Book Review of “Family Ministry Field Guide – how your church can equip parents to make disciples” by Timothy Paul Jones
Reviewed by Raewyn Moodie – CAFMIN Coach for Auckland Baptist Association
This is another book in the ever growing collection of books on family ministry. Timothy Paul Jones has some very good observations to make in this area, however.
His theological observations on seeing children as fellow disciples are very good and his comments on how we have made a split in God’s story line by only taking responsibility for our children in a physical way while letting the church be responsible for their redemption, are very pointed. “When God’s story line is broken, parents receive the impression that their responsibilities end with protecting their children, providing for their children and teaching their children to make decisions that will lead to a more successful life... professional ministers at church wrongly assume they are the primary persons responsible to evangelise and disciple children and youth.” (P. 85) He takes a good aim at our current culture and describes how success has become an idol “The result is a culture of childhood royalty that treats children like princes and princesses instead of ...brothers and sisters in Christ.” (104)
He asks churches to evaluate what they are doing and do less so that parents can do more. Apart from asking churches not to over-schedule so that families have time for discipleship, a big aim of this book is to show pastors how to equip families in discipleship in a practical way. He comments that many parents have no idea how to disciple their kids and churches have failed to provide what parents are seeking.
The second half of the book is a very practical look at how churches can equip families and includes some worksheets in the appendices, which can be copied and used to evaluate your church ministry.
Many of us are wary, however, that the word “family” can be taken as an exclusive word, especially for nuclear families and the perspective Jones brings, which is refreshing, is that God calls church people to be taking care of “orphans”. “When the families that are near become the centrepiece of our ministries, we tend to lose sight of the plight of the orphan. The ravages of sin have filled this world with orphans – physical orphans whose parents have abandoned them, relational orphans whose fathers and mothers are too busy to hear their children’s cries, and spiritual orphans whose parents have never embraced God’s grace...to bypass the orphan in favour of a focus on whole and healthy families is to neglect a heartbeat that has long marked the rhythms of God’s redemptive plan.” (142,3)
The practical shifts he discusses are from “doing” to “being”, from “expecting” to “equipping” and from “assuming” to “acknowledging(that parents are the primary disciple makers)”, then he closes with a worksheet on how to tie it all together in a church context.
There are many ideas which we have heard before but I believe Jones bring a theologically rounded context to this discussion which firmly centres Christ and his atonement in the centre of the discussion and his practical sections will be welcomed by many who are looking for next steps in this important journey.
- PDF KidsMatter 17 - Feb, Mar, Apr 2013
- PDF KidsMatter 16 - Nov, Dec, Jan 2012-13
- PDF KidsMatter 15 - Aug, Sept, Oct 2012
- PDF KidsMatter 14 - May, June, July 2012
- PDF KidsMatter 13 - Feb, Mar, Apr 2012
- CBM Training Day
- Children & Family Ministries - Who We Are & What We Offer
- The Faith Box article Baptist Dec 2010
- Oct 2010 - Plan a Treat for Halloween
- Are you smarter than a 10 Year Old