IVP - Strangely Dim - Quantum Phamily

January 11, 2006

Quantum Phamily

A friend of mine is working on her master's degree, and as she was selecting courses for the coming quarter she was proselytized by an instructor to take her family ministry course. My friend, however, works a full-time job here at IVP and doesn't have time for classes that demand a lot of extra time or don't nicely fit her educational goals: I suppose you might say she's purpose-driven(tm). So my friend asked if she'd be obligated to do family ministry in a local church setting as part of the course. The professor replied, "Not likely; I don't think any churches around here do family ministry."

Now, I have great respect for theoretical studies, but family ministry? Sure, you can do math with imaginary numbers or do quantum physics based on last week's Star Trek, but "family ministry" seems like simple arithmetic: family + ministry. Two great tastes that go great together.

I suppose it's idiots like me that are keeping churches from fully understanding the intersections between family as a social complex and church as a social complex. How your family functions shapes your expectations and your participation in church, and so every local family system directly affects the life of every local church. And how ministry is practiced, because it is intrinsically relational, places obligations on every family touched by it. The bringing together of family and ministry becomes less like math and more like a marriage.

Ah well. I just thought it was funny. Diana Garland's exhaustive Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide defines family ministry as

any activity of a church or church representative(s) that directly or indirectly (1) develops faith-families in the congregational community, (2) increases the Christlikeness of the family relationships of Christians and/or (3) equips and supports Christians who use their families as a channel of ministry to others.

I'd be interested in what you think of that definition and how you'd characterize the state of family ministry in your own church. Play nice though, please.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at January 11, 2006 8:20 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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