Come Back Stronger: Recommissioning Families
As our local churches come back stronger following the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s pause and consider ways to both validate and support the recommissioning of families that has occurred in our homes during this time. Let’s consider ways to encourage our families to keep stoking the fires of the altars that have been rebuilt through family devotion, worship, and times of prayer during this period of quarantine.
The Parent’s Role
As we consider this recommissioning of the family, we must remember a few basics concerning the parent’s role and our role in the church.
First, the Bible never indicates that the church should be the primary discipler of children. Instead, parents are to disciple their children, and the church should come along side of them and support them. In both Deuteronomy and Ephesians, we find that God expects parents to disciple their kids.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Yes, God’s design is for parents to nurture the spiritual growth of their kids, in their homes. However, this training and instruction is to be done in the context of a loving faith community—the local church. In the Old Testament, Scriptural truths parents taught their children were reaffirmed by members of the community. Children had opportunities to live out the instruction they had received in the home as they participated in the life and worship of the community. The local church, therefore, should embrace, influence, and equip all families to disciple their children while valuing, including, and preparing children to do the works of service God has purposed for them to do.
Within the Church
With this understanding, how can we as leaders in the church validate and support the family?
First, we must ensure that our congregations have a biblical vision for the families in your church. This vision should be shared with the congregation regularly, using scriptures that tell of God’s heart for families. Pastors should share sermons about the importance of the family altar and consider providing classes for parents and grandparents about how to engage children in worship, prayer, and devotion in the home.
Secondly, provide opportunities for families to share in worship experiences in the church. While age-level ministries such as children’s church and bible clubs have a very valid place in our churches, it is also important that families have opportunities to worship together, where all members of the family are participants , not just observers. Download our simple, Shared Worship Service Checklist, to help you structure a service that ministers to congregants of all ages. Provide a notes page for children to use as they follow along in the service (download sample).
As we come back together, there’s also no better time for pastors, youth and children’s ministers to reevaluate their worship experiences, asking not only if families have opportunities to worship together throughout your year but also if services are being designed in way for children and youth to be participants with their parents and not just spectators.
Equipping the Family
We must also acknowledge that the church only has a few hours each week to introduce children and teens to Jesus and disciple them. We cannot ignore the majority of hours they are away from church. Family members have many more hours to teach and live out a biblical worldview with their children. There are a variety of simple ways we can resource and equip families:
For many families, leading their children in at-home worship and devotion is something new. One of the best ways we can teach and encourage them in this skill is to model it for them. How can we model spiritual training Consider offering classes for families where you model how to lead a family devotion. Get a couple of willing kids together and lead them in a devotion while family members observe. Then, give them the same devotion to lead with their own children at home. (Download the simple guide, “How to Lead A Family Devotion” and “Sample Family Devotion.”)
Provide FREE resources for parents that make it easy for them to start faith conversations at home. For example, give parents a scripture or scripture passage to read to their children and one question to ask about it before bed.
Consider opening a small resource library in your church, available for families to borrow from, if possible.
Send out text messages periodically to families with a discussion question. For example, “Hi everyone! Let’s do some talking at home. What is the best part about being a Christian? Discuss this with your kids and send me a reply. I’ll share some of the answers in church this Sunday.”
Encourage families to begin serving together. Have families select a project like working in the church nursery, cleaning the church, visiting the nursing home, or taking food to a homeless shelter, and do it together.
Also, encourage parents to prioritize. While some activities like work and school are not optional, ask parents to look closely at their schedules. Is overcommitment causing them to lose sight of their responsibility? Once parents have considered their priorities, they also need ideas to make the most of the moments they do have with their children. They may overlook moments such as time spent in the car, mealtimes (even if eaten in a restaurant), and bedtime, as moments to disciple their children. We can provide resources and ideas to help them in their task, such as conversation starters for the car, around the dinner table, or at bedtime when tucking their children to sleep. (Download the simple guide, “Family Activities” and “Conversation Starters.”)
These are just a few ideas to help you start thinking of how your church can affirm, support, and equip families in their quest to fulfill their biblical assignment of nurturing their child’s spirituality.
Pastor, leader, or children’s minister, let us not allow this incredible moment to pass. In the urgency of reopening our congregations and returning to “business as normal,” let’s not lose what has been rekindled in the homes of our families.
Let’s encourage our church families to fan into the flame the sparks that are burning in their homes so that the family altar my remain alive, enriching the faith of our families and giving them the ability to proclaim the words of Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Also see the following resources on this site:
Video: Developing A Family Ministry