God has called me to minister and serve in the local church. The heart of this call is to make disciples through encouraging others to grow spiritually mature in Christ. This process of discipleship is founded on the two great commandments (Matt. 22:37-40) and the great commission (Matt. 28:19-20) “Love God,” “Love Others,” and “Make Disciples” by teaching others to “Love God” and “Love Others.” It is through this process of discipleship that I am able to teach and model an experiential knowledge and love of God through the work of Jesus Christ, obedience to the truths of God’s Word and connection to the power of the Holy Spirit. With Christ as my ultimate example, I must strive to be like Him in every area of life. All the while, I use God’s Word as the primary source from which to teach, rebuke, correct, and train others in righteousness so that they may be equipped to do the will of God (2 Tim. 3:16). We can accomplish the will of God by loving Him, and being actively involved in the work of the Body, both locally and universally, reaching out to others for the sake of the Gospel through relationships.
My passion in ministry is directed and focused on the family. I have a vision for the Church to regain a strong hold on growing, maturing and reproducing families in Christ Jesus. Family Ministry is the Church encouraging and equipping men and women in their marriage, parents to fulfill their God given roles as the major spiritual influence in their children’s lives, and children to honor and obey their parent’s leadership.
Recent research suggests the Millennial generation is more family-focused than other generations in recent history. What a perfect time for the church to guide and embrace this interest in the family unit by providing Biblical tools and practical resources that impact families of this generation for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!
First let me start with the ideal. I believe that families work best and gain supernatural strength when both dad and mom work together in unity, and when the marriage is vital, intact and growing. As parents truly step into their God given roles based on Deut. 6:5-7, they must model a Biblical relationship with each other in oneness in order to maximize their influence, teaching and discipline of the children in the home.
I believe in the covenant of marriage. When a man and woman enter into this covenant relationship with each other and God, it is for life. A marriage should be preserved with great sacrifice and effort given by both the man and the woman (Mal. 2:14-17). Marriage was designed by God to be permanent and to last for life (Rom. 7:2). God hates divorce. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world and broken marriages and families are an increasing reality. Although God does allow for divorce and has given some provisions in situations of unfaithfulness and abandonment, it is still a violation of God’s standard and covenant that was originally established. His heart is for reconciliation, and for marriage to glorify Him and reflect His relationship with the church, the bride of Christ. The church must never stop fighting for marriage! Strong covenant marriages are critical for strong vital families.
That being said, I have had many opportunities to interact with single parents. Most are well aware and often remark that single parenting is hard and they feel they are at a disadvantage. I have often reminded single parents that they are loved deeply by God. He cares for them and extends His grace to them and their children when they commit to their role as the primary spiritual influencer.
Parents and Children.
Parents are to grow their children to maturity in every area of life – physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. Whether parenting with a spouse or alone, all of us need God’s grace to cover our inadequacies. Parenting is never about perfection. It is a balancing act between discipline and grace. It is about trial and error and developing real, meaningful relationships with our kids. It is about modeling for our kids a real relationship with our Heavenly Father – forgiving and being forgiven, being human and real, yet pursuing holiness. As Parents, we need to tap in daily to God’s perfect wisdom and strength as we navigate this path to raising whole, healthy, well-balanced Christ-loving disciples. But there are also a few ideals or strategies that will help achieve this goal. Here are some that define my parenting philosophy:
- Children are a gift from the Lord, but they are ultimately His – not ours. We have been entrusted with them for a time, and we are to invest ourselves in their development with intention and purpose.
- A personal relationship with the Heavenly Father is critical – and must come first in our lives. This pursuit of holiness and deeper relationship continually feeds our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and to each other as we seek to make the best decisions and lead our family well.
- Marriage is the center of a family, with the children as supporting characters. Children should not run or control the family (i.e. they eat what the family is served; they do what is best for the family according to the standards that the parents have set, they attend the church where the parents serve God and His people, etc.) Parents must make a committed effort to not allow the children to dictate or manipulate to get their own way.
- Set high expectations of behavior for children (expectations that are developmentally appropriate and sensitive) while at the same time; encourage and create opportunities for them to just be creative, expressive kids who love life, God, each other and their Parents in their own individual way.
- Intentionally address heart issues with children as opposed to simply reacting to behaviors. Be active students or learners of children as individuals and realize that staying “in tune” with their emotional, physical, spiritual and mental development takes work and focus.
One of our favorite things as parents is seeing our kids reveal the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Both Josie and Benji have received the gift of Salvation God has offered to them through Jesus Christ. And it gives my wife and me much joy to see evidence of their growth as believers. Look for the spiritual fruit in your kids’ lives and then celebrate it as a family.
I believe the church should focus on supporting parents and teaching children in strategic ways. Recognizing the limitation of the church’s influence, I am fully convinced that ministry to children is best accomplished by encouraging and offering practical training and tools based in scripture to parents, who have much greater influence over the course of time in their child’s life. The goal of all church efforts being to raise children to become fully engaged disciples of Jesus Christ. As families make this commitment and practice Biblical principles, they will influence others: neighbors, friends, extended family members in fulfillment of the great commission. I love to overlay Acts 2:42-47 (a Biblical description of the Early Church) over the Family. Families should connect with each other during dinners together intentionally to build stronger relationships. Families should connect with other believers (church family) for care, service and growth. Families should be proactively connecting with non-believers – those who are far from God – by opening their home to friends and neighbors for the purpose of sharing their lives and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. So that God will add to their number those who are being saved.
I pray that God will allow me to see the fruit of His work in the lives of others – that He will enable and empower me to be effective as I teach, shepherd and model the pursuit of holiness. I envision a team of servant volunteers strategically chosen and developed to do this shepherding of families with me. A family ministry should develop the process that connects the church and the home and then combines their efforts to influence the next generation for Christ and His Kingdom.
- Children need parents who will help them advance in their relationship with God. No one has more potential to influence observe and guide a child’s relationship with God than parents!
- Parents need the church to help them know how to be the spiritual leaders at home. Perhaps the greatest gift the Church can give parents is the confidence and courage to do what God has created and commanded them to do! Deut. 6:5-7.
- Churches need leaders to do more for Men, Women, Parents and Families who hold the power of lifelong relational influence spiritually in the lives of their children!