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spiritual formation {preventers}

on saturday, i spoke at Parent University at Parkview Christian Church. several years ago, i provided consulting for the children's ministry staff as they were going through a large leadership transition, so the staff and volunteers and specifically the church hold a very special place in my heart. it was lovely to see everyone, and experience their leadership in action. and, bonus! my sister was also a speaker, leading a workshop just down the hall from me. way too much fun. 

at the event, i spoke to parents on everyday spiritual formation. i encouraged them to be free from the pressure and burden that we often associate with spiritually leading our children. i urged them to incorporate faith practices and conversations into daily routines that were simple, unique for their family, and effective. and, of course, i suggested they be proactive in relationship with their church staff, viewing them as resources and partners in their parenting journey. i'm hopeful parents were receptive and challenged, and inspired to lead differently in their homes. 

i've been mulling over one specific activity we did during the workshop. it impacted me, and gave me reason to believe we might be missing something as we attempt to partner with parents.

i led a brainstom with the parents around things that prevent us from spiritually forming our children. i began the brainstom by saying, "we all want to model faith for kids. we all have good intentions, but things get in the way, things prevent us from modeling christ-like faith to our children. so, let's name those things that get in the way." 

it was super easy to list the things that get in the parents' way: they're too busy, too tired after a long day, they feel overwhelmed and incompetent because their parents didn't model faith for them, their children aren't interested, it becomes harder to relate as children get older, they feel alone as single parents, and they feel challenged to know specifically what lessons to teach. 

after we had completed our list, i encouraged parents to be mindful of their specific preventers. i suggested, each week, they take a quiet moment to reflect on the things that prevented them from modeling faith for their children during the previous week. i challenged them to journal each sunday evening, writing about the preventers that stood in their way the previous week while making a new committment to be mindful and intentional during the new week. 

because here's the thing i can't shake. maybe, at their core, parents really do understand the vision and know how to model faith for their specific families. but, they're distracted, and their lives are busy, and all sorts of things start preventing them from doing it. and so, maybe, just maybe, our job as children's ministry leaders is to help parents identify these preventers and then do all we can to strengthen them so they can lead, model, and cast aside the distractions. 

after the first workshop, a dad with 2 teenage daughters came up to me and so earnestly asked how he could lead his family better. he wanted to be an example of faith to his children so desperately. i'll remember his face for a long time. such honest desire for his children. really, beautiful.

the father asked if i could recommend a resource for him to read in order to lead stronger. in the moment, i could only think of one answer, and i'm hoping it was the spirit himself leading me. i suggested the dad spend a full day praying and fasting, asking God to reveal His unique plan for this family, giving the father specific ideas for encouraging faith in his children. i think the dad would have been happier with a simple book recommendation, but i really believed what i was saying. and, i believed the only thing preventing him from modeling faith was hearing specific steps from god. 

helping parents identify things that get in their way, and then leading each to cast aside the preventers. a new way of partnering with parents. what do you think? and, how can we do this? 

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Reader Comments (2)

This is awesome, Amy! I love it. Help parents identify their "preventers"... love how that is worded. I will be adding that to my toolbox!

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry Zonio

Hear hear! I agree Amy. Parents are struggling--the desire is there to raise up children in the faith but so, so many roadblocks ("preventers") are in the way. What a great way to help that you lifted up! Simple and profound.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Perraud

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