Vibrant Faith is really all about family ministry.

At Vibrant Faith, we know that family matters and that it is the MOST important factor in the faith life of young people, either positively or negatively. We also know that the societal changes in family life have made family ministry even more critical and yes, even more illusive than it was 27 years ago. That’s when Mert Strommen and Dick Hardel began sounding the charge for the church to recognize the power and the role of the family in faith formation through the work of The Youth and Family Institute–which later became Vibrant Faith. And yet a year ago, we shifted the focus of our work as an organization. Here is why.

I recently attended and led a workshop at a family ministry event. Interestingly enough, one of the speakers was a leader from a nearby church who provided some big picture insights into the global future of families as birth and marriage rates in developed countries are falling dramatically.  Fascinating stuff.

Equally as fascinating was the tour that he gave us of a captivating, well-conceived array of tools accompanied by absolutely well-done training videos that this church hands out to families on children’s birthdays. There were beautiful boxes for children to be able to remember and scrapbook faith experiences, and then he went on to share a pathway of milestones in the life of faith-mostly based around moral lessons- for families to mark together. (For any of you who have tracked our history as an organization, sitting through this presentation was more than a little ironic!) The speaker went on to share great statistics of how many families pick up the tools.

AND even more interestingly, the audience wasn’t buying it. Made up mostly of millennial-ish clergy and faith formation leaders in very diverse but generally smaller church settings, they not only didn’t believe it would work, but they also didn’t want that approach to ministry with families. They wanted people of all ages to learn to experience God and experience real and rich Christian community through famililial relationships.

Then a wise woman stood up and said it:  “Family Ministry is a process, not a product.”

RT @VibrantFaith: Family Ministry is a process, not a product. Click To Tweet

And there it is. As an organization, Vibrant Faith is now singularly focused on helping churches dive into the process that is family ministry. That means helping churches to re-create their faith forming systems so that churches (the people) can actually dig deep relationally and engage the lives and cares of the next generation of parents and children. It means acknowledging that family ministry is the long, slow, hard work of people who disciple parents and grandparents and so that they can disciple children. It has always been people who disciple people, and the process has always been multi-generational. Yes, there can be helpful tools in that process. But unless we are directly focusing on nurturing the faith in the daily life of people who are in turn nurturing the faith of others, all the products in the world won’t produce Christians with a vibrant faith in Jesus.

Welcome to the process of family ministry. Let’s help the Spirit create vibrant faith.

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