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Hands-on answers to the crises of urban homes. The problems urban families face—low income, drug abuse, divorce, gang involvement, domestic violence, and more—are devastating. But solutions exist in the local church that can transform troubled homes into places of love, security, hope, and growth. In Reclaiming the Urban Family, Dr. Willie Richardson gives pastors and leaders methods that can make inner-city churches a powerful force for restoring, training, and strengthening families, single-parent homes, and ...
Hands-on answers to the crises of urban homes. The problems urban families face—low income, drug abuse, divorce, gang involvement, domestic violence, and more—are devastating. But solutions exist in the local church that can transform troubled homes into places of love, security, hope, and growth. In Reclaiming the Urban Family, Dr. Willie Richardson gives pastors and leaders methods that can make inner-city churches a powerful force for restoring, training, and strengthening families, single-parent homes, and individuals. Using the principles and strategies described, the family training ministry of Dr. Richardson's own Christian Stronghold Baptist Church in Philadelphia has - Brought about a near-zero divorce rate - Produced strong marriages built on deep love bonds between couples - Helped numerous low- and moderate-income families become debt-free - Trained men to be competent husbands and fathers—and raised adult male membership in church to as high as 48 percent - Lowered the number of teenage pregnancies - Helped win to Christ those who have seen transformation in their loved ones. Reclaiming the Urban Family covers concerns as diverse as lay biblical counseling, singles and youth ministry, marriage preparation, occupational enrichment, single-parent households, evangelizing families, and more. Complete with a section of resources for African-American family ministries, it shows how local churches can become dynamic agents for building thriving homes and individuals and for evangelizing the unsaved.
THE NEED OF SALVATION IN THE FAMILY
REAL CHRISTIAN FAMILIES
This country is simply spinning its wheels in the mud of futility because we are excluding the God of the Bible from issues of morality and family. I believe that too often even the church does not take seriously the great ally we have in God concerning family matters. God created and defines the family by what He instituted. First, He instituted marriage when He created Adam and Eve, then He completed the family when He did not create Cain and Abel, but instead created within Adam and Eve the capacity to reproduce other human beings. The family unit consisted of the husband, the wife, and their offspring (Gen. 2: 19-24; 4: 1-2). Charles Sell explains the biblical view of the family:
Biblical scholars tend to agree that the basic form of family created by God is the nuclear family, which gives the highest priority to the husband-wife relationship. Elements of Genesis 2: 24 make it clear that a husband and wife's first loyalty are to each other and not to any extended family relationship. That the man is said to leave his father and mother to be united to his wife suggests he replaces one commitment with another. The fact that husband and wife become one flesh supports the priority of the nuclear pair. That Adam says of his wife, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" is especially significant. The Hebrew words for bone and flesh are frequently used to describe extended family relationships (Genesis 29: 14; Judges 9: 2; 2 Samuel 5: 1; 2 Samuel 19: 12-13; 1 Chronicles 11: 1). That the same terms are used to describe both the marriage (conjugal) relationship and blood (consanguineous) relationships shows that blood ties are not superior to the marital union. It is true that in Old Testament times, for political and economic reasons whole groups of families joined together to make a unit. A major political unit, tribes, were made up of extended kin. Yet, the nuclear family identity was pronounced within these groupings and there is nothing to suggest that any extended family arrangement was part of God's creative order. This is especially significant for Christians in societies where non-Christian traditions dictate that the parent-adult child relationship should have priority over the husband-wife union. It also has crucial practical application to Christians whenever parents interfere or compete with their son's or daughter's marriage.
America is a world power and a leader among affluent nations, yet it is full of hurting families. We are constantly reminded by television talk shows and social and behavioral scientists of the overwhelming number of dysfunctional families. Compared to pre-1972, there is the statistical fact of high divorce rates year after year.
In recent elections, some politicians have made the family a political issue. They cry that we must protect our family values, which are seen as continually eroding. There is even confusion and debate as to what constitutes a family. There is a direct correlation between the ever-decreasing age of children involved in violent crimes and their family situations.
What the world needs is more real Christian families. We have a great number of so-called Christian families, but the problem is that too many are not real Christian families.
Christ has no impact on these so-called Christian families. Many of the family members are not converted, regenerated, or born again. They can be church members, but often they are not saved. Too often we assume that because someone joins the church, he or she is or has become a Christian. We have had hundreds of people ready to join our church by Christian experience only to discover that although they had been baptized earlier in their lives, they do not know Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. I don't believe the church has been called to simply marry people, but to establish Christian homes. Without salvation in Christ, a person or a family is not truly Christian.
Why is there a need of salvation in the family? Without salvation, there is no spirituality. When people are saved, it means they are converted. They have been regenerated by God, the Holy Spirit. It is not enough to have a family as church members. All of them--the husband, the wife, and their children--must give their lives by faith to Jesus Christ. The church must not assume that they have done so; those in leadership must be sure that people are truly believers in Christ.
A couple came to me for counseling from another church in the city because they were having marital problems. In the first session, I asked them if they had received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. They answered yes. They had been church members since they were children. I asked them to explain to me what receiving Jesus Christ as their personal Savior meant. I listened as they both expressed themselves. They said all the right things, but I still had doubts because the church to which they belonged did not have a reputation of having sound doctrine. Nevertheless, I agreed to counsel them because they had their pastor's permission to come to me. In the first few counseling sessions, we sorted through and defined what the problems were and agreed on some assignments for both of them based on God's role for husbands and wives as revealed in the Bible. It was clear after a few attempts that they could not carry out the assignments. I honestly believe they wanted to do what the Bible said, but they did not have the power. I pointed this out to them, using 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16 and Ephesians 2: 1-10. Then step by step I showed them the plan of salvation in the Bible. I asked them if they were willing to pray a prayer of salvation, receiving Jesus into their hearts as Lord and Savior. They said yes, and I led them in prayer. At the end of the prayer, they both began to cry vehemently and fell into each other's arms and continued to cry. After a few minutes, they regained their composure. From that session on, it was clear that this couple had been converted. The Holy Spirit empowered them to live the Christian life.
THE SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE
1. The Need of Salvation in the Family
2. The Church as a Family Training Center
3. The Role of the Pastor in Family Ministry
4. How to Develop Family Ministry in the Church
5. How to Evangelize Families
THE TRAINING OF SINGLE CHRISTIANS
6. Training Single Christians for Marriage
7. Training Singles in the Mate-Selection Process
8. Premarital Counseling Training
TRAINING FAMILIES FINANCIALLY
9. Training Families How to Use Their Resources
10. Training Families to Be Good Stewards
TRAINING IN FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
11. Training and Supporting Single-Parent Families
12. Training Married Couples in Commitment
13. Training Married Men in Their Responsibilities as Husbands
14. Training Married Women in Their Responsibilities as Wives
15. Training Married Couples in Communication and Understanding
16. Training Married Couples in Problem Solving
17. Training Parents and Children
RESOURCES FOR FAMILY MINISTRY
Appendix 1: African-Americans as Resources on Family Issues
Appendix 2: Ministries and Organizations as Resources for African-American Families
Appendix 3: Other Resources