Posts Tagged ‘ Parents of Adolescents ’

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.

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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.

Dispelling Cultural Myths……………………………….Tim Coltvet

In Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World, Chap and Dee Clark take on a popular cultural myth that, sadly, most of us in youth ministry buy hook, line, and sinker.  Simply, that teenage youth do not want to spend time with their parents.  We often run into the smokescreen when recruitment for small groups comes around.  We think, “I bet Jimmy or Janie’s mom/dad would be a great small group leader.”  But, after planting the seed, we soon get the parent’s somewhat dejected response, “Jimmy/Janie doesn’t want me to be their small group leader, sorry.”  All too often, we give up with their response.

Not so fast!  The EYM assets, particularly Asset 44, Fosters Parent-Youth Relationships: offers parent- youth activities that strengthen parent-youth relationships parallels Chap’s research, and give strong grounds for us to engage that dejected parent in further conversation.  Congregations that are fostering a mature Christian faith are somehow finding ways to navigate around and/or through the smokescreen separating parents and youth in their respective faith journeys.

Take, for example, Rochester Covenant church in Rochester, Minnesota.  This congregation finds vibrant life in their senior high ministry through the place they meet, their homes.  Parents are regularly involved in hosting and welcoming senior high students into their homes for discipleship and fellowship as Christian people.  One might think that this would be a barrier to youth involvement.  Quite to the contrary, an authentic expression of faith emerges as parent and youth make their way in their respective faith journeys.  Kenda Creasy Dean’s statement at Luther Seminary’s First/Third Event becomes the goal:

The best way to stimulate spiritual health in a congregation is to invest in the spiritual growth of young people.  The best way to stimulate spiritual health in young people is to invest in the spiritual growth of their parents.”

Let’s let Jesus move youth ministry beyond the cultural myths.

Rev. Tim Coltvet starting cutting his teeth in youth ministry about fifteen years ago.  He currently coordinates contextual learning and coaching at Luther Seminary’s Center for Children Youth, and Family Ministry.

From the First/Third Event……………………………….Nancy Going

At last week’s FIRST/THIRD Event at Luther Seminary, Kenda Dean focused her first lecture by asking these questions:

“What if the problem with the American church is not the youth? What if the problem is the church?”

I know that statement gets youth ministry people like you and me all excited about the ways that statement underscores what we’ve been thinking for years. And the rest of Kenda’s lecture was about the following two statements:

1      The best way to stimulate spiritual health in a congregation is to invest in the spiritual growth of young people.

2      The best way to stimulate spiritual health in young people is to invest in the spiritual growth of their parents.

Again something that you and I might already know, but are we doing it?  Or are we complaining about their parents?  Are we fighting with the priorities of their parents? Are we focusing on the spiritual growth of parents in such a concentrated way that it will actually have an impact on their young people?

Instead, how could we prioritize and develop the kinds of relationships with parents that will allow them to see us as a partners?

These insights of Kenda’s are borne out by the both the NSYR study and in these Exemplary churches.  Look at the first of the 44 Faith Assets related to the family:

Possess Strong Parental Faith: parent(s) possess and practice a vital and informed faith

If you were to add just ONE asset to your ministry, why not this one?

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.