In the past, Children and youth ministry has been directed entirely at what the church can do for your kids when you aren’t there. We have shunted children off to a Sunday School room and overload youth with fun activities among their peer group. A handful of ministry practitioners have helped us enlarge our vision of what family ministry could be. Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman are two such people.
Together they challenge us to a more holistic vision, identifying the 7 Family Ministry Essentials:
- Empowering families to take spiritual leadership in the home.
- Forming lifetime faith that transcends childhood beliefs.
- Teaching Scripture as the ultimate authority of truth.
- Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit’s power to teach and transform.
- Engaging every generation in the gospel of God’s redemptive story.
- Making God central in daily living and every biblical narrative.
- Working with the community to further God’s will.
While many of these seem like they should be no-brainers for any Christian ministry leader, Anthony and Marshman challenge us to think beyond concepts to how these ‘essentials’ shape our practice. So for example, it isn’t enough to acknowledge that parent’s have a real and vital role to play in their children’s spiritual life. If churches and ministry leaders take this seriously, they will see it as vital to their mission to empower families to lead their kid’s into the truths of the faith. As a children’s minister, Anthony stopped sending home summaries of what the kids learned that day and started sending home ‘pre-teach resources’ that allowed parents to read the Bible passage to their children and interact with them over various questions before the next Sunday (40). Similarly an investment in ‘lifetime faith which transcends childhood beliefs’ means more than hoisting information on kids, or settling for just teaching moral behavior. Instead it means leading children and youth into an encounter with Jesus and allowing them to be spiritually formed (73).
Each of these essentials points to ways that the general practice of family ministries ought to be redefined. The chapters end with a ‘ministry assessment’ designed to help ministry leaders engage the book and make practical changes in their ministry to students. I highly recommend this resource for anyone involved in children’s or student ministry (i.e. Pastors, teachers, children’s directors, lay leaders, etc). I give it five stars.
Notice of material connection: I received this book via LitFuse Publicity Group and DavidCCook in exchange for my honest review.