Written by Dave Carl, Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church
In part one of this discussion, we talked about change (Change is Inevitable… Direction is Optional). In the second, we talked about the direction our Family Ministry is heading and has been heading in for some years now (This Change in Direction Is Important). But I have left the meat for last. I want to talk about some of the changes and direction and that will impact our plans. I also want to dive into some new programs we will be launching going forward.
If you are going to build a home, you need to decide what materials you want to work with. There are many to choose from. Brick, stone façade, wood or straw—mud bricks are even an option, but… Now some of these things are better building materials than others. It would be wise to use the right stuff for the right purpose. The same is true for forming a disciple. Legalism is toxic though very measurable and controllable. We don’t want any of that in our plan. Anxiety to perform is a crazy maker and a close cousin to legalism. Let’s say NO to that too.
The stuff that will help in forming a disciple who loves God includes relationship, lots of time invested in smaller groups—the smaller the better, in fact—walking through life together, authentic sharing of thoughts and dreams, discussion of the things that the Bible says and how we can integrate them into the way we live and the things we pursue. Because of this, we have a bit of an ethos in Family Ministry for raising up disciples. Smaller Is Better. Love for God and others is much more like a contact contagion that is best spread person to person rather than an airborne broadcast. Information can be effectively broadcast, but life-altering love for God is best done “one on one” or “one on some”. It is transferred by hearing stories and asking personal questions, even intimate questions of what one thinks, what struggles were experienced, and what thoughts and feeling were had in the process. Intimate conversation is the best condition for this contagion to spread and take hold. Smaller Is Better. Having a big bunch of crazy fun (also an important part of ministry) can be done in large numbers. To throw a great church potluck, the more the better, but to help a soul surrender to the Holy Spirit, to get personal direction on the journey of discipleship with Jesus —Smaller Is Better. We do both big and small but for different and intentional reasons.
In Family Ministry, we have chosen to have fewer big events where a big-name guest speaker comes in to deliver a good talk. The long-range impact of this model is nearly imperceptible. We will instead have more small gatherings to work through issues together. We will have fewer flashy events designed to bring in outsiders for one night of spectacle and more smaller events over a long period of time where we can get to know each other and learn to love each other better while we strive to love God more. This does not mean less fun. I LOVE fun stuff. We will have fun in both larger and smaller settings.
Unlike in years past, this summer, we will have Summer Midweek every Wednesday night of the summer. We will have smaller, grade-specific special events that can happen in smaller numbers with less manpower but with more impact on the students. One of the big things we plan to retire going forward is Vacation Bible School. We will not have VBS again at Stonebriar. This has been a perennial favorite in many churches, long before I was a kid (a long time ago). I enjoyed it, and so did my own kids. It has, however, been one week of our church calendar that literally takes months to plan for and prep for, and it has been expensive to pull off. We want to do more but do it with less. Instead of one single week in the summer where all efforts are focused on two and a half hours a night for four nights, we will have many smaller, more effective events in its place. I am going to miss VBS. But I am much more enthusiastic about the several smaller things that we will be adding this summer instead, all of which will have more effect and less drain.
I know it is sad to say goodbye to a thing that has been a staple year after year, but our culture has changed, and the families and what they want and need has changed too. Therefore, the way we can best serve them and lead them toward discipleship in Christ needs to change as well. Opting for more but smaller events is one way we can do that.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 1 John 4:11-13
This is not a random change. This is a thought-through, intentional part of our overall strategy. It may be disappointing to some, but I hope you will join us as we lean in to do better, more effective ministry to our teens on down to our infants, under the banner of Smaller Is Better.
Dave Carl is the Family Ministry Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church and is responsible for the ministry focusing on children birth through graduation and the parents who love them. With a ministry philosophy based on Luke 10:27, his primary focus is to give parents the skills to raise kids who truly love Jesus and want to serve others. Dave has a passion for ministering to families in crisis in our community. He has spent several years pouring into fathers and husbands and helping them learn that they need community, were designed to guard and protect, and that they really can be the spiritual leaders of their family.
Dave and his wife of 30 plus years, Cathy, have two adult children and one in high school and recently became grandparents for the first time. They are completely in love with this new member of their family. Dave is an avid woodworker and loves to write. He sees all stories in the form of pictures, and he would love to connect with you!