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Family Ministry

Congregational Family Ministry And Public Family Service Programs

The community mental health center movement of the 1960s in the United States provided interesting parallels and opportunities for professional collaboration between congregational leaders developing family ministries and community social service professionals. Sometimes, the same people were involved in both movements. Community mental health was a new government initiative supported by the social service professions. The federal government provided major funding to develop centers whose purpose was to lower the incidence of mental illness in a community through prevention programs, and to treat those with mental illness and developmental disabilities in their own families and communities rather than in large state mental hospitals and institutions. Because theory of the day suggested that family processes caused or at least contributed to mental illness, developing healthy families was a significant focus of these centers. Both family ministry and the community mental health movement emphasized prevention of family problems when possible and crisis intervention to keep existing problems from worsening.

Government funding for community mental health centers was time-limited and never fully adequate, however. Increasingly, social service professionals looked to other institutions to provide prevention and family life education services. Both public schools and churches are located in virtually every community and touch the lives of many community families. Consequently, many community leaders, with the support of social service professionals, began to advocate for these institutions to take on responsibility for providing the prevention, education, and counseling services for families.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily & Marriage TraditionsFamily Ministry - Why Congregations Do Family Ministry, Congregational Family Ministry And Public Family Service Programs, Who Leads Family Ministry?