Diana R. Garland had many interesting perspectives in her book Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide. There were five themes that stood out during the reading: the role of choice, defining family in the church, enduring over time and contexts, meeting needs for attachment and belonging, and caring for family members. The statements and ideas expressed opened a new world of understanding on how families in society have changed and how family ministry needs to change as well.
The traditional family has been replaced by individuals who now have the chance to decide whether or not they want to recreate the normal family structure. In the past, people were expected to get married, stay together, and raise children. Now more than ever, families are more complex and diverse than they have ever been. A statement that was eye opening was the choice of who is your family. In the past, people only addressed others as members of the family if they were blood related, but now it is common to call a close friend family. The book implied that the role of choice, in regard to the family, did not openly exist in the past, but now more people are choosing their own paths and continuing to stray away from the structured expectations of the family that were put in place long ago. The role of choice is growing with each generation and the power to choose is being applied to all areas of the family.
Enduring over time and contexts was a portion of the text that explained how family can never be replaced. This theme can conflict with the previous theme of the role of choice. Some people choose to divorce or abandon loved ones, but in reality, blood relatives cannot be chosen or forgotten. One can choose to invite someone into the family but if that person is not a true member, there will forever be a divide between family and friend. Garland suggests that there will always be a factor that will separate a family...