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Family Ministry Thoughts

I serve as a Family Ministry Director at my church, and have been fortunate enough to meet and collaborate with other like-minded people doing the same things at their churches.  I’ve also been given many opportunities to share my opinions on family ministry as it is in 2012 and the future. I’ve for sure learned a few things as it’s been happening.
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 HAS to be the long-term vision of the senior leaders of the church. If it’s more of a pencil-pushing delegation of tasks, then it won’t work long term.  Sounds harsh, but I’ve seen it bear out many times.  If the Senior Pastor is simply trying to reward excellence by allowing the family teams to merge, then it won’t work.  It has to come from a real desire to see ministries working with the families in the church come together to lock arms and combine resources to help everyone be successful.
  • Be prepared for change. Anytime that another layer is added between a pastor and the senior leaders of the church, it can get tricky. NextGEN ministry is no exception.
  • It can work. In the places where I’ve worked, 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. Yes, I advocate for food-related family and church events.
  • 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.  It can bring people together, and help everyone understand each other in a new way. (I’ve 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. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to church staff structures.
If you’re a parent: What benefit, if any, do you see to your youth pastors working with your children’s pastors?  
If you’re on a church staff: Have you any thoughts to add to the 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.