You already have the
secret ingredients to powerfully impact families!
With all the talk about children's ministers needing to add family
ministry to their repertoire, many children's ministers are
throwing up their hands in exasperation. How exactly are we
supposed to do that with all our other responsibilities?
(We've heard your lament.)
And you can put your hands down! Relax. Take a look around at all
the amazing things you're already doing to reach families. In the
extensive research Children's Ministry Magazine has
conducted related to family ministry's intersection with children's
ministry, we've discovered that there's a surprisingly easy
strategy hidden within all the great things you're already doing.
Find out how to double the potential of your ministry with the help
of three churches that are doing it well.
Weekly Faith Conversations
By Sharon Stratmoen
Are your families talking? Are they talking to each other? Are they
talking about matters of faith?
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands
that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your
children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on
the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting
This passage in Deuteronomy does more than imply that parents
should be talking to their children about matters of faith; God
commands parents to "talk about them at home…away…when you go to
bed and when you get up." That leaves no time when parents are not
to be involved in faith talk with our children. Faith talk must be
woven into the very fabric of family life.
In our church, we believe strongly that our children and family
ministries must support parents in their role as primary nurturers
of faith development in their children. Initially, parents may find
talking about matters of faith to be awkward or uncomfortable. So
how do we support and equip them to have successful faith
conversations? We've found two things that have worked in our
Keys for Daily Living
Our church embraces the Four Keys for Daily Living to nurture faith
life in the home, created by Dr. David Anderson of the Youth &
Family Institute in Bloomington, Minnesota. These four keys
• Caring conversations-Christian values and faith
are passed on to the next generation through supportive
conversation. Listening and responding to the daily concerns of our
children makes it easier to have meaningful conversations regarding
the love of God, and is itself a way to express God's love to
• Family devotions-To pass on the Christian faith
to children, adults need to learn the Christian message and
biblical story as their own. Christianity shapes the whole of one's
life and therefore involves a lifetime of Christian study,
reflection, and prayer. Infusing caring conversations with God-talk
elevates our caring conversations into devotions. We find God in
our everyday experiences. We learn God's stories and find ourselves
in them. We share a lively awareness of the sacred in the
• Family rituals and traditions-Daily routines,
celebrations, and other ways families choose to identify who they
are and tell their family stories, speak volumes about what the
family values, believes, and promotes. Here we braid God into our
everyday interactions with one another. We bless one another, pray
for one another, depart from one another with a litany of faithful
caring. We light candles at the dinner table, remembering the Light
of the world. We say grace and have bedtime rituals that include
God's presence. Holidays and family celebrations involve
• Family service-Filled up with caring
conversations, devotions, rituals, and traditions, we pour
ourselves out in service to God's world. It isn't an obligation,
but a loving and grateful response to God's love for us. We include
all the generations. We live this faith.
Weaving Faith Into Life
We also use FaithWeaver curriculum in our ministry because it
allows the entire family to study the same Bible story in an
age-appropriate way and focus on just one Bible point each week.
Because all family members have studied the same Bible story with
FaithWeaver, parents don't have to ask their kids what the lesson
was about. They can simply start maximizing the lesson by asking
questions from the take-home tool as they drive home.
I know, the big joke in children's ministry is that take-home
papers end up on the floorboard of the car or as paper airplanes in
your facility's hallway. That's why Group has transformed the
traditional take-home paper in FaithWeaver to an innovative "one
conversation-starter" slip-no crafts, devotions, or other things to
overwhelm parents. It's called FaithWeaver Family Connect, and it's
all about simple weekly faith conversation. Designed to either be
emailed home ahead of time or handed to parents when they drop off
their children, it makes "in the car" or "Sunday lunch" faith
conversation easy, achievable, and powerful.
So as God commanded in Deuteronomy, our families are talking-and
yours can, too. As families get into their vehicles after worship,
they can begin a caring faith conversation before they leave the
church parking lot and continue the discussion and life application
at home. That's maximizing family time!
Sharon Stratmoen is director of children and family ministry at
Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota.