Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. MARK 6:1-6
We spoke about how to minister to non-believers. Now, what about unsaved family members? The ones that know all your past and secrets? It wasn’t by accident this passage was added to the Word. Jesus experienced ridicule and persecution at the hand of those closest to Him, what makes you think you are any different?
Arguably the toughest thing you will face as a Christian is your family. Jesus said, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-56) He knew that His message of Love and Peace wouldn’t bring love and peace. In fact, He knew it would stir up trouble.
Your family may always see you as the 13 year old liar, or the 16 year old promiscuous teen. They may never accept you as a new creature. You might never be seen as holy and righteous. So what do you do? How do you reach them?
You have to show them Jesus, not tell them about Him. Let them see that you have changed. It is so easy to revert back to your old ways when you are around your family. It’s amazing how much you can change, yet be so the same when family is close by. We all go back to our roots if we aren’t careful. There are some practical steps to effectively ministering to family if you feel up to the challenge. It’s really not an easy task but here are 8 of over a dozen things I’ve found throughout the Epistles, obviously worded in my own words.
1) You must realize that no one is your personal project. You have to establish a relationship with your family members as people who God loves. You should ask questions just like you would if it were anyone other than family. Get to know them again. Get to know them deeper. Don’t treat them as an “evangelism project” treat them as a person.
2) Watch them carefully and listen to what they believe. Don’t always jump into every conversation. Especially when they are discussing things with others. Just listen. You can learn a lot from your loved ones when they don’t feel like they are being attacked.
3) Ask good questions. Don’t just ask simple yes or no questions. An example would be; if your mother is going to a “dead” church and you would like to see her more involved. Don’t say; Are things going well at church? Say “What kind of events are coming up at your church?” Another example would be; don’t say “Do you like your job?” Say “How are you feeling about your job lately?” Ask good open ended questions and really listen to their answers.
4) Assume your audience knows nothing about the Bible. Or more importantly, assume they don’t view the world through a Biblical filter. An example would be; if you are discussing our country’s current state. Don’t say “Man this country is going to hell in a handbasket, isn’t it?” Because they may not know that we are. They will just get afraid, or feel that you are condemning and judging a group of people without rhyme or reason. We often make the mistake of assuming our family believes what we believe. Chances are, if you are ministering to them, they don’t.
Discuss current events but explain why you feel the way you do. Use scripture. The worst thing you can do is generalize and then not explain why you believe what you believe.
5) Don’t just try to convert your family. Teach them. You will change your family’s heart when they learn what you believe. If you can convince them of your convictions and understanding, their own faith will follow. Be ready to invest your time and efforts into raising them up in Christ. Start off small.
6) Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into their attitudes. If they are complaining to you about how someone wronged them. Don’t tell them “I’ll take care of them for you,” or “They’re lucky I wasn’t there!” Be kind, and patient.
7) The most important one I can think of is a dangerous one. We read Jesus’ words concerning families. He knew He was coming to stir up trouble. We can’t be afraid to offend. We must speak the truth in love. Sometimes love doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s necessary. If your family member is doing something that isn’t right, say something. Be bold and courageous. Stand up for what’s right. You are doing them an injustice by not pointing out their sin. Remember, WITH LOVE. Don’t tell your sister she dresses like a slut. Tell her what she is wearing is inappropriate and explain why. Don’t tell your brother he is a drunk, tell him about times you’ve witnessed his drunkenness in an embarrassing situation. There are tactful ways to handle all situations. Sometimes you need to separate yourself from the situation for a period of time in order to gather your thoughts.
8 ) The last one is to be ready in season and out of season. Always be prepared for a conversation. Never expect that the trip to the mall is just to buy shoes. Always be ready. Your non-christian family members are going to be waiting for you to screw up. They want to catch you doing something ungodly. They will ask you tough questions. Be prayed up and be vigilant.
I hope someone needed some of these principles. There are many more, but we will save them for another day.