The good news is that the family model of ministry is growing around the country. This means more churches are working to connect discipleship to the home and more people are finding the church to be a necessary family. I see this in many job posts. Churches are looking for family ministry pastors.
The bad news is, many (or even most) are doing it wrong.
If you look at a site like ChurchStaffing.com or Kidmin.org/jobs, it doesn’t take long to understand that most churches looking for a Family Ministry Pastor are really still looking for a children’s ministry director. Likely, they are encouraged by using the Orange curriculum or D6 philosophy, but for the most part the jobs still focus mostly on running a children’s ministry.
Here are 7 reasons a children’s leader cannot lead a church into family ministry model.
- A family model church must connect all generations, not just parents with kids.
- Children’s leaders are, sadly, still seen by most church members as specialists in children’s work, at best, and at worst they are seen as the least influential member of the leadership team.
- Children’s program leaders are always recruiting. Keeping a children’s program staffed is a full-time job. It is really hard to find time to enact a bigger vision as a children’s leader.
- Because children’s leaders are always recruiting, they often get a reputation of only calling when they need something. This means many people immediately put up their defenses when in conversation with a children’s leader.
- Children’s leaders are often the last one to be given time before the whole congregation. One reason is they’re too busy on Sunday morning to leave the children’s wing. For a second reason, refer to #2.
- When children’s directors start talking about family ministry, senior leaders often have an incomplete understanding of the family model of ministry. They see it as a departmental aspect of the church rather than a permeating vision. This is evident by the job listings. The family model isn’t just holding parent classes to teach parents to be better parents. When children’s leaders start pushing harder for a whole church family ministry, many senior leaders feel overwhelmed by the grandness of this vision.
- The family model of ministry has to be a corporate, whole-church movement. Only top leaders (the top leader) can build this vision.
Children’s ministry is an important part of our church and children’s leaders can be gifted leaders. However, if the children’s leaders cannot lead a church into family ministry, then who should be doing this work? Ideally, it will be the senior leadership of the church- the lead pastor or the elders. It could also be a second chair lead with a strong relationship to the senior leadership. Finally, the congregation can lead this movement by demanding more cross-generational ministries.