“… individual pastors’ decisions we can help them to make better decisions about family programming that will enhance their members’ family lives. ”
This project seeks to understand how pastors in the city of Montgomery, AL, define “family” and shape their ministries around their definitions. Using a protocol approved by the campus IRB, through a series of guided interviews with up to 50 of Montgomery’s pastors we will learn how pastors’ biases about what constitutes a “godly family” influence their family ministry, how they affects their churches, and how their definitions help and hinder their ability to serve the needs of families in their communities. We expect to find that denominational, theological, regional, and national discourses about the relationship between religion and family shape the local practices of family ministry. We also predict that pastors’ family theologies affect the types of families to whom they minister. Furthermore, the number of “non-traditional” family types such as same-sex partnerships, single-parent families, and blended families continue to grow while nuclear families decline across the United States. We anticipate finding places where reevaluating family ideologies could help pastors and their churches expand services to different family types who approach these ministers for help.