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Parents cannot leave their children’s spiritual training up to youth leaders
Part 2 of an interview with Dr. Michelle Anthony
and Megan Fate
Authors of 7 Family Ministry
7 Family Ministry Essentials, written
for church leaders who have a passion to disciple kids and teens in partnership
with the Holy Spirit and the family, Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman
capture the guiding essentials to build a strategy for life-changing family
ministry in this ultimate leadership resource. These seven essentials
Empowering families to take spiritual leadership in the home
Forming lifetime faith that transcends childhood beliefs
Teaching Scripture as the ultimate authority of truth
Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit to teach and transform
Engaging every generation in the gospel of God's redemptive story
Making God central in every biblical narrative and daily living
Participating in community with like-minded ministry leaders
the interview below, the authors share more about the mission of their book.
7 Family Ministry Essentials call for a strategy change for children’s and
student ministries. What are some of the most common practices that need to be
changed in these ministries today?
Anthony: The practices
that need changing are the ones that don’t bear fruit. Just because we have
always done something one way doesn’t mean it will be effective in this
generation. We need to be willing to reimagine ministry based on meeting the
needs in our generation. Tradition is a wonderful thing but not when it gets in
the way of transformation. Yet change for change’s sake is also hollow. Leaders
are best when they initiate change to breed a cultural change — meaning one
that permeates the culture in such a way it remains long after we are gone and
Marshman: I would add
that specifically within student ministries, leaders tell parents they are the
primary disciplers of their children but oftentimes do nothing about it.
Leaders have the opportunity not only to encourage parents to live out that
role, but equip and support them with the resources to do so.
need space to meet with the living God during
student ministry gatherings. Students also need opportunities to speak
about their faith experiences within their faith community. It’s key for
students not merely to agree with what their youth leaders are saying but to
begin to live out and speak about the reality of their own personal faith
inside and outside the walls of the church.
Q: What are
some practical ways parents can make spiritual deposits into their child’s
and foremost, parents can make spiritual deposits into their child’s life by loving
Jesus deeply. As parents deepen their love and dependence upon the Lord, it
becomes easier to entrust their children into His hands. In moments of
struggle, parents can surrender their children into the hands of a
gracious God. In moments of triumph, parents will praise and worship God as the
ultimate, generous gift giver.
Additionally, parents can put their
honest faith journey on display. Admitting their weaknesses and showcasing
their own dependence upon the Lord through every season can radically impact
their child's life by modeling true discipleship.
Q: Why are parents quick to pick up a
book about potty training or discipline, but hesitant to try to learn about how
to teach their children spiritual discipleship? How can ministry leaders help
them overcome their fears?
Anthony: We all want a
quick fix. We all want to be in control of the outcomes of our children.
Spiritual discipleship is neither of those. It is supernatural. Only God can
change a heart or transform a life. We need His wisdom and His power. This
requires us to be in an intimate relationship with God. Often parents’ faith is
not that vibrant at the time of child-rearing, and it is impossible to give
away something they don’t have. And even when it is vibrant, it is difficult to
relinquish control and trust God to transform a child’s life when and as He
chooses. Parents are required to be faithful and role models; they are not
required to make their children spiritual.
Marshman: Ministry leaders can help parents overcome their fears by
informing them of their role as a spiritual parent, to create environments for
faith formation to come alongside what the Holy Spirit is doing in the life of
their children. God doesn’t call them to change their children, God calls them
to love Him, love them and entrust Him with the transformation.
Dr. Michelle Anthony
Q: How can a youth or children’s
minister foster the leadership a parent should have in their family, if that
parent is overwhelmed and spiritually immature themselves?
Anthony: Baby steps.
Meet them where they are at and disciple them just as we would a child or a
teen. We must help them see the connection and then lead them one step at a
time. Often we overwhelm them with all they should be doing. It’s not attractive
for parents to think they are failing at yet another thing. We need to give
them a small win!
Q: When one thinks about the state of
the family, even within the church, it can feel hopeless. But you say it could
change in as little as one generation. Why?
Marshman: We are in the
midst of a movement. Typically, movements are things we look back on in the
past. It’s critical to see in the past five years, family ministry has begun to
take ground within churches. Church staffing structures are changing to include
an emphasis on the families, youth pastors are joining in on the efforts, and
children’s ministry leaders are impassioned like never before to recognize
their jobs reach far beyond children. It could absolutely change in as little
as one generation because God is on the
move through family ministry. When you feel hopelessness, remember God is
in the habit of using broken families for His glory.