Family ministry doesn’t sound as glamorous as jetting off to be a missionary in a foreign country. Lots of times when people think of ministry, they think of missionaries, pastors or clergy. Ministry also conjures of images of serving other people you don’t directly know or meet with regularly. Why? Why can’t your ministry be to the people who share your dna or are indirectly related to you? Now I am not saying if God is leading you to be a pastor or to move to a different country that you shouldn’t go. Gracious no! You always follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting without hesitation. I’m saying that sometimes the Holy Spirit calls you to serve right where you’re at with the people who surround you.
A few years ago while trying to decipher my calling, I had an epiphany. I could change the world right here in my own sphere of influence. At first I thought I needed to be out serving in my community. That must be correct because certainly God calls us to serve others. Shockingly, as I served others , I kept being drawn to a glaring deficiency within my own family. My extended family sorely needed to see the love of Jesus not just hear about it. Talk about a painful realization. How can one be so desperate to spread the love of Jesus to others but neglect their own family’s spiritual needs? I literally fell on my face in grief and repentance that day.
When your family doesn’t have a spiritual heritage, it has to begin somewhere. Michael , the kids and I sat down at a family meeting to discuss what that looked like and decided that we would be the ones to plant those seeds. We were going to be the branch in our families that pointed them to Jesus. My immediate family envisioned serving our extended family as our own personal ministry field. Once we got that decision out of the way we had to decide one more thing. What did we think that looked like in real life?
Turns out it meant, for our family, that we serve our family in any capacity we can at the time. This does not mean that we become doormats or allow everyone free reign into our lives. Boundaries are always a good thing for you and others. You must take great measures, especially if you have a family of narcissists, to have clear guidelines for what will happen and what won’t happen. Always remember that guilt and shame don’t come from God. He speaks the language of grace and forgiveness. Others will try to make you believe He speaks the former but it always the latter. Also remember that just because you are serving them and they are family doesn’t mean they get a seat in your inner circle. Your inner circle should cheer you on no matter what. Family can sometimes be our biggest critics.
For my family, it means that we help when and where we feel led by the Holy Spirit . The key is to ALWAYS seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to when to help. Be honest. We do more harm than good when we jump in without seeking the Holy Spirit. There are times when adversity is exactly what is needed to bring us to our knees. We must be mindful to follow God’s prompting as well as give Him the Glory. It’s never about us but all about Him.
Family Ministry Service Ideas
- School Pickup. Pick up children from public school when their parents need help. We bring them back to our house for snack as well as activities with our family.
- A place to sleep. Our house is open to anyone who needs it. We really have to seek the Lord on this one. It’s probably toughest on Michael to do this one. Logan isn’t a big fan either as it disrupts his schedule. If it is God’s will then He will make it work for everyone.
- Need to do laundry? Please come to our house to do it for free rather than spend a fortune at the laundromat.
- Need a ride to an appointment? If we are available then it would be our pleasure.
- Living for Jesus in our daily lives. We may be the only example of Jesus that they see, family or not. Family especially is always watching to see you fail . I’m not saying you won’t . We are all sinners saved by grace. The difference is that they see you praising Jesus among your adversities and sins. How you respond to failure is just as important as how you respond to success.
- Hospital Visits. It means sitting in the hospital room with your father in law during what turns out to be his final months here on Earth. A rocky relationship made that quite an arduous task for me . God doesn’t call us to do easy things. He does however give you the courage and grace to handle anything that comes your way.
- Need to talk? I’m available to talk whenever or wherever they need it.
- Come to church with us! Inviting them to church every opportunity we can and offering lunch afterwards or gas money to get there.
- Can I take the children to church with me? Toting children to church with us even if it meant them spending the night or driving across town to pick them up first.
- Hungry? Being sure that everyone knows they have a spot at our table regardless of the day but most especially holidays. No strings attached.
- Know how to read? Reading books to elderly grandparents who no longer see as well as they once did.
- Anonymously sending groceries by a delivery service like Shipt or Instacart with no strings attached.
Family ministry means different things on different days to different people. Rest in the fact that if you are serving where you are called to that God will attend to the details. You are simply called to be obedient. You can never go wrong with that. Serving your family may look different than what we did because every family is different. The point is to seek God earnestly with where He wants you to go and what to do. Some families already have a spiritual legacy that simply needs fine tuning. Sometime God only needs you to continue the spiritual legacy already intertwined in your family tree. The point is that you simply need to do whatever work the Holy Spirit sets in your path even if it’s among your own family.
What does family ministry look like for you?