I know in some ways we are weird. We have found that this is not completely out of the norm however as there continues to be a trend of seeing spouses’ actively involved in their partner’s ministry. While my wife is not a paid employee of our church, she is very involved in what I do and how I lead. Throughout the years my two children also have been involved, even while they were still too young to be members of my youth ministry, they were around and active in being a part of my ministry.
I will be real, I was part of a church a few years, right outside of Washington DC. It was a highly professional culture, where this was not the norm and even more so, was considered completely unacceptable by the leadership. It was such a strong stance with Sr. Pastor and leadership there, that they would come and check to make sure that my children were not around during my “work hours” of youth nights, activities, and events. I was even told to discourage my wife from being involved in my ministry, as well. It was a weird place for us, needless to say, and we moved on for a variety of reasons, but one of those was this mindset. Now a few years later, we are part of a new church where my wife’s involvement and my children’s willingness to serve is accepted and even celebrated!
In the recent transition to this present church, we had real and honest conversations about our ministry, as a family, We allowed our children into limited and age-appropriate conversations about our family’s continued calling to ministry. After going through a rough transition, we talked to our children and asked them to pray for what God would have next. Both our children came back with a response, that they didn’t feel like God was done with us yet.
It might be how I was raised, growing up in a pastor’s home. We believed that we were called as a family to my dad’s ministry as a pastor. I grew up being an active part of what my dad did and I have seen the benefits of having my own children involved in what I do. Some might debate this or disagree, but I think particularly when it comes to having a strong youth ministry to families and parents it is a good thing. Our youth ministries have benefitted by seeing a married couple together and seeing us with our children because it is not something that many students see in their own homes/lives. There is also something to be considered when I am not leaving my family at home while I go “to work”, because that is also many of my student’s experiences, with dad working long hours away from them. Ministry has odd hours and even long hours during certain seasons, so having my family present with me when I can, allows them to not feel like my “job” is taking me away.
The movement in churches and in youth ministry is to more family-oriented ministry and parent-ministry inclusiveness…Orange, Sticky Faith, D6, and so on! It seems rather odd to me if we are going to lead and buy into these philosophies, I wouldn’t include my family? Each of the mentioned philosophies includes the value of family togetherness, parental discipleship, and the value of serving, so to us, it just makes sense to do life the way we do it?
I know not everyone who reads this is married or a parent and I am not saying you cannot minister to families or parents if you are single. I am simply sharing why WE personally choose to lead as a family. However, If you are single, should God lead you in the future to get married, I would suggest you have an honest talk about how much and whether your spouse and/or family will be involved in what you do. I also know some who are already married are thinking “not my spouse… not my kids”… it is too late to start this. Maybe so, but we would love to offer you help if we can, or if nothing else just share a different perspective.
Here is why WE choose to lead as a family…
1. Lead by Example.
Both good and bad, you have the opportunity to share, live and lead as a family on mission together. Your successes and your failures allow you to lead well and earn the right to be heard with other families. We have a personal philosophy in our home when it come to Sunday morning worship to “Attend One, Serve One”. My kids are already there for the services, why would they just sit in my office or head home. We have seen both my son and daughter become leaders and examples to the younger children they serve, in their own right.
2. Married to the Job.
Ministry can easily become a threat or even a way to cheat your family (More coming on this idea soon). The needs and time demands of ministry can easily lead to feelings of “us vs. them”, when it comes to your family. If you are serving together as a family, the mindset changes. Suddenly serving become another form of family time. Mind you, it is not a replacement for quality family time. Think about it as, instead of you being away from the family, they are going with you as you all serve together.
3. Battle of the Sexes.
Involving your spouse in your ministry creates in your ministry a better balance and a more well rounded ministry. God created us different and for a reason. Ministries and churches too often have a tendency to appeal more to one sex than another based on its leader. Allowing your spouse’s voice to part the of conversation also give permission for the opposite sex to feel included in what you are doing. The greatest blessing I have had is to be able to have my wife’s voice and influence available to the girls, moms, and female leaders in my ministries.
4. Training Up Your Children. No matter what your own personal children choose to do with their lives, you should want them to see it as ministry. Having them involved in what you do in full-time vocational ministry now, opens their eyes and hearts to serving later. Your children serving with you in your ministry to families and parents becomes a teaching and discipleship opportunity for them as well as for others. We are supposed to be training up our children in the way they should go, as we do life together. Why wouldn’t we want to have our own personal children being trained to serve God?
This may not be a “one-size-fits-all” idea, based on your family and spouse, but I would strongly encourage you to consider it. Even if it is only in certain ways and certain times, include your family and spouse in what you do. There are certain seasons and ages that will work better than others.
You might just be surprised how it will change your own home, the homes you ministry to, and even your church as a whole.
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