Michelle Anthony, in her new book, Dreaming of More for the Next Generation: Lifetime Faith Ignited by Family Ministry,expresses a certain regret and a resolve:

Partly out of ignorance, much of my past ministry had eliminated parents from experiencing their God-given role of nurturing faith. There were even times when, out of compassion, I felt that we as the church could help parents out by doing what they were struggling with.

[However], instead of rescuing children from the lack of spiritual parenting they were receiving, I began to think in terms of raising up spiritual parents and homes.

Michelle Anthony goes on to ask two really crucial questions for churches and newly-minted family ministry strategists to help “raise up spiritual parents and homes.”

Question #1

How does the church come alongside parents to help them in their own faith formation so that the spillover of their faith influences their children in the way God envisions?

Question #2

What shifts in ministry focus need to take place in order for us to devote time and attention to a ministry for adults when our infrastructure was designed for children and youth?

These questions (and their answers) have the potential to redirect ministry focus and resources from ministering TO children to ministry TO/WITH/AMONG parents…


  1. I think one thing that has helped us as parents is having a few concrete tools to get started with. For example, besides reading Bible stories with them when they were younger, as they have gotten older we have been doing a bible character study every morning. This has given us a few things: 1. a regular time that we all know is Bible time; 2. us, as non-theologian parents who are growing and learning in their own faith, a guide to reading scripture and talking about its application to our lives. Altho we do the study, it is also a springboard to conversations about many other things the kids or we as a famiy are dealing with. I think about several resources (books, cd’s, etc.)that have helped us approach many different topics with our kids. We also are in regular contact through our small group and other relationships with other Christian parents who are intentionally passing on their faith.

    I am surprised, on the other hand, how many parents I talk with that don’t seem to have any idea that that is their responsibility. However, they themselves do not appear to be actively seeking after a relationship with God. These are parents who attend our church; some even attend a small group.

    I know you talk about faith “spilling over” into our kids lives and I believe it does to a certain extent. One thing it takes on the part of parents, however, is time with our children. Not just when they are young but equally as much when they reach their teen years. With all the outside activities that are available, guarding family time for spiritual training can be very hard. Mary Pat

  2. Sorry, I did not follow directions when I responded to your e-mail with another e-mail response, so I am going to back up and do it right. Thanks Honey.

    Good Questions,

    I am afraid the sad truth is you can have the best programs and support in the world but they (the parents) have to want it in order for any of it to work. We have found so much good information and guidance already out there in the form of books, church messages, our church, small group, friends and extended family to help us with this, but we want it and are intentional about finding it. I don’t know if you can program this, it’s just being there ready and in relationship when they fall so far that it gets there attention and inspires them to look for help. Just a thought!

    That being said, this does not exempt us as a corporate church from having good quality programs in place for those who want and need them. After all we have benefited greatly from good quality teaching and resources and hopefully this training we have received and are attempting to pass on to our children will be passively or directly noticed and be desired by others in and outside the kingdom by the fruit that is produced. Matthew 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

    We have a responsibility to make sure our resources are based in scripture and not watered down (thistles), but applicable by the common family. We also have to realize that when you try to raise or grow something or someone there is always a risk, for things (like in gardening) don’t always turn out like we expect. The storms and winds will come and try to destroy what we are doing, and this is exactly why we need community in addition to programs, God uses these relationships to guide us through those storms.


  3. I think a part of it is having high expectations for adults, especially parents. When you think of it, good youth ministry (and children’s ministry) usually provides kids with a lot of direction on how to follow Jesus, and practical, tangible ways to do it. “Don’t be selfish, participate in this service project.” “If you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus, prayerfully read your Bible.” Too many times with parents, we are just content if they show up on Sundays and if they drop their kids off on Wednesday nights.

    This is certainly a huge issue that has no easy answers, but some good first steps is to continually and loudly drive home a few important ways they can be good spiritual leaders as parents. “Don’t just rush around in the morning to get your kid to school, take a quick minute to pray out loud for them before they leave or you drop them off.” “Make your car a no-electronics-zone and ask your teenager meaningful questions. Just a few thoughts. Great post!

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