Reminder, a milestone is a "marker of progression on the spiritual formation journey." With that in mind...
Milestone 1- The Birth of a Baby. Brian Haynes writes "Christian parents are naturally compelled to dedicate their newborn children to God. The act of dedication is actually a commitment on the parents' part to raise their children in the ways of the Lord."
- Core Competency: The parent as the primary faith influencer.
- Champion: The champion for this milestone is the children's ministry team, specifically, those over the preschool area. This person works to build relationships with new (or repeating parents), and this should begin long before birth. In the midst of relationship building, they prepare parents for the church event and faith training at home.
- Parent Seminar: Where Brian serves, this is a required 2-hour seminar, and it is all about creating the understanding of parents as primary faith influencer. Parents learn the big picture (all seven milestones) and the church clearly communicates how they will partner and equip the parents.
- Church Event: Once the parents have attended the seminar, they schedule the baby dedication for a time when the whole church can celebrate. Those gathered serve as witnesses and take their stand with the parents and new born.
- Core Competency: Jesus, faith, the Bible, sin, repentance, salvation
- Champion: The champion here is the children's ministry team, specifically the ministry team leader. This person equips parents so that they can engage their kids with Faith Talks and God Sightings. The church teaches these things in both children's ministry and adult ministry contexts.
- Parent Seminar: Brian offers this twice per year, with the focus on leading Faith Talks and God Sightings in the home It's not a checklist; it is about have real conversations in the midst of life.
- Church Event: For Eastview, this would be immersion, and might take place in our building, at camp, on a service project (we've baptised students in all 3 environments).
- Family Event: The family holds a spiritual birthday party in their home, family, church members (especially their champions) are present.
Are the adults and parents living out an authentic relationship with Christ?
This teaching fall squarely on church leadership to clearly communicate, and then expect, people who call themselves followers of Christ, to provide opportunities for people to minister and be edified as those followers of Christ. The teaching needs to include the biblical mandate for their role in the family. To start, the church leadership, at all levels, must embrace and live out the model if they are to pass it down to the rest of the body. When asked about this at KidMin in October, Brian stated that landing this among the leadership, creating the vision and implementation, took at least 18 months from start to finish. There was a 4-6 month teaching process for their leadership team. Like everything else in life, this will take patience and time.
What about kids coming from an un-churched family?
If the above is tough, this is the real tough nut to crack. Once the church leadership families are living this out, their role is to partner with kids from these "non-traditional families" and, in some ways take ownership of this situation. The church cannot sit idly by and watch kids fall through the cracks. All the while, these families should be developing relationships with parents and families as a "big-picture" church ministry effort. And this will be a long and arduous path that churches must decide on the front end that they will walk.
How do we deal with the brokenness, the mess of ministry that will be created by the above?
By living out the Gospel...love, mercy, grace, trust, faith, hope, service and equipping and being equipped for ministry. It will take effort, coin and time. It will take the church being the Body of Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2 says this- "Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." In short, it will take everything that we have, which requires the church leadership to lead from the front.
Questions? Concerns? Possible solutions?