Leading a Church with the Family in Mind

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This is a live blog by Terry Delaney during the Connecting Church and Home Conference March 2009 at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville. You can also read confernce notes on the Soujour Kids blog. 

Session #1 Leading a Church with the Family in Mind (David Horner)

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.  1 Thessalonians 4:1

david-hornerWe have got to do better than this if we are going to lead a church with the family in mind.  We are going to talk about how to do this and what we should be thinking about as we seek to better minister to our families.
There is a lighthouse in the picture on the screen intentionally.  A lighthouse has a lens that projects light out for miles.  The idea of discipling in the local church may be a small idea at first with one person, but as it grows in that one person, it is as though the lens of a lighthouse magnifies the light for miles. 
How did we get here?  What would cause us to give up our Friday or Saturday to come to a conference about family ministry?  My guess is that it is a compassion to minister to the families in your communities.  For me, the burden of ministering to the family is not new.  I believe it is something that resonates with all of us at some level. 
I can remember a man from my local YMCA who invested himself in my life.  He had us reading C.S. Lewis and Scripture in a small group setting.  I had no idea you could do that!  This was new to me.  I then started seeing the “cool kids” come to know Christ.  In those days, we did not have events and activities to come to church.  It was more a matter of people wanting to teach us truth and show us love.  Through it all, they expected us to respond by serving others for the glory of God.
Today, we don’t have to make it relevant.  We just need to present Him in all of His glory.  However, we have diluted the gospel so much that we have forgot how to present the wonders of Christ to the next generation.  We just need to live it out in front of somebody; i.e., give authenticity to the Christian life.  Show others that you are different because of the gospel.
God has designed us that we want to partner with others who have the same mindset.  God has given us a couple primary relationships to make Him known in all of His glory.  The first relationship is the family.  The second is the church.  These two should be a profound partnership to grow in maturity in Christ.  It is generational in that it should be handed on and on and on. 
When we planted a church, we looked to the Bible and a couple of confessions to define what our church was going to look like.  We used words like evangelism and worship.  We established core values.  From all of this we developed a partnering culture in our church in order to develop all of these things.  If we already have a partnering culture in the church, and there is a partnering culture in the home, then there must be a connection between the two.
What do we do to establish a transferable legacy in our families?  Once we get over the idea of programmatic and event-driven ministries to get people in the church, we can get down to the main thing.  We can get the kids to see the glory of Jesus Christ.  When people in the Bible saw the glory of Jesus, they responded in worship and fear.  Our task is not to get people to show up to event.  Rather, our task is to get people to see the glory of Jesus Christ.
What we are looking for is Christ-likeness in every member of the body.  “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” Colossians 1:28.  We want people to be mature, complete, and perfect.  Our task is the same in all of those.  All that we are looking to do is move people forward in that process. 
The purpose of the church is the same as in the home. 

  • That God may be glorified
  • That the nations may be blessed (the covenant made with Abraham)
  • That your (their) joy may be made full
  • That everyone may be made complete in Christ

We need to be committed to these things in our homes as well as in our church.  The church and family must have complementary roles, not conflicting.  The family must be involved, the church must have the integrity to realize that they don’t need to have something every night-where is there time for the family?  Add to all of the church functions the rest of every day life with school and work and sports and other extra curricular activities.  Families need to be involved in church but the church must not weigh the families down with “stuff to do.” 
The church needs to be complementary.  The events in the church must be representative of the family and not contradictory in her functions.  The church is sometimes the teaching place and the home is the lab.  Sometimes the home is the teaching place and the church is the lab.  You begin to see Spiritual leadership through consistent character.  You begin to see spiritual maturity through continuous consecration.  Your spiritual priorities show your one common calling. 
If Jesus is so wonderful, then why can’t your marriage last any longer than a pagan?   The church needs to be a light to the world and the home needs to be a light to the world.  The church must complement the home and vice-versa.  How do you bear one another’s burdens in the church?  What does this look like in the home?  You must be with others in the church and the home.   It is not an either/or.  It is a both/and proposition.

There is a connection of God’s passion.  “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate”  Psalm 145:3-5.

The partnership emerges from…

The church cannot rely completely on the church and the church cannot abdicate to the home.  There must be an intentional culture within the church.  We do not need occasional programs.  We must seek to build up disciples of Jesus Christ.  This cannot be measured and therefore is rarely discussed by pastors. 
Do numbers matter or should we be more concerned about developing relationships so that we can develop disciples?  If we say the latter, then we need to seek and integration of principles rather than innovative gimmicks and imposed guilt in order to “build” a church.  Instead of having a “silo-ministry” where each ministry within the church stands alone, we need to develop a root system like the Redwood tree that relies on one another for stability.
We are not giving our youth something to look forward to with all of the gimmicks and big events.  It is no wonder the college age kids fall away from the church.  These kids are more like the seed that fell along the rocky path and sprouted quickly but withered quickly because it had no root. 
Principle based ministry

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock”  Matthew 7:24

What are we building our ministries upon?  Our families in the church mirror too much of the culture.  Why?  Perhaps we are building on the wrong ground.  Maybe our kids don’t need all the things we think they need.  Maybe they need to be presented complete in Christ.  If that is the case, then we need to build them upon the solid ground of faith in Jesus Christ. 

“And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.  Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

When we abandon the principles of Scripture, we do  positive harm to our kids and the next generation.  We need to go back to the basic foundation.  All Scripture is profitable for what? 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. 

Peter says the same thing in 2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

We need to get our kids in the Word of God.  We need to pray with them.  We need to teach our kids the ways of God.  We need to raise the bar for our families in order to present our children complete in Christ.
This partnership is a contagious and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ.  One of the reasons we are losing our children is because they do not see this!  They are more caught in the web than taught or discipled. 
There needs to be consistency and support with each other.  That is, in the church and the home.  Consistency at home is found in Deut. 6:5-9, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  Teachable moments abound in the home.  In order to cultivate those teachable moments, you must have a real relationship with your children. 
Acts 20:17-32 is a great depiction of the kind of support the church can, and should, offer the family.   If we are to pass on any kind of lasting legacy, we need to have partners.  The church needs the family and the family needs the church. 

About The Connecting Church and Home Conference    

The Connecting Church and Home Conference is designed to equip church leaders with practical ministry strategies for impacting families within the church.  Featuring nationally known leaders and ministry speakers, this conference is sure to impact your approach to building stronger families in your church. 

About David Horner

David is the founding pastor of Providence, which was established October 1, 1978. A native of Graham, NC, he received a Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University and holds a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has authored three books, including Firmly Rooted, Faithfully Growing, which is devoted to equipping churches for principle-based ministry, and Dad’s Words of Wisdom, a weekly devotional for fathers and sons. Most recently he wrote, A Practical Guide for Life and Ministry, which offers help for people in ministry who are trying to maintain a biblical balance in their lives. David speaks once or twice a year overseas in various missions contexts, equipping other pastors and Christian leaders in effective biblical leadership. He and his wife, Cathy, have been married since 1973 and have three grown sons, Jeff (married to Elizabeth), Scott and Jon (married to Meghan).

Special thanks to Terry Delaney who contributed this guest post. To read more of Terry’s writing visit Going To Seminary or Diary of a Seminary Student.

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