Youth ministry among father-absent children and adolescents

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Chapter 2 The roles of father in the Bible


The family is one of the most important institutes in the world. The focus of this research is the issues caused by families with absent fathers and how these affect the development of children and adolescents.Generally speaking, the family is the most basic structural unit of every society.White (1991:7) defined it as follows: “a family is an intergenerational social group organized and governed by social norms regarding descent and affinity, reproduction,and the socialization of the young”.In the family there are names or designators, for example, father, mother, brother, and sister for familiar kinship statuses; infant, child, adolescent, adult for the agedetermined statuses; and male and female for the sex-determined statuses.Traditionally and historically, fathers have been expected to fulfil an instrumental role in the paid work force- to be the breadwinner- rather than fulfil an extended role within the family, however, modern society demands another label of a “new father”which is “child care expert” that encourages active participation in children’s lives,and a “new role of husband” such as the egalitarian form (Van Aarde 2001:120; Almeida, Wethington, & McDonald 2001; Cf. 5.3).One of the most urgent social problems in South Africa is family breakdown.Millions of children and adolescents are growing up without their biological parents,and statistics showing the increasing number of children and adolescents living without their biological fathers, advanced as evidence of weakened families (Cf.South Africa Survey 2011, April). It is a consequence of poverty which is associated with migration in search of employment, a feature of the apartheid economy,HIV&AIDS, and low educational levels forinstance. Those factors exacerbate father absence (Kane-Berman, Henderson, & de Souza et, al., 2001:38-39; Cf. Meyer 2013) Children and adolescents lost a uniquely important person in their life. This has necessitated a redefinition of what it means to be a father. Even though they have no biological father, they can have ideas about father through Father God and men in the church that can be a model for the adolescents. The local church must look at God as the Father, as the model for addressing this contemporary issue to understand and care for the fatherless children and adolescents. The local church must think about how to teach God as the Father to the fatherless children and adolescents who have not experienced the character of a father and the role of the father in their life. This chapter will discuss the fatherhood of God and filiation in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament to understand the relationship between Abba Father and his people. The Bible indicates the roles of a father using God as an example.
The chapter will also review the relationship between God the Father and Jesus and will see how Paul describes God as Father in his oeuvre.

God the Father in the Old Testament

The families in Genesis were generally regarded as “patriarchal,” which literally translated to the father (pater) as “beginning” or “first” (arche) and to the tracing of lineage through the male line (Miller 1989:24). One of the Latin words for father is ‘fundus’, which means “base” or “bottom”, where the word foundation came from (Munroe 2008:142).The term “father” is used in different ways in the Old Testament. These different ways show the different roles of the father as beginning, first, base, or bottom. This section will review them to know the different roles of the term “father” in the Old Testament. Kittel (1986) explains the term ‘abbá (father)’ as follow:A. In Judaism. This Aramaic word is a familiar term for ‘father’; it is also a title for rabbis and a proper name but is almost never used for God.B. In Christianity. Jesus probably used abbá for God not only in Mk. 14:36 but also whenever the Gk. pater occurs. It denotes childlike intimacy and trust,not disrespect. In Paul (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) it may be a liturgical reminiscence, possibly of the opening of the Lord’s Prayer. It undoubtedly expresses the new relationship with God proclaimed and lived out by Jesus and then experienced by believers in him. According to Koop (1989: 49-53), the term “father” is used in the Old Testament as follows;
– for the first person who made or invented a particular thing first (Gen 4:20-21),
– for a priest who represents the Lord whose image and whose worship are the centre of his task at the sanctuary (Judge 17-18),
– for the prophet who is a man of God that is acknowledged to represent the Fatherhood of God (2 Kings 3:12; 13:14; 6:21),
– for a teacher (Rabbi) who acquires knowledge from tradition is called a “father” by his pupils (Prov. 3:12; Isa. 1:2).
The most obvious and common meaning of the Hebraic term “father” was not only for a father by birth or in rare cases by adoption or by guardianship. But also as stated above, it was used as a term of respect and honour for an individual in a position of leadership such as founder, prophets, priests, kings, rabbis, and master artificers in the Tanakh (Cf. Tanakh is the canon of the Hebrew Bible- an acronym for Torah (law), Nevi’im (prophets), and Ketuvim (writings)) (Koop 1989:54). The symbol of the father’s being and presence was the father of the family who was responsible for that family’s worship and obedience to God. He had to belong to a family to share in God’s blessings. The status of the father was divinely sanctioned, and the divine was involved in the history of the individual and society at the most intimate level, the level of the family. The history of the God concept says that earthly fatherhood was seen as the source of life and the guarantor of order in the family.(de Boer 1974; Gosse 2009).The narratives in Genesis tell us that God is known through a personal relationship and He is represented as the God of the fathers. When God met Moses at Horeb “the mountain of God,” while tending the flock of his father-in-law in Midian. Yahweh called to him in flames of fire from within a bush.Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God… “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt…I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt…Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob- has sent me to you”(Exod. 3:1-15 NIV).In this passage, the Lord Yahweh (The I am personal present) is bound up with“the fathers.” His self-identification is identified with the same God who called Israel’s fathers to whom he has bound himself. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The names are God’s self-definition in his bond with people. He remains true to this bond in heeding and seeing the plight in Egypt of the Israelites, whom He pointedly calls “my people”, and in his will to bring salvation by sending Moses to Pharaoh. This close relationship between God and the fathers in the patriarchal age suggests that the only way to be related to God is by membership in the family of the fathers (Feldmeier and Spieckermann 2011:25-28).There are places in the Old Testament that designate God as “father”; Deut. 32:5;2 Sam. 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Ps. 89:26; Jer. 3:4-5; 31:9; Isa. 63:16; 64:8;Mal. 1:6. In Mosaic theology, the symbolisation began to shift the indirect mode of
Yahweh as the God of the fathers to Yahweh as God the Father, in other words, the relationship between God and his people is that of father and an adopted son. God led the people of Israel from Egypt, and through the covenant, God established an independent and theocratic nation. God became the King and the Father of Israel as its founder. As the Father, God delivered Israel and provided guidance, protection, compassion, and discipline for his people (Koop 1989:64).Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my first-born son,and I told you,’ “Let my son go, so he may worship me…” (Exod. 4:22-23NIV).“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’” (Exod. 6:6-8 NIV).
Hamerton-Kelly (1979:21) says that in an indirect mode God is spoken of in connection with human fathers: He is the “God of the fathers”. His association with the fathers is his chief identifying feature. When we want to think or speak of God we think and speak of the fathers. In the direct mode, the Bible uses either a simile or a metaphor: God is like a father, God is our father. We shall, therefore, divide our treatment of the Old Testament evidence into two parts, dealing first with the indirect and then with the direct symbolisation (Cf. Goshen-Gottstein 2001; Soskice 2007:69).The Pentateuch is understood as an experience of Yahweh’s parenthood that has been described as God’s ‘fatherhood.’There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place (Deut. 1:31 NIV).Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you (Deut. 8:5 NIV).Miller (1989:50-52) states three characteristics of the God which are revealed in all the stories about Him; there is first of all the fact that He is “He (not “she”)” who is a divine father (Dt 32:6; Jer 3:19; Is 63:16), and “El,” the father of the gods (Gen 33:20;Jos 22:22). Second, He is the “Father” that those who serve Him shall serve Him exclusively and Him alone (Ex 20:3; Dt 5:7). Several texts say that He is “the jealous one,” as paternal jealousy which is directed against a competing mother, son and daughter deities for the right to primacy in his own family (Ex 20:5; 43:14; Dt 5:9;32:16). In his zeal (jealousy) He created his people among whom He lives as the sole guiding force. Third, in his goodness, the Father God who delivered his people from slavery (Ex 15), and his gracious covenant involves stipulations (Ex 20) for the well-being of the community (Ps 15:7-11). God as the “Father” is the Divine Father of his people, and the symbol of salvation.
Salvation comes to one who obeys the Father’s instruction. The “Father”symbolisation is his grace, the channel to call God the Father. He is a caring and redemptive father who parents for the emotional well-being of his people with tenderness and compassion.

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Key Concepts
List of abbreviations
List of Tables, Figures and Chart.
Chapter 1 Introduction
1. How did the researcher come to this theme?
2. Statement of the problem
3. Extent of the problem
3.1 Youth ministry among father-absent children and adolescents
3.2 Research gap
4. Purpose of this study
5. The hypothesis of this study
6. Research questions
7. Practical theology and methodology
7.1 The methodology of practical theology
7.2 Osmer’s approach to and methodology for practical theology
7.2.1 The descriptive-empirical task: priestly listening
7.2.2 The interpretive task: sagely wisdom
7.2.3 The normative task: prophetic discernment
7.2.4 The pragmatic task: servant leadership
7.3 Methodology for practical research
7.3.1 Qualitative research and quantitative research
8. Structure of this study
9. Delimitation of this study
Chapter 2 The roles of father in the Bible
1. Introduction
2. God the Father in the Old Testament
2.1 Father in ancient Jewish society
2.1.1 Passover
2.1.2 Redemption of the first-born
2.1.3 Circumcision
3. God the Father in the New Testament
3.1 The father in ancient Greek and Rome society
3.2 God the Father and Jesus
3.3 God as Father in the Pauline literature
Chapter 3 Father and adolescent
1. Introduction
2. Father and the theories of child and adolescent development
2.1 The theories of moral development
2.1.1 Piaget’s theory
2.1.2 Kohlberg’s theory
2.1.3 Freud’s theory
2.1.4 Erikson’s theory
2.1.5 Bandura’s theory
2.2 Gender role development
2.3 Fowler’s stages of faith
Chapter 4 Father figure in South Africa
1. Introduction
2. Fathers in cross-cultural history
3. The fatherhood in South Africa
3.1 Black South African fatherhood
3.1.1 Migrant fathers in the mining era
3.1.2 South African fathers under apartheid
3.1.3 Black South African father’s fatherhood crisis today Not being there HIV and AIDS epidemic Unemployment Divorce Cultural factor
4. Summary
Chapter 5 Youth ministry and family ministry
1. Introduction
2. Four representative views on youth ministry
2.1 The strategic approach to youth ministry of Mark. H. Senter
2.2 The preparatory approach to youth ministry of Wesley Black
2.3 The missional approach to youth ministry of Chap Clark
2.4 The inclusive congregational approach to youth ministry of Malan Nel
2.4.1 God’s coming to his people The mode of kerygma (proclaiming/preaching) The mode of leitourgia (worship service) The mode of koinonia (mutuality) The mode of diakonia (service)
2.4.2 Giving names
3. Youth ministry and confirmation (public confession of faith)
3.1 Confirmation in the history of Church
3.1.1 First five centuries – the adult catechumenate
3.1.2 The middle ages – confirmation as a sacrament
3.1.3 Reformation – catechetical purpose to confirmation
3.2 The purpose of confirmation work
3.3 Confirmation and baptism
3.4 Confirmation and the Holy Communion
4. Youth ministry and the family
4.1 Family ministry
4.1.1 The concept of a family ministry
4.2 The well-equipped father as a shepherd
5. Extended family
5.1 What is an extended Christian family?
5.2 The role of the youth pastor in a family-based youth ministry
5.3 The role of the congregation in a family-based youth ministry
6. One Body of Christ
7. Summary
Chapter 6 Empirical research
1. Introduction
2. Research aimes and questions
3. Methodology
3.1 Research sample
3.1.1 Adolescent participants
3.1.2 Local pastor participants
3.2 Data gathering
3.3 Data analysis
4. Analysis of the father-absent adolescents’ interview data
4.1 Description of the participants’ relationships with their fathers
4.2 Description of the participants’ awareness of their fathers’ absence
4.3 The influence of a father’s absence on the participants’ relationships with
4.4 Description of the context of the participants’ relationships with
their church/pastor
5. Analysis of the pastors’ interview data
5.1 Description of the participants’ recognition of father-absent youths
5.2 The participants’ descriptions of their relationships with
father-absent youths
5.3 Descriptions of the participants’ awareness of fathers’ absence
6. Summary
6.1 Summary of reflection of the father-absent adolescent participants
6.1.1 Lack of father involvement
6.1.2 Aspirations toward father’s love
6.1.3 wishing for being a good parent
6.1.4 The feeling toward God as Father
6.1.5 Lack of support from the church
6.2 Summary of reflection of the local pastor participants
6.2.1 Excluded father-absent adolescents
6.2.2 In need of cultural support
6.2.3 Responsibilities of the local church
6.2.4 The quality of the local pastor/youth pastor
6.2.5 Qualification required of a father/man and guardian
7. The interpretation
7.1 Father-absent adolescent participants
7.1.1 Lack of communication between local pastor/congregation and father-absent adolescents
7.1.2 Lack of contact with their non-resident fathers
7.1.3 In need of a family-based youth ministry
7.1.4 Budgeting by the congregation for father-absent adolescents
7.1.5 In need of a knowledge of God
7.1.6 In need of well-rounded education
7.2 Pastor participants
7.2.1 Lack of concern about father-absent adolescents
7.2.2 In need of an inclusive congregational youth ministry
7.2.3 Budgeting by the congregation for youth ministry
7.2.4 In need of trained youth pastors
7.2.5 In need of a good relationship between local pastors/congregations and father-absent adolescents
8. Conclusion
Chapter 7 Conclusion
1. Introduction
2. The research problem concerned
3. The research questions concerned
4. The hypothesis concerned
5. Indications of the study
5.1 Is there an effective role of pastors in the lives of father-absent
5.2 Is there a father-figure in congregation for the father-absent
5.3 Is there neglect of father-absent adolescents in youth ministry?
5.4 How can a local church help and support father-absent
6. Areas for further research
7. Limitations and shortcoming of the study
8. Concluding remarks
Annexure A: Informed consent form
Annexure B: Questions for the father-absent adolescent participants
Annexure C: Questions for the local pastor participants

Father absence and Adolescents: A Youth Ministry approach

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