A. Five Findings/Observations/Conclusions:
1. The recognition of the need to change the church-family perspective. Strong families make strong churches and not the other way round. We need to move from “church-centred, home supported” to “home-centred, church supported.” Moreover, many of our church activities are segmented. Instead of promoting family bonding through serving together, we have been segregating them by age and types of ministry. We are inspired to be the agent of change and should take the lead in the process of this paradigm shift.
2. Authenticity of the gospel must be lived out at home. Family after God’s own heart has to be grounded on God’s own word. Family is the place for gospel experience and demonstration. Marriage and parenting are in the creation plan. Parents are the primary influencers of the next generation.
3. Awareness of the seriousness of inadequate family ministry. In our busyness of our unending church programmes, we have neglected to invest our effort in generational disciple making. Parents are the key persons in making generational disciples but the churches have not been equipping our parents for such role. Calling back our lost children requires the cost of our lives. The challenge is “are we willing?”
4. The urgency of capturing the 0-12 year-old group in the development of the whole being. Faith formation starts young. We always feel the need to invest our resources in teenagers without realizing that we are only trying to remedy the outcome of our poor ministry among the 0-12 year-olds, the period of development of the whole being. The church must shift the role of the faith formation of our children to the parents while the Sunday School shall also focus more on the spiritual formation rather than imparting intellectual knowledge in its curriculum.
5. The obligation to assist in improving the welfare of families in our nation as a whole. Besides upholding the sanctity of the family in church, the church must remember its role in the social principles under the family and marriage by sharing our resources.
B. Five proposals for adoption and application by AC or local church
1. Change the way we think in church-family perspective. Form teams to inspire and motivate the church to change by communicating the values and advantage of the change. It shall be done at all levels from Annual Conference to Local conference by imparting the new insights received. The teams shall also promote the awareness of the seriousness of our inadequate family ministry and share the ways to enhance this ministry.
2. The Board of Laity shall co-ordinate with other Boards, in particular the Counselling and Family Wellness Board and the Board of Christian Education, concerning generational disciplemaking. Such collaboration shall aim to produce a holistic strategy in capturing the group from 0-12 years old in their faith formation. Parents as the prime disciplers must be well equipped by the church. More resources must be invested in the Sunday School. It is not just imparting knowledge but working in partnership with their parents.
3. An effective family ministry must be incorporated in every local church. Marriage and Parenting Courses, counselling and intergenerational activities must be actively promoted. Resources from Alpha Malaysia, Focus on the Family and No Apologies shall be widely utilized. Post marriage mentoring by spiritual couples for the newly wedded shall be realized. Local healthy family campaign can be organized.
4. The importance of preservation of the sanctity of family must be reminded and emphasized at all levels. Suggested platforms are training for clergy and church leaders, pulpit ministry, prayer meetings, small groups, seminar, campaign and retreat.
5. Availability of free counselling and courses on strengthening families in every district shall be organized regularly. Such facilities shall also be made available to the community around us. We shall be “being church, doing life” in this ministry.