Part 3- Milestones 1 & 2
Milestone 3- Preparing for Adolescence. "This stage of development requires parents to rethink how they connect with their children relationally to lead them spiritually....Understanding our identity in Christ answers two questions that are important for every person to answer: Who am I--and whose am I?" The church comes alongside parents to help them lead these Faith Talks and God Sightings at home.
- Core Competencies: Identity in Christ, spiritual growth, spiritual disciplines
- Champion: The champion for this milestone is the children's ministry team in conjunction with the student ministry team. The focus is on Faith Talks, God Sightings and resources to equip parents.
- Parent Seminar: This seminar takes place before age 9; while that seems (and is) young, the foundation for identity in Christ must be set early because the challenge to maintain that identity in light of our cultures sexualization. Here, parents learn how to help their children navigate physical change, identity and sex issues.
- Church Event: Each year, Brian's church has a 24-hour retreat for fourth and fifth grade students that specifically deal with one of the core competencies for this milestone. In the time leading up to this retreat, the childrens ministry focuses on spiritual disciplines, identity and spiritual growth. Sexual purity is NOT addressed, but parents are resource for a family/parent getaway to specifically address it.
- Family Event: This is a Road Trip that has been carefully planned by the parents to celebrate the transition into adolescence. The Faith Talks and God Sightings that precede this lay the foundation for the event.
Milestone 4- Commitment to Purity. "Purity for life is a foreign concept in mainstream culture. Without a foundational moral source like the Bible, young people face a chaotic number of relational options. But God has a clear plan for life, relationships, marriage and sex." . The ages between 7-13 are when many children growing up in a Christian home will make a commitment to Christ. What does this look like?
- Core Competencies: Biblical purity, healthy relationships, identity in Christ
- Champion: The champion here is the student ministry team, specifically, the youth minister or a small group leader takes on this role within the church, the family and the students. They "ensure that integration is occurring between the youth ministry experience at church and the parents' spiritual direction at home." Curriculum, events, and programming is intentionally chosen to reflect the competencies and parents are sourced for Faith Talks and God Sightings.
- Parent Seminar: This seminar takes place at the beginning of a students' 6th grade year, and Brian has mature high school seniors share about the realities of a sexualized culture with parents. A number of resources are made available to parents, with the key being parents encouraged to keep the lines of communication open about this topic.
- Church Event: The church event is a Commitment to Purity weekend. A representative from a local crisis pregnancy center might be brought in on Friday to share the experiences of that person and organization. "The youth ministry and pregnancy help center can only reiterate the principles parents have been teaching for months." Saturday is a discussion-based event about identity in Christ, friendships, accountability and wide variety of other similar topics discussed. Sunday worship is a celebration of purity and commitment.
- Family Event: The family gives their son or daughter a purity ring as a symbol of their commitment.
"Parents must be pursuing spiritual growth and exercising spiritual disciplines as an outpouring of their identity in Christ to influence their children to do the same. This is why a strong adult Christian education ministry is so important." If the adult education process in a church is not clearly focused on making disciples and equipping the Body of Christ to make disciples above all other things, a student and children's ministry will be limited, and severely so.
Hard question: How can we lovingly come alongside parents to teach and equip them, knowing that some might not want to disciple their kids?
Questions? Concerns? Possible solutions?