One of the key values of our church is that we are a family-equipping church. Four years ago we switched from a silo ministry model to a family ministry model. We believed then and more so today that Gospel-centered families are the key to making disciples of the next generation. We see it as our responsibility to come alongside families to resource, encourage, and equip them to be the spiritual heroes in their kids’ lives. Over the years, we continue to improve on how we partner with our families. Here are our 5…

REGULAR FAMILY COMMUNICATION // Very simple, we want to inform families about what is happening here and that we are here for their family. “Very simple, we want families to know what is going on and we want families to know that we are here for them. We also want to ensure that we are communicating the why behind what we do”.  We can’t expect them to be involved with something they don’t know about. We also can’t expect them to be involved with something they don’t know the why behind. We use Fellowship ONE for our database management and email communication. We also leverage Facebook with daily/wkly reminders of their parent cues that are derived from the Parent Cue App (if you don’t have the Parent Cue App yet, get it HERE!)”

CONSISTENT SMALL GROUPS //  Small groups are quickly becoming our greatest tool for partnering with families. We are in the process of switching from a “first come first served” small group model to an ’assigned’ small group model. In the years past, children would be placed in a small group based on their grade. In most cases, we have several small groups for one grade (example, we might have four 1st grade small groups and three 5th grade small groups). Depending on who showed up when we would determine which group they were assigned to. We are in the process of assigning children (not students) to a small group based on the service their family most frequently attends. Our goal is to create a more consistent environment for a child. We believe that the more a small group leader is present in a child’s life, the more that child and family will trust their small group leader. It also better allows that small group leader to be able to speak into the life of the child and the family.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH // Community outreach is a way for us to partner with families that may never walk through the door of our church. It is our desire to be intentional about equipping the families of our city outside the church walls, not just inside. However, in the process of serving the families in our city, it also allows families within our church to serve together.  Great things can happen when a family serves together. Here are a few ways we reach the families of our city. *Some of these are still in development. But we are getting real close! 

•Local school partnerships

•Operation Christmas Child

•FirstKids Mini Play Camp

•Safe Families

•Other local partnerships include: The Kennedy Home, Onslow Pregnancy Center, and The Philippians Place.

EVENTS AND TRIPS // We try to leverage every aspect of our ministry environment to partner with parents. This includes events and trips. We host a few Family Worship Nights throughout the year that brings the entire family together for a fun time of worship. We also host two Family Talks a year that address specific issues that families may be facing during a specific season. Finally, camps and trips can greatly impact a child’s/student’s faith, as well as a child’s/student’s family.  We have seen countless numbers of families connected to our church because their child or student went to camp with us. When a child/student goes to camp, it is a family investment.

RESOURCES // Part of equipping families is to resource them with the best tools to parent for the glory of God. We love the Parent Cue App for parents of preschoolers and elementary children. The Parent Cue App gives families a customized blueprint for having faith conversations in their home on their level. The best part is, the App correlates with what their child is learning on the weekends! We also share articles, blog posts, and podcasts with our families via social media.

I would love to hear how your church partners with families! Thanks



This week I was asked by our executive pastor to give a talk to our staff about how to stay unified as a team during a season of transition. Whether you are in a season of transition now or not, everyone in leadership will experience transition. One of the truths that I have learned is that transitions breed uncertainty if we are not careful. I firmly believe that transition seasons can be one of the greatest momentum builders for a team if you navigate them correctly.


Michael Hyatt is an incredible author, speaker and blogger. In his blog, Michael discusses the 3 different levels of unity.

  • Acceptance: level One – They may or may not agree, but they decide to go along because the cost of objecting—whether real or perceived—is too great.
  • Agreement: level Two – People agree with your direction and generally support it. But they are not personally invested or committed to making it happen. You have their minds but not their hearts. This is why you may not experience resistance, but you can’t seem to make things happen.
  • Alignment: level Three – People are with you. They are fully committed to making your common vision a reality. They also have your back and the backs of their teammates. They voice their support in public and their concerns in private.


ASK THE HARD QUESTION FIRST: DO YOU TRUST THOSE WHO ARE MAKING THE DECISIONS? Team trust is at the heart of a healthy transition. Where there is no trust there is no unity. Where there is no unity there is no team collaboration and where there is no collaboration there is no progress. If you don’t have trust, you will hate what you do. Because, you don’t trust those who your are transitioning with. It is possible to be in aligned without being in agreement: When a team trusts the leader you can have alignment even if you don’t agree because you have trust. There have been many decisions that our team made that I was not in agreement with but because I trusted them, I was still able to have alignment. When you have trust you can disagree but stay unified.

CARE MORE ABOUT THE TEAM THAN YOUR POSITION: In order to do this, you have to really enjoy what you do! It is very easy during a time of transition to look at what you have been called to lead,  wrap your arms around it and protect it from someone else. Although it is natural does not make it right! When we do this, we are more focused on what we are doing personally than what we are doing collectively. You can never be unified if you are concerned first about your ball.

CELEBRATE THE SUCCESS OF OTHERS: One of the best ways to care more about the team than the position is to celebrate the success of others. No matter how small their success may be. I think the main reason we don’t celebrate the success of others is because we are too insecure. Celebrating others makes war with your own insecurities.

  1. Do you trust those on your team?
  2. Do you care more about your position or the team?
  3. Do you find yourself complaining more than celebrating?
  4. Is there someone that you are not unified with and need to talk with them? How do I know if I have disunity with them? Have you complained about them to someone else?


DO YOUR KIDS LOVE COMING TO CHURCH? Do they love their small group? Do they love playing games and experiencing the amazing Bible stories? We sure hope so! Our family ministry staff wants every kid that steps foot on our campus to be bursting with excitement about what awaits them. The secret ingredient to creating a culture where kids want to be at church are our amazing volunteers. Many of you, who are reading this letter are part of this incredible group. Thank you! If you are not apart of our family ministry volunteer team and have a kid in FirstKids, then this letter is for you. I wanted to take 5 mins of your time to share with you why volunteers are so important and why you should consider joining our team.

Some of you may be thinking, “You’re asking me to be a volunteer?” “My plate is overflowing and church is my break.” I hear you. As parents, all of our plates are full if not overflowing. The last thing many of us want to do is to commit to something else. But volunteering is not about the time investment, it is about the heart investment. Elizabeth Andrew once said, “volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

While we are all stretched for time, there is one area that we should not be cutting back, serving in the local church. It’s our hope that every parent whose kids are impacted by FirstKids will help us disciple more kids by being a volunteer.


MODELS JESUS’ HEART: You’re loving those who Jesus loved. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 9:14 ESV). Every week our volunteers have the privilege of partnering with parents by sharing the Gospel with kids on their level.

BECOME A GIVER: Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” God designed us to be givers and servers. We have the most potential for happiness when we are serving others. When we serve we model the nature of Jesus. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve..” (Mark 10L45 NIV).

SETS THE PACE: Chances are, if your kids see that you love serving, they will love serving. We don’t want our kids to grow up simply loving church, we want them to love serving the church. What better way to shape this value than modeling it?

FUN: Last year, we asked our volunteers to pick one word to describe volunteering in FirstKids. The #1 response was “FUN”, followed by “exciting”. Engaging with kids through worship, small groups, bible stories and activities is FUN! There are few things that excite someone more than seeing a kid develop understanding and a relationship in the church.

If you are not currently serving in FirstKids, then I would like to encourage you to prayerfully consider joining our volunteer team. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer in FirstKids, please email danielle@fbcjax.net



This post was written by a good friend of mine and co-worker, Andrew Padgett. Andrew has been on staff with our church for over two years. He oversees the LifeGroups of our student ministry. Several years ago we made the commitment to invest in the small. As our church continued to grow we wanted to keep small groups at the core of who we are. Here are some encouraging words from him about why LifeGroups are important for teens and what it is that LifeGroups provide.   Enjoy!

A 2nd Voice //

You never know what the relationship might be like between a student and their parents / guardians.

Picture in your mind a student who is being raised by parents / guardians in an environment that expresses a love for Jesus.  In that environment, the parents / guardians of this student are modeling what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.  In situations like these, having a LifeGroup Leader provides this student with a second voice in their life.  That LifeGroup Leader would have the unique opportunity of coming alongside this student to help them continue growing in their faith.  It would also allow that LifeGroup Leader to affirm what the parents / guardians have been cultivating in the life of their student by partnering with the parents / guardians.
Now, picture in your mind a student who is being raised by parents / guardians in an environment that does not express a love for Jesus.  In that environment, this student would have little to no idea what having a relationship with Jesus looks like.  In situations like these, having a LifeGroup Leader provides this student with a second voice in their life.  That LifeGroup Leader would have the humbling privilege of coming alongside this student to help them move forward in their faith.  It would  also allow that LifeGroup Leader to speak truth in love to this student and to become a source of guidance, when sadly and unfortunately the parents / guardians are not doing so.
Whether it’s the first situation or the second situation, it’s clear to see that all students need a second voice in their life.  Every student needs to feel like they are loved.  That’s what a second voice does.  It becomes a relationship in which the LifeGroup Leader gets to invest in the life of a student. 

A 2nd Home //

You never know what home life might be like for a student.

Given the first situation above, the home life of this student is more than likely an encouraging environment.  This student probably loves being home.  However, this student then also loves being at the home where their LifeGroup meets, because it adds to what they already experience at home.  It provides this student with a sense of excitement each week.

Now, given the second situation above, the home life of this student is more than likely a discouraging environment.  This student probably doesn’t enjoy being home.  Therefore, this student then enjoys being at the home where their LifeGroup meets, because it gives them the chance to experience family in a fresh way.  It provides this student with a sense of expectancy each week.

Whether it’s the first situation or the second situation, it’s clear to see that all students need a second home in their life.  Every student needs to feel like they belong.  That’s what a second home does.  It becomes a place in which there is a community that lives life together.

A 2nd Step //

The first step for a student is to regularly attend and engage in the weekly student worship service.  The second step then for a student is to get connected to a LifeGroup.  Through LifeGroups as the second step, students will pray, read their Bible, and go through the LifeGroup content.  Furthermore, students will also gain encouragement, accountability, and transparency.

However, LifeGroups is not the end.  Rather, being in a LifeGroup is the second step, for there are steps for students to take even after LifeGroups.  The third step for students is serving.  The more a student serves, the more a student will grow in their faith.  Then, the fourth step for students is mentoring.  The more a student is mentored and is mentoring, the more a student will grow in their faith.

Ultimately, through the weekly student worship service, through LifeGroups, through serving, and through mentoring, students will begin to take more and more ownership of their faith.  Each step helps students move forward in their relationship with Jesus.  With that being said, LifeGroups as the second step in the process is of great importance.

A 2nd Voice.  A 2nd Home.  A 2nd Step. 



Like almost every church, we sometimes struggle with having enough volunteers. This is partially due to our culture. Jacksonville, NC is home to the  Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. I love this city and the unique culture it offers. There are also some challenges. Every 3 years or so, the Marine Corps will most likely move a family to another city. This is great for the Marine Corps but hurts your volunteer structure. Every year our volunteer system will go through a complete turn over.
Like most churches we have asked the question, should we require parents to serve? After all, it makes sense. God called you to kids ministry when you had kids, so welcome to the team. In theory, this would solve our volunteer shortage issue (for a short time). But is this the most healthy decision? Should we make it a requirement? 
For us, the answer is no. Here are a few reasons why we do not make volunteering in our family ministry a requirement for parents. 
ROBS THE JOY: Once you make something a requirement it robs the joy of the sacrifice. Forcing someone to volunteer robs the joy, excitement and fun factor of being a volunteer. As leaders, it’s important to remember that our goal is not to fill every volunteer slot. Rather it’S to cultivate a team of committed believers who desire to serve. 
PITY vs PASSION: In my experience, rarely do volunteers who feel bad/pity for the ministry turn into long term volunteers. They stand in to fill a gap for a short time, but then they pursue what their true passion is. I would rather start with those who are passionate about kids/student ministry. 
SOME PARENTS NEED A BREAK: Many of our moms have been taking care of 3 kids while daddy is deployed. Sometimes,the worst thing for that mom is to serve in a preschool room. Sometimes, parents need a break. We still encourage them to serve in some capacity, but volunteering in family ministry is not always right for everyone at that time. I am okay with that. 
Instead of making volunteering a requirement for parents, we look for passionate Godly leaders (teenagers and adults) who love the next generation. We encourage parents to serve where their kids play, not mandate it.  In the end, not all parents will make the best volunteers in one specific area. If you give them the freedom to serve where God leads, I think you will see an increase in volunteer retention. 
I would love to hear your thoughts. What is your churches policy on parents serving? 

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