Nick LIca

I. My personal interaction with the book „Family Ministry“ by Diana R. Garland

In the first part of the book Diana Garland starts with families today, and I agree with the first statement from chapter one that „the family has become a powerful political and moral symbol in today's culture. In our culture in Czech republic everyone is „profamily, even if there is a sharp disagreement over „what the family „ is and what being „for! it means.

What Is A Family?

So why defining the family is so important? Mrs Garland gives us two reasons: 1). It is important because the definition of the family communicates what is „normal“ and „right“. Every society privileges certain activities and practices because they are valued. 2). The definition of the family matters because it is the basis for social privileges. The definition of the family is important because it is the basis for government, legal and institutional policies.

When most people think of the typical family, they picture a man and a woman who get married, have children, and live together for a lifetime. This is referred to as the biological or nuclear family. In the past, most families knew their neighbors and lived close to relatives. These relatives made up an extended family and included grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, or other adult siblings. The extended family served as supportive roles for the nuclear family.

Today in our culture there is no such thing as the “typical” or “normal” family. In addition to the traditional two-parent families we have single-parent families, extended families, adopted families, childless families, and reconstituted or blended families. The role of the extended family and the neighborhood community has significantly decreased, if not disappeared.

This change in our culture over the years has also affected the definitions and roles for the family. We are working more and giving birth to fewer children. More moms work than ever before. The dramatic increase in the acceptance and practice of divorce has also totally changed the family dynamic.

In the last half of chapter one emphasized the functional definition of the family which involves the way people relate to one another. Each person has a function in the relationship. Therefore, a functional definition of family often includes people who are not biologically tied to one another. This is a very common and accepted form of family in today's culture.

Functional families are characterized in at least six different ways: Organization of relationships; Enduring over time and contexts; Meeting needs for attachment and belonging; Sharing life purposes; Sharing help; Sharing resources. The contexts and variations of people who meet these types of needs transcend beyond biological ties.

Section two of the book is about the processes of family life, including stages and phases of family life, family development, roles of man and woman in marriage, family identity and characteristics of strong families.

Theology of marriage and family

God intended for the family to be the basic unit in society. A casual view of history reveals that as go marriages, so goes the family; as go families, so goes the community; as go communities, so goes the nation; as go nations, so goes civilization. That's why is so important the roles of husband and wife in marriage. In section Two, chapter six „Power in family Life“ describes the differences in the roles of husband and wives, as defined in Biblical contexts and in context of what is happening in today's culture. It was very interesting to read the many different opinions that have developed over the years, concerning what God's true intent was and is for the role of husbands and wives. The relationship between husbands and wives has always been influenced by society and culture.

There is great deal of conflict over what people think God intended for men and women in the marriage relationship. That is evident by the many different kinds of marriages today. Going all the way back to the very beginning of time (Genesis 1), the author shows the arguments people use to prove that God intended for men to be the leaders of the marriage relationship, suggesting a "chain of command." The interesting this is, she also uses the same chapter (Genesis 1) to show how others believe God is trying to establish an equal, egalitarian type of relationship between the man and the woman.

So Genesis one says that God creates "them" and blesses "them." He gives dominion to "them" and names "them." She suggests the term "helper" is translated accurately as "his partner" and not as his "assistant or subordinate." She suggests that "man needed a soul mate and not a servant." It is obvious that the animals could not provide the relationship that man needed. That is why God chose to form woman from the man's rib, in order to show their partnership and the fact that man was incomplete until God created her.

Chapter six closes with a description of the power struggles in marriages today and suggestions for how the church can assist others in their marriage relationships.

I agree that there are basically two types of marriages today: traditional and egalitarian. The traditional marriage exists when the man is the person with the majority of the power. He controls almost every aspect of the marriage: finances, decisions, etc. His role is the bread winner. The wife's role basically involves caring for the home and the children.

The egalitarian marriage exists as a companionship and both the husband and wife share responsibilities and power. They usually both work outside the home. They both contribute to the financial status of the family. They share household chores and responsibilities with the children. This type of marriage relationship has evolved over time and has become much more common in the past 20 years.

Most marriages are combinations of the two different types and usually lean more one way than the other. Both styles of marriage can be healthy and both can be pleasing to God. However, there are several things to keep in mind. The author reminds us that "husbands are to love their wives in the same way that Christ demonstrated his love for his people. They are not to put themselves first but their wives first. Wives are to be honored by their husbands as coheirs of God's grace and therefore equals. The principle that is to govern the marriage relationship of those in Christ is therefore to be mutuality and partnership under the lordship of Christ."

How local church best relates in ministry to marriages and families

Section Three of the book is about the history of families and the church. In the history family was influenced by the big socio-economic events in our culture as industrial revolution, institutionalization of the church, protestant reformation, enlightenment, the world war. Economic and social forces have been powerful shapers of the family throughout history. So the quality of family life influences every other part of our life.

Local church can not be a healthy without families that are healthy. So the church can be an instrument of ministry to families and marriages. If the families will be encouraged, built, they will be than an good testimony to the world. Joe Aldrich states: “The two greatest forces in evangelism are a healthy church and a healthy marriage. The two are interdependent. You can’t have one without the other. It is the healthy marriage, however, which is the ‘front lines weapon.’ The Christian family in a community is the ultimate evangelistic tool, assuming the home circle is an open one in which the beauty of the gospel is readily available. It’s the old story: When love is seen the message is heard.”1

It is the author's opinion that the functional definition of the family is closest to that taught and stressed by Jesus Christ. He taught us to reach out and relate to everyone as brothers and sisters and not just those who were born into our biological family. For years, the church has accepted the traditional family as its model and goal for all families. It needs to grow and stretch as it tries to reach out to and include a society and culture that varies greatly from this in its form and function. We are to be all things to all people in attempt to save them. We have a lot of room to grow in our concepts of what family ministry should be and who it should include.

According to the author, the "processes of attachment, communication, conflict, and intimacy affects every person in a congregation and every family in a community. They involve not only learning skills but learning why these skills are important to Christians, how they help us live faithfully and lovingly as witnesses of God's love."

In section four and five of the book, the author made several suggestions at the end of chapters 14,17,18,19 how the local church can help do its part to be a support to the family. The author suggests the following things in order for church leaders to assist their families:

· Provide classes and sermons that give families a biblical background for the differing roles that should exist in marriage.

· Your church body must model healthy marriage relationships; we must teach the concepts of partnership and equal responsibility to all family members.

· Teach families how to reach out beyond their relationships to help others in their community. Provide programs that help them live out these purposes. Be a living model and example for others.

"The ultimate focus of family ministry is the support of families in their ministry with one another and in their community…family ministry equips, encourages, and supports Christians to use their families as channels of ministry to others.”

Chapter 18 talks about many of the different programs that can be developed in the local church in order to help promote healthy family life through service and other activities. The author emphasize the programs that are developed for Family Life Ministry should provide emotional support, information and practical help to the families in the congregation. Below are some of the programs that can meet these needs:

1) Eating together- The church can set aside a time weekly or monthly that is dedicated to families eating together at the building.

2) Celebrating and Remembering- This idea involves planning an evening for families to come together with various snapshots and family photos for the purpose of sharing stories and creating family photo albums.

3) Provide a family playroom at your church building- This room can have play centers for young children, board games, card games, and couches and chairs.

4) Retreats and Camps- Retreats and camps have always been "popular and powerful ways to support families."

5) Family Counseling- Counseling for families in the church and community can be provided at the church building if there is a licensed or experienced counselor on staff.

So what can the church do to help families today? We need to realize that cultural trends often leave family members on their own. The church needs to step in more than ever before by assuming the role of extended family to each other. Faith-family relationships are so important. We need to be there for each other as faith "aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters." We need to foster these relationships through classes, programs and activities that teach the importance of the entire church family and community raising a family together. God is the ultimate forgiver, deliverer, and provider of grace for every family. He can help us through our deepest, darkest hours. And He often uses his church as the vehicle for accomplishing his mighty works.

II. Personal Family Plan

I grew up as a sixth from seven children in a family where my parents stayed together-legally, but relationally they were divorced. Every one has his own room, and the one who took care about us was my mother. My father was an alcoholic all his life, so he did not care for us at all. I remember how many times in child chaos I wanted to have a „normal family“ where booth father and mother relate with each other and together fulfill their roles in our family. But this was only a wish that never came true, and that made me think that when I will have a family I will do everything upside down what I saw in my parents marriage.

The most books in my library are about family and marriage. I tried to read a lot about this subject because when I got married and 5 years later after I became a parent I felt unprepared for family life because I did not have an example to follow in my family. There are a couple of values of our family that I want to share.

1. To pray without ceasing.

I believe that God should be the center of our marriage and our family, so our family prays almost daily. We have family devotions, where we teach children the Bible, through stories, daily devotions for children, pantomimes, that we sing a couple of songs, and everyone pray. Our prayer life is every evening defined.
  • For example Monday we pray for our family, and extended family,
  • Tuesday we pray for our church – everybody picks up a family, or member so that we pray through all members and families in our church. We want our kids to love the church.
  • Wednesday we pray for our believers friends,
  • Thursday we pray for missionaries, and nonbelievers children , adults, teachers of our children, doctors, our neighbors and friends etc,
  • Friday we have in the evening teens meeting so we do not have devotions. Saturday is a free day,
  • and Sunday we have morning and evening service.
Our purpose is to lead out children to value prayer in life and experience the power of prayer. We seek and receive guidance in prayer from God for the big things and the detail s of our lives. This time together is also a time of discipleship and mentoring. We discuss sometimes the problems and situations of our children a five them advise and pray specific for that matter.
To love God
I see our family as a place where we learn to love with God’s love that is unconditional, unselfish and sacrificial. We as a parents are responsible for this in showing to our children God's love. As a father I realize the responsibility in showing them how our heavenly father is. I want my kids to be drawn to God as a loving father when they will be older. There is not a thing more important in life than to love God and your neighbor. That is the biggest command and the biggest thing that God is looking for, and will evaluate our life for. Our neighbor is not only the family across the street, but people in our house and family. Loving God means loving people. Loving people means meeting their needs. I ant our family to be a place where everyone get his/der needs met.
To have a good self-esteem.
In order to develop that, our family is a place of encouragement. We encourage our children in developing their gifts, and talents, so that they will believe that they can make a difference in their lives. We do this by the way we speak with them, treat them, disciple them and through the entire educational process. Without a good and healthy self-esteem they will not be able to succeed in life. We want them to have a healthy view of self in the light of the gifts, abilities and talents that they have from God.
To have a goodly character.
I see family as a place of character development for life. So is very important the habits, attitudes, and decisions that children develop at home . By a godly character I mean a heart that loves, obeys and serves God, church. and people around them. We are working on this task daily, through our family devotions, our prayers for our children, and the church is also a big help in this task. Sunday school teaching and teens meetings and tens small groups are design to help them grow in their knowledge, skills and spiritual development.
To be content and grateful.
In our materialistic culture today being content it is a „rare flower“. This is a very important value the we want to emphasize in our discipleship process for our children. In fact we gave to one of our kids the name „ Melinda“ that it means „grateful“. We want so much this quality to develop in our children, so that they will learn to be content with what they have in life.
Making good decisions and being a responsible person.
John Maxwell said: „We make decision in life and than decision make us.“ All good thing above can not be achieved without making good decision. Our plan is to lead our children to be responsible for their decisions from childhood. Our joy is that firs two of them already made the best decision in their life-they received Jesus in their heart a decided to follow him.

11. Joseph C. Aldrich, Life-Style Evangelism (Portland, Oreg.: Multnomah Press, 1981), 20,21.