Do you avoid going to doctor? We find every reason not to go, not the least of which is that we think whatever is wrong will go away on its own. While some issues might resolve without being addressed – some will only get worse. My wife lost an aunt because she refused to get a mammogram even when she suspected something was wrong. Her decision turned a treatable situation into a terminal one, and her kids lost their mother all too soon.
Anyone who has had cancer will tell you to get your annual checkups, do blood work, and see a specialist if necessary. After being diagnosed with cancer, you seek out the best doctor, follow his or her treatment plan, and fight for life itself. When people recognize their mortality, they are willing to fight for survival.
Obviously, you know I am segueing to how you are in denial about the decline of your church’s health. Is your church showing unhealthy signs or symptoms? Do you think the problems will go away on its own? Have you convinced yourself that all you have to do is continue with the same habits, and something different is bound to happen? Maybe you realize there is a problem but do not know what to do. A leader who can acknowledge the problem is far better than the leader who realizes the problem but does not want to address the challenge.
Let’s look at five steps to healthy family ministry in your church.
- Stop denying the problem. Ignorance is never bliss nor is it an acceptable excuse. You are capable of not only acknowledging the church is hurting but also of discovering what it will take to diagnose and treat it. Every change expert you read or consult will suggest that step one is admitting you are facing a potential crisis if something does not change. If you are facing a potential crisis, then you should act as if the future crisis is today’s priority. When everyone feels the urgency, adopting the necessary habits will be easier. Few smokers find the incentive to stop like finding a spot on their lung.
- Find an objective way to assess your church. In the legal field, they say anyone who represents him or herself has a fool for a lawyer. I’m sure there is a similar saying in the medical field for those who self-diagnose. The goal of every church is to help people become more like Christ in their daily life. While the process of developing Christ-likeness happens in various ways, it always comes back to becoming His disciple or discipleship. While this term is used less often, its very definition is to study, be mentored, and model attributes of Christ. How well are the families of your church doing this when not at church? Consider having key ministry leaders and volunteers assess the church with the following free tool and then combine and average all the results to identify which of the ten areas your church needs to work on together. Using an objective and valid tool will help generate an urgency that someone from the inside may not be able to create. Click here for free Church Health Assessment.
- Create a plan that increases health. Leaders do not tell others what to do in order to create a different culture; they help followers discover it. As the ministry leader, if you are the only one recognizing the challenge, the only one doing the assessment, the only one drawing up the strategy for correcting the course – don’t expect others to buy in. Slow down the process and walk your key influencers through the process together. When the group buys in or becomes invested, you will have created a passionate pursuit of health, and, in the long run, your job just got a lot easier.
- Give Parents Easy Wins. For the church to become healthier, families must become healthier. Research shows the number one influencer of people is their parents. If moms and dads determine the passions and preferences of kids and teens, then you cannot exclude them from helping to shape their kids to be more Christ-like. Start by giving parents easy wins. Pastors, teachers, or small group leaders can provide simple tools to parents to help lead them gently into discussions with their kids. Help parents coach their kids into making decisions based on biblical principles. Give them simple handouts, apps, texts, that provide conversation starters for home, in the car, or at dinner. If you can connect and show moms and dads how to be comfortable – and even confident – with such conversations, the effect of health will be seen in both generations.
- Recognize that Family Ministry Cannot Occur in Isolation. You may be a children’s, student, or preschool minister, but your contribution to family ministry is helping parents continue what you start. No one can be a disciple of anything by working on it for only an hour a week. Reach beyond your age group to the parents of your ministry group and help them succeed. It is never healthy to undermine parents by thinking you’re the only one who can teach Scripture and biblical principles to the kids. Show parents how to connect (using a curriculum that provides at home connection points is a great way to do this), have them practice with you, and then encourage them by following up after they attempt this at home. Be persistent because when two or three parents figure it out, they will become your best champions and teachers for other parents.
Stop avoiding the diagnosis. Get healthy by starting now. You are capable of being a catalyst that revitalizes the health of your church by focusing on family ministry. Your church counts on you; ask others if you can count on them to get healthy together. If you agree, you have already completed step one – now begin with step two.