From Whom Every Family in Heaven and on Earth is Named -- By: Andy Stirrup

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 01:1 (Fall 2010)
Article: From Whom Every Family in Heaven and on Earth is Named
Author: Andy Stirrup


From Whom Every Family in Heaven and on Earth is Named

Andy Stirrup

Andy Stirrup (m.A., Australian College of theology) serves as Academic Dean at Youthworks College in Sydney, Australia. Raised in the United Kingdom, Andy came to Australia to study at moore College, then taught in Tanzania with the Crosslinks mission organization and at St. Philips theological College. Andy is married to Kathy; they have three children: Alex, Chris, and James. they are members of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Menai, southern Sydney.

A growing body of material explores and discusses family ministry. A cursory review of this material reveals that many exponents of family ministry tend to justify their stance primarily by appealing to Old Testament texts. At my own college Psalm 78 is a particular favorite:

He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands (verses 5-7).

Appeals to the New Testament are less frequent and tend to be limited to the household codes and to Ephesians 6 in particular.

As such, it is possible that advocates of family ministry leave themselves open to the charge that they are ignoring or misunderstanding significant developments that have taken place across the Testaments. For example, it could be argued from Mark 3:31-35 that any focus on the family that was apparent from the Old Testament is now set aside. Perhaps, in the kingdom of God, family boundaries become blurred or erased, like the boundaries between ethnic groups (Eph 2:19) and social positions (Eph 6:8). Perhaps, when it comes to the matter of identifying potential leaders, attention is directed toward family life (1 Tim 3:2-5) because families in the first century functioned like small businesses. Therefore, business acumen and managerial skills—not necessarily household management—are the qualities that mark out individuals for leadership roles in the church.

There are significant and valuable studies that emphasize the importance of family as family.1 What has been lacking in many cases has been sufficient exploration of the family in the New Testament. This article seeks to redress that lack by drawing on the letter to the Ephesians ...

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