The Problem and the Promise of Family Ministry -- By: Bran Nelson

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 01:1 (Fall 2010)
Article: The Problem and the Promise of Family Ministry
Author: Bran Nelson

The Problem and the Promise of Family Ministry

Bran Nelson

Timothy Paul Jones

Bryan nelson (Ph.D. cand., the Southern Baptist theological Seminary) is the Pastor to Students at Gilead Baptist Church in Glendale, Kentucky, and instructor of Applied ministry at the Southern Baptist theological Seminary. Bryan lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky with his wife Ellie and daughters Mary Evelyn and Margo. Bryan loves spending time with his family; when he is not chasing his daughters around the house or neighborhood, he can be found chasing turkeys and deer around Kentucky and Tennessee.

Timothy Paul Jones (Ph.D., the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Discipleship and Family ministry at the Southern Baptist theological Seminary, where he coordinates family ministry programs and edits The Journal of Family Ministry. Previously, he served sixteen years as a pastor, youth minister, and children’s minister. Timothy has taught Greek at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and in Oklahoma Baptist University’s ministry training institute. A recipient of the Baker Book House Award for theological Studies and the NAPCe Scholastic recognition Award, timothy has authored, coauthored, or contributed to twenty books. Timothy lives in St. Matthews with his wife Rayann and their daughters Hannah and Skylar. He enjoys hiking, playing games with his family, and drinking French-pressed coffee. the Jones family is involved in Sojourn Kids ministry at the east campus of Sojourn Community Church.

After decades on the back burner of congregational life, family ministry has suddenly become a hot topic. Type “family ministry” into a search engine, and you computer is likely to crank out more than twenty-five million results in fewer than ten seconds. Conference after conference claims to provide congregations with the missing key that will enable the church’s staff to launch a successful family ministry.

As a pastor and as a father, this renewed focus on family ministry is at once encouraging and frightening. It’s encouraging because many Christians seem to be regaining a biblical perspective on God’s vision for the role of parents. For too many years, churches and parents have encouraged paid professionals to take the primary role in the discipleship of children.1This, even as research continues to reveal that—although other significant adults are also important—parents remain the most influential people in children’s spiritual, social, and behavioral development.2

Why, then, does this new emphasis on family ministry also present a potential problem? Simply this: In many cases, churches...

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