Thank you for the questions! Here's our first...
What advice do you have for pastoring to multiple generations of the same family? I have found it to be the most challenging part of my ministry. Weddings bring up complicated dynamics between young adults and their parents. Illnesses bring up complicated issues between adult children and their aging parents. Even young parents with young children can be a challenge if you see them doing things that seem unproductive or unhealthy. It's hard not to take sides, when one generation isn't being fair and the other is. But when you're everyone's pastor, that seems to lead to trouble.
Muthuh+ was our only matriarch available to respond this week:
This can be difficult. I always thought that having different generations was more of a help than a hindrance. But what I hear in the question is a need to “fix” the problems that you see in families rather than turning their eyes to Christ. In the congregations that I have served, it was often other parents or other parishioners who helped the younger families learn how to parent. If the pastor is the only one doing this, you could be manipulated by one side or the other.
There is always dysfunction in families. Nothing short of intensive psychological counseling will change that. The pastor’s work is to help them bring a vision of Christ into their own lives. Don’t confuse pastoring with being a therapist unless you are one. And even then, make sure that you stay out of the family dynamics because you will be used by one generation to get at the other. Neither side will appreciate what you are doing. The role of the pastor is not to fix families, but to help them focus on God’s love.
Each time you get in-between family members you are failing to allow God to work in that family. Keep calling individuals to respond to their better selves as their response to Christ. You might suggest therapy if that is what is needed but don’t you try to do it. On your part, it is like watching a child learn to walk: you must allow them to fall so that they will learn. Your job is to model trusting in God.
With that said, if you find that there is something illegal or abusive going on, you are required to intervene in many states. In this case, I would first check with your judicatory reps as to what the rulings are or check with a good lawyer first before you do report abusive behavior. It is better to be safe than sorry.
I'm sure that many of our readers have some experience with ministry to multiple generations of the same family. I hope you'll share them with us...just use the Post a Comment function to add your two cents.
May you live in God's amazing grace+
photo courtesy of palmettofamilylife.com