Ministry in the Family

Teach Your Children Christ

God designed the home for ministry. This is a fact that can be easily overlooked as families set about the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The kids need to get to this event, mom has this meeting, dad is running late from work. The struggles never seem to cease. Even when the family is collected all together, it can be a temptation for mom and dad to simply let them be. A quiet, or occupied household can often be a treasured treat. And yet, the Lord tells us that the home is for more than just running errands, making it to practice, doing chores, etc. The Lord created the home for intimate, gospel-centered ministry. Read these words about parenting…

...that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:2-7)

From this text, we need to see three things. [Read more…]

Common Misconceptions 

Parkwood’s purpose is to glorify God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all peoples. At the core of that purpose is discipleship, maturing disciples within the church or making disciples without. The Growth Group is the primary means of discipleship at Parkwood. Several common misconceptions about the church, though, may negatively affect one’s engagement in Growth Groups. These misconceptions may be felt by Christians and non-Christians and rest in ignorance, in the flesh, or in tradition. The follower of Christ is then behooved to correct wrong thinking and encourage others to join in disciple-making. To this end, consider several misconceptions that hinder discipleship.

1. The church is too big.

The church is not too big, and such a misconception often reveals two flaws. First, the complaint originates from a personal perspective rather than a gospel perspective. What is meant by such a statement is that the numerical size of the membership presents larger crowds than one personally prefers or than one is traditionally accustomed. This complaint is counter to the ministry and work of the gospel. If the size of crowd is legitimately problematic, then simply moving to a different local body would be a sufficient solution. Criticizing the church as too big, however, argues that it is too big for my preference, which is fundamentally a wrong perspective. Second, this complaint misses the purposes of Growth Groups. The Growth Group is the natural solution to the large church since they provide a small group inside the larger church. Regardless how large the local church grows, the Growth Group is always a place to engage, to know everyone, and to be accountable and show accountability. The Growth Group is the small congregation inside the larger one.  [Read more…]

Why We Don’t Send Our Students to Summer Camp

A vast number of churches send students to summer camp every year. An array of options and destinations exist, some classic, some clichéd, and some creative. Some camp options we find like-minded, while others we find ludicrous. But we don’t send our students to summer camp. To be clear, we recognize that many summer camps are doing great work for the kingdom; and we are not opposing them, nor do we think ourselves better than them. The reason we don’t send students to summer camp has less to do with summer camps and more to do with our church and our purpose for hosting our own. We don’t send students to summer camp because we want to do our own camp. And we want to do our own camp for five reasons:

1. We want to equip our students for life and godliness. 

Of course many summer camps make the discipleship of students their primary goal, but we must acknowledge that many do not. Our desire, though, goes beyond seeing that Parkwood students are equipped. We don’t simply want them to be equipped; we want to equip them. Parkwood believes it is the family’s responsibility to equip their students and the church’s responsibility to partner with families in the discipleship of students for life and godliness. We could do that by sending our students to a summer camp, but we prefer to disciple them ourselves by hosting our own summer camp. 

2. We are accountable. 

We are accountable for our students, for our resources, and to our purpose. Accountable to our students, we are committed to pursuing their discipleship and being personally involved in equipping them for life and godliness. Being blessed with resources sufficient to host a camp, we are accountable to use those resources for the glory of God and the equipping of His church, and we believe that providing a quality summer camp that seeks the discipleship of students is a worthy use of those resources. Finally, with the purpose of glorifying God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people, hosting a summer camp is exactly an opportunity to labor together both for growth and for sending. 

3. Summer camp is ministry development. 

As previously acknowledged, quality summer camps no doubt exist, but hosting our own allows us to include ministry development as a significant and strategic element of camp. By hosting our own summer camp, we are actively choosing an avenue for training. Each year we employ interns and summer ministry staff that are trained and developed through the preparation and execution of summer camp. We might see our students discipled if we send them to a quality camp, but if we host our own, then we can disciple our students while employing ministry development through the ministry of conducting camp. 

4. Summer camp is leadership development. 

Summer camp provides us with the opportunity for leadership development at multiple layers. Electing to host our own summer camp places the expectation and responsibility upon pastoral staff to make camp a successful event. Responsibilities that would otherwise be expected of others fall at the feet of our staff. Secondarily, significant weight is placed on interns and summer ministry staff. In a traditional summer camp setting, they may be passive chaperones. In this setting, they are being prepared as leaders. Finally, this context for summer camp extends ministry and leadership development to students. Leadership development remains a strategic focus as our leadership intimately interacts with our students. Summer camp is immediately an opportunity to communicate expectation for leadership, identify leadership potential, and begin or continue leadership development. 

5. Summer camp is fun. 

We enjoy summer camp. We enjoy being together, doing ministry together, and modeling community. The fault of a poor summer camp is likely that too much value is placed on fun and entertaining students to the neglect of discipleship and the training of students in godliness. This fault does not mean, though, that we cannot do both. We believe that discipleship and the training of students in godliness must remain the highest priority, but a proper focus on discipleship and training need not eliminate enjoyment. While summer camp is a lot of work, hosting our own camp is a lot of fun. And it’s been a fun week!

New Growth Group Material

Parkwood unveils new sermon-based Growth Group material today. This new material has one component – Bible Study Guides – designed for everyone and a second component – GG Leader Guides – designed for Growth Group leaders. Each of these Guides will be available one week in advance of the text being preached and studied in GGs during the week. For example, I will preach ‘The Death of John the Baptist’ next Sunday, February 7, so Bible Study Guides and GG Leader Guides are available today in the lobby and downstairs, on the website, and on the City so that you can begin preparing this week for next week’s sermon and next week’s GG discussion.

The theological and methodological inspiration for sermon-based GG material comes from the desire that increasing numbers of people would be equipped to study their Bibles and engaged in GG discipleship. To this end, Bible Study Guides introduce a text of Scripture and teach the student of the Word to study the text through several basic steps of Bible study: observe, ask, gospel, apply, and share. These Study Guides secondarily lead the Bible student through a set of discussion questions that will focus on the primary point of the text from a biblical theology perspective. 

Visual inspiration for the annotated steps of Bible study, while typical of basic hermeneutics (art and science of Bible interpretation) and foundational to exegetical (authority residing in the text and meaning coming from the text rather than being read into the text) study of the Scriptures, originated from an excellent article written by Marshall Segal at desiringGod.org. Segal’s goal is similar to our goal of equipping Christians to study the Scriptures, and his article is also written for the context of small group discipleship. For further preparation, consider reading his article Six Questions to Ask When Studying the Bible in a Group

This new strategy for Growth Group material carries massive potential for the growth of all believers, and I am sincerely encouraged and excited as we begin to make this available today. I pray you will be encouraged as you avail yourself of it, that this material will be as beneficial to you and your GGs as we expect and hope.