Mark Holmen and Dave Teixeira. Take It Home: Inspiration and Events to Help Parents Spiritually Transform Their Children. Gospel Light, 2008. (248 pages).
DVD segment 1: Family Ministry vs. Faith At Home
The home is the primary place where spirituality is to be nurtured. And while “family” ministry is catching on, there seems to be a “right” and a “wrong” way to do it. For example, the church tends to be set up with segmented and “staged” ministries (e.g. Nursery to Children’s to Youth to Adults to Senior’s). Many have tried to “add” family ministry simply as an additional “segment” of the church, or as an extension of Children’s Ministry.
The problem is that “Faith at Home” ministry ought to be weaved all the way through each ministry, and to think of each ministry as a conduit for the “Take It Home.”
You can decide to be a church with family ministry, or a church of family ministry, in which it is weaved through the fabric of your church.
DVD segment 2: What Families Need
1. Motivation – They need to hear that parents are the most influential people in the lives of their children.
2. Expectation – They need to be communicated what is expected of their behavior.
3. Implementation – They need to be shown “how.”
DVD segment 3: 6 Keys for Becoming a Faith at Home Driven
1. Language Matters – Subtle change in terminology, from “family” ministries to “faith at home” helps to bring everyone into the ministry.
2. Recognize the Critical Role of the Senior Pastor – What is success for a Senior Pastor? Is it about getting people to come to our events, or is it to get people to change their lives? We must be willing to re-examine.
3. It Must Be An Integrated Part of the Strategy of the Church – Not necessarily in the mission, but it must be in the strategy.
4. “Where Your Treasure Is…” Commitment – How to shift from spending money on “at church” events to “at home” resourcing.
5. Everyone Has A Part to Play – This is an “every ministry” campaign.
6. Long-Term Commitment – There is no quick fix.
— VIA —
As mentioned in the DVD, the direction and idea of this whole project is right in line with the movements that have been emerging in the church-world recently. Barna, The Orange Conference, and many others have helped us see the importance of the family as the primary incubator of faith. I concur, and believe that the more we can move in this direction, the better off the church will be.
However, the content and underlying culture of this production gives me pause to dive fully into the “Take It Home” brand, and the idea of “family” ministries.
1. The fundamentals of what they’re giving us (up front) have little to do with understanding the “Take It Home” brand and idea. Much of what I’ve read and seen so far is simply good leadership and management principles wrapped in a “family” packaging. The six “keys” and the three “family needs” listed above could easily be applied to any campaign. I suppose it is necessary to include it, but I wonder if this kind of “re-packaging” diminishes from the focus and ultimate effectiveness.
1b. Though I’m critical in #1, there are some great items that are mentioned in the workbook, however, and those warrant comment:
NURTURE THEIR NATURE (28) – We have an amazing opportunity and responsibility to take the unique temperament of each child and overlay it with the character of God by instilling habits and disciplines that will keep them connected to Christ.
DISCIPLING PARENTS THROUGH THEIR KIDS! (29) – kids are a wonderful … tool for the church and ultimately the Kingdom of God. But, all too often, churches don’t leverage children as a tool for the discipleship of parents.
MODEL IT. [Throughout the curriculum, there is an exhortation to “show” rather than “tell.” This is to be commended.]
The section on Money and Technology looks really practical and helpful (127-157). This is an area that is often neglected, and while a bit technical, I’m glad they put it in the curriculum.
2. There is a hesitation that I still have with anything too aligned with the “Christian” or “sub-Christian” culture that exists. My study and desires are moving away from what is commonly known as “Christianity,” and moving more towards (for lack of a better term) a “Yahwistic philosophy.” What I mean by that is simply that all “Christian” faith expression ought to be questioned in light of the grand story of YHWH throughout the entirety of the Bible (Genesis through Revelation). More of that anon, but suffice to say for this post that as I begin to dive into the campaigns and projects that I believe are necessary to address the same issues that Holmen and Teixeira are addressing, we must first question what we mean by “Christian.” To sum, that we take it home is less important to me than what we actually take home.
3. I’m considering suggesting that we don’t live in a “family” culture anymore. Where I live, (in the San Francisco Bay Area), in addition to the “families” that are here, there is a substantial segment of the population that are single, or are from broken-families, blended/mixed households, foster-care, and a whole host of “non-traditional” arrangements. “Taking It Home” would not work, for there is no “home” to take it to.
3b. To be fair, there is a mention in the book of “28 forms of family,” which would include a single person in a nursing home, and a “DINK” family (Dual Income, No Kids). However, not only is there no reference to the USA Today article, the idea does not seem to inform the rest of the curriculum. The language continues to use “parents” and “children” as the key identifiers. It feels as if the authors mention it because they recognize the realities, but have not yet dived deep into what implications “Take It Home” has for those diverse situations.
4. The curriculua lean more towards the “lessons” rather than the “experiences.” I’m all for cut-outs, quiz shows, and things of the like, but I’m also wondering if we can engage, even the youngest among us, in activities like service, Biblical Festival Celebrations, Worship Gatherings, Business Operations for Justice, etc. Being taught what to believe is different than arriving at a belief through shared experiences.
5. Biblically, the content is difficult. For example, in the “Bible Trivia Questions” (121-122), “Torah” means “law,” rather than “guidance, or teaching.” They ask, “When Moses asked God His name, what was his reply?” Their answer is “Yahweh,” which is fine, I suppose, but if they’re quoting Exodus 3:14, then the answer really should be “I will be what I will be” (אהיה אשר אהיה) The divine name (יהוה) isn’t used in reply to the question, but rather as an identifier when speaking of God’s relationship with Israel (3:15, 16, and 18). “Nineveh” is referred to as a “country” not a “large city,” as the Bible states, and Jonah is swallowed by a “whale” rather than a “big fish,” as it is written. And while true, the selecting primary identifier of “Pharisee” for Saul/Paul expresses the continual anti-Jewish bias, especially since Acts 8:1 doesn’t mention Saul being a Pharisee.
Now, for some this may be nitpicking, but for me, I consider this critical, and (for many conservatives, the very words of God). These little things are important, and have historically led to further and deeper misunderstandings of the Scriptures, the stories, and ultimately the faith we profess. Greater attention needs to be placed on these details.
6. The curriculum is overtly “scripted.” Watch Barry Schwartz’s talk from TED to get a better glimpse into what I mean here. Quickly, there needs to be more open-ended discussion and discovery questions and activities, rather than the “say this…” and “do this…” kind of direction. This will ultimately dumb-down the very best of our faculties in the development of both ourselves and our kids.
7 (CONCLUSION). What is needed (and I hope I don’t give too much of this away here), is a radical transformation in how we view, not the family, nor the ministries that we have, but the very essence of the faith that we profess, with specfic regards to “discipleship,” and the fullness of what that word and concept means, and meant. Then, we need to think through our practices, and overhaul our methodologies. That takes a lot of work, I admit, but it is necessary for the task ahead.
I know I’ve been critical here, but it’s only because I believe this is so important. Again, I appreciate Holmen’s and Teixeira’s passion and direction. They’re on to something, for sure. I will recommend their material (though I admittedly have only skimmed it), and believe that fruit will come of it. Several churches are already utilizing their stuff. I just believe it can be better, and I’m willing to work hard to find out how.
My prayer, is that what I’ve got stewing in my mind right now about this, and many other facets, is not simply an egotistically-driven “reaction” to the “competing brands of ministry” that are out there. Rather, I pray it radically transforms Your bride, and hence, Your world, not by our philosophies, but by Your brilliant process called “discipleship.”
With anxious awaiting…