Transforming Families with Study Guide

The 209th General Assembly (1997) called for an examination of changing families and social structures that support families, focusing especially on their effects on children, in order to develop principles and recommendations to strengthen the church’s ministry to contemporary families in both the church and society in the 21st century (see Minutes, 1997, Part I, pp. 536ff). The resulting task force was to pursue its work with the understanding that there is a variety of families. Answering this call requires attention to the cultural and socioeconomic contexts of today’s families, and it is of primary importance that we lift up the theological commitments that we bring to this endeavor. The church’s reflection on families in contemporary society begins with theological affirmations grounded in the Bible and our Reformed confessions, is informed by the cultural and socioeconomic realities of our common life, and issues in a vision of transforming families.

As our Book of Order states concerning the church's mission, "God's redeeming and reconciling activity in the world continues through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who confronts individuals and societies with Christ’s Lordship of life and calls them to repentance and to obedience to the will of God” (G-3.0103). The sovereign love of God, the gracious lordship of Jesus Christ, and the empowering fellowship of the Holy Spirit ground our lives as Christians; yet we are also rooted in family structures that evidence the corrosive pressures around and within us, as well as the failed relationships among us, even as they remain sites of God’s gracious presence and activity. Our family lives, like the other spheres of our existence, need transformation by the Holy Spirit; and our world needs the transformative agency of families that understand the breadth of their vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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