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Wednesday
Jul272011

watch your language! {non} traditional families

as you may know, i have a slight interest in inspiring church leaders to think about better ways to serve and love {non} traditional families in our churches. people often ask why i care so much about this conversation, and i usually reply that it's because i've personally seen too many of my friends {who are part of non traditional families} excluded from the church. several of my friends are raising children, and have a deep desire for them to be part of a church community, but their churches continually exclude them {and, sometimes unintentionally} from participating in parenting resources, while offering little encouragement in their parenting journey. i desperately wish this were different, and am committed to inspiring something new.

i love the attention currently being given to family ministry in the church. there are more resources, conferences, and books available than ever before! and yet, it oftentimes feels to me like the church targets most of it's energy towards the traditional family {1 mom + 1 dad}. empowering the traditional family to raise their children spiritually is a fantastic effort, and always worthy of the attention. but these days, there are more than just traditional families in our churches {regardless of what we believe about single, divorced, or gay parents raising children}. and, what's so fantastic and wonderful about {non} traditional parents in our churches is that they too are very interested in raising spiritually strong children.

single parents, grandparents, gay parents, divorced parents, and widowed parents in our churches are seeking to learn and be encouraged in their parenting. and, sometimes a simple adjustment in our language can communicate value and commitment to these families. if you're seeking to relate to all parents in your church, consider your language. oftentimes, i'll hear church leaders say during a parenting seminar, "the greatest gift we can give our children is a strong marriage." by making this simple statement, we immediately eliminate a majority of parents in our churches from the conversation. while yes, a godly marriage is wonderful, i think the greatest gift we can give our children is a godly parent. by making this simple tweak in our language, we'll include far more parents into the conversation.

also, as we watch our language: let's be mindful of saying to children, "ask your parents, or ask your mom and dad." i've been in too many situations where i've seen a look of pain on a child's face after hearing this. instead, if you  don't know the child ask, "who will you see at home today that you can ask?" or, better yet, if you know the child, tweak your language to accurately reflect his life.

watching our language is about including all parents in the journey of raising spiritually strong children. when we are not mindful of our language, or choose to use language that applies to a very small group of families, we should expect very small results-small groups of parents responding to our initiatives.

i'll be discussing this topic further on the upcoming cmconnect radio show. join me and wayne stocks august 11 for an exciting conversation!

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