Families and Ministry

If we could come up with an ideal for how a person’s faith formation should look like from birth through death, what would that look like?

This is a question that nags at me as I discern how to lead the youth and family ministry at my church. I ask this question when I begin a discussion or seminar on family-based ministry. The reason I begin with this question is because I do not think we as Christian youth workers spend enough time studying scripture and theology with a student’s faith formation in mind. Much has been said in the past few years and decades on the importance of family in youth ministry. After all, we as youth ministers and youth workers usually spend very little time with students and have very little influence on their lives compared to their parents. As a professor of mine has noted, a thorough study of Scripture will reveal that the Bible does not contain a “job description” for a youth minister. Now, I do believe that a biblical case can be made for being a minister to students. However, if I am an honest youth minister, I will affirm the fact that God seems to communicate in the Bible that ideally parents and families are expected to be the ones who are the primary spiritual caregivers of children. The church’s place and a youth minister’s place is to support this ideal. Of course, there are many situations where this idea is difficult and even impossible, but we will deal only with God’s ideal for now. If the family is indeed to be the “first church” and the primary place of a student’s spiritual nurturing, do our youth ministries reflect this? If we examine how we “do” ministry, is there something that should change? I believe the answer is “yes,” but I have only begun to work through this issue. I suspect I will write more on this and that many have thought through it more thoroughly than I have, but for now, I will do my best to study scripture and think through my opening questions as best as I can.