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Regardless of a family’s status, godly principles needed, he says

GREEN LAKE, Wis. (BP)–Just because mom, pop and the kids no longer make up a typical American household doesn’t mean Christians should stop ministering to families, said Jerry Vogel, lead childhood ministry specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Citing statistics about American families, Vogel told a conference on “Dealing with Trends Affecting Today’s Families” that children today are growing up in a world very different from what their parents experienced. Half of children in the United States are living in homes that don’t include a “married couple family with both biological parents,” he said.

And as personal computers, cellular phones and other technologies become increasingly popular, parents seem to be spending less time with their children, he said.

“There’s no getting around the fact that the formula ‘L-O-V-E equals T-I-M-E,” Vogel said. “That’s always been the formula, and it always will be.”

But many families these days pay little attention to such a formula, he said in the family conference which was part of the Kingdom@Work Church Leadership Development event July 1-5 at Green Lake (Wis.) Conference Center. Sponsored by LifeWay and designed for leaders of all ministry areas, the event offered sessions on leadership development, Sunday school, personal enrichment, music, drama, special education and preschool, children, youth/student and adult age groups.

“The two-parent family still exists, but it’s not the norm anymore,” Vogel said. “…We want to uphold the biblical example, but folks, that’s not what we’ve got.”

Underscoring the importance of “how a family functions,” Vogel encouraged church leaders to be aware of the characteristics of a healthy family and put them into practice in their own households characterized by commitment; communication; an ability to cope with crises and taught in their churches.

Healthy families, Vogel said, are an appreciative, affirming attitude; shared activities; and a practiced faith.

Living out these characteristics in front of children can be an even more influential testimony than words, Vogel said.

“It’s very difficult for a child to believe and trust in a God they cannot see if they cannot trust in the people they can see,” he said. Therefore, promises, open minds and a willingness to listen are very important for parents and those who teach children.

Vogel also offered several suggestions for churches seeking to enrich their children’s ministry, including open communication with parents; developing a support ministry for children and their parents; providing special helps and training opportunities for parents; and including parents in ministry planning.

By doing so, Vogel believes churches and parents alike can get closer to living out God’s biblical plan.

“It’s important to help parents because our model for children to learn about God is that it happened in the family,” he said. “It’s amazing to me that if we just get back to the basics and back to the Bible, God knows what keeps us safe and gets us through.”

Approximately 300 people attended the Kingdom@Work conference, sponsored by LifeWay’s Church Resources division.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: HOMES STILL NEED HELP.

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  • Mandy Crow