Top Ten Mistakes Family Ministries Make


Top Ten Mistakes Family Ministries Make

As churches look to expand their parent ministry, we can always learn from those who’ve gone before us- the “what to do and what not to do.” So today, we give you some inside tips on what to avoid.  Here are the top ten mistakes family ministries make.

10. “NO WAY, NO HOW”: Not Using Parents as Leaders.

It is a mistake to approach family ministry as a ministry TO families and not a ministry WITH families. Involving parents in the life of their family is not only about home life, but also church life. Utilizing a parent as a leader in the areas of ministry where their children or teenagers are involved can be a huge blessing to the parent, the child/student, and even to you as a leader.

9. YOU DON’T SAY”: Not Communicating Ministry Well?

Sometimes what we don’t say is just as powerful as what we do say. When we claim to value families and family ministry but do little to communicate it, we’re actually communicating that we don’t believe in what we are saying.  We need to communicate clearly, strategically, and often – about our vision, strategy, and plans. In the busy lives of the modern family, you can never communicate too much.

8. “HOW ABOUT NEVER”: Never Having Parent Meetings?

Parent meetings are keys to unlocking the door of family ministry. It is a time to communicate face-to-face, answer questions, invite involvement and have some fun! Parent meetings need to be more than stiff, formal informational meetings. They can also be a great way to gather families for fun and connection.

7. “HOWDY PARTNER”: Making It a Program about Families and not a Partnership with Families? 

When a family ministry is a program, it is just one more thing on a long list of other things families have competing for their time. When a family ministry is a partnership, it quickly becomes a priority in a family’s schedule. This is ideal because it will come alongside the list of other things. A program is an event you show up to, while a partnership is an ongoing life connection.

6. “HOME SWEET HOME”: Never Having a ‘Take Home’ Application?

This means something more than a paper handout that gets thrown away at the front door of the church or shoved under the back seat of the mini-van. Having a take-home application is intentionally planning and discussing real-life actions steps. Whether it is a parent meeting, small group, or Sunday school class, do more than give homework papers. Take the time to proactively talk and think about how you can apply what is talked about.  

5. “DIVIDE AND CONQUER”: Never Allowing Families to Worship Together?

While there is a need for age-specific classes and small groups, there is also a need for families to be together with their faith-family, worshipping and learning. There should never be a time when a service should be defined as an “adult” service or “big” church. Family worship should always be an option.  

4. “MR./MRS. FIX-IT-ALL”: Assuming it is Your Job to Fix Families?

Your job is not to be the fix-all for every family and every problem. The assumption that a family ministry offers a solution for every problem is a false one. People will come to your church seeking for you to save their marriage or their family. Only God can fix and save a marriage and a family.

3.TEAMWORK, MAKES THE DREAM WORK”: Not Making Family Ministry a Whole Church Thing?

Family ministry is not just a children’s ministry or a youth ministry thing. It is a whole church thing. From the senior pastor to the administrative assistant, the whole team needs to believe and buy into family ministry. It is not just one person, or one area of ministry, that makes family ministry work in a church.

2. “KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES”: Setting an Unreal Expectation of the Perfect Family?

Family ministry is not about teaching people how to be the perfect, happy, model family. Family ministry is about teaching people how to be holy, despite their imperfections, as they seek to model Christ.

1. FAMILY TIES: Not Minister to Your Own Family Well! 

The biggest family ministry mistake is leading without ties to your own family. Or leading other families, while not leading your own. Just like any other area of ministry, but especially in family ministry, as leaders, we need to minister to our own family first. The most successful family ministries are not led by an individual, but by a whole family ministering together to other families.

Dan Istvanik has been working in youth ministry for 25 years, serving in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC.  He is a speaker, ministry coach, writer, and contributor to other ministry resources. You can contact Dan at, where he shares student ministry resources.


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For more posts and podcasts on family ministry, check out:

How to Respond to Angry Parents in your Family Ministry

#029: Why Family Ministry Matters

How to Start and Build a Ministry for Parents (The M2P Roadmap)

Why Should Small Group Leaders Care About Parents?

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