Potential Impact Report

By Shannon Youell

Do we approach God and His calling on our lives with fisted hands, holding tightly to things we have already determined or with open hands, willing to allow God to inform and shape our futures? Do we allow God to fill our empty cups and then are we able to drink the cup he has given us?

This was the opening focus to more than twenty young adults from Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan, gathered at Gull Lake Camp April 27-30 to challenge the next generation to focus on spiritual direction, an openness to ministry potential, and general calling and leadership in their life. Facilitated by CBWC ministry leaders and pastors, the Potential Impact conference metaphor quickly formed around the charging rhinoceros, who can see only twenty feet in front of itself yet knows that to see the next twenty feet requires stepping into the unseen-ness of the future.

47101_Chosen_Sermon_Series

Using a three-fold framework of Spiritual Direction, Deeper Personal Understanding, and Openness and Exposure to Ministry Potential, we went on a journey of self-discovery of Who Am I, Where Do I Fit, How am I Unique, What am I to do and Where have I been/where am I going. Facilitated by Chris Maclure, Tammy Klassen, Dennis Stone, Mark Archibald, Steve Roadhouse, Debi Burt and myself, these topics were engaged through sessional teachings and activities, faith stories, small group coaching, worship, prayer, reflection and–of course–by rambunctious times of basketball, floor hockey, arrow tag, ping pong tournaments, campfires, star-gazing, sharing meals, to name just a few of the things we did together.

The call to join God where He is at work no matter where life leads was dominant in both the presentations and in the small group coaching. In these peer sessions, participants could wrestle with the presented material and “engage in the topics of identity and call” with speakers and coaches who “were awesome, encouraging, helpful and practical.”

The conference organizers are keenly aware that engaging and empowering young people for ministry potential is crucial to continue in the work of the kingdom of God generationally. This is, after all, a component of making disciples who make disciples. Developing and raising/releasing leaders into whatever their sphere of influence as “ministers of reconciliation” will be, is our responsibility as the generations before them. And it will be their responsibility to the generations who come after them.

Book Review: Family Ministry Field Guide

Book Title: Family Ministry Field Guide: How your church can equip parents to make disciples
Author: Timothy Paul Jones
Publishing Info: Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2011

Reviewed by: Eric West, Pastor to Families at Gateway Baptist Church on Vancouver Island

Quick Blurb of Overall Thoughts: Timothy Paul Jones’s book Family Ministry Field Guide is a text that stays true to its’ aim to help churches equip parents to disciple their children. Jones makes it clear that this is not a “how-to” book but desires to lay a set of foundations that any church can apply to their context. The details and expressions of the presented foundations can therefore be as diverse as the church in North America is today. For any church wanting to equip the families in their congregation to make disciples of their children this book is a “must-read.” Family Ministy Field Guide

The author: is a best-selling and award-winning author of books, magazine articles, and reference materials. He is senior editor of The Journal of Family Ministry and professor of leadership and church ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Overview of Content: Jones organizes his text in five basic foundations to establish in the local church.

Foundation 1: Map the Gap

  • What Families In Your Church Are Doing—And Not Doing—When You’re Not Looking
    “When it comes to the process of discipling their progeny, most Christian parents—especially fathers—have abandoned the field. If you as a parent are personally engaged in a process to transform the contours of your child’s soul, you are a minority.” pg. 25
  • What Family Ministry Is And Why It’s Worth It
    “Here’s what I mean by family ministry: The process of intentionally and persistently coordinating a ministry’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.” pg. 33

Foundation 2: Rethink Your Goal

  • Why Not To Do Family Ministry
    Jones takes on the validity of the infamous “drop out rate” for youth transitioning out of High School to College. He writes, “Retention rates aren’t the launching pad or the end point of God’s plan; Jesus is (Rev. 22:13).” pg. 52
  • How To Find The Right Motivation
    “Yes, growth is part of God’s good design for his cosmos and for his church. And yes, the proclamation of God’s Word does result in growth and the fulfillment of God’s purposes…Godly growth is sometimes slow, often hidden, and frequently frustrates our dreams and designs. But it is always centered on Jesus and the gospel.” pg. 57

Foundation 3: Frame Your Ministry in God’s Story Line

  • Discover Who Your Children Really Are
    “When the whole story of God frames every part of a family’s existence, parents don’t just see their children as son and daughters. They also see their children as potential or actual brothers and sisters in Christ. When parents see their children not only as their children but also as their brothers and sisters, it changes everything.” pg. 71
  • The Split In God’s Story Line
    “The unspoken message has been that the task of discipleship is best left to trained professionals. Churches have presented moms and dads with the impression that active participation in the discipleship of children is optional for parents.” pg. 83

Foundation 4: Give Parents the Guidance They Need

  • Give Parents The Guidance They Need
    “So what are these two top factors in parents’ failure to disciple their children? The primary point of resistance was that churches weren’t training the parents. The secondary reason was that parents weren’t making the time. It was a matter of training and a matter of time.” pg. 100
  • A Matter Of Training And A Matter of Time
    “…the issue seems to be not so much that parents have resigned their role as primary disciple-makers. It isn’t even that parents don’t desire to disciple their children. In most cases, the problem is that churches are neither expecting nor equipping parents to disciple their children.” pg. 108
  • Providing What Parents Really Need
    “What parents really need: telling, training, and time.” pg. 111

Foundation 5: Transition to Family-Equipping

  • Killing The One-Eared Mickey Mouse
    “Conceived the late nineteenth century and professionalized at the height of the baby boom, the one-eared Mickey Mouse turned out to be an attractive option for churches in the twentieth century. By segmenting the generations, churches didn’t have to directly deal with the emerging generation gap. Youth had their own activities for themselves and their peers, separate from other generations.” pg. 125
  • Family Equipping Transition 1: Be
  • Family Equipping Transition 2a: Equip Families for Faith Talks
  • Family Equipping Transition 2a: Equip Families for Faith Walks and Faith Processes
  • Family Equipping Transition 3: Acknowledge
  • Family Equipping Transition 4: Synchronize

Audience: For leaders in the trenches who see parents disengaging from their children’s spiritual development, see too many students leave for college and drop out of church, or are frustrated with programmed ministries that fail to produce results.

Strengths: This author is experienced in articulating his findings and proving his theories in the trenches of ministry. His biblical usage is academically solid while his conclusions are practically accessible and hands on. Jones presents the material in a format that makes it easy to learn and to re-teach to volunteers, parents and to the whole church.

Overall Assessment/recommendation: I highly recommend reading this book if you are a church desiring to do family ministry. I would recommend reading this book as a team of ministry leaders. It was written to be done in this context and will require dialogue to fully flesh out in the local church context.

Share your thoughts on Jones’ book or this review by commenting on the blog or emailing Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca. For more resources and inspiration about children and families ministry, contact Sherry Bennett, CBWC’s Director of Children and Families, at sbennett@cbwc.ca.

What Kind of People are You Planting?

By Sherry Bennett

When we think of planting and growing church–and by that I mean the people– do we think of the intergenerational nature of it?

The default for many churches from the get-go can be towards the adult contingency, with the kids and youth being the afterthought, or even at times, a distraction from the “real work and ministry” of the church. Children are sometimes even valued mainly as a ministry tool: an “in” to connecting with our neighbours so that we can in turn build the “more important” ministries that cater to adults.

But when we think about God’s intent for His Church, we must recognize that the authentic body of Christ is only fully present when all ages are welcomed, valued and invited to engage and participate. The challenge for us as we consider what church is, is to appropriately wrestle with the place of children and youth, as well as the adult generations, in our midst.

CC BY-ND 2.0 José Manuel Ríos Valiente

CC BY-ND 2.0 José Manuel Ríos Valiente

There is a buzz lately around the perceived exodus of young people and young adults from our churches and several pieces of research have emerged that reflect and review this trend.  It is being noted that those young people who have grown up in the Church and then continue on as committed and functioning members of the body are those who have benefited from healthy intergenerational communities of believers with parents, older youth and other caring adults building into them, discipling them and mentoring them in ministry. These young people know that they are part of the functioning of the church; they feel valued, they have ownership and they appreciate the discipleship they receive.

As a denomination we recognize the value of planting new churches. We also recognize the value of children and youth in the planting and growth process and having them deeply involved from the very beginning. It is critical for us to consider our ecclesiology as it relates to children and families even at the very early stages of church development, if we want to establish communities that accurately reflect the nature of Christ and His intentions for His Bride.

There are several resources available that can help with the process of evaluating and determining the foundation and trajectory of our ministries:

If you are interested in reading one of these books and reviewing it for this blog, email Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca and she’ll send you a copy of the book for free.Sherry Bennett

Sherry Bennett is our Director of Children and Families Ministries. Through seminars, one-on-one support and providing various resources, Sherry helps equip CBWC churches and church plants for effective intergenerational ministry for God’s Kingdom. She can be reached at sbennett@cbwc.ca.