A large number of certified Directors of Family Life Ministry (DFLM) from the Family Life Program at Concordia University Ann Arbor (CUAA) are serving in congregations in a number of districts in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).
There are five DFLM who are leading their congregations through the Family Friendly Partners Network (FFPN) training. Many church staff members and congregational lay leaders wonder how this ministry came on the scene in our church body, and what a Director of Family Life Ministry is trained to do in a parish setting.
In 2004, the LCMS approved the position of the Director of Family Life Ministry as a commissioned and rostered ministry of the Synod. While relatively new on the scene, in terms of the professional ministry in the Church, questions have arisen about what makes a DFLM different than a Director of Christian Education (DCE), a Director of Christian Outreach (DCO), a Deaconess, or Lay Minister. Pastors, other professional church workers, and lay leaders in the church may wonder what is unique about a person certified for work in the LCMS as a Director of Family Life.
Here are key areas which may help to provide insight in gaining a better understanding of Directors of Family Life Ministry.
The DFLM is trained in family studies, which provides them with a sociological and psychological framework for their service. The professional preparation of a DFLM places an emphasis on family processes, creating and nurturing healthy marriages, understanding God’s great gift of human sexuality, Christian ethics, legal aspects concerning family life, parent education and guidance, and dynamics of the home. The DFLM student also choses a life-span emphasis (children, youth, or senior adults) and takes a concentration of five classes in preparation for ministry in that area.
All rostered, commissioned workers in the LCMS take core theology classes that include the study of Old Testament, New Testament, doctrine and confessions of the LCMS, methods in religious education, and the role of the church professional. A DFLM takes these classes as well. Graduates of the Family Life Program at CUAA who enter the church as a DFLM enjoy a varied curriculum across several disciplines of the liberal arts as well as a strong theological foundation in preparation for their Kingdom service.
While the DFLM serves in a congregational setting, their focus is to “equip the home in partnership with the church.” The DFLM places an emphasis on nurturing parents in parenting skills as well as equipping them to teach the faith within their household. The Director of Family Life Ministry shares resources and provides training for parents to more effectively lead and guide the home on a daily basis in spiritual matters as well as practical matters. He or she also provides opportunities for marriage preparation and enrichment, resource management support for the home, and guidance in the area of training parents to effectively teach their children about God’s gift of human sexuality.
The goal of the DFLM is to raise the capacity of the home so that children are nurtured toward a healthy adult life. The Director of Family Life Ministry is mindful of the various age spans inclusive within a home setting, and seeks to serve the needs of multi-generational family homes that are becoming more and more of the norm today in both society and within the church. A DFLM will seek to enable a “home centered—church supported” emphasis within a local parish setting.
Additional National Certification
While both the DFLM and other LCMS Commissioned Ministers take an identical series of theological and educational course work which certifies them for the roster of the LCMS, the DFLM receives additional certification as a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) from the National Council on Family Relations. This national organization, founded in 1938, has set forth a standardized training for colleges and universities to follow in the professional preparation of a Certified Family Life Educator. Concordia University Ann Arbor was first given approval of its curriculum in Family Life in June 2001, and is the only undergraduate program in the LCMS Concordia University System which has attained such approval for a program in Family Life.
Listen to what Family Life Program students and graduates say about family life ministry atwww.cuaa.edu/Programs/familylife/churchwork.html.