Nothing drives me more bonkers than a youth ministry that tailors to the “good”, conventional, and super spiritual families. A conventional family is the family who is always happy, has a dog, 2 sons and 1 daughter, loves church, mom stays home, and never has any problems.
I would argue that organizations like Focus on the Family are stuck because they only focus on one type of family.
In reality this conventional and nuclear family is really rare. If a youth pastor assumes that this conventional family is the majority of families in their Church, then the youth ministry is doing a disservice to how he/she is arranging family ministry in their Church.
The word for family that we use in English isn’t in the Bible. The Hebrew word “Batith”, which means house or household (greek Okkia). In the US, families are not permeable. I think the divorce rate (especially among Christians) speaks to the permeability of American families. You are a family if you call yourself a family, namely a social unit living together.
The North American family system has underwent many cultural shifts over the past 50 years. The roles and expectations of women, men, and children have changed. The role of the women has gone from nurture to co-earner; the role of the men has went from protector/provider to not really being sure what their role is. This is very problematic because, in a sense, this creates a fragmentation in the family system and as a result a fragmented church. Historically, the family was the central of the church. Today family isn’t at the center of the church. We pretend it is, but it isn’t. The Church needs to recapture the inter-connectiveness of the traditional and non-traditional family, while be integrated into Church family.
My point: The definition of family is up for grabs, so therefore let us not only cater to the “good and perfect” families in our church.
Let’s stop pretending that the families in our church…
….are spiritually growing
….have a solid marriage
… pray together daily
….have familial rituals
….love one another
….read the Bible together
…enjoy going to church together
How does a youth ministry minster to the families that are:
Single parent families?
Deeply severed by divorce?
I argue that the Church must become a family of families. Youth ministries need to set up family ministry programs that incorporate the aspects of: Counseling, family life spiritual education, and generational integration. Naturally, a small church is typically viewed as a family of families. So for a small town youth pastor, it is easier to arrange a youth ministry that is family friendly.
So if a broken or perfect family starts attending your church, your youth ministry will be equipped to minister to any type of family.
Some possible suggestions for a church to be a family of families:
* Contact local Christian counseling center
* Provide Parenting educational seminars
* Do multi-generational church events (mission trip, church picnic, spaghetti dinner)