Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide, By Diana R. Garland
Family Ministry
  • Length: 656 pages
  • Published: August 08, 2012
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3971
  • ISBN: 9780830839711

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North American families are in crisis, and the need for family ministry is more evident than ever. In her many years of ministry, research and teaching, author Diana Garland has found that the strength of Christian families is rooted in their faith and nurtured in their congregations. Garland believes that Christian families gain strength in part because of their communities of faith.

Twelve years after first coming to print, the award-winning Family Ministry has been given a significant makeover. In this new edition Garland takes a three-pronged approach to family ministry, which includes developing families grounded in Christian faith, helping families live the teachings of Jesus with one another, and equipping and supporting families as they learn to serve others.

The insights gained are organized into four main sections:

  • The Context for Family Ministry
  • Family Formation
  • Family Dynamics
  • Leading Family Ministry

Garland examines and fully integrates the historical, sociological, theological and biblical contexts to understand the role and meaning of family in the life of Christians and the church. She perceptively connects these explorations with the social and cultural context of the early twenty-first century.

"Diana Garland uses reasoned, comprehensive methods to put understanding in the context of our personal and casual observations. Sometimes her conclusions confirm that we're on the right track. In other instances, she finds out we're missing the mark and need to change our strategy completely. At each step, she includes personal stories that take the concepts from the research lab to the living room and challenge us to do what we do better, for all the right reasons."

Reggie Joiner, founder and CEO of Orange

"Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide is a gift to everyone in church leadership and ministry with families. Diana Garland accomplishes the almost impossible--blending history, theology, family theory and pastoral practice into one book that is a must-have resource for everyone who works with families. Diana's knowledge, experience and wisdom are woven into each chapter of the book. Family Ministry provides congregations with vision and practices for ministry with families in the 21st century."

John Roberto, editor, Lifelong Faith journal, author, Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith Formation

"If you think you know about family ministry, think again. This handbook on family ministry provides the biblical, historical and research-based approach to family ministry. It is a gem that could serve as the foundation for anyone engaged in family ministry. The book is loaded with compelling research, heart-tugging stories and practical suggestions for implementing and improving church-based family ministry. Don't miss this one!"

Dr. Eric Swanson, Leadership Network, coauthor of The Externally Focused Church and To Transform a City

"This second edition of Diana Garland's groundbreaking resource for the church, Family Ministry, builds on the qualities that made the first edition so important. It is deeply informed by biblical theology, understanding practical needs of families in local church communities, and ongoing research. Dr. Garland is dean of the Baylor University School of Social Work and has for years led major research studies on families in the church and community ministry. With her husband David Garland, dean of Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor, she is coeditor of The Journal of Family and Community Ministries. Her book is substantive and engaging--full of well-grounded stories and applications for family ministry."

David Sherwood, Ph.D., editor, Social Work Christianity


The Structure and Purposes of the Book
Section 1: The Context of Family Ministry
1. Our Genealogy: A Brief History of the American Family
Fighting About Family
Kinship and Households
Colonial America
Frontier America
Slavery and Family Life for African Americans
The Industrial Revolution and Beyond
2. The American Family Today
Shaping of Current Family Forms
Why Defining Family Is Important
3. The Family in Christian Thought
Early Christianity Changes and Challenges Family Life
The Catholic Church: Marriage as Sacrament
The Protestant Reformation
The Enlightenment
The Church and Non-European Cultures
The Church and Families in Recent History
Learning from History
4. A Biblical Frame for Defining Family
In the Beginning . . .
Jesus' Life: A Transformation of "Family"
Jesus' Teachings by Word and Example
The Ethiopian Eunuch
The Family of God
Implications for the Church
5. An Agenda for Family Ministry
The Development of Family Ministry
Defining Family Ministry
Family Ministry as Perspective
Section 2: Family Formation
6. Fieldguide of Family Relationships
A Family Story
Family Partners
Married Adults
Older Adult Families
Who Are Families?
7. Family Development
Developmental Stages
The Processes of Family Development
We Are Family
Cyclical Phases of Family Development
Family Life as Christian Formation
8. Families in Physical and Social Space
The Ecosystemic Approach
Adaptation and Stress
Possibilities and Complexities of an Ecosystemic Approach
Emergencies, Crises and Catastrophes
Strong Families
9. Culture and Family Identity
Families in Culture
The Unique Culture of Families
Becoming Culturally Competent
Family Identity
Family Rituals
Family Stories
Implications for Family Ministry
Section 3: The Processes of Family Life
10. Family Interaction
Types of Communication
Conflict and Anger
Forgiveness and Repentance
Implications for Family Ministry
11. Power and Roles
Jesus' Teaching About Power
Gender Roles
Family Violence
12. Working Together
Defining Family Faith
Biblical Narratives of Family Faith
A Story of Family Faith
Service as a Family Affair
Engaging Families in Ministry
Woven into Family Life
Section 4: Leading Family Ministry
13. Congregational Life as Family Ministry
Christian Education
Christian Care
Leadership for Family Ministry
14. Knowing Your Congregation and Neighborhood
What We Know?And What We Need to Find Out
How to Do Assessment for Family Ministry
Congregational Assessment Methods
Knowing the Neighborhood
15. Planning and Evaluating Family Ministry
The Mission of the Congregation
Identifying Most Compelling Ministry Possibilities
Planning for Change
Dimensions of Family Ministry
Making Changes
Planning to Evaluate
Engaging the Congregation and the Neighborhood
16. Programs and Services
Congregation or Neighborhood?Or Both?
Family Resource Programs
Family Life Education Programs
Community Development
Family Advocacy
In Conclusion
Name Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Diana R. Garland

Diana R. Garland (d. 2015) was inaugural dean of Baylor University's School of Social Work, which now bears her name. She was author, coauthor, or editor of twenty-one books and more than one hundred academic articles. Some of her books include Flawed Families of the Bible: How God’s Grace Works through Imperfect Relationships, Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide, and Why I Am a Social Worker: 25 Christians Tell Their Life Stories. She had served as editor of the Journal of Family and Community Ministries since 1993.

Garland earned her undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Louisville in Kentucky. For seventeen years she served as professor of Christian family ministry and social work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and she also served as dean of the Carver School of Church Social Work and director of the Center for Family Ministries.

Garland gave significant service to national social work organizations. She served many terms as president of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work and was a board member of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work and a councilor for the Council on Social Work Education. She also served as first lady of Baylor University when her husband David Garland was named interim president from 2008 until 2010.

Read this tribute from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work.