Every Friday, I plan to share select quotes from a book I am either currently reading or have previously read. Few things have impacted my faith and life as much as reading has. This will be just one way I promote books and reading. These articles will be for the dedicated reader who loves to gain insight from as many books as possible. They will also be for the Christian looking for new books to read. I am always on the lookout for new books to read. Hopefully some things I share will lead you to pick up a new book. Finally, these articles will be for those of you too busy to read. Hopefully these quick quotes will provide you with easy access to books you would otherwise not have time to read. Each article will include a brief discussion of the author and his work followed by ten (or more) pertinent quotes from the book.
One of the major concerns within youth ministry is how to make connections. How can we connect the Ancient Near Eastern culture to children and teenagers living in 21st century post-modern America? How can we connect unchanging biblical truth with young people who are changing by the minute? But most importantly, how can we connect children’s ministry to youth ministry? And how can we connect all youth ministries to the rest of the local body?
Youth ministry in many churches is like a remote island. Once who arrive, you can’t get off. But once you leave, you are lost at sea. Most adults in the church, including parents, want to avoid youth ministry. Youth ministers are held responsible for the spiritual development of each student, while parents forsake their God-given responsibility to train their children in the way of the Lord. This is a problem in many churches; a problem many churches want to see solved.
According to author and professor Timothy Paul Jones, there is hope in the darkness of the disconnect. Jones believes the hope for the disconnect between youth and the church is family ministry. If churches want to learn about and implement family ministry in the life of your church, be prepared not for another program, but for a paradigm shift in the way you do ministry. In other words, if you are allergic to change, avoid Jones’ books.
Jones has written many books on family ministry. He teaches a course at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary called “Discipleship and Family Ministry,” a class I am currently taking. His book Family Ministry Field Guide is a great starting point if you desire to bridge the gap and connect the break between youth and the rest of the church.
Family Ministry Field Guide is a call to gospel-centered family ministry, an endeavor that if undertaken would no doubt radically transform the ministries in your church. But this change is not the result of Jones’ expertise, which he clearly possesses. It would be the result of the power of the gospel that is the focus of everything Jones calls for. Here are ten quotes to whet your appetite:
1. Family ministry is the process of intentionally and persistently coordinating a ministry’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.
2. Family ministry is a process of equipping parents to engage actively in the discipleship of their children.
3. What does it profit our child to gain a baseball scholarship and yet never experience consistent prayer and devotional times with us, the parents?
4. If the scope of our vision for our lives or for the lives of our children shrinks any smaller than eternity, our thirst for eternity will drive us to attempt to fill the emptiness with a multitude of lesser goals and lower gods–including the fleeting happiness and success of our children.
5. Until the gospel drives even our scheduling priorities, families will continue to default to the values of the culture around them, and parents will remain too busy to engage in intentional discipleship with their children.
6. Think about gradually changing the culture of a ministry so that parental discipleship of children becomes the norm instead of the exception.
7. The people of God are shaped and defined by Jesus Christ himself, who unites individuals that the world would never dream of bringing together–but not by clustering them in categories of age or special interest or musical preference.
8. Gospel-centered family ministry has more to do with the unseen foundations than with the visible practices.
9. Family ministry cannot merely be a series of activities that a congregation does. It must flow from who the leaders and volunteers are with their families, day by day.
10. Our families must never become our identity or the identity that drives our ministries. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, he is your identity…His gospel has set an ax to the root of any pretense that we are who we are because of our families. To position anything other than this gospel as the focus of your ministry is to lapse into idolatry.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.