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Thoughts on Family Ministry

I have spent the last 18 months transitioning into the increasingly popular Next Generations and/or Family  Ministry  model whereby ministries that were separate within the church (Kidmin, Preschool, High School) begin to work together as one collaborative and cohesive team.  Throughout my journey I’ve learned a few things.  Let me randomly throw some things out there that I’ve come to believe:

  • It’s important that whoever leads the team have mentoring, disciple-making, and high-level people skills in their repertoire.  As the leader at our church, I’ve worked hard to try and increase my skills in these areas. However, I’ve seen some churches hire the “most successful” pastor on their staff and then that leader struggles big-time because he’s more about the end-game ministry that he is about the big picture leading of a team.
  • It can work. When we started communicating as one team to one family, the families in our church began to notice. It starts with simple things like a church-wide family picnic with all the family teams working together; and then moves into more strategic activities.
  • It’s important to involve the entire staff of the NextGEN team into the conversation for the future. Together at the same table, sharing the same vision, and creating the same goals for all of the team.  We spent over 8 months doing this on my team, and it was the most beneficial things we’ve done all year. It brought us together, and helped us understand each other in a new way. (We used the Orange Leaders Handbook to help us craft a strategy that fit our church.)
  • There are tons of churches moving into this model of combining what were solo ministries into combined ministries, and there are tons of models of what that should look like.  It’s my believe though, that each church is different and therefore each church has to tweak, create, and adjust the models to fit their churches’ over all vision, mission, and values.
  • Ask for help.  Throughout the process for our church, I’ve spoken with dozens of leaders doing my job in various organizations.  I needed their opinions as much as they needed mine. I’m convinced that we can’t do this alone in our churches, and instead need to start leaning into other leaders all the way around.
Calling all Family Ministry and Next Generations leaders.  What would you add to this conversation?

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.