What Should a Family Pastor Do?

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It’s Orange Week! Scroll to the bottom to read more about that and the connection with this post.

The role of Family Pastor / NextGen Pastor is somewhat new in the church. I’m referring to a staff person who is responsible for leading a staff team of people that oversee children and student ministries, from birth through high school (or college). Because the role is somewhat new and is rapidly becoming more popular, there is a question that is often raised about the position.

What Should a Family Pastor Do?

This question is asked by some people who are interested in the role, but more often it’s asked by those who serve in it. They’re trying to figure out exactly what it is they should be doing and how they can best use their time and talent. Here is my take on what a Family Pastor should do in order to best serve their church.

Lead & Unify The Team

Ultimately a Family Pastor is tasked with leading the family ministry staff team. The goal is to not have silos and instead of one team that’s unified. In talking with another NextGen Pastor recently he mentioned how his team felt really unified. Specifically he said he could probably ask his Student Pastor to fill in and lead Preschool for a year and he’d say yes. Not because he’d like it, but because the team is what’s most important.

What does this look like?

Meetings. As Reggie Joiner says, “you can’t be on the same page if you’re not in the same room”. A Family Pastor should be in a meetings. A lot. Not meetings that are a waste of time. Meetings that unify the team where you celebrate, learn, and grow together.

Coach & Develop Team Members

This is true of all leaders, but Family Pastors should make their team members better. It’s our job to coach and develop the family ministry staff team so they can reach their potential.

What does this look like?

This, too, involves meetings. Here we’re meeting with individual team members to encourage, evaluate and challenge them get better. Outside of meetings we’re giving them opportunities to step up and lead in big ways. We’re holding them accountable to goals they set regularly. A Family Pastor is doing their job well if everyone on their team gets better and gets the credit.

Lead Up

The Family Pastor should be the biggest champion of family ministry to the rest of the staff team, including their boss and/or the leadership team of the church. Ideally a Family Pastor sits on the executive leadership of a church, but granted, I’m biased.

What does this look like?

This looks like hard conversations with whoever leads us. Sometimes we’re bringing up something that was overlooked as it relates to family ministry and it’s not an easy conversation to have. Sometimes we’re fighting for something because of the family ministry impact and there will be conflict, hopefully healthy conflict. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that our first team should be the one we serve on, not the one we lead.

Champion the Key Principles

The book Think Orange outlines a framework for creating and leading a great family ministry. Orange has tweaked the language some since the book was written, landing on the following 5 phrases:

  • Align Leaders
  • Refine the Message
  • Engage Parents
  • Elevate Community
  • Influence Service

I believe the Family Pastor should be the biggest champion of those 5 principles and they should work to ensure their ministry does them well.

What does this look like?

As Family Pastors we should cast vision for the importance of each of those principles. Small groups for kids and students should be central. We must regularly evaluate how we’re partnering with parents and seek to do better. One way a Family Pastor does this is by monitoring the transitions and milestones because they are important times where parents can re-engage. In a given month a Family Pastor is probably working specifically in making sure one or more of those principles is being strengthened.

Orange Week!

Orange has been a tremendous help in serving Family Pastors and me in particular. I’ve learned how to do each point in this post better because of their influence. Orange is an organization and it’s a strategy, and that organization provides curriculum based on that strategy. Our church has used Orange since we started almost 10 years ago. The Orange Conference is one of my favorite experiences each year as thousands of family ministry leaders gather to learn, connect and grow together.

Register by February For Orange Credit

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  • Love this post, keep these kind a coming. That is my personal request. Would love to hear more on the monitoring the transitions and milestones. What are you hearing is being successful? Tools being used? Systems and processes developed?

    • Thanks, Todd. Those are good questions. For us it’s about the specific plays we run for each transition and milestone. I’ll plan on sharing some of that here in the future.