A History of Family Crossfires Ministries, Inc.
In the early 1980's Rick and Rhonda Buhrke began ministering to teenagers caught in the grips of suicide and children suffering from abuse. They began working to prevent suicide and abuse by strengthening families in faith that heals through the love of God. Their musical background and talent led to a "music and message" ministry. From family ministry God lead them into intergenerational ministry.
The Buhrke Family (Rick, Rhonda, Elizabeth and Naomi) founded Family Crossfires in 1990 and began traveling around the nation. They offered Christian Family Concerts and Workshops to help congregations prevent and heal problems before they turned tragic through intergenerational Worship and Sunday School. However, the task was great with suicide and abuse on the rise. So, Family Crossfires began to produce prevention and healing printed resources to help minister to the whole family of God, every age and generation. These eventually became the life and soul saving United Intergenerational Ministry Resources produced by Family Crossfires Ministries, Inc. today.
In 1989 the Buhrke family prayed about leaving the ordained ministry to minister for Family Crossfires full-time. God, however, had much different plans. He led the LCMS dual parish of St. Paul Stony Hill, rural Shawano, WI and Zion, Gresham, WI to call Rick, knowing the Buhrke’s would also be doing Family Crossfires ministry. At this point God stepped in directly to provide for each tiny detail and huge need; people, funds, time, supplies, and facilities. Family Crossfires was approved for bulk rate mail without actually completing the application. Miracles continue to be a breath taking part of this ministry! Grant funds and contributions from God’s people come “just when they are needed.”
By 1998 God had provided a Board of Directors and incorporated Family Crossfires as a Not-for-Profit Tax-Exempt Charitable Ministry.
UIM is a unique form of intergenerational ministry because it ministers to every generation at the same time through the same resource. Most intergenerational ministry ministers to individual generations separately. Zion and St. Paul began UIM SS because their SS’s were small (8-10 members). The Superintendents of these two SS's, Debbie Hoffman (Zion) and Betty Gast (St. Paul) felt UIM SS would allow them to teach all their grades together. Adults were invited but did not attend every Sunday. UIM SS also transforms Sunday Schools into caring family groups who are strengthened in faith to support each other. This kind of support helps to prevent and heal problems before they turn tragic.
In 2002 St. John Lutheran Church, Hermansfort, rural Shawano, WI came on board. Their SS Superintendent, Marilyn Goers, began having adults attend every week and doubled, sometime tripled the size of their SS.
In 2004 Pastor Cal Siegel began UIM SS in multiple classrooms at Zion Lutheran Church, Fall Creek, WI. Many pitfalls were discovered and they did not continue UIM SS. However, their experience has paved the way for others to offer UIM SS in multiple classrooms.
Today Family Crossfires offers UIM Worship and Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Newsletter Articles, Bulletin Inserts, and "Christ's Caring Intensified in Congregations" (CCIC) a 3-Phase Program foundational to UIM. CCIC has shown great promise as a church growth program for struggling congregations. All UIM Resources work around the same theme and Scripture for one year to reinforce faith support. This is part of a new "holistic" approach to ministry that helps assure that what is"taught" is "caught." Pastor Siegel was also instrumental in directing UIM towards this holistic ministry approach.
UIM has been studied and used by those working towards doctorate degrees in intergenerational ministry. Having been permanently recorded in doctorate dissertations, with it's founders noted as pioneers in a new intergenerational ministry, UIM is proving to be a breakthrough in ministry! Yet, this is only the beginning of what we know our great God has in store for UIM! Discussions of teaching UIM at LCMS Universities and Seminaries have even been discussed.
In 2009 Rick and Rhonda did leave full time parish ministry to live in a tiny cottage for five years. With little income God provided all that was needed to bring UIM Resources up to the high quality and spiritually powerful resources they are today. He also sent a small congregation, Zion, Zachow (Rural Bonduel, WI) to call Rick and use UIM Resources, allowing the Buhrke's to see the blessings of UIM at work. In 2014, God moved this ministry to a larger cabin with not only office space but a beautiful pond view that inspires this ministry to continue to be developed for God and by God.