Read an Excerpt
Does this scene sound familiar to you?
A family drives to church. Upon arrival, they grunt or nod at one another, then split off according to age or gender. Dad goes to the men's study group while Mom heads for the nursery, where she works as a volunteer. The teenage son strolls toward the youth building for his weekly "Hour of Power" while the two younger siblings go to "Kids' Club."
For years, this weekly breakup has been called "family ministry." Churches have prided themselves on offering a wide variety of "family ministry" programs and services, such as marriage retreats, parenting classes, youth service projects, and backyard Bible clubs for kids. Of course, these ideas are not bad. In fact, they're great! But they all operate under the same assumption: that the best way to serve families is to break them up into their respective "satellite" groups. Preschoolers go here, elementary kids over there, and youth way, way off over there. This approach can (and has) been effective at helping families. But it isn't always the best way. And, thankfully, it isn't the only game in town-not anymore.
Welcome to the new paradigm of family ministry! This new approach to family ministry is based on the simple but profound truth: There is power in letting families learn and grow together-as families. What would happen if you taught a Sunday school class that incorporated and involved every member of the family, a Sunday school in which families learned and studied and discussed things together? Churches that have tried this approach report that their families are growing closer, learning more, and getting stronger in their faith-just by doing things togetherat church. Consequently, more and more churches offer family-friendly events in which family members learn, worship, and serve together.
That's exactly why this book was created. In Fun Ideas for the Family-Friendly Church, you'll find learning activities to help family members explore the world around them and see how that world connects with God's Word, worship experiences that help families learn how to worship God together, service projects that challenge and equip family members to serve God and others, and relationship-building activities to draw family members closer to one another and to God. Fun Ideas for Family-Friendly Church gives you the tools you need to help families grow spiritually together as families and not just as individuals who happen to ride to church together.
Here are some tips to help you use the ideas in this book more effectively:
*If you don't already have an organized family ministry program in your church, start one. You may not be able to hire a family minister or allocate large sums of money to family ministry, but that doesn't mean family ministry is out of reach. All you need is monthly "family night" at the church and this book. Once you use the ideas in these pages, you'll soon discover a strong family ministry taking shape right before your eyes.
*Don't keep all the fun to yourself. Instead of trying to plan and lead all of these events yourself, invite specific families to take the lead in preparing some of these activities for the rest of the families in your church. Remember: Effective family ministry encourages families to do things together. So don't be afraid to let families lead families.
*Make room for every type of family you have. Not all families look alike, especially these days. In your church, you most likely have some single-parent families, some blended families, some extended families, some families with adopted children, and some families with no children at all. You'll also have some families with older teenagers and others with kids in preschool. Feel free to adapt the activities in this book to fit your particular mix of families. (In most cases, you can do this simply by modifying the discussion questions to fit the dominant age-level of your group.) And in those few cases where the activity is aimed at a particular age group, we say so-right in the "Family Focus."
*Don't single out the singles. If you have singles in your congregation, there's no reason why you can't include them in these family activities. Rather than relegating the singles to their own group (like "Friends"), encourage families to "adopt" one or more singles, then invite the singles to join in on the family activities. Not only will singles feel more a part of the congregation, but your families will also be enriched by the experience.
*Every now and then, use these activities to replace your regular Sunday school or Sunday evening schedule. Holding monthly "family nights" is a great idea. But it isn't the only way to use these activities. Every so often, shake up your regular schedule by having families meet together for Sunday school (or your Sunday evening worship time) so you can lead them through one of these activities. Doing this will help families see your commitment to family ministry and will enable them to get to know one another more effectively.
So, go ahead. Dive in to the ideas, and pick one or two you'd like to do soon. Once you get started, you'll soon create a family-friendly environment in your church that will help family members grow closer to one another and to God.