This week is dedicated to families for the two million-plus Assemblies of God members around the world, and the denomination is urging its local churches to develop a family ministry in commemoration of this basic building block of society.
In an article intended for the A/G National Family Week, May 7-13, author Gary J. Oliver wrote that God intended for the family to be the basic unit in society.
A casual view of history reveals that as go marriages, so go families; as go families, so go communities; as go communities, so go nations; as go nations, so go civilizations, wrote Oliver, who serves as director of The Center for Marriage and Family Studies.
Therefore, he urges churches to develop a comprehensive family ministry as one of the most effective means of helping what ails a lost and dying society.
This call for churches to develop a family ministry is not new. In a statement signed by youth ministry leaders of 16 organizations and denominations last month, youth workers challenged churches to win, disciple and train parents to be the primary spiritual leaders of their teenagers.
The relational influence of parents and godly adults is vital to establishing lifelong followers of Jesus Christ, the joint statement read.
Richard Ross, spokesperson for the teenage abstinence ministry True Love Waits, said he believes churches should go so far as to build schedules of activities that allow families to have time to be families.
Churches need to teach parents how to parent, and the Church must teach parents how to spiritually teach and lead every age group of children in their home, he said.
This means the Church should focus on reviving the spiritual and emotional health of families even more than developing activities and programs for its members.
Some churches spend tens of thousands of dollars each year preparing to teach the Bible well at church through curriculums, teacher training, and technology, Ross explained. But these same churches are spending zero dollars a year training parents how to teach the Bible at home.
We simply have to correct the imbalance, he said.
For Oliver, family ministry means teaching families how to take their relationships as seriously as God does.
Relationships are a core part of who God is and who He would have us to become, he explained. A Christian family is a family where relationships with each other are patterned after the way God communicates and relates to His children. It is a place where truth is lived out, not merely talked about.
Living out this truth entails building relationships upon the foundation of prayer and Scripture, assessing needs, strengths, opportunities, and challenges, and being prepared to learn from mistakes.
Conclusively Oliver urged churches to start their own family ministry, which can in turn become a powerful evangelistic tool.
It addresses training in the areas of marriage, parenting, and death, to name just a few, he wrote. Evangelism occurs naturally out of a trust relationship among family members and friends.