Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Families Want To Serve!!!!!

I just had a very timely article drop into my inbox from the Externally Focused Church Network. It contains some research finding that might surprise you. The article is fairly brief. I hope you'll take the time to read it. I highlighted in red the text that jumped out at me.


Survey Says Families Want to Serve Together with Family and Community Ministries Journalcp/uploads/family_serving.JPG

In the Jan/Feb 2008 edition of Rev! Magazine executive editor and good friend of EFN, Alan Nelson, predicted 12 trends in ministry to come by 2018. One trend he predicted was that the classroom approach to learning will lessen and people will begin to learn through active service-like community service projects and mission trips. ″Connecting Scriptures with these experiences will increase…Bono and others are causing us to realize that faith without the fruit is dead,″ he writes.*

Alan also predicted that the emphasis on Family Ministry will grow. He writes, ″There is a felt need to pursue family unity and intergenerational worship and spiritual formation. Family Pastor is currently the fastest growing new ministry title and this will continue into the next decade, as churches strive to equip and empower parents to assume their responsibility.″

Well, Alan, it looks as if those two predictions are already coming true. The Family and Community Ministries Journal, published by Baylor University School of Social Work didn't just predict service learning would be important to the future church, they found that families are asking for it. In 1993, Diana Garland, Dean of Baylor University's School of Social Work, and Dr. Pam Yankeelov, professor at the University of Louisville, developed a tool called the Church Census to help church leaders understand how they are reaching families and what church families want and need. 150 churches have used this census for 12 years.* (For a full review of survey findings, see the Summer 2007 edition of the journal).

While the survey has exposed a number of insightful connections to today's church families, discovering how consistently churchgoers expressed a desire to serve was one of the major surprises for Garland. Among all denominations, socioeconomic and age groups, the most common answer to ″how can the church help,″ was ″give us ways to serve others outside our family.″

Parents must be sensing what Garland is already sure about: ″We know that children who grow up serving next to adults are more likely to attend church as young adults. It makes it more meaningful,″ she shares.

She admits that finding families wanting more service opportunities came as a bit of a surprise. Garland shares, ″We didn't expect that. Even families who are struggling themselves want to serve others. The opportunity to help others was the single most requested thing of church families, across the board. They want help living their faith. These families are telling us that the focus of church need to be centered on ways families can minister to the world. We've tended to see service as an add-on to worship, with worship being the main focus. Families are saying we need to turn that around.″

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