Family ministry?

One of my favourite blogs, Internetmonk, recently posted a video which was a pretty good parody of too many Christian youth programmes. One of the commenters made a good point about youth ministry and family ministry. He asked the question, “How can we expect parents to teach their children when adults are largely ignorant of the gospel?” His suggestion is a move, not necessarily away from youth work but to a more inclusive ‘programme’ for a whole family.

This is a hugely challenging area and one for which there are no easy answers, but I wonder if there is another issue lurking here – that of children/youth teachers. Sunday schools, for example, are usually more than willing to welcome anyone who will give them time to help on a Sunday morning. But is getting a willing volunteer becoming more important that getting the right person? Surely teaching children the correct foundations is crucially important for their future development as Christians? So why do ministers have to be degree-qualified and fully trained before teaching adults yet the only qualification for teaching children is willingness? Furthermore, those who do volunteer are often giving up their time in the Sunday service. So where are they getting their ‘feeding’ and teaching from? My home congregation has two services on a Sunday and there is an expectation on those who teach in the Sunday school and Bible class to be there. But we are fairly unusual in having two services.

I’m not sure that a move to all-age worship all the time is entirely appropriate or desirable, but I do think there are underlying issues which need to be dealt with in order to provide a more holistic approach to nurturing the family of God. Bible study groups and house groups are useful places for such nurture. But who organises those?

One response to “Family ministry?”

  1. The whole family nature of church is a difficult one to square with the generally adult nature of ‘normal’ worship. What I try to do is to have an integrated learning structure with everyone learning about the same topic. This has gone a bit awry recently because I’ve encouraged the younger age Sunday School to follow the Friends and Heroes DVD’s. They’re pretty good quality and they stick to Biblical stories when they form a part of the narrative.
    There is a good point about the teaching staff. When do they get fed ? (and when do clergy ??? – It isn’t enough to keep looking through texts for sermons….) 
    The standard of teachers varies quite a bit, and probably the most awkward are those who’ve done it for years and won’t learn anything new. Given our selection procedure, the standard is quite high.
    We recently did a morning of sharing amongst SS teachers in the area. One church was a no show because they were brilliant and didn’t need help thanks…. they could have shelved their arrogance and shared their apparently wonderful material methinks. 

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