We are family: the changing face of family ministry

Research published by Children’s Ministry Network (CTBI) – previously CGMC. The research encouraged a greater emphasis on diversity in understanding what is meant by ‘family’, and promotes a deeper level of ministry that embraces variety and offers support to both church going families and those outside of the Church.

A major research project supported by  CMN (CTBI) and The Methodist Church has recently been published on the diversity of family ministry within the church. It has raised questions about the common concept of ‘family’.  By finding that church family workers are engaging with a growing range of family types.

Photo: Emily@Flickr Creative Commons licence

The ‘We are Family’ research was released in September 2015. Gail Adcock, Families Ministries Development Officer in the Methodist Church, said “Our understanding of family needs to go beyond the concept of the nuclear family to encompass a diversity of relationships. Once we recognise this, we can adopt more inclusive language and respond more effectively to minister and support families in the contexts that they are in.  If we are to be effective family workers we can’t just presume all families are the same. We must treat each family as unique and provide relevant support to them in the circumstances that they are in.”

Penny Fuller, moderator of the CMN, added “Family ministry across the UK is growing, with many new projects starting. It’s not just happening on a Sunday, but is taking place in a range of different contexts, engaging with a great diversity of families. In this growing area of ministry, it is essential that the Church provides suitable training and support. Our biggest challenge now is how we enable an intergenerational engagement in all areas of our ministries and not segregate them into silos.”

The report suggests that family ministry is most effective when:

  • there is a clear definition of family ministry and support in a particular context or church
  • family workers have a clear mandate for their role and are well resourced and trained
  • churches have a fully embedded family ethos, sharing a vision of what family means in the church community and a commitment to support families in the local environment

Download the summarised report and the full report.