As a Family Minister, I’ve always tried to provide various ministry resources to every member of the family. In the past it has been easier to define the family: mom, dad, children, grandparents. However, today’s family can be much more difficult to define.
In my daily work schedule, I see many types of families: two-parent families, single-parent families, families headed by grandparents, families headed by aunts and uncles, and other family heads as well. Each of these families needs guidance and support and resources to help them raise the children in their care. The church must step up and take a stronger stand on helping to provide those resources. Churches need to reach out in a non-church setting in order to reach some of those families.
In the June 2008 issue of HomeLife Magazine, there is a article by Denise George, titled “All By Myself.” She outlines 7 things churches can do to minister and provide resources for single moms. Churches can provide Bible studies, enlist couples to teach classes together, bring women together, encourage women to mentor other women, organize retreats, provide practical help, and pray daily.
These are all fantastic ways churches can minister to single moms and non-traditional families; however, churches need to go outside the church walls with these methods. They need to host a class in another location, maybe in a coffee shop. They need to encourage families to mentor other families in their neighborhoods or in playgroups. It is important that families do not alienate these non-traditional families by criticizing their families; they must offer them support and resources to help them to raise their children in moral and Godly ways. Through these mentoring relationships and daily prayers, God will speak to each one of these families in His own unique way.
During the mid-morning hours of my work day, I work in a preschool classroom of 3-4 year olds at a private Christian preschool. Today the other teacher in the room asked me to sing songs with the children as we cleaned up from morning snack. The children love music and we have a long list of songs to share with each other. After singing several songs of my choice, I asked the children to choose the songs. Four-year-old Isabella asked if we could sing the “Our Father” song. I said I didn’t know that one and told her to start it off and we’d all follow along. She insisted that we did know that song and then I realized she was talking about “The Lord’s Prayer,” not a song. So we started off “The Lord’s Prayer” as follows:
“Our Father who art in Heaven” then Isabella came to the next part and said “How do you know my name?” instead of “Hallowed be thy name.”
It was so cute that she was hearing that part of the prayer as “how do you know my name.” I used that as a Christian education teachable moment to explain to Isabella that God knows her name because He made her and loves her very much. Even at age 4, children can learn about God’s love and His special attention.
The last chapter of The Church of the Perfect Storm was written by Len Sweet. If we’re going to be Jesus storm-chasers, we must get out of the harbor. We can’t do much from the shore. We might think we’re playing it safe by staying close to the shore, but “the shore is not safer” (page 147). “Hugging harbors leaves a church in a lurch. A church in the dock is a church in lockdown.” (page 147)
To be a Jesus storm-chaser and follower, we must take risks. It’s not an easy life. Jesus walked directly into the storm, and He will walk with us into and through the storm. He will put others in our lives to walk with us as well. “Small boats fare better than big supertankers and cruise vessels” (page 152). Studies show that the larger a church grows, the smaller it must become. That statement means that as churches increase in numbers in large corporate worship gatherings, then the small groups must also increase. The small groups (small boats) are going to make it through the storm together.
Churches must throw excess cargo overboard to make the load lighter to sail through the storm. They need to cut back some of the old roots and methods for new shoots to grow.
Just like in the story of the tortoise and hare, slow and steady wins the race. Churches need to steadily steer the boat to maneuver through the storm. No sudden moves or jerks to get off course in the wind. Keep our focus on Jesus Christ and the cross. He is our lighthouse for direction in the storm.
Most of all, enjoy the ride. It’s bumpy, wavy, and always an adventure, but God is in the storm and on the calm sea. Let Him drive the boat and guide you.