Some people define family ministry as ministry aimed specifically at children or youth. I prefer a wider definition, one that includes the entire family.
I have been reflecting on family ministry and how things have changed since I was a child attending church. In my childhood, most families attended weekly and they consisted of two parents (of each gender) and an assortment of children.
Things have changed. This is not a longing for “the good old days.” This is simply an acknowledgment that things are not the same as they were a few decades ago and churches need to adapt to the changing world.
First, regular attendance is not the same as it once was. Instead of weekly attendance, committed regular attenders may show up once a month. This is not necessarily a sign they are dropping out of church life. Many of the churches I have attended have had a significant portion of their congregation attend on some regular schedule other than weekly. This affects how churches minister to both the children and adults.
The other thing is that the makeup of the family is different. When I meet a young person, I don’t assume they have a mom or dad around. They may be raised by just a mom, just a dad, two moms, two dads, uncles and aunts, grandmothers or grandfathers or some other combination. Again, this is not a call to the traditional family but rather a reminder that we can’t assume that only traditional families are coming to our church.
It is easy for churches to complain about the changes but it is more profitable to adapt to the changes. Jesus sets the tone for ministry. In the incarnation, he adapted to the form we were with all of its messiness. Incarnational ministry means that we meet people where they are at and not where we wish they were at.
Don’t long for the good old days. Look at your community the way it is and minister to them in the love of Christ. That is what family ministry needs to be like.