Child continues to grow in their faith all the while the parent does not really know what is going. Sure, they read the youth calendar and their teen may or may not attend Sunday morning worship with them. Maybe they pray at lunch together, occasionally.
Bottom line - the parent has unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) passed off the faith development of their child to the church. That teen graduates and goes off to college having lost their only spiritual support group they've ever known. It could be a LOT worse. But, it could be better.
Scenario 2: Parent drops teen off at church. Parent picks them up a few hours later. Parent has a resource of different specific questions to really find out what the teen just did for the last few hours. Thorough conversation ensues. Questions. Dialogue. Sharing.
The church actually schedules less programming and events so that families can spend more time together. And the church provides additional resources to help the parents take the lead in developing their child's faith with as simple of things as lesson recaps, questions to ask, suggested activities, and other options to help both sides share their faith.
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Someday, that teen will probably live in a different town, far away from their youth pastor or "church friends." There are a billion studies that talk about teens struggling to have a faith of their own when they hit college. One of the biggest differences between those who do have a faith of their own and those who don't are actively engaged parents - because the parents are the one's who make the most impact and will be with that teen for the rest of their life.
There's plenty about all of this. Two of the best places are Sticky Faith and Fuller Youth Institute.
We're tweaking how we do our intermediate ministry called Level Up (5th-8th grade).
1. Only meeting the first 2 Sundays of the month.
2. Providing more dialogue and resources for parents.
3. Using mature high school students to mentor the intermediate group.
I'm not saying it will be a perfect ministry. I'm not saying there won't be a learning curve or new obstacles with the increased focus on providing parents with resources (as opposed to just information). I know there are other questions out there (for example: what if the parent isn't a Christian?). But, I'm excited for the possibility. Our church has done well with Children and with the Senior High, but we have struggled with the intermediate age group. It's time to level up - balance your life while you grow in your faith. (Note: Our Senior High still meets weekly).
This post is a part of my 2013 Lent back to blogging decision. To see my other posts click here