Churches partnering with families

Reggie Joiner and the Orange team have changed the conversation for many church leaders. Instead of thinking in terms of “children’s ministry” and  “student ministry” people are starting to think in terms of “family ministry”.

The reason: Families get exponentially more time with kids than churches do. So, as the thinking goes, in order for churches to leverage their influence most effectively, they need to partner with families.

That’s awesome. I’m completely sold that family ministry is the way to influence the next generation.

Here’s a problem I see, though:

Even in the Orange model, the church isn’t actually partnering with families… the Family Ministry is.

  • As long as the Family Ministry Department is the one implementing family ministry strategies, then the Family Ministry is the only one partnering with families… the church isn’t.

Does that make sense? We haven’t changed the way our churches engage families, we’ve only changed the way our family ministries engage families.

In order for the church to truly partner with families, family ministry has to become the strategy of the church as a whole.

What does that mean? I don’t know. “Gee, Nate. Thanks a lot.”

I do have some thoughts.

  • It’s not abolishing student ministry like some advocate.
  • It’s going to involve churches becoming more strategic about what they’re teaching on Sunday mornings.
  • If the family ministry has core principles they want kids to know, shouldn’t the ‘big wheels’ get it together and know what they want their parents to know.
  • It’s going to need church programming to reprioritize around families. (Broad, I know.)
  • It’s going to involve connecting older families with younger families.

I don’t know what any of this looks like. I just think something else is coming. Sending kids home with a sheet they’re supposed to look at with their parents doesn’t seem like much of a partnership to me.

Have you implemented the Orange strategy? Are you ready to embrace it as a church instead of a department?

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4 comments

  1. Great question, Nate. I wonder if part of the solution begins with re-defining family to include all generations. Thus it’s not just preschoolers, children and youth and their parents, but also their grandparents, and even aunts and uncles. And ministry isn’t totally focused downward to the youngest, but also upward to the older members of the family. And there seems to be room for cross-family ministry (my family to yours, etc.).

  2. The whole “orange strategy” is a foreign term to me. So maybe I am mainly speaking from ignorance.
    I think your last point is perhaps the most helpful. Its not really about having the right “strategy” or “programs”.
    We need to older men to disciple younger men and teach them how to love their wives and families.
    We need older women to teach younger women to respect and love their husbands and children.
    Most people in church leadership don’t see the home as the primary place of ministry. They instead pour their time and energy into church ministry (not necessarily a bad thing) and then naturally their disciples do the same thing.
    The whole thing requires a shift in mindset. Successful church ministry does not lead to good homes. Instead good homes lead to successful ministry in the church. The leaders of the church and the leaders of families should be homeward in their orientation.
    Just a couple of random thoughts…..I might be way off.

    1. I totally agree. The orange strategy is basically trying to fight what you described as typical church ministry. I think your last paragraph is huge. Good homes lead to successful church ministry. Exactly! Thanks for posting, and BTW, I was accepted to Dallas.

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