This is my second installment of a review and comments on the Family Integrated Church Conference held in Houston October 26-27 and put on by Grace Family Baptist Church. The first session was entitled Calling Men to Lead by Paul Renfro and you can read it here. The second session was entitled Ministering to Families and was delivered by Matt Bullen. Of all of the Pastors at GfBC Matt is the one I know the best as I have spent hours at his home and many e-mails conversing over issues related to church and the start of the church I am part of, Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship.
Matt’s focus at Grace is pastoral care and assimilation and it is easy to see that this is his passion. But he not only serves in this capacity but also preaches on a regular basis as the three elders share the preaching responsibilities. Matt is also a construction superintendent as well as speaking at various conferences but over all this in my time with Matt it is easy to see that his great focus on God and his family.
Mat spoke of the Why and the How of Ministering to families. This in reality covers two areas; that is the ministering to other families and the ministering to our own families with the goal being to lead other families to do the same. The Why seems so simple but is often neglected and that is the simple fact that within our families we can have a generational impact that can be hard to measure. Yes we need to reach outside our immediate family but often we reach outside at the expence of our families and the results are evident in how many youth leave the church within a year of leaving home. By ministering to our families, and teaching others to do the same, we have an impact that extends not only to the next generation but multiple generations after that. So Matt’s call and in reality scriptures call is to minister to families so as to disciple them to minister to their own families and then others. This is not a call to become a small cloister and avoid those in the world but instead to start where God has put us, in families, and then move out from there as a family.
The next subject was that of the How to Minister to Families and Matt used 1 Peter 5:1-3 to reveal three aspects of this: Ministering, Mentoring and Modeling. The Ministering we see in 1 Peter 5:2a by shepherding the flock God has placed in and leading others to do the same. This shows a need to be ministering to families so as to lead them to do the same which takes involvement and just as the Shepherd needs to know his flock so do we the families that we are discipling. This aspect of ministry takes time and effort because the world we live in today does not easily allow for community to be built up within a church. The fine line in this endeavor is that of creating community but not at the expence of the time families need to spend together on their own. Too often churches that claim to be family friendly actually splinter families by both segregation and time depletion. The goal of ministering to families is to do enough to create community while still fostering families that are healthy by God’s standards.
The second aspect is that of mentoring or as 1 Peter 5:2b says “oversight.” This is the area where a family or families mentor others in what God has revealed to them about God’s plan for the family. This is done through being together and hospitality of which small groups and simply eating together are some of the ways to do this. Again there needs to be care taken so as not to use up so much time the mentoree has no time to practice what they are being mentored in. Mentoring can also include various other resources such as books and such. This also shows the need to see that Ministering to Families takes work and it needs to be intentional so as not to simple take up time. Things such as that seen in Titus 2:1-8 are examples of this mentoring going on.
The last aspect is that of modeling or as 1 Peter 5;3 says being an “example.” Our families need to be examples to those we minister to so that they can see God’s work in us to show them what God does desire and what He can do. It is not enough simply to teach and tell but people need to see God’s word in action as god intends His word to be lived out in our daily lives and not just on Sunday. As the old adage goes often much more is caught than taught and modeling builds on the teaching or mentoring that has been done.
So with the church there needs to be a conscious effort to Minister, Mentor and Model God’s design for the family. In doing this we help succeeding generations pass on the same plan of God for the family. This should not really be that difficult of a task, although it often is, as we should simply be seeking to live out in the presence of others what God has called us to be as families.