Linking Church and Family: Seminary Hosts First Family Ministry Conference

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) -- Southwestern Seminary hosted its first family ministry conference, Feb. 26-27. Titled “Connected: Families and Churches, Partners in Ministry,” the conference encouraged ministers to consider the central role of the family within the mission of the church, and it gave participants practical tools to implement family ministry.
 
“I do believe that what is happening in this room is historically important because the church really is now beginning to wake up to families,” Richard Ross, professor of student ministry, said during his first presentation at the conference.
 
According to Ross, the family exists primarily for the glory and adoration of God. Spouses are responsible to encourage each other to love God, and parents have the responsibility of raising their kids to love God. They should also encourage their children to allow Christ to live through them.
 
Scripture exhorts parents to tell their children about God’s truth, Ross said. If this does not happen, however, this truth can be lost. He recounted how the Israelites fell from the Lord only one generation after the death of Joshua and all those who had seen God bring the Israelites into the Promised Land.
 
“In the absence of faith at home,” Ross said, “do we really think church programs can make up the difference?” Ross then gave his audience principles for ministry that can help churches undergird the role of the family.
 
Southwestern Seminary’s family ministry conference also featured June Hunt, CEO and founder of Hope for the Heart Ministries. She performed some music during lunch on the first day of the conference and led a breakout session, titled “How to Forgive ... When You Don’t Feel Like It.”
 
According to Hunt, forgiveness is often misunderstood. She explained that she used to believe that it was wrong to forgive a person unless they genuinely repented because she would have just been letting the person off the hook. Instead, she explained, the biblical view of forgiveness concerns “dismissing a debt” and “releasing resentment.” While it takes two people for reconciliation, forgiveness is possible and healthy even if the offender is unrepentant.
 
During another presentation, President Paige Patterson claimed that a view of the family that has been common to Jews and Christians for hundreds and thousands of years has, in recent years, come under ever-increasing attack.
 
During his lecture, Patterson described and defended this view of the family. He summarized his perspective for his audience:
 
“God, in His infinite wisdom and benevolence, has prescribed the family as the basic unit of the social order, providing a rather specific functional and relational model, which if embraced pays significant dividends not only for the individual and the family, but also for all other aspects of the social order.”
 
Other speakers at Southwestern’s family ministry conference included Waylan Owens, dean of the Jack D. Terry Jr. School of Church and Family Ministries; Brian Haynes, associate pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas; Steve Hunter, executive director of Counseling Ministries at Hope for the Heart; and Ken Lasater of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

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