According to Nielsen Media Research's latest report, the average American household watches 8 hours and 15 minutes of television in a 24-hour period. The average amount of time per individual (over the age of 2) is about 4 and a half hours. Something tells me this isn't the bonding type of T.V., if there is a bonding type. As a mom of two, ages 10 and 16 I fully understand that our children are having life piped into them by various objects. Even as I sit here, I am on my laptop, husband next to me is on his phone, 16 year old on his phone and the Olympic games are on T.V.. Our youngest however is outside playing with friends, kudos Jonah! The three of us are in the same space, but there is no togetherness happening. While this is not always the norm for our house, it is for many.
Let's face it, we live in a world of constant interaction via technology. For companies needing to market a product, this is a beautiful thing, for parents wanting to mold their children into pillars of faith, not so much. I can actually get a faster response for dinner requests via text than asking around! And with an iPhone I can do it in one message, and yes I have! While being a tech savvy family is ok, it must require balance. Even in church we are broken up, kids are dropped off and parents worship elsewhere. I agree that age appropriate worship is essential, but we have got to teach our families to do it together as well.
So why did I just take you on that side road? Well, families! This year we added Family Ministry to our church. After our senior pastor approved this addition to my current position, I sat down last November and made a list of things I desire and then asked God to fix my list as He always does. My vision or list was as follows:
1. Cost effective activities for families of all ages
2.Training for parents - parenting classes
3. One getaway for families - a weekend of family tech free interaction
4. To see parents and kids praying together and for one another
5. Hands on local mission projects for families to do together
6. Tools for families via our website
I kept this list on the corner of my desk for a while and prayed about it, and am happy to say there wasn't much change. Once we had the first gathering, it was like wildfire! Families are craving something different, and many have no idea where to begin. I started by putting dinner time devotions on our website that were a simple three to five minutes over the dinner table. Which of course causes them to eat together! Pray together! And interact! Score!
I have come to the conclusion that family ministry is a must, not a program, not a curriculum, and not a token annual date. The current generation of up and coming parents have one of the largest percentages to have never been to church. They need answers, tools, direction, and the Biblical principals to do this. More importantly they are seeking all these things, and are willing to listen.
So as you plan, plan for families. If you're having a church picnic, find an activity for parents to do with their children. Find ways to have parents and kids serve in ministry together, in the end you will really have trained up two generations at once.