What is Family Ministry by Ethan Davis.

Today I am opening up my blog to Ethan Davis for his answer to the question, What is family ministry?  I hope you enjoy his post as much as I have.

Family Ministry & the Über Question … What?!?

If you have just tuned into the FamMin (aka Family Ministry) blog tour, we are a group of people who have come together to answer the question “what is family ministry?” We have varied backgrounds in ministry, age, experience,and almost any other qualifier. Bottom line – just a group of people seeking God and following the rabbit trail of a really great question.

To that end, here is my swing at the über question – and because I think being exhaustive is exhausting – I’m going to focus on one small aspect: awareness. Awareness is critical in Family Ministry and moves all types of ministry to higher levels of effectiveness.

Awareness is not something you do, but rather how you go about doing ministry. You can not program awareness. Ministry awareness goes beyond the activity to entertain deeper questions about ministry.

Three areas of awareness …

– Awareness of your own ministry -“Without good direction, people will lose their way …”

Who? What?

I have found that these three little questions generates a lot of conversation, confusion, and possibly conflict. Beware asking these questions (especially “why?”) without the relational capital necessary to sustain a trust building exercise. I have found it better to take it slow, be patient, and stay attuned to the readiness of the person you are asking these questions.

For the leader, don’t put undue pressure on your follower to answer these questions. Remember, you are the leader. You bring to the table clarity out of confusion because you are the leader.

For the follower, don’t press your leader with these questions when they are not ready. Again, think of the question every 3 year old asks over and over and over. “WHY? WHY? WHY?” = annoying.

– Awareness of other ministries -“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought …” Romans

Jen Hatmaker in her book, 7, quotes Shane Clairborne, “I had come to see that the tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor … ” Although this is a great quote and worthy of passing on in it’s own right, I’ve modified it for our FamMin conversation.

I have come to see that the family ministry tragedy is not that ministry staff do not care what’s going on outside their own ministry, but that ministry staff does not know what’s going on outside their own ministry.

– to know is to invest –

Especially if you are a KidMin staff person you have the tremendous burden of laying the foundation of future growth (no pressure). In only a few years your kids leave for youth ministry, student ministry, college, and subsequently adult ministry. Set the stage by preparing well for transitions and the larger ministry mission.

Do not assume anything; just because you have a common mission stated on the wall does not mean that the application is congruent down the hall. (Jim Collins)

Ask those leaders the Who, What, Why of their ministries (without being obnoxious … trust me I’ve tried being obnoxious, doesn’t work). They may not have solid answers and keep in mind that servant leadership involves way more listening than speaking. Look to what Jesus did: ask questions, tell stories, allow room for the disciples to discover.

Awareness of an other’s ministry takes time to invest through listening. Listening well requires a non-anxious presence and patience. These two attributes are cultivated through a process which brings me to my last area of awareness.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”

And now the most difficult awareness to have and yet you spend the most time with this person. Ask yourself the WHO? WHAT? WHY? You might just be surprised by the answers

Who has God called you to be? What has God called you to do in life? this season? right now? Why are you in ministry? Why do you exist?

You may need to pick up the phone right now and call a friend or ministry colleague to discuss these things. You may need to call a therapist because you know you have areas of your life that you feel stuck. You may need to spend some time praying for direction because you don’t even know where to begin with these questions.

I have found that clarity with these questions in my life brings a capacity to ask others the same kinds of questions. The greatest ability to listen without judgment has come when I know that my worth and value come from God and God alone in Who I am, What I do, and Why I do what I do.

Here are some great posts for further reading: http://www.livestransforming.com/http://careynieuwhof.com/2012/05/more-questions-fewer-statements/http://kidmin360.com/2012/07/09/how-have-healthy-childrens-ministry/

Thank you Matt, I’ve loved being apart and reading the FamMin blog tour so far. The contributions have been wonderful and my hope is that this conversation opens doors and spurs on more effective ministry.

Ethan Davis (@davisethan) is the Elementary Director at Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield, IN. He loves spending time with his wife Gayle (@davisgayle) and son Sam. He is a graduate of Johnson University (formerly Johnson Bible College) and Indiana Wesleyan University. Some of his many side hobbies include motorcycle riding, golf, anything technology and he is a bit of an information junkie via twitter.

Matt Norman

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. To ensure that you never miss a post subscribe using the space on the right side of the screen.

I am a Christian, husband, father, pastor, church planter, nurse, and freelance writer.

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