10 Simple Family Ministry Ideas
By Dr. Rob Rienow
Dr. Rob Rienow's most important ministry is loving his wife Amy and partnering with her to help their seven children love God. He is the founder of Visionary Family Ministries (visionaryfam.com) and serves as pastor and conference speaker. His latest book is all about family ministry: Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom.
What is family ministry? Ask ten people, and you may get ten different answers. Here are ten simple ideas to accelerate the families in your church toward Gospel living.
1. Practice what you preach.
Cast the vision for your staff and leadership team to make ministry to their own families their first priority. Keep each other accountable to honor your parents, pray with your spouses, and read the Bible with your children. You can't lead your church in a direction you are not going yourselves.
2. Set the foundation.
Work together with your pastors/elders to write a one-page doctrinal statement of your "theology of family." Doctrine is what unites us! Theology is what gives us passion and clarity for our mission. You cannot build a biblical family ministry model, apart from a clear, unified, and substantive Scriptural foundation.
3. Send it home.
Take the sermon text for next week, or the Sunday school lesson for next week, and send it home to parents THIS week. Provide them with a few teaching points and questions for discussion. We want kids hearing God's Word first at home, and then having it reinforced at church, not the other way around.
4. Bring them together.
Do you have a weekly program for kids or teens? Set aside one week each month for "family night." On that week, instead of parents dropping their kids off, invite them to stay for the games, singing, teaching, and discussion. Create opportunities for parents and children to talk together during the program time. Consider including a family dinner as part of this monthly program. The early Christians shared a lot of meals together, and it created extraordinary multi-generational fellowship.
5. Train the trainer.
God calls parents and grandparents to be the primary spiritual trainers of their children. The job of the church is to train the trainer. Pastors are called to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12), and for parents there is no greater Gospel ministry than the discipleship of their children. Schedule regular parenting classes, seminars, and conferences. Never, never, never worry about how many people show up! Don't let numbers trump vision!
6. Sing, sing, sing.
Select a worship song as your church's "song of the month." Encourage families to sing it together at home and in the car. The best songs may be straight from Scripture, which not only help a family sing together but also memorize God's Word. Sing this song each week during your corporate worship service, and watch the kids engage and participate more and more every week!
7. Reach out at home.
Instead of calling on your church family to bring their unsaved friends to the next big outreach event at church, encourage them to invite their friends to their home. The early Christians had an extraordinary outreach ministry through hospitality. Consider a special week of missions and outreach entirely focused on the call and challenge to your church family to open their homes to their neighbors who need Jesus.
8. Share the hope.
It is likely that the majority of empty-nest parents in your church have adult children who are not following Jesus. They are often hopeless and discouraged. Share this hope with them—as long as they have breath and their children have breath—it is not too late for the Lord to use them to lead their children to Christ. It doesn't matter how old their kids are, how far away they live, or what has happened in the relationship. The arm of the Lord is not too short to save!
9. Launch generational small groups.
Instead of adult only small groups, start one new small group (or convert an old one) into a generational group. Include kids, parents, singles, grandparents—all generations and life stages—together for discipleship, friendship, and authentic community. These groups are particularly powerful for single parents.
10. Pray for hearts to turn.
The parents in your church do not need better tools, tips, and tricks to disciple their children. They need the Holy Spirit to "turn their hearts" (Malachi 4 and Luke 1) to the ministry of their children. Take time in your staff meetings to pray for the parents and grandparents in your church, that the Lord would give them a great passion for the souls of their children and that they would be convicted that their "great commission" for the Lord begins with their sons and daughters.
Building a Bible-driven family ministry takes many years of establishing biblical vision, hard work, and engaging in spiritual battle. Satan and the demons will throw everything at you to prevent your church from moving in this direction. They are thrilled to have your ministry locked up in your church building! Let's pray that the Lord gives us the grace in this year ahead to accelerate the Gospel not just at church, but in every home as well.