Inspiration for Health Ministry, by LEM

A Healthy, Happy Family

Principles of Ministering to Families

(For this study, read also: Ministry of Healing Chapter 33)

     As a part of health ministry we don’t want to just treat diseases or even individuals.  Whenever possible we want to make efforts to provide care and education for whole families.  Teaching principles of happy families can help to restore God’s original ideal for the families which will bring peace and happiness the members and make it a place where Christ can dwell.

1. What kind of problems can families typically have? 

     Many families are in crisis.  There are arguments and fights, things are messy and unsanitary, there are problems with unhealthy air or water sources, alcoholism and substance abuse as well as physical and sometimes sexual abuse sadden the lives of those who dwell in the home.

     Poverty often goes hand in hand with these problems, but many families that are well-off financially are not immune to some of the very same problems, as numerous celebrity police records can testify.

     Chaotic family environments are not best for the mental, spiritual or physical health of family members or development of the children.  Families are the most basic unit of society and thus the health and stability of families has a huge impact on society.  Human beings need a peaceful and loving home life in order to flourish.

     It is many little words and actions that determine whether the home will be a happy place or a stressful, miserable place.

2 How can we reach out to families that are in need?

     We may be able to make friends with them, visit them.  It is important to be careful for safety reasons, however, and watch out for potentially dangerous situations.  Do not attempt to enter homes in situations in which there could be violence or illegal activities going on.  

     Health and community programs or offering free classes which local neighbors might be interested in can be a good way to get to know people in the community.

     Offer programs to people of different ages so that you might have a chance to get to know different members of the same family.

     As we get to know families we can slowly introduce them to principles that will help make their home more peaceful. 

     Clinics and health services can also take a similar approach in caring for families of their clients. 

     When individuals come in for health services or to participate in church programs you can offer them a survey which asks questions about family life and provides information about upcoming family-focused programs.

     When possible, attempt to focus on different aspects of things which effect home life – including helping family members learn skills so they can find work or start businesses, helping moms learn useful skills to provide for their children’s needs, etc.

     Many people are in need of programs and information about many aspects of home life including; parenting, children’s health and nutrition, environmental health of the home (sunlight, fresh air, etc.), substance abuse, healthy cooking, etc.

     People are also in need of resources which they cannot provide for themselves, such as counseling, food resources and car maintenance help or legal counsel.  Churches can have programs that provide these services or collect information about community resources for assistance in these areas.

     A nice family ministry method which could be used is to have little seminars or classes within individual homes for just 2 or 3 families to gather together and listen to. Teach simple things of how to care for kids when sick health ministry helps bring families together.

     House churches can be a very nice way for families to support each other and provide strong Christian fellowship for members of the families.

     Those who have been strong Christians for longer can teach lessons about family, and set an example through church families and our attitude in relationships.
3. What are some principles of keeping Christ-like love within the family?

     Chapter 33 of Ministry of Healing, page 1-9, 16-18 and 20 go into detail in speaking about principles of healthy, happy families.

     The ideal for families is true, genuine love and trust between family members, between parents and children as well as brothers and sisters.  Jesus wants families to have true love for each other.

     Children arguing and fighting with each other should not be considered the “norm.”  The way that siblings act toward one another and parents and children relate to each other often lays a basis for how people will relate to their spouses and children after they become adults.

     Parents need to learn to have steady, consistent discipline combined with caring love.  True love is made up of the two elements of both mercy and justice.  Dysfunctional families often may focus primarily on either mercy or justice – they are either too lenient or too strict on the children, or swing back and forth unpredictably between the two extremes according to the unregulated moods of the parents, leaving children with no ability to guess what is coming next. This is not a healthy environment for the growth and development of the children.

     Tough love must be both firm and tender, consistently. Unhealthy family patterns tend to follow a pattern of ignoring the children for long periods of time, followed by loud bursts of scolding and yelling.

     Only with true love can there be true happiness.  We need true love in our church, school, and in families to satisfy our hearts, and draw outsiders to know Jesus.

     The church is God’s family, and individuals who make up churches and Christian communities are practicing and modeling behaviors for future families to imulate at home.

     Inter-generational families can be a very good model.  Though not followed in the United States as much as in other countries, such as those in Asia, it can be a blessing if members are respectful of each other and do not try to control or manipulate each other. 

     Those doing ministry to families should also recognize that the ideal cannot always be reached in situations where a family member, grandparent or relative is controlling, manipulative or abusive.  Church members or those doing health ministry should not be too simplistic about requiring people to feel obligated to allow that type of family member to have increasing influence over them based on verses such as “honor thy mother and thy father.” 

     There are many verses and common-sense principles that help provide a balance view – including that Jesus said we should not love family more than we love him.  That helps us to understand that if a family member, such as a grandparent, is attempting to manipulate or have a controlling influence while having a detrimental effect on the spirituality of the family, the parent or parents should put Christ first and follow him, and limit the ability of the grandparent to do this. 

     For example, if repeated attempts to let concerns be known to the individual does not work it may be necessary to move away to a further distance or not have as many activities together.  

     It is important for parents to watch carefully for any evidence that someone who has contact with their child might be abusing them.  Do not turn a blind eye when a charismatic adult seems to take an especially strong interest in a child – many times this can be a tactic that abusers use to gain access to children.

     Limit and monitor screen time and decrease media exposure, encourage more natural forms of entertainment and activity.

     Yelling things across the room is not the best way to get a message across to children or influence their behavior.  It is important to draw close to children and look them in the eye, speak to them with love and firmness, ask them questions about their behavior that will get them to think about what they are doing and why.  Let them know by your manner of speaking that they will be expected to comply with rules. 

     It is very important to encourage any good behavior in children.  Many times children are ignored unless they misbehave, so that sends a message that “if I want attention from my parents I must misbehave.”

     Be firm with children and do not let them have their way just because they scream or throw tantrums.  Consistent discipline and removal of privileges should be administered when children do not have good attitudes or behavior.

     Parents have the right to put Christ first and make every effort to secure a peaceful, healthy environment for the upbringing of their children.

     Parents should be encouraged to pray for wisdom in knowing how to deal with negative or detrimental influences and challenging situations.

     God will hear the prayers of concerned parents who are seeking a blessing. He will bless those who courageously follow principles of truth to the best of their ability, by the grace and power he provides.

     Ministry of Healing, pg. 394 of chapter 33 shows what a beautiful outcome can be for children who grow up in a peaceful, loving Christian home;

     “Brought up under the wise and loving guidance of a true home, children will have no desire to wander away in search of pleasure and companionship. Evil will not attract them. The spirit that prevails in the home will mold their characters; they will form habits and principles that will be a strong defense against temptation when they shall leave the home shelter and take their place in the world.”

     Imagine the transformation that could occur if some families could begin to live by principles of health, happiness and love.  Then they can invite Jesus into their home, and it can be said that where two or three are gathered he is in their midst.

     More from Ministry of Healing about the topic of the family can be found in the following chapters; 28, The Builders of the Home, 30 Choice and Preparation of the Home, 31 The Mother

     Key topics are covered, including how the parents lay the foundation for the children's lives, youth of today make up society tomorrow, the home can be a refuge for the youth, and much more about how to train and care for children, infants, etc.

Here are some more excerpts from Ellen White's writings;

Who was Ellen White? ; Ellen White named by Smithsonian among the 100 most significant Americans of all time , EGW Link 2

"The far reaching influence of the home."

"The Christian Home Is an Object Lesson.--"The mission of the home extends beyond its own members. The Christian home is to be an object lesson, illustrating the excellence of the true principles of life. Such an illustration will be a power for good in the world. . . . As the youth go out from such a home, the lessons they have learned are imparted. Nobler principles of life are introduced into other households, and an uplifting influence works in the community." {Adventis Home 31.1}

"The home in which the members are polite, courteous Christians exerts a far-reaching influence for good. Other families will mark the results attained by such a home, and will follow the example set, in their turn guarding the home against Satanic influences. The angels of God will often visit the home in which the will of God bears sway." {Adventis Home 31.2}

"Influence of a Well-ordered Family.--It is no small matter for a family to stand as representatives of Jesus, keeping God's law in an unbelieving community. We are required to be living epistles known and read of all men. This position involves fearful responsibilities." {Adventist Home 31.3}

"One well-ordered, well-disciplined family tells more in behalf of Christianity than all the sermons that can be preached. Such a family gives evidence that the parents have been successful in following God's directions, and that their children will serve Him in the church." {Adventist Home 32.1}