Primary, But Not Only

"Parents are the primary faith trainers of their children."

This statement (or one similar to it) is what those involved in Family Ministry champion, right?  We throw out verses like Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 to drive this point home.

I understand the statement can have both positive and negative applications and outcomes.  I get it.  I agree with the statement, but even in saying that, it doesn't mean I don't struggle with it.  

Primary ≠ Only

Yes, I agree that parents are the primary faith trainers of their children.  The discipling of kids falls first to the family God has placed them in.  Parents spend the most time with their kids (... and vice versa).  This can be good or bad depending on how intentional parents are with the everyday, teachable moments God gives them to point their kids to God's grace.

But what that statement can't and doesn't mean is that parents are the only people involved in their child's spiritual formation.  Parents aren't born knowing how to parent.  They need support.  They need encouragement.  They need training.  This is best found in community.  The kids need to see that what Mom and Dad are (hopefully) teaching and modeling, can be lived out everyday and is, not just by them but other adults as well.

Part of life in community with other believers means loving one another (Eph. 4:2), encouraging one another (1 Thess. 5:18, Heb. 10:25), teaching and admonishing one another (Col. 3:16), and exhorting one another (Heb. 3:13).  Parents need this from those who have gone before them.  Kids need this from those willing to walk with them.

Also, consider the kid from the neighborhood who doesn't have Christian parents. The boy who was invited to Youth Group, or the girl who showed up to church. Yes, the church has a responsibility to reach out to the parents, but even if the parents are converted, they are ill-equipped to disciple their children well at that stage. This can also be accomplished by bringing them into the family of God.  We are all adopted into God's family (Rom. 8:23, 1 John 3:1-3).  We, as the church, walk alongside this student and become their spiritual family.  We make sure there are people they can go to who are there for them.  It could be the family who invited them.  It could be a couple who feels called to love and lead them.

Yes, "family ministry" has its challenges.  Thankfully, those challenges aren't bigger than our God's power and strength.