Yesterday I launched this idea of rethinking family ministry because I think that what first comes to mind when we ministry leaders think families for family ministry might not be completely accurate, strategic or as impactful.
I’m biased and I didn’t even know it
I remember a conversation I was having in a leadership staff meeting over ten years ago. We were talking about the large numbers of families in our church that were blended. I remember going on and on for a few minutes about how it’s hard for me to get my head around what that kind of family might be like. Then a few minutes passed and I started laughing. I had to admit to everyone the silliness of my words because I came from a blended family. Although my mom and dad have been married only to each other my whole life, my dad had been married before my mom and had two kids from the previous marriage. I grew up with two half-brothers my whole life, it just didn’t “feel” blended to me because that’s all I ever knew. It was my normal.
The numbers speak for themselves
Over the last several years, I’ve heard a stat stating that less than 25% of minors live with both of their biological parents. I couldn’t find that specific statistic, but some quick google searches of recent census data shows that about 64% of kids are living with parents who are married. So, it’s reasonable to think that at least half of those families are blended making the less than 25% stat seem very feasible.
I have absolutely no statistical data to back this up, but I would imagine that close to half of family ministry leaders were raised in a home where both biological parents were present… probably not a stretch, right? However, I’d be willing to bet that 85-90% or more of family ministry leaders (if they have kids) are married to their kids biological mother. Okay, so why all the math?
My point – you’re biased too… but apparently culture is as well
Here’s my point. Even though many of us come from blended/non-traditional families, most of us are currently part of the minority, raising a family where both biological parents are present. So, when we think of family, or bias is what we know. When we think of what our ministry needs for families, we’re quick to think of what we would want. It’s just the initial thought which totally makes sense.
Interestingly, culture seems to reinforce the minority as the norm. The photo frames at the store are usually filled with what looks like the traditional family. Search “family” in google image search and you’ll find that most results show the minority as the norm. Interestingly though, 90% of the animated Disney movies made in the past 20 years feature a single parent household, right?
Rethink your audience
So here’s where I’m getting at. When we think family ministry, our tendency is to gravitate toward the minority because of our bias. The majority of the families at your church are probably blended or single parent households. When you’re developing resources or programs, are you considering the majority of the families in your church. Before you get frustrated that so few families are using the resource you created, realize that all your single parents are probably too exhausted. They may want to use the resource or attend that program, but they just don’t have the capacity. Are you offering resources specifically tailored to these types of families? Even think about how you message toward parents. If you put a picture on that family ministry flyer, would it be more accurate to display a picture that resonates with more than 25% of your audience.
This is the new norm and we’ve got some bias. Let’s rethink family ministry so we can better serve the audience we most want to serve and support!
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