By NZ Rally Facilitator Tony Foster
One thing I am beginning to see as I travel New Zealand meeting Rallies is the importance of having whānau as part of our churches. When you stop and think about it, there is NO congregation that exists without a member of a family. Families are part of life—even with DNA you are linked to your family line.
We see in the Bible how important family lines are. In Matthew we see Jesus’ family line linked right back to Abraham. Being part of a family brings a sense of credibility, belonging, assurance, and a place where the real you is seen. Families are the context for laughter, guidance, correction, encouragement, and weeping; and this all leads to development.
Family, as God invented it, is what we are born into with grandparents, parents and siblings; but we are also part of God’s family as we meet together as churches.
How are you loving the families around you?
I think it is very important that we embrace the young families we have in our churches already and love them to bits, but we should also be reaching out to the families we live next to, the ones we connect with at work, school, sports, hobbies...
Jesus demonstrated his love for people by pointing them, and those around them, to our Heavenly Father, the one who meets their needs. We need to recognise the needs families have today and do what we can to fulfil them and how we can point them to God. It can be as simply as sittingdown and having a cuppa with them and listening, it can also be providing meals, baby-sitting etc.
There is another level of meeting needs I can see too—what would it look like for your church to host parenting skills evenings on a regular basis? The Parenting Place cover things like how to raise children, how to govern screen time on devices etc. and CAP have budgeting advice programs. There are other avenues as well like marriage courses and mental wellbeing support.
Imagine if we were a movement of churches offering parenting skills workshops alongside Rally? Parents could drop off kids and have some time to connect? Our point of connection is often the child—imagine if we made the effort to connect the family as a whole, parents and children?
Connection is key
Our movement has much to gain in embracing and supporting children and families outreach ministries like Rally. If we do, I believe we would see our churches full of people from every age range. I heard these statistics recently: 36% of children between 7—14 years of age will accept Jesus as their Saviour; it drops to 4% over the rest of their teen years and it comes back up to about 6% over the rest of their lifetime. What an opportunity we have to reach out to families while they have young children!
Connection is key; people are created by our Heavenly Father to be relational, yet we let busyness, devices, excuses and worry stop us connecting face-to-face. Māori culture is rich with family and togetherness, it is worth considering what we can learn from our Māori brothers and sisters in this area.
Are you keen?
Consider one or two things you can do to reach kids and their families in your church and community—maybe this issue of Rongopai has sparked something for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and how you are supporting and nurturing families in your corner of Aotearoa, New Zealand.