In latest Alumni Academy course, Timothy Paul Jones addresses family ministry
The call to disciple the next generation belongs to parents, said The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Timothy Paul Jones during the most recent Alumni Academy course, Jan. 9-10.
Jones, who in addition to his role as professor of leadership and church ministry is editor of the Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry, is the author of Family Ministry Field Guide: How the Church Can Equip Patents to Make Disciples, which provided much of the content and structure for the two-day course.
Recognizing the gap that exists between what Scripture demands of parents and what is actually happening in the homes of Christian families, Jones encouraged those in attendance — which consisted primarily of pastors and youth ministers — to teach the parents in their churches, especially the fathers, how to disciple their children according to the expectations that Scripture places on parents. The way to do this is to create a ministry driven by grace, rather than a ministry driven by prescription.
The importance of grace in family ministry is why, Jones said, the instructions given to parents in Deuteronomy 6 did not work.
“Deuteronomy 6 is not wrong, but it’s not enough, because it’s not the whole story,” Jones said. “Jesus delivered all that God’s law and justice demanded,” Jones said. Pastors, preachers and youth ministers should not, then, “proclaim Deuteronomy 6, saying ‘Do this, do this, do this,’ without also turning towards Christ, in whom all is done already.”
On the other hand, Jones urged those in attendance to avoid telling church members that “whatever you’re doing [in family worship] is okay,” but rather that God has provided means — through the church, the Spirit and the Scriptures — to pursue faithfulness in raising children.
“We want to proclaim to our people the fullness of the story that is centered in one God, a story of grace and a story that’s passed from generation to generation,” Jones said. “That’s the big picture of what we want to happen in family ministry.”
During the first night of the two-day course, Southern Seminary professors James M. Hamilton Jr. and Thomas J. Nettles joined Jones for a panel discussion about family worship, with the Hamilton and Jones families modeling how they each do family worship, respectively.
“I learned from Don Whitney [another professor at Southern Seminary] that we ought to read the Bible, pray the Bible and sing the Bible,” Hamilton said, as he led his family in reading a Psalm, a New Testament passage, singing the doxology, reciting the Apostles’ Creed and praying the Lord’s Prayer.
Jones led his family through a reading in Hamilton’s recent children’s book, The Big Story of the Bible, a reading and subsequent discussion from the Gospel of Matthew and then a time of family prayer.
Steve and Candice Watters, authors of Start Your Family and founders Boundless a webzine for teenagers, led the first session on Friday morning about helping young adults move toward marriage. The next session featured a discussion between Randy Stinson, senior vice president for academic administration and provost of Southern Seminary, and David E. Prince, assistant professor of Christian preaching, about using sports as a means of discipleship for kids.
Alumni Academy offers ministry enhancement and ongoing theological learning to the institution’s alumni free of charge. For a nominal fee, attendees may bring members of their church staff with them.
The next scheduled Alumni Academy course will feature Boyce College dean Dan DeWitt teaching through his forthcoming book, Jesus OR Nothing, May 22-23, 2014. More information about Alumni Academy is available at events.sbts.edu.