Home Life by Bev and Phil Haas
There’s a proven process outlined by Charles Sell in his classic textbook, Family Ministry (Zondervan, 1995).
Sell’s Six Steps
You’ve taken a good first step by putting together a team to provide direction. Your second step is to develop a theology and philosophy of family ministry.
Now you are ready to take the third step, assessing needs by uncovering the most pressing family-related needs of the congregation and community. No church will be able to meet all the needs you uncover. Therefore, the fourth step is to determine goals for this new ministry. Your goals will be influenced by your philosophy, the mission of your church, and available resources and personnel. Step five is when you work to devise programs: whatever the church makes use of to reach the goals of your family ministry. The final step is one that is most often skipped—evaluating.
Now we want to get back to your next step which is to develop your theology and philosophy of family ministry.
Three Biblical Reasons
The Bible is the foundation upon which an effective family ministry is built. As Royce Money asserts in his book, Ministering to Families (Abilene Christian University Press, 1987), “If we can’t biblically back up what we are doing as Bible-believing Christians, we have problems. However, if we do find biblical justification and don’t do something, we also have problems.” Though the word family is used some 250 times in the Old Testament, it seldom occurs in any English translation of the New Testament. However, the thread of family and family relationships are woven throughout the New and Old Testaments.
It may seem obvious, but we think you should affirm among your group the value that the Bible is divinely inspired by God and your church’s ultimate source of authority in all matters, including family life (2 Timothy 3:16). There will certainly come a time when deep personal connections and family ties pull people away from biblical principles. At that point, with grace and truth you will go back to your mutual commitment to the Bible.
Following are three primary reasons why God is concerned about family life and why his church should also be concerned. First, God created the family and chose the analogy of the family to reveal himself to us. God established the family in Genesis 2:23. From that point forward he used family comparisons to reveal himself. God chose the concept of father, in its most noble sense, to convey his relationship to us. Jesus Christ is described as the Son of God as well as the Son of Man. The church is pictured as the bride of Christ. We are brothers and sisters. In each of the examples above God uses family language to help us understand his nature and his relationship to us through family roles.
Second, Jesus was concerned about family relationships and about meeting human needs. Jesus told a demon possessed man, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you” (Mark 5:19). Jesus’ heart went out to the widow of Nain and he brought her only son back to life (Luke 7:13-15). Jesus healed and helped many people whose families had experienced great anxiety and loss.
Third, the church commenced using the hospitality of its families and is the ideal institution to partner with the family. God created both the family and the church. He didn’t intend for one to replace the other, but for both to work together to make more and better disciples (Matthew 28:19, 20). The mission of First Church and the mission of its families are one and the same. A church with strong families will be a strong church.
The family is vital to God, Jesus, and the church. Hopefully your team will be convinced that something can and should be done in your church to build a thriving family ministry, one that begins with the right biblical foundation.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children, and they have one grandson.
The Family Manifesto, a declaration of values by FamilyLife, provides a Scripture-based blueprint for building a godly home.