Family Ministry: A Holistic Approach was a breakout session led by Kathleen Jaoudi at the 2023 Children’s Pastors Conference. Wearing 3D glasses, she invited us to look at ministry with families through a different lens. Not the silo-ed lens of post-Young Life to the present, but generational discipleship for today.

Using a pie chart, she shared a model for intentional focus in six key areas. In these six key areas, you probably are already doing a good bit. Grouping what you are already doing might offer some insight for what to edit and what to shore-up.

First, she said that all ministry is Family Ministry. Agreed. Family Ministry is a process rather than a program with the goal of operating as a full Body of Christ in your local church. Agreed even more. Here are the six key areas:

Milestones: Milestones we make are the developmentally appropriate teachings of our faith symbols, rituals, and holy habits; Milestones we mark are the remarkable moments of life to commemorate the work of God in our family’s life in ways that we did not see coming.

Educational: The intentional building of educational experiences for some and for all. Ex: CLUB345, K2Club, Sunday school, Missions lunches, bringing in a special speaker, etc.

Caring: This is the congregational care of sharing life in grief and celebration; food ministry; new babies; hospital stays, etc.

Parent Equipping: Helping along the way in bite-sized pieces for resources, special events, emails, social media, etc. Ex: My son told me that a website is too much info and no one has time to get lost down a hole of too much information. But providing weekly resources in bite-sized pieces by email or social media posts make for a much easier application.

Family of Families: This is what we do to fill the holes of families, Jesus Loves You Boxes, prayer, moving, car care, Lent Dine-outs, mentoring, coaching, etc.  

Families in Service: Multi-generational opportunities to serve others and one another, family mission trips, hospitality, family VBS, cleaning and/or building spaces, Great Day of Service, delivering, collecting, donating, etc.

Christina Embree is the founder and creator of ReFocus Ministry. She presented at the most recent Bible Creatives Online Conference about the pillars of creating a plan for generational discipleship: Institutional, Spatial, Technological, and Relational. 

As I’m still processing how to incorporate these pillars within this family ministry pie, I really like her vocabulary: Generational Discipleship. I’ve spent some time with her and I really like her plan for intentionally setting the table for folks in at least three generations and sharing the life of the gospel through everyday discipleship in ways that all can engage in a life of faith in Jesus.

Whatever we call it, we know that the purpose of the church is to equip the saints for ministry. Equipping Christians is the one thing we are called to do. Everything else is good, but equipping Christians to live as Christians in the world is what we are to do no matter what. Let’s have a plan for it, let’s set the table for it, let’s push beyond the awkward, and quit protecting turf that we imagine is there because we can’t imagine anything else. I’m putting on my imagination hat!

“But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.” Psalm 102:12