Start slowly.Carefully paint the vision for what God's Word says we, as the church, are to do to equip parents to effectively disciple their children. Allow your culture to adjust and change slowly.
Challenge: long-term youth/children's pastor. Is it possible to change a job description? I believe it is but needs to be handled delicately. If a Sr. Pastor sees fit to lead a church towards this vision, he/she would of course, need buy in from the rest of the staff. This isn't something that could happen overnight but would require a lot of trial and error on everyone's part. Have honest discussions with all team members about what will need to happen in order for your ministry to become one that focuses upon families rather than youth and/or children. Talk about possible pitfalls and potential challenges.
Challenge: is it possible to hire one staff person to oversee all? I believe it is. I have seen this in action a few times over the past couple of years. (This is good news for smaller churches that have always felt strapped when it comes to considering the hiring of staff.) A person who is a gifted leader could possibly highlight areas of key importance and build a team
of volunteers directing these areas. I do think this will require some trailblazing. We've done the ministry silo thing for so long that it may take some time to learn a new approach.
Challenge: sacred cows. Yep, we all have 'em. Those areas of church world that are off limits when it comes to change. When it comes to dealing with sacred cows, begin small. Begin with small pieces of the family ministry puzzle and allow congregation members to gain buy in to what you're hoping to accomplish. Understand that this will not happen overnight, but is going to require much time. A church culture is not changed overnight.
Challenge: bringing current staff into one married vision that encompasses family ministry. Begin with the end in mind and start small. Decide what it is you want your family ministry to accomplish in the next year. Determine who will lead these ministry opportunities. Spend time going over your church calendar in detail. If things are simply filling holes or there because you've "always done them" it's time to weed them out. Commit going forward to only focusing upon things that help you reach your vision. This will cut down on adding responsibility to any one staff member.
In his book, "Family Ministry Field Guide" Timothy Paul Jones says, "gather your family ministry team. Finalize a mission statement for your ministry with families. Decide on a unifying strategic question that you will begin to ask about every event or activity for children or youth-a question such as, "How will this event equip parents to view themselves as primary
disciple-makers in their children's lives?"
Start slowly. Carefully paint the vision for what God's Word says we, as the church, are to do to equip parents to effectively disciple their children. Allow your culture to adjust and change slowly. This is definitely a marathon sort of run, not a sprint.
Family Ministry really can mess things up, but for the better.
How about you? Have you made the transition? What worked? What didn't?