The first pre-conference workshop I attended was all about measuring what is important in family ministry. The speaker, Terry Scalzitti, is a senior pastor at a church in Oceanview Baptist Church (Myrtle Beach, SC), but he spent several years doing “next gen” ministry in Florida. He started off his pre-conference workshop with Deuteronomy 6:6 in order to focus on why we do what we do.

Before he jumped into his main points, Terry shared some basic information to get us all on the same page:

  • We all want to be better at what we do, because we believe that what we do matters.
  • You can leverage what is cultural, what is changing, to communicate what is eternal. If we don’t, we are the ones that looks like a fool.
  • If you want to build something that last, you have to be willing to change what you build.
  • When you upgrade your system (when you’re willing to change), you highlight the mission in a clear way.

Terry, then shared five gauges to help you do ninistry better:

1. Strategy Gauge: Are you aligning your systems so that your staff, your leaders, and your parents to lead with the same end-in-mind?

When all you do is work week to week, you’re never prepared for the next step. If we strategically put some things in place to focus on the end goal, we can take better steps along the way. This is even an issue when it comes to calendars.

When we don’t improve the strategy…

  • Parents struggle with how to partner with the church.
  • There is no consistent forum to evaluate and change ineffective programming. (As you evaluate, keep the end in mind. Keep it constructive.)
  • Leaders and volunteers get disillusioned with lack of direction.
  • Silo-Thinking becomes the mentality of staff.
  • Over-programming and competing systems dilute the effectiveness of the church.

2. Experience Gauge: Craft core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences.

Terry stated, “I dont want people to leave without feeling like they were a part of an experience.”

An experience is (from Leonard Sweet):

  • Experiential
  • Participatory
  • Image-driven
  • Connective

How do we create this? We simplify, and we connect with our audience.

When we don’t improve the experience…

  • Parents and leaders will probably never teach the same truths as a synchronized effort.
  • The church is perceived as irrelevent. (People need to hear something practical. Know your audience.)
  • Individual leaders will tend to teach whatever they think is important.
  • A canceling effect happened to important core truths. (They need simple truths that are easy to understand and they can apply.)
  • Biblical truths are viewed as boring and irrelevant.

3. Groups Gauge: Are you creating a culture that truly grows and develops leaders who serve in your ministry.

Volunteers matter. Community is formed there. There is an importance in serving in that ministry.

Terry was very adamant that we need to “Stop handing out cheesy t-shirts!”

When we don’t improve the experience…

  • Parents feel alone in trying to have moral and spiritual influence with their children.
  • The church is characterized by superficial relationships.
  • We tend to reproduce a generation of Christians who can’t develop authentic relationships. (“We believe that community is vital for everyone.”)
  • Students tend to pursue counsel and advice in unhealthy relationships.
  • Productions or programs are positioned as the answer.
  • Leaders fail to discover their abilities to make a significant investment in someone’s life.

4. Service Gauge: Are you creating consistent oportunities for kids and students to experience personal ministry?

When we don’t improve the experience…

  • Parents are programmed to see the church as a provider of services for their kids. (We HAVE help/make our parents do this. It is too important! It helps to simplify it, though.)
  • Leaders never recognize that the discipleship process is also about influencing a student to serve and care for others.
  • Students established a consumer mindset about the church.
  • Communities continue to perceive the church as institutional and insulated.
  • Individual families never experience a sense of calling and mission to make others a priority.
  • Students fail to experience and realize their calling to care for others, and they leave the church without a passion to pursue God’s calling in their lives.

5. Personal Gauge: Are you taking care of yourself?

If this were a race, would you finish?

  • Be a student. “If you’ve closed your mind off to any learning, you’re not a student.”
  • Be balanced. “No one wins when you lose your family. No one wins when you quit your job.”

In the end, this was a great session to start off the pre-conference. It helped me get on the right page, and I think it will help you all as you attempt to get your family ministry on the right page. These six gauges are excellent for evaluating where your ministry currently stands, and they will help you continue to grow.

So, what are some ways you measure what is important to your church’s family ministry?

Contact Terry Scalzitti through Twitter at @tscalzitti or his website at


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