For Young Families
Dear Woodview friends and family,
As we worked through knowing who Woodview is and how God is and has shaped us for ministry, one of the things we identified is that Woodview is stickiest to young couples and families. We make a priority of ministry to young families and we are seeing some great growth and discipleship happen in young families. But that doesn't mean we can rest on our laurels! No, we must continue to look for ways to expand and improve our ministry and outreach to young families.
Young families face two critical challenges in churches today. One challenge is that they have fewer role models than previous generations. It is likely that many young parents today grew up in homes where cultural, or at least nominal, Christianity was a way of life, or where Jesus was never part of family discussions, or where the family was split up, and church attendance was sporadic at best. In other words, many young parents in the church today have never seen or experienced faithful, gospel-centered parenting modeled.
Another challenge is that families have so many more options today. Often the father and mother both work so there are two incomes and they have the resources to fund a very busy lifestyle, which is expected among their peers. In previous generations it was often church, church activities, Christian friends, and ministry or service projects that were central to the family dynamic -- but today church life is just another thing on the list of weekly activities. The result is that often, when the family has to delete something or they just want a break, it is church that's get crossed off the list.
But let me share with you two things that I think we do well in reaching and ministering to young families, and one thing we could do much better.
1. One thing we do well is we call young parents to go deeper with Jesus -- this sounds simple, but young families face incredible challenges. The stressors of a new marriage, determining their career path, financial limits and choices and planning, add to that the challenges of rearing children.
We encourage our young families to make a priority of investing in their relationship with Jesus. We try to encourage them to slow down, to simplify, and to pull back in order to invest in Jesus. Now this is a shift...because usually what we do is ask for more of people's time; but we are going to ask our people, particularly our young families, to commit to worship, a group for discipleship and accountability, and a ministry.
2. Another thing that is a strength of Woodview that we are going to improve and capitalize on is helping young adults and families into multi-generational relationships. One of the things we often hear young people say they love about Woodview is that we have people of all ages. And young adults and young families want and need, not just friendships with their own age group, but to connect with older adults and families.
We intentionally invite into multi-generational small groups for this reason, we develop new multi-generational small groups for this reason, and we are investigating and looking at new multi-generational ministry opportunities. This weekend you will hear more about a multi-generational opportunity to go on a mission trip together.
3. The thing where we can see the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth among young families, and everyone in Woodview, is for us to raise up missionaries. Now, when you read that word "missionary" don't assume we are talking about sending someone overseas (although, it doesn't exclude that). But we need to get everyone in the church to understand that, as a Christ-follower, they are called to be a missionary! Children can be missionaries in their schools and among their friends; students can be missionaries on their college campuses; adults are to be missionaries at their work place and in their neighborhoods; shut-ins can be missionaries in their nursing homes and among the staff.
We hope that as we continue to pray, preach, and teach this it will result in a missional culture in the church. And parents will begin to encourage and train their children to listen to the Holy Spirit and to live on mission.
I'm looking forward to seeing you Sunday -- it will be a great day at Woodview!
Jon B. Stradtner