Posts Tagged ‘ Children Youth and Family Ministry ’

What if? More from the D6 Conference……………………Jason Miller

There is a great deal of power in those words.  What if children, youth and family ministries were more than a program?  What if they become the basis of a fully integrated mindset for the relationship between the church and the home?  Imagine the possibilities.  Parents taking on their God-given roles as the primary faith formers for their children.  Families committed to serving their church and the world in the name of Christ.  The end of “drop-off” ministry because parents are actively engaged in ministry with their children.  A church where ministry silos are integrated and connected to a common goal…strengthening the home and therefore strengthening the church in its mission to the world.

Pretty lofty, huh?  For years we have recognized the need and have tried to start program after program with the goal of encouraging a relationship between home and congregation with modest results.  The time has come to think differently about family faith formation, more holistically.

Permeating the discussions at the D6 Conference this year was the insight that the Schema (Deuteronomy 6) was not a program to be implemented, but a mindset, an ethos to become part of our DNA.  Many of the presentations revolved around this “easier said than done” notion.  It’s just that,  but it is the ONLY way we will truly succeed in partnering with parents in forming faith in young Christians.  And that’s what the “family assets” of the EYM study are really all about.   Churches who are constantly figuring out how to make this partnership a part of who they are.  They did this by intentionally engaging and including the single most influential people in the lives of young people…their parents.

Now I want to hear from all of you.  Is D6 a part of your (and your congregation’s) DNA?  What are you doing in your life and your church community to live out the Schema?

Jason Miller is a husband, dad and Christ follower who serves as Director of Christian Education for a congregation in Apollo Beach, FL.  He has been engaged in Children’s, Youth and Family Ministry for over a decade.

EYM and D6 …………………………………………………..Nancy Going

If the D6 conference is not on your radar screen, watch for it next year. D6 stands for Deuteronomy 6.  This year’s D6 took place in Dallas, September 15-17, 2010, and was sponsored by Randall House.

Here’s how D6 connects with the EYM study results.  While the EYM study doesn’t give a lot of information about the faith formation that takes place in the homes of the students in these exemplary congregations, it does tell the story of churches who made notable strides in supporting parents in their role as the primary shapers of the faith of their children.  The parents reported that they got it, and it helped.

The conference not only did a great job of holding that focused support as a God-given pattern, but providing lots of step-by-step how-to’s related to the hard work of changing how churches think about what we do.  More than just naming it family ministry, or handing out obligatory family devotions for people to throw away on the way home, the conference worked hard to find leaders who were bit by bit changing the cultures of their churches, and asked them to talk about the new support systems for parents that they are putting in place for faith formation to happen outside the walls of the church and instead in cars and family rooms.

Most profound, however was the way that Doug Field’s(founder of Simply Youth Ministry) talk at the conference challenged leaders to LEAD with this commitment themselves.  To live a spirituality of God’s activity in the every day of family life, and not just at church…..to be the kind of spiritual leaders in their own families who put attention to the spiritual formation of their children before the next event at church.  We all know that’s a part of the bigger picture here.  He named it.

Dr. Nancy Going is a 20 some year veteran of congregational youth ministry.  She coordinates the Distributed (distance) youth ministry students at Luther Seminary.  She did her PhD research by interviewing adolescents from the Exemplar congregations.  The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry book comes out this week.  Order yours here.

For Every Sport There is a Season……………………….Jerry Watts

I’m a big fan of the four seasons.  There’s football season, basketball season, baseball season, and… well you get the idea.  If you are a sports aficionado there is always something to fill your TIVO box, fantasy league addiction, swipe your debit card for, or fill up your calendar with.   The same kind of frenetic rhythm is true in the lives of teens as well as our youth ministries today.

There’s the gear up for fall kick-off season, weekly program season, retreat season, confirmation season, summer mission trip season, and … well you get the idea.  There is an info meeting to go to, a deposit check to be cut, and facebook event page to click “maybe” on.   I am certain if you are reading this blog you can easily fill in the blanks of season upon demanding season in the life of a teenager today.

Because of this youth ministry often (and rightly so) tends to look for gaps or windows in those busy seasons to offer retreats, a weekly respite, or frankly make room to share the Gospel.   Either that or we find ways to invest in walking along side youth at their football games, or band concerts, lunch hours, or maybe the occasional 5th quarter party.  I’m not suggesting we abandon all those tools, however I am suggesting that the EYM study and yes Holy Scriptures themselves call us to something more.

The EYM study reminds us that exemplary youth ministries nurture mature Christian youth who see God active in their DAILY lives, who spend regular time in the WORD through a personal devotional life, and recognize God has a purpose for them…today.  These markers go beyond mission trip week, winter camp, youth group night, or any other gap, window, or program wedge we can squeeze into an already packed schedule.

Isaiah 40:8 reminds us that “the grass withers and the flowers fade but the Word of our God stands forever.”  What red thread weaves through the youth ministry you lead or partner with that calls youth to be engaged by God’s Word that supersedes every season? As Isaiah reminds us, in the final analysis, God’s Word is the only thing that will last.  Can we retrain our radar from looking at gaps in a calendar to scan for opportunities to help kids pick up on the voice of God calling, inviting, and speaking to their hearts everyday?   Maybe we don’t need to start by throwing out all of our youth ministry seasons, but maybe we do need to start looking for relationships that can be the mixing boards that sort out the noise of busyness to hear God speak…everyday.

Jerry Watts is still serving as Youth and Family Minister in Plano, TX.  He’s been doing in youth ministry for almost seventeen years.