The first I’ll call the traditional family model. This model is focused on the natural family. It’s against individualism in that it believes that the nuclear family is a blessed institution and the center of all human interaction, including spiritual development. In many ways, it is correct in those notions.
There are different variations on the traditional family model, but for the most part, this model places the priority of spiritual development in the natural family, that is in the home. Those propagating this model tend to build barriers to protect this nuclear family. Some even refer to the natural family as little churches. In the traditional family model, the local church then becomes a gathering of family churches. The community church then becomes primarily the equippers of parents, the leaders of the home churches.
Evangelism is a part of the traditional family church and may come through church events; through adults speaking about their faith to acquaintances, or families spiritually adopting their children’s friends. However, the priority for the traditional family is the salvation of the children within their own family. Discipleship and evangelism belong in the home because there is an expectation that the parents have this responsibility.
The second model is the missional family. The focus for the missional family model also takes us away from the individual and looks at the group. There are two legitimate family groups, the natural family and the church family.
Members of the natural family are responsible for the spiritual development of their children, but they are also responsible for the development of the other members of the church family. Parents are responsible for their children, but they don’t carry that responsibility alone.
The missional family is an open system. The protective walls are low. The members find their security in acceptance, mutual accountability, and mutual care.
The church gathers regularly as traditional churches on Sunday morning. Gathering in smaller groups and at times other than Sunday are normal. The church family exists as a context of discipleship, building one another up for the work of evangelism. Therefore, the church family sends both families and individuals into the world to spread the gospel, to whoever its members come across in their daily interaction.
The salvation of the individual children need not be assumed, but they are welcome as members of the church family. They are sadly released only when they opt out of the community. The priority of the missional family is making disciples who can, in turn, reach others to make into disciples.
There are two models for family ministry. One is closed and centripetal, pulling everything to the center of the nuclear family. The second is open and centrifugal, preparing its members to enter the world with the message of the gospel and the example of its community.
If you would like to develop your family ministry, Etchea can help you. Contact us.