Why the number 33 is so important in family ministry

Last night many of us watched the Superbowl game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Each player had a number on his jersey – that’s important. Lots of statistics were shared from the broadcast booth – that’s important, too. Numbers were everywhere. Numbers are important.

The most important number in your church’s ministry to families is the number 33. In my experience, family ministry must be divided into thirds. Balanced family ministry looks like this:

  • 1/3 of your time, energy, and budget should be set aside for the group leaders – the men and women who teach the Bible to children and students weekly. And don’t forget those adults who lead short-term discipleship courses, missions, and those who volunteer to be camp counselors or VBS volunteers.
  • 1/3 of your time, energy, and budget should be set aside for the parents of the children and students in your family ministry. See your church as their primary partner in raising their children to love and walk with God.
  • 1/3 of your time, energy, and budget should be set aside for the constituents – the children and students who are members and guests of your church’s Bible study groups.

All too often, we focus on the last group. We must remember that to balance the church’s family ministry, we must look beyond just the young people we serve. They have parents and leaders who also need encouragement, training, education, and networking. Ministry divided into thirds makes sure that it remains balanced and healthy.

How can you quickly diagnose whether or not your church’s family ministry is balanced? It’s easy – just look two places:

  1. The church calendar – you can quickly tell if you see scheduled events for all three of the groups mentioned above. Normally one dominates the other two.
  2. The church budget – follow the money trail – we always set aside money for things that are important to us. If you look into your church’s budget, you’ll most likely see one of the three groups above getting the lion share of the financial assets.


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