.

While some may consider becoming executive editor of one of the leading ministry magazines in the nation the pinnacle of their career, Christine shows no sign of slowing down or becoming “comfortable” with what she’s accomplished.  She blogs and contributes to conversations on blogs regularly and keeps an active presence on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  She travels the nation, speaking to those currently serving in ministry in a way that encourages and equips them to reach toward excellence in everything they do.  Yet, Christine isn’t just a talking head – she has real thoughts and opinions and seems genuinely more interested in what those of us in active ministry have to say than she cares about towing the company line.

Above all, Christine makes the list because, though we all think very highly of her, the word on the street is that she’s one of the most humble and approachable children’s ministry leaders around.

Now, having spent hours of unfiltered conversations with her, I feel like no write-up could ever do justice to the amazing Christ-follower and children’s ministry resource that she is.

As I meet with my Top 5 this year, I have a list of 3 must-cover topics to discuss.  Here’s a quick recap of how my conversation with Christine went:

Secrets to Longivity

Though she’s still young and full of energy, CYJ has been a voice in Children’s Ministry for over 20 years! When I asked her how she did it, she was thrilled to share her insights.  In fact, she was so thrilled, she wrote about the things she identified over at the Childrensministry.com blog.  Go check it out!

Leadership Insights

Chris and I talked about tips she has picked up in the arena of leadership and management.  Above all, she told me, we need to truly see and know those who we are called to lead.  If we don’t first get to know those who serve alongside us, we won’t know how to tap into their strengths to accomplish realistic goals.  She also talked about the importance of servant leadership and how that has been built into the culture at Group Publishing.

On the Horizon

I’m a guy who likes to plan and think ahead.  And, seriously, who better to ask what trends are on the horizon for children’s ministry than one of the trendsetters herself… right?  Group Publishing and Children’s Ministry Magazine have a strong history of pushing the envelope and setting a relevant target for those of us in ministry to aim for.  So, what does Christine see on the horizon?  What conversations are happening at a national level?  What is the current buzz in Children’s Ministry?  Our conversation hovered around three major topics.

Family Ministry

Across the board, churches are wrestling with how we can minister effectively to families.  We likened the current topic of family ministry to the age-old discussion of security in Children’s Ministry.  The question with security has shifted from a question of should to how.  Family ministry is no longer a question of should we… instead, you need to figure out how your church is going to minister to families.  5 years from now, relevant churches will not only have an answer to that question… those churches will have integrated that answer into their culture in such a way that the question will hardly be asked in Children’s Ministry circles.

Re-imagining Curriculum

A shift is coming in the way churches leverage their time and resources to minister to kids.  As effective ministry becomes more fluid and relational, children’s pastors will continue dreaming outside of the box in such a way that publishers are going to have to rethink the way they equip the local church.  Nobody knows what exactly this looks like yet… but it’s exciting to dream about.

Integration and Assimilation

I’ll be honest, I threw this into the conversation to see if I could get a head nod.  I did.  Churches are going to have to think about and invest in “next steps” to both large and small events.  Discipleship strategies need to move past the HP model of discipleship (we do a lot of programming and then hope and pray that discipleship is happening).  Churches are starting to wrestle with assimilation when it comes to Children and Family ministries.  Could it be that students are walking away from the faith when they graduate high school because we failed to integrate their families into the life of the church when they were preschoolers and 3rd graders?

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Overall, Christine set the bar pretty high for the rest of my list in 2010.  She’s an amazing person and has an authenticity about her that gives her words more weight than she realizes.  If you’ve never connected with her, find CYJ on Facebook or Twitter.  She’s the real deal.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2010 in Kidmin

 

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