Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Last week I mentioned that there are dozens of studies that identify parents as the most important influence on the religious lives of their children. Parents play the largest role in their child’s spiritual formation. Church and youth groups can help, but ultimately they will learn more from their own family.
The question is, “How do parents pass on the faith to their children?” The answer…get radical. Kenda Creasy Dean, a youth ministry professor at Princeton University, states: "Parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.”
Getting radical does not necessarily mean doing something outrageous. Getting radical is simply living out our faith on a daily basis. Our kids primarily learn from us by what we do more than what we say. Unintentionally, many parents communicate these truths: (1) Church is something you attend if you have the time. (2) Faith is a good thing but doesn’t really affect everyday life. (3) You can be a Christian without actually following Christ.
Ouch! My intention is not to make us feel guilty…but for each of us to look at our own lives and examine what our actions are teaching the next generation. Will we ever be perfect as parents? No. However, our prayer is to be people who radically follow Christ and show others what it means to be a Christian. Our kids are watching…hopefully we will teach them compassion, service, forgiveness, courage, and faith!
Get Radical Tips:
- Give (regularly and spontaneously)—sponsor a child through World Vision and have the whole family help in writing the child letters. Give away toys and clothes periodically that the family no longer uses. Tithe and give money to the benevolence fund on communion Sundays.
- Pray a lot! Go to the altar at church. Have devotions in the morning.
- Connect and invest in a church. Attend regularly and find a place to serve.
- Attend a mission trip or service project with your kids.
- Forgive others and ask for forgiveness when needed.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Not Just the Youth Pastor's Job
The professional job called “youth minister” was largely non-existent 30 years ago. Now, most churches have a youth minister on staff. I think this is good in the sense that churches see the need to invest in the lives of young people. I’m glad churches hire youth pastors…I’m one of them!
However, I think the negative outcome of the youth ministry profession is that the church now has the tendency to hire youth ministers to “take care of” the church’s young people. This would suggest that the spiritual growth of teenagers is the job of one person, not for families and communities. Most churches and parents expect youth pastors to use their personal charisma and boundless energy to attract teenagers to the church, and once there to keep them busy, happy, and out of trouble.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I love youth ministry and I think youth ministries can have profound effects on young people. Nevertheless, youth ministries were never meant to take the parents’ responsibility of raising their children in the faith. Youth ministries exist to help and assist families with the spiritual growth of their teenagers. Yet, families and parents will always have the greater impact on a child’s spiritual development.
There are dozens of studies that identify parents as the most important influence on the religious lives of their children. Thus, as a congregation we need to be praying for the parents of teenagers. Their task and call as parents is daunting. However, through the grace of God and the help of the church, families can and will pass on the faith to their children.