Families & Relational Networks

As we unpack the principles that are part of our Navigators Neighbors Guiding and Defining Ideas, we turn our attention to Guiding Principle #5: Minister through family and relational networks.

Does this principle sound familiar? It should. This principle is also one of our Navigators Core Values, and we’re giving it special emphasis in Neighbors. Most of us believe in reaching family members and friends, yet few of us have built our ministry around family and friends as a focused, intentional, core strategy. Those who do, usually experience outstanding results.

Ohana Partners, the Asian American Network in Neighbors, has effectively built its strategy around family. I am always thrilled when I talk to someone in that network and ask the question, “Who are you reaching these days?” Invariably, they pull out a spreadsheet with the names and sometimes even pictures of 100 or so living members of their extended family, both here and in their country of origin. They know by name who they are praying for and aiming to reach.

While leading my first collegiate ministry, I also worked full-time as a chemical engineer. I knew I didn’t have the time to lead the same kind of high-energy ministry as many of my peers. However, I did believe that I could train the students to do the ministry themselves. When students came to Christ, I taught them how to reach their siblings, other family members, and their high school buddies. Then I sent them home on breaks to do it. Once they learned those skills, they were ready to reach their fellow students.

As a result, my ministry was a similar size as the others in the region, but it had a different structure. In the days when a broad-based ministry was common, mine was dubbed the “mushroom” ministry or the “inverted pyramid” ministry because we always had a few freshmen, more sophomores, more juniors, and a lot of seniors. I believe it represented spiritual multiplication through relational networks.

So who are you seeking to reach these days? Are you praying for them by name? What is your core strategy?