Members of the Methodist Church from all six Annual Conferences attended the General Conference Laity Convention (GCLC) in Port Dickson Methodist Centre. The theme was The Family After God’s Own Heart, and the message was again the correlation of strong families leading to strong and healthy churches.
In all the above, although the themes are the same (the WHY), different expert speakers gave different viewpoints and approaches (the WHAT and HOW) to generational discipleship according to their experiences and the environment they operated in. We have no reason to doubt their expertise and sincerity. At the same time, we must understand that contexts may differ from one church to another. If we just apply others’ approaches (the WHAT and HOW) wholesale without taking into consideration the characteristics and features of our own local individual churches, we could run into conflicts and get demotivated easily. Lots of discernment and innovative thinking required here, and not just hoping for the Holy Grail.
Upon reflection, the following are my insights on family ministry. I try to align them with the vision of TRAC of Come, Follow, Become Like Jesus. Indeed, the Board of Laity of TRAC has put family ministry as the super priority in partnering pastors to fulfill the TRAC Vision.
So where do generational discipleship and family ministry (I use these two phrases interchangeably) come in? I look at it as the pressing strategic issue many main stream churches are facing today (the WHY): the missing generations of youth and young adults from church, and this also applies to many Wesley churches. Extending such observation into the future, the succession problem will morph into crisis. In fact, Dr Martyn Atkins, the 2008 General Secretary of the Methodist Conference in UK, went so far as to say ‘A church that doesn’t make disciples of Jesus Christ is 50 years from extinction wherever it is.’
Hopefully, the above explanation on the connections gives clarity, excitement and motivation (the WHY) in our services and contributions (the WHAT and HOW). There is a relevant common purpose for us all to collaborate and aim for (the WHY). It helps us to prioritize on the areas of focus given our limited resources, and the patience to persevere the journey. More specifically, how can the various ministries of church school, MYF, BB, GB, MYAF, young parents, MW, and MSF work together (through the WHAT and HOW relevant to the individual local churches) in promoting generational discipleship and effective family ministry to build stronger, healthier and growing Wesley churches in the years ahead.
It makes sense why Dr. Ron Hunter, founder of the D6 Movement in USA, called Family Ministry the ‘Umbrella Ministry’.
It is our reason for being (the WHY).
Dr. Yee Chow Boi
TRAC Southern District Lay Leader