Collaborate: Family + Church (A Synopsis of Chapters 1 – 9)

Yesterday, I started my review of the book Collaborate: Family + Church. Starting today, I will be providing a brief chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the book along with my thought, favorite quote(s) from the chapter and a brief biography of the author.

1. Michael Chanley – “Rising Tide”

Summary: This chapter serves as an introduction to family ministry in general and this book specifically.  Michael Chanley has done us all great service in pulling this collaborative effort together, and we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Quote: “…how do we get parents to become the primary spiritual voices in their children’s lives, and use the 3,000 hours they have with their kids rather than relying on the 40 hours we have them at church?”

Bio: Michael created for those involved in children’s ministry to connect with one another and collaborate on their work with children.  He was also the driving force behind putting this book together.

2. Anna J. Light – “Parent Liaisons”

Summary: Parents are often overlooked when it comes to youth ministry.  At Anna’s church they have designated “parent liaisons” who wait in the parking lot to interact with parents of the kids in their youth ministry.  In addition to interacting with parents, the parent liaisons help those in the ministry to think like parents.

This article provides an insightful way to draw parents into their kids’ youth ministry without seeming overbearing or intrusive.  Kudos to Anna and her team for coming up with this idea.

Quote: “What other ministry leaves you feeling drained and yet fulfilled at the same time.”  Anna is talking about youth ministry, but the same could be said of children’s ministry.  I know I feel this way all the time – totally drained, and totally fulfilled.

Bio: Anna Light is the Associate Youth Pastor at the northwest campus of in Oklahoma City, OK.

3. Becky Arthur – “Family Connect”

Summary: Ms. Arthur looks at the importance of coming alongside the family in the spiritual development of children and offers practical tips for doing just that.  Those include things like a church wide lesson on the role of parents in the spiritual formation of kids, communication, family events, discontinuing kid only VBS, dedicating parents, Backyard Bible Clubs, including parents, organizing family teaching and marking spiritual growth.  It you are looking for some solid ideas on getting families involved in the spiritual lives of their children, this will be a great chapter for you.

Quote: “After all, haven’t we been put in charge  of the eternal salvation of each child who walks through the door?  I certainly hope not!”

Bio: Becky Athur has spent the last 15 years as the Children’s Minister at Harvester Christian Church in St. Charles, Missouri.

4. Brad S. Tate – “The Big Idea”

Summary: The “Big Idea” that Brad Tate writes about is adopting church wide concepts that are then taught to all age levels each week in age appropriate ways.  The idea is taught differently at each age group, but the “big idea” is the same at all age levels.  This facilitates discussions amongst family members.  This “Big Idea” is a great idea for getting families talking to one another.  What better way to facilitate conversations amongst parents and kids than to teach on the same concept to both?  The “Big Idea” seems like a great concepts, and I would love to read more about the practical implications of implementing this strategy.

Quote: “Your ministry can be cool, but if it’s useless, what’s the point?”

Bio: Brad Tate is the director of family ministry at 2|42 Community Church in Howell, Michigan.

5. Brian Haynes – “Make a Shift in Your Ministry: Use Milestones to Connect Church & Home”

Summary: This article amounts to a summary of Brian’s book Shift: What It Takes to Finally Reach Families Today.  The article examines the seven milestones in a child’s development where parents and churches can work together for the spiritual development of children.  These include:

  • Birth of a Baby
  • Faith Commitment
  • Preparing for Adolescence
  • Commitment to Purity
  • Passage to Adulthood
  • High School Graduation
  • Life In Christ

These milestones are combined with four key parent behaviors (leading intentional faith talks, capturing God moments, celeb rating legacy milestones, and authentically modeling a life in Christ) and four key church behaviors (making adult disciples, equipping parents,  being the village, and being the primary faith influencer for many children and youth.)   Working together, parents and the church can maximize these milestones for the spiritual development of children.  I am about half-way through Brian’s book, and this chapter serves as a great synopsis of his book.  Now, I just need to get back to it and finish it!

Quote: “How is it that the local church has the greatest children’s and youth ministries in the history of western civilization and yet produces a generation of young adults who ‘compartmentalize’ their faith in Christ at best?”

Bio: Brian Haynes is the associate pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas.

6. Brian Vander Ark – “Putting the Pieces Together”

Summary: Ada Bible church implemented a consistent plan which focuses and different ideas for different age groups.  The plan is known as the Four E’s:

  • EMBRACE: Nursery/Preschool – “Embraced by God’s Love.”
  • EXPECT: Elementary – “Expecting God can be trusted.”
  • EXPERIENCE: Jr. High – “Experiencing connection with God and people.”
  • EXPRESS: Sr. High – “Expressing Faith and relationship throughout God’s world.”

By consistently sticking to these four “E’s,” the children know what to expect, parents know what will be discussed in their children’s classrooms, and volunteers have their “job description.”  By doing this, Ada has helped parents, children and volunteers to all be “on the same page.”  This article touches on something that I feel is important to children’s ministry, and that is consistency.  Whether it is consistency in volunteers, or curriculum or expectations, it is important to have consistency when it comes to getting everyone on the same page.

Quote: “The goal of a strategy is to create a sustainable pattern and rhythm that covers the life cycle of a child and parent and promotes the maturity of child and student and parent together.”

Bio: Brian is Senior Pastor of Family Ministry at Ada Bible Church in Ada, Michigan.

7. Carey Nieuwhof – “The Change You Need to Embrace: A Senior Pastor’s Journey”

Summary: In this article, Carey Nieuwof examines some of the barriers that Senior Pastors must overcome related to family ministry in order to move from simply allowing family ministry to “allowing family ministry to permeate and inform all you do.”  One of the chief barriers is often a general resistance to change – especially a resistance to changing programs that you yourself have created.  The author offers an insightful discussion on the importance of being willing to change even that which you created or implemented. Carey addresses three major benefits of family ministry including great outreach opportunities, the fact that parents are looking for partners but don’t think to ask the church, and that family ministry can help to synchronize your team.

Quote: “For most of us, change is not actually a positive thing in life.  In fact, it’s often only when we have control and authorship over the change in question that we are most enthusiastic about change.”

“Truly courageous leadership will risk today’s success to leverage a better possibility for tomorrow.”

Bio: Carey is the Lead Pastor of Connexus Community Church.

8. Dick Gruber – “Families Serving Together”

Summary: Dick Gruber examines the benefits and joys and families serving together in the church.  In my personal experience, I often include my nine-year-old son in teaching the Kindergarten-1st Grade class I lead.  I enjoy the time we get to spend together preparing for and delivering the lesson.  I love watching and hearing the excitement he has for teaching others about God, and we both learn a lot through the experience.

Quote: “There is no greater joy than seeing a family act out a Bible story, or watching a father teach a lesson while his 4-year-old holds the lesson’s object high for all to see.”

Bio: Dick Gruber is a Children’s Ministry specialist at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

9. Fred Stocker – “Doing Book”

Summary: Fred Stoeker shares a tradition he created in his family called “doing book.”  In this tradition, Mr. Stoeker spent time in a designated “safe place” with each of kids reading and discussing the same book and having open and honest conversations with one another.  Mr. Stoeker used this time to share stories with his kids about his own live.  He explains that “story is a guy’s natural language of connection.”  Through words and talking, he explains, we have the opportunity to connect with our kids.  In guiding and connecting with his kids by “doing book,” Mr. Stoeker explains that he was “fulfilling my role as high priest of my home in a very practical way.”

I found this chapter personally convicting, not so much in terms of spending time with my kids – I love doing that, but in being the “high priest of my home.”  As men, if we begin to view our role as husbands and fathers from that perspective, I think we would all do better in being men after God’s heart.

Quote: “Your children have questions, and they desperately need you to connect with them.”

Bio: Fred Stoecker is founder and president of Living Truth Ministries in Des Moines, Iowa.

Check back tomorrow as I continue my chapter-by-chapter review. As I said yesterday, I was provided a free copy of this book from Minister’s Label in order to participate in this book blog tour. That has in no way impacted the fact that I found this book to be extremely engaging and an absolute necessity for anyone involved in children’s ministry.

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