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Ministry to the Whole Family

It’s true that there are obvious differences between western culture (a broad term in itself) and cultures we find in Asia or Africa. Most notable may be the degree of individualism that we see in the west, which contrasts starkly with the more collectivist mindset of other parts of the globe. Some have said that our understanding of self-identity in the west—dating back to René Descartes (1596–1650)—is “I think, therefore I am,” whereas other cultures would prefer to say, “We are, therefore I am.” One sees these realities on display when traveling, as I have, to central Africa or central Asia.

The places in the world where the good news of Jesus is exploding are all more group-oriented than we are. That’s not really saying much, because nobody is as individualistic as we are. If we are to learn from the incredible, unprecedented advance of the Gospel in multiple corners of our world, we must take cultural differences into account. That being said, there may be some group elements of Gospel growth that transfer very nicely into the west, particularly as it pertains to the family.

The first question to ask ourselves is this: as we seek to make disciples, are we taking opportunity to connect with whole families rather than just individuals? Admittedly our societal structure presents barriers. We might minister to someone in the corporate workforce but have very little exposure to his family. It needn’t always be this way, though. If the relationship is good enough, our coworker might be very receptive to getting the families together for dinner or some event. With neighborhoods or sports teams this whole-family ministry is even more natural.

The second question: are we ministering through our whole family to other families? As above, dinners are a great way to get our own families involved in ministry, which couples nicely with family prayer for other families. One idea for integrating this is to pray for another family before your own family meals. There is something powerful and unifying about pursuing a common mission, and who better to be unified with than one’s own family?

How have you sought to connect with groups, through groups (families or otherwise)? Let us learn from your experience by leaving a comment below!

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2 Responses

  1. Kelly says:

    This is great. It reminds me of hearing of my grandparents’ card parties and dinners with neighborhood couples/families. But instead of just hanging out, we can offer hope as well. Thank you.

    • Beau Stanley says:

      And often hope comes into the discussion most naturally when we spend time with people! As a friend and ministry mentor has discussed with me, quality time is an “accident” that happens out of quantity time. We can think this way in our witness as well. If we want to impact people deeply, we must be with them often enough to allow this to happen. Great thought, Kelly. Those parties sound fun!

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