On the walls of our home, you will find many, many pictures of our family through the years. From when our children were babies all the way through to their recent weddings, our walls tell our story. The frames I carefully choose for these precious memories enhance the image and help put the unfolding narrative in context. The frame often gives clues as to how to interpret what we are looking at. Without a good frame, any picture leaves the viewer confused and the picture seems incomplete.
Pick the frame, you pick whether the picture will be a success in telling the heart and soul of the image’s story.
The same is true in Family Ministry in the church. When we examine Family Ministry, knowing the frame of reference helps us understand what the ultimate mission and vision of the ministry is.
- What does the church want us to see?
- What is the ultimate goal the church has for families and the spiritual formation of children?
If we understand the frame of reference, then we have a better idea of what we’re looking at and how we can enjoy and use what is being offered.
Frame 1 – Family Integration Model: A Family of Families The emphasis of this model is almost primarily on the family. It is in the family unit children learn about faith and grow in their spiritual formation. Families worship together, often eat together and children learn by being in the presence of their family. Observation and imitation of behavior modeled by adults are key features of learning as children are usually in the supervising presence of their parents. Considered a top down model, parents are very much in charge and children are to be recipients and obeyers of the truth families impart to their children. This model’s benefits certainly bring to our attention the importance of family and honors the responsibility God has given to parents to raise their children spiritually (Deuteronomy 11:19).
Frame 2 – Family Equipping Model: An Intentional Parent Discipleship Strategy The vision of this model is to disciple parents more than provide programming. It is about making sure parents have what they need to teach their children biblical truth in a solid theological framework. The focus is more on working with parents to work with their children than directly working with the children. It is a focus of the church that is strategic throughout – it is more about an intentional philosophy of training parents to disciple their children than a calendar of programs.
Frame 3 – Family Engagement: Age specific programs in which children and youth are nurtured spiritually within the church family along with their parents The church is a place that supplements what parents are doing. Therefore, churches offer opportunities in programming to learn spiritual truth at different specific age-appropriate levels. Parent pages, activities as crafts and games, and family programs that encourage children and parents to come together to learn God’s word are created within an intentional church calendar. Spiritual formation of children is a cooperative effort where the church and family work together like a hand in a glove to help children grow spiritually.
Dear Reader, which ministry is right for the family and the church? It’s not so much which one is “right” but which one is “right” for you! All these models believe in both the church family God’s Spirit creates (Matthew 12:49-50) and the family unit of which you are a part. No matter which model is right for you, consider how you frame out the decision of how you are discipling your children and how your church is framing out the ministries they provide for families. There are different visions and missions that God has imparted to different churches. I encourage you, with prayerful thought, to choose which ministry will frame out your family story.
Blessings as you frame out your family! Fondly yours, Elizabeth