Family ministry in the Bible.
What does the Bible say about family ministry?
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” Exodus 20:12.
The above verse from the Ten Commandments may be one of the best-known verses concerning families. Yet noticeably, it doesn’t mention the word “family.” That’s not surprising. The word “family” is usually associated with words like children and parents. In fact, the Bible only mentions “family” about 120 times but references children, parents, husbands, wives, home and households more than 1,500 times.
So with so many verses to consider, and with due regard for the contexts of the verses, what does the Bible say about family ministry?
Here are ten key texts that capture the biblical essence of family ministry:
It’s championing faith formation in the home.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain” Psalm 127:1.
It’s helping parents get God’s Word inside them and their children.
“Impress them (the Scriptures) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” Deuteronomy 6:7.
It’s harnessing parents and grandparents to disciple two generations.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” Deuteronomy 4:9.
It’s equipping parents to raise godly offspring.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4.
It’s teaching children how to obey, respect and honour their parents.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother” Ephesians 6:1-2.
It’s gathering families together for intergenerational worship and instruction.
“Assemble the people – men, women and children . . . so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” Deuteronomy 31:12.
It’s preaching the Gospel to families.
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” Acts 2:39.
It’s involving all age groups in the mission of the church.
“One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts” Psalm 145:4.
It’s preparing people for marriage and supporting existing marriages.
“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” Ephesians 5:33.
It’s training families to exercise biblical stewardship in every sphere of life.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” 1 Peter 4:10.
We should note that family ministry also includes taking care of widows, orphans and single parents (James 1:27, Psalm 68:5), helping adult children look after and support aging parents (1 Timothy 5:4) and elevating biblical guidelines for human sexuality and procreation (1 Corinthians 6:15-20, Genesis 1:28).
Concisely stated, family ministry draws parents and children together with the Lord (Malachi 4:6a). This is done by helping families engage with God’s Word (Matthew 4:4), pray together (Colossians 4:2), disciple each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11), grow in health and holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1), guard against evil (Ephesians 4:27), share the Gospel with others (Matthew 28:19-22), and tell the next generation what the Lord has done (Psalm 78:4).
Families can’t flourish by themselves. They need the strength and power that comes from the Holy Spirit. He’s the vital “third strand” that keeps husbands, wives, parents, and children together (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Ultimately, the most crucial element of family ministry is nurturing relationships with Jesus.
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