Thursday, 2 February 2012

Whole family ministry

I have been having a lot of discussions and read many many articles over recent weeks and months about children's ministry and the importance of thinking about the whole family rather than just the kids.

It seems obvious somehow now I keep hearing it, but I wonder how much we really take that into account in church children's work. And don't think that's me beating up myself or any children and youth workers, I'm not; I think it's part of the way we don't see families as units anymore. We, as a society, tend to worry about parents OR children but not really look at how one influences the other.

At our church we have families who were led to faith through their kids, families who are led in through the adults and families who are split in their faith.  Each family is different, individual and fantastic as they are; and knowing the family itself really matters when it comes to working with he kids.

So when I run a session on the Raising of Lazareth it is important that I know which children have experienced a death in the family, what their families situation is and know their parents well enough to have a chat if anything has come out in the session.  It's a ministry to the child, but the whole family makes that child.

So how does our system of having the kids out at sunday school work for that whole family ministry?
Well clearly it allows the kids to have their own space, to ask their questions and experience God in their own way.  It also allows parents to have some adult focussed worship and teaching themselves.  These things are good; great and feeding in fact.  So that system should stay; yes.   We have the monthly People, Prayers and Potatoes session and that brings families together and I'm sure that's one of the reasons it's popular and working so well.  Success, fab.  But what about the families that don't access PPP? 

And more than that; what happens when we grow so big as a church that I can't possibly know each family so well? (yes, I do believe that it is possible we can grow that big)
I am toying with the idea of having a termly hang out time after sunday school for the parents to come and literally hang out with their kids and the sunday school team.  I see it as a family zone, something which brings families together as themselves and with each other.  Something to pray on and think on some more.  I also want to bring in some parenting sessions; not to teach parents (heaven forbid) but to share experiences and learn from each other; the way we would have done as communities in generations gone by and seem to have lost the ability to do.

I'd really love to know what you think about the ministry of the whole family and hear anything you've done at your church; I'm always up for using other people's tried and tested ideas.

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