The YTH Leader And The Family
The cornerstone of society is the family. And a healthy understanding of the importance of the family in Ministry is critical. Because this is our greatest tool to reach the world with the gospel.
Now, none of us have a perfect family. But, the future of every ministry, and ultimately every nation, is built upon the foundation of the family structure. How is the family preparing future politicians, clergy, educators, business entrepreneurs, mothers and fathers, doctors, and lawyers? Our nation will inherit the most valuable resource we can give it - the family.
According to The Dad Vibe website (http://www.thedadvibe.com/parents-spend-less-than-7-minutes-a-day-talking-to-kids/) the latest statistics show that fathers spend about 7 minutes each day in conversation with their children. That is one of the most telling statistics about the condition of our nation.
In Ministry, we must focus on healthy ministry families. Not a perfect family or home, but, that healthy parental leadership. Because this is our greatest tool to reach the world with the gospel.
A Theology Of The Family
This begins in Genesis 1-3 where God lays out the order of creation. And He begins with humankind. Individually. Man first. And then since it wasn’t good for man to be alone, He created woman. See that? The importance of the individual first - and then the marriage and family that might follow.
And Paul laid out his theology of the family with these words he echoed from the Old Testament:
"Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” (Proverbs 1:7-9)
“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.” (Proverbs 15:20)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise).” (Ephesians 6:1-2)
“Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)
What is important in Genesis 1-3 is that we focus on our own personal spiritual relationship. That will assure that our marriages and ultimately our ministries will be healthy. Here are a few practices to ensure a healthy individual:
Personal spiritual disciplines (prayer, reading, fasting, worship, giving, simplicity)
Personal wellness (nutrition, sleep, spiritual, emotional, physical, relational)
Personal vocational development (job, skill-set, education, leadership development)
Personal calling (understanding the call on your life and who you marry and birth)
And what is important in the Pauline verses is that we focus upon the relationships in the family honoring and respecting each other. Especially as it relates to the authority of the parents and the submission of the children. So much of that has been lost in the home today.
God created the individual first. Before the family. And that individual calling is critical to a healthy family. Because in relationships, two halves don’t make a whole. That only works in math.
And our ministry homes must go back and do spiritual formation on the individual (a father and a mother) before they are married and become the parents of children they will raise. So that they can bring a spiritual formation in the home. Because this is our greatest tool to reach the world with the gospel.
A Missiology Of The Family
After the individual comes the family. From the dating relationship through the marriage relationship and then the family relationships. Do you see the framework? Of course, not everyone will marry. But, take this post to be more specifically bent toward the marriage and family in ministry.
Why is this so important? Because the new research from Barna and the Impact360 study that was released in February of 2018 found that GenZ today has placed a low priority on the family. Especially as it relates to the family’s influence upon their self-identity and their faith. Family is ranked consistently in the middle and far from the top of the influencers upon teens in these two areas of self-identity and faith development. And this is going to take intentional reclaiming of marriage and the family in YTH Ministry. In order to model healthy homes to a generation who are not seeing it.
In order to gain the leverage back that is critical to not only family renewal, but also, national renewal. Clear intention and mission in the home of the faith leaders and ministers who will shape the Church by shaping family.
Missiology is intention. Once I have intended my own personal health as YTH Leader, I must intend my family’s health. Let me give you some practices for the YTH Leader and their home:
Date nights with your spouse
Family dinners (a great place to do devotions together)
Mentoring of children individually (getting to know their personalities)
Sibling solutions (discipline and relationships - making children ‘hug it out’)
Teaching kids about the call
Let me end here with this concept of the call on your family.
I believe the call of God extends to your spouse and your children. Similar to the Levites, Priests, and the Kings of old, their was a succession. A beautiful succession. Most of the time.
Jane and I spoke at the beginning of our dating about ministry. I wasn’t going to even begin dating her unless she felt the call to ministry. You can imagine how excited I was when she told me just a few weeks into our developing relationship that she felt called to marry a YTH Pastor! Oh man, what a day. I will never forget that conversation. I was like, ‘Thank you Jesus!’
And then we raised our kids with the understanding that they were called - that we were called as a family. And we placed a higher expectation on our kids than any person in the Church could ever place on our kids. And as we raised them and taught them the importance of their own spiritual decision making, we told our kids this simple principle:
‘WE HAVE RAISED YOU WITH THE EXPECTATION OF THE CALLING TO MINISTRY. AND IF GOD CHOOSES TO ‘UNCALL’ YOU, WE ARE SO OKAY WITH THAT AND WE WILL SUPPORT YOU COMPLETELY.’
And as our kids grew spiritually, each of them embraced that call. And have felt the weight and responsibility of that call to lead the Church.
See, we wanted our kids to know that the family calling was a successive call on our lives. We didn’t apologize for the ministry. Or the difficulty at times. Or the way people may have treated us. And I know that is not popular. Most ministry couples discourage their kids (in various ways) from doing ministry. But this is how we approached the calling on all of us.
The Global Tool
Healthy individuals lead healthy families. I hope that this simple and quick theology and missiology of the family will at least get you thinking. And give you some practices to help you form your personal life, your marriage, and your family. And to see that the critical mission of the minister is to shape their own spiritual life. And to shape their own marriage. And ultimately, to shape their family. To impact nations.
Because this is our greatest tool to reach the world with the gospel.