Family Ministries is important to the church because it is in families that people learn relationships. If those relationships are healthy, it is much easier to have healthy relationships throughout life, including and especially with God. If family relationships are not healthy, then relationships in life become difficult, even in the relationship with God. In a society that is challenged by broken, alienated relationships, the church is challenged to minister to the brokenhearted and to teach new ways of helping people mature in Christ, to enable to service, and to experience in the present a foretaste of restored relationships in God’s kingdom.
The world of family ministries is wide-ranging, as it must be if it is to reach the needs of people. There are the nuclear families, which we know as “mother, father and children;” single families, some with father and some with mother as primary parent; widowed families; divorced families; empty-nest families; caregiver families to grandma /grandpa; and married without children. There are healthy families and abusive families and those that just struggle along . . . not healthy, but not abusive. Also included in Family Ministries are Singles Ministries and Men’s Ministries. While this is a huge challenge it is also one of blessing as people learn new ways to relate and those who hurt find healing. Added to this is the issue of proper standards: the need for programming that is professional and evidence-based instruction as outlined by the state of California and General Conference Family Ministries.
Highlights of the Last 5 Years
Family Ministries in Southeastern California Conference (SECC) addresses these needs in many ways.
- There is training specifically for pastors. Continuing education for clergy is important as needs develop and new information is identified in this always-growing discipline.
- Providing resource materials and training for church leaders in family living, with continuing education.
- Training and assistance for pastors and congregations when someone is victimized by another church member.
- Support for clergy and teacher families through an anonymous counseling service.
- Maintain a resource person list of professionals such as marriage and family therapists, psychologists, licensed social workers and others who can assist with programming in local churches. The director can assist the congregational family ministries leaders by matching these professionals with the needs of church programs.
- Training for pastors and congregations on child abuse and keeping children safe in churches, which includes current legal issues about reporting abuse by all who work with children in the church setting.
- Program manuals are available for most aspects of family ministries, such as marriage enrichment, premarriage counseling, divorce, parenting, grandparenting, divorce, elder care, family abuse, family finance, dating, single parenting and more.
- Video and DVD programs available free on loan that cover most issues of family life.
- A resource manual for congregational family ministries leaders. A comprehensive work, it provides organizational instruction and materials, directory of program manuals, worship resources that include responsive readings suitable for special church services on family, General Conference studies and statements on issues pertaining to families, program ideas for celebrating family transitions and special occasions through the year and a bibliography.
- A special resource manual on keeping children safe in church and for reporting abuse of children and the elderly.
- Materials for the anonymous counseling service provided to pastors and church educators.
- Assistance with programming for local churches by the use of a list of professional personnel who are able to speak to the many facets of family living.
- Training for church family leaders.
Goals for the Next 5 Years
- Revision of the Resources for Family Ministries. This is the major book used in training church leaders and pastors on family ministries, and it must be kept up to date.
- Revision of Keeping Children Safe in Congregations, the manual used in training churches, pastors and educators in the current legal and spiritual issues of child and elder abuse.
- Continue with working with congregations in the training of duties about keeping children safe and other issues in child and elder abuse. Because there are still many churches that have not yet had this training.
- Provide in-service training seminars for clergy continuing education on family ministry topics including marriage, parenting, sexuality, elder care, men’s issues and other family topics.
- Provide a service that helps churches find professional presenters for church programs.
- Prepare a major update of the current videos, DVD and printed materials for family ministries. New programs will be added and older, but useful programs to be available in the DVD format. These will reflect the ethnic diversity of SECC.
- Training for family ministry leaders by utilizing church leadership seminars and area-wide programs to assist those leaders, using the many materials available to distribute.
- Continue with keeping a good roster of professional counselors for the anonymous counseling service for pastors, teachers and their immediate families and process billings to treasury department, according to the proper standards.
- Maintain family ministry materials and events on the SECC website.
- Communicate regularly with local leaders by e-mail on events, announcements and activities.
- With Pine Springs Ranch staff, hold “Romance at the Ranch,” an annual marriage retreat.
- Host a Men’s Ministries training session for the leaders in local congregations. Five years ago there were only a handful of Men’s Ministries programs in SECC. Today there are 50 to 60 such ministries. This will be a time of sharing of ideas and plans.
- Singles Ministries has for several years been hosted by dynamic and active laypersons who have led singles to meet in various places and have arranged for cruises, meeting and other activities.
We affirm the family ministries leaders in congregations and pray for their well-being and success in the helping and healing of men and women and children.