In the mid 2000’s, our children and student ministry teams began a journey of exploration into family ministry. For several years, our leaders struggled with this concept while we glanced at various models at other churches. We did some reading on this burning topic and looked anywhere we could to define what ministry to the whole family might look like.
Our curiosity literally took us on a journey. We met face-to-face with church leaders who led established family ministries. We discussed the pros and cons of various approaches we hoped would result in increased spiritual impact at home. Honestly, we were not certain where our research would take us or what family ministry would look like at our church. We continued our quest, believing it was worth the effort.
After a season of research, numerous meetings, and prayer, we realized that we could not add anything more to our ministries without first making some organizational changes.
Our church, like so many others, had created a very segregated approach to children and student ministries. At that time, we had three separate ministries led by three ministry directors. Each ministry had to stand on its own. Each leader had to work in a “silo” that led to less than the best cooperation, and it resulted in competition. The children’s ministry had to compete with the middle school ministry for budget dollars and space. The middle school ministry had to compete with the high school ministry. Don’t get me wrong, there was not open hostility; it was simply an atmosphere of competition for limited resources.
Our first and most significant step towards implementing family ministry was to restructure our existing teams. We chose to combine our children, middle, and high school ministries, under one leader and one central leadership team. We realized that before we could impact families, we had to get our ministry teams on the same page.
This single step has helped us accomplish the following:
- Shared Goals – Prior to our restructure, each ministry set its own ministry agenda, and none of it included impacting parents. The restructure changed those practices. Today, at virtually all of our meetings, there is significant inclusion of family conversation, and our goals reflect our aspirations. Most importantly, we share family ministry goals, from nursery leaders through our high school pastor.
- Shared Values – Our restructure helped our children and student ministries relate with each other. There were values that were lived out in our children’s ministry that were missing in our student ministries. Likewise, the opposite was true. By combining our ministries, we have seen the strength of one ministry rub off on another.
- Shared Resources – Rather than competing for money and space, we now complement each other. We cooperate for facility space and financial resources. We now combine dollars for many of our family ministry efforts.
Restructuring your children and student ministries does not create a family ministry in your church. However, I can testify that when you combine your ministry teams, you are setting a great foundation that will result in greater impact to families.