As promised in our last entry, we offer some practical strategies that can be put into place in the life of the local church. These build upon presenting the biblical basis for family life and its strategic role in extending God’s Kingdom on earth.
To Strengthen Families – Strategies for the CHURCH
- Mobilize intercessory prayer for family units and for parents from within your congregation. Assign a prayer partner, outside of the family, for every child or family unit in your faith community.
- Sponsor activities that keep families together rather than always separating members into same-age groups. Explore creative designs for regular worship experiences where the whole family sits together.
- Preach and teach biblical truth on “generational faithfulness,” God’s design for the family.
- Engage a pastor for family life; create a task force to keep this topic before the congregation, especially if it is too small to hire a family life pastor.
- Be clear that leadership in the church models biblical family behavior. Guard against over-commitment to church responsibilities to the point where families suffer.
- Be proactive, rather than reactive. Encourage families to remain in community life to be salt and light. Investigate options: public school, private Christian school, home schooling, to help parents and children find God’s will in this area.
- Incorporate single-parent families and widows into church life. Provide practical encouragement for grandparents raising their grandchildren.
- Support your community’s foster care system. Develop a focus and ministry of helps to homeless families with children if such exist in your church’s community.
- Develop a system of advocates for missionary families your church helps to support. Understand and minister to the special challenges of the M.K. and P.K. (Also referred to as Third Culture Kid. T.C.K.)
- Keep an eye on the impact of media: news, electronic games, TV shows and movies, texting and networking schemes. The single greatest influence on Americans comes from these. Be proactive as well as defensive.
- Develop effective outreach to teen parents, newlyweds, new parents, young families with preschoolers and families with special-needs kids.
- Many believe that character is set in a child by ages four to six. These are the years when children are most perceptive to spiritual matters, prayer, the reality of Jesus, and the like. Help the adults responsible for children of this age to be aware of this, and be prepared to foster experience of Christ’s reality at opportune moments.
- Create leadership that truly loves children as God does. Part of all orientation for any and all service and leadership in the church might be a thorough discussion of Mark 10:13-16. We reflect either Christ’s or the disciples’ view of children. Evaluate decisions on the basis of their impact on the children and families in your fellowship. Refuse any that fail to welcome children, or that hinder children from coming to the Savior and maturing in their Christian lives. Develop in your children’s ministry outreach to children in the neighborhood who come from unchurched families.
- Provide a discipleship model for your church that joyfully includes children. Be sure that your staff and members realize that a saved child is, as a child, a full member of the Christian community with privileges, obligations, and opportunities to serve. They do not, they must not, wait until they grow up to love and serve the Master.
- Include within your children’s ministry, opportunities for children to serve Jesus by serving others. Children can take prayer walks around your church campus, or their neighborhood, pray for short term missionaries before they leave, share the love of Jesus with their friends, the homeless and the aged, learn how to lead a person to faith in Christ, give up something so that the money saved can be given to those in need, learn to put themselves next after another person, show compassion to a classmate struggling to understand English, etc.
- Celebrate children and families with children on a regular basis – not just when babies and young children are dedicated.
- Learn to care about parts of the world where the family unit has been literally blown apart, where millions of orphans and street children barely survive. Reach out to needy children close at hand and far away. Each child alive today is known, by name, to a loving Heavenly Father. Can we be certain that we, in an affluent society, have little that we can spare to demonstrate that love?