Family Challenge

“We should no longer procrastinate with inaction nor remain silent. To remain so would be blatant.”

“The Church must effectively rise to give the needed priority to family discipleship in their “ministry agenda” and urgently develop the “equipping capacity” in response to this.”

God’s Plan

God & Family

THE foundational biblical understanding stated in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and also in Genesis 18:18-19, Deuteronomy 11:18-20, as well as in Ephesians 6:4, is; that parents are primarily responsible for the spiritual training of children.

God created the family as the primary “institution” to extend faith training to the next generation. It is in our homes where we practice hospitality, generosity, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, love, and all other aspects of adherence to God’s Word and its teachings. The classroom of the Church, whether age-segregated or not, does not allow for the real-life application of Scriptural principles.

Therefore, the state of health of the home is a key success factor of the Church and it should greatly matter to us.

Family & Church

God calls the Church to equip its members for “the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12), including how they should minister at home – helping them to have the needed skills and resources to undertake their roles.

Besides being the “equipper”, the Church is our “extended” family. It is the Body of Christ.

Facing Crises

Family Crisis

More often than not, we find ourselves ministering in an environment where family systems are breaking down at an alarming rate – a situation that had persisted over many years and is expected to get worse, rather than better, in the future.

When we are confronted by national statistics on divorce and other damaging situations that families face, we often ponder how the families in our church really fare in comparison to the national paradigm. Many of us have first-hand experiences of walking with church leaders and members through their very own crippling family struggles.

Ministry Crisis

Though the global Church invests much in disciple-making in its response to the Great Commission call of God, often this process excludes discipleship of its members as to how they live as disciples of Jesus at home.

Global opinion polls clearly indicate that discipleship of the home is usually not a priority in the ministry agenda of the Church leaders. We tend to stay away from asking how our leaders and members are living at home.

The prevailing ministry to families in the church is one that is predominantly reactive in mode (in handling family conflicts). It should rather be a pre-emptive and pro-active involving systematic discipleship of Christians, to live godly relationships within the home and outside of it.   

Though it is hard to gauge the exact impacts of family problems on the Church, we do know for sure that “hurting families” hurt the Church and retard its capacity to bring forward the dynamics of being the “Salt and the Light” to the world.

Urgent Call

With many struggling to live according to the design of God at home within the church community, it makes us wonder how we could possibly build the kind of Church that not only withstands the trials of the last days but also thrive in them?

The question that the Psalmist asks in Psalm 11:3, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”, is also ours to ask – as we face the future of the Church, especially when we are witnessing the massive exodus of the millennial generation from faith to prodigal nothingness.

The need to stem the rapidly rising and insidious tide of crosswinds coming forth from dysfunctional homes calls for our urgent intervention now. 

We should no longer procrastinate with inaction nor remain silent. To remain so would be blatant.

The Church must effectively rise to give the needed priority to family discipleship in their “ministry agenda” and urgently develop the “equipping capacity” in response to this.

Moving Forward: Strengthening Family Discipleship Culture

Right Culture

A common tendency of a church leader who has embraced God’s vision and call to develop family discipleship is to hastily source for a programme or two to serve as an immediate band-aid solution to ease the urgency and need of the hour.  

This is a good stop-gap response as it helps ease the urgency of the situation. However, a much better and long-term response would be to cultivate the right church culture that focuses on the discipleship of its members. This includes building the key pillars of a biblically functional home (marriage, parenting, home leadership, faith development, matters of sexuality, family resource management, aged care, and others) with additional family equipping programmes as an adjunct.  

Culture consists of those fundamental beliefs of family discipleship that drive appropriate ministry practices (including programmes) that meet the needs of the corporate church and the home (the domestic church) in their endeavours to be disciples. 

Therefore, the aim of building the family discipleship culture is to identify and establish the appropriate beliefs that undergird the commitment to such discipleship. Once these are firmly rooted among the Church leadership and congregation, the right practices, including finding out the right needs and the related programmes based on these beliefs will naturally follow.

Overall Focus

Our focus is on building the right Church culture (beliefs and practices) for family discipleship to flourish in a local church.

There are two types of disciple-making cultures we are aiming to cultivate:

  1. Discipleship culture within the home. This refers to all that is taking place among the family members in the discipleship of the key pillars of a home.
  2. Family discipleship culture within the church. This is about the church equipping its families in building the discipleship culture at home.

Culture Shift

The shifts in beliefs and the new practices to introduce and establish the family discipleship cultures in the church and home are major.

Hence, to succeed in such endeavors, there is a critical need for us to design a “culture-change” management process that is appropriate for the local church and the home. This involves the following phases:

  1. To create a church-wide sense of urgency.
  2. To engage and empower the whole church.
  3. To implement and sustain the culture change.

Ministry Supports

Drawing from our many years of experience, our team provides the following support in building the family discipleship culture in your church.

Creating churchwide awareness and a sense of urgency

  • To conduct the ‘Family Discipleship Advocacy programme’. This covers detailed studies of the theology of the family and empirical research findings on the critical importance of family discipleship in the church.
  • To equip the local church with the above programme.
  • To train the church in planning for and conducting the Churchwide Conversation programme. This involves the family needs survey and the practical steps in implementing the churchwide family discipleship campaign.
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Planning for and implementing of the family discipleship culture

To train Master Trainers in the ‘Strengthening the Family Discipleship Culture programme.’ This involves a 24-month process that consists of the following:

  • Teaching sessions. These cover the ‘why’, ‘what’, and ‘how’ of building the culture
  • Practicum. This consists of small group family discipleship experiences and designing and implementing the new culture change process for a local church.

About Us

Family Challenge is a global strategic collaboration that aims to transform communities around the globe by partnering with the church body to disciple families according to God’s design to be agents of change, impacting their communities for Christ.

Vision

Rise of national family discipleship movements with national leadership and network churches jointly and actively championing biblically functional families.

  • See the formation of national leadership teams who will bring to fruition the above vision for their nations.
  • See a shift in culture within the leadership of each local church to embrace a biblical theology of the family, augment the health of the families within their churches, and systematically equip believers to live for Christ within their homes.
  • See family champions being raised up in churches to mentor and equip others in the area of family life.
  • See a culture shift in individual families where married couples grow strong in marriage, parents assume their roles as primary mentors for their children’s development and spiritual growth, children are holistically and systematically developed within an effective infrastructure, and the family impacts its community with its lifestyle.

Mission

To partner with the national alliances in supporting their network churches in the development of effective family discipleship as an integral part of their corporate discipleship structure.

Ministry Teams

Global Facilitator

Pastor Matthew Ling currently provides global leadership to WEA Family Challenge. He was the Senior Pastor at Calvary Family Church in Malaysia for 20 years before stepping down in 2013 to focus fully on serving churches in developing effective family discipleship ministry. A Certified Family Life Educator and a professional member of the National Council of Family Relations (U.S.), he is also a licensed trainer with the Family Friendly Partners Network ministry of Michigan, U.S.A. Married to Rose for over 44 years, they have two married sons and are grandparents to one granddaughter.

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Global Teams

The organization’s structure consists of the Global Advisory team and the regional and national facilitation teams.

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