Launching. From the day a child is born, every parent experiences a journey of preparing their child for independence. This occurs physically but is also emotional and intellectual. And spiritual. How do we support our kids in their journey of faith in Christ as they take some of those first steps outside the influence of those that have prayed and loved them (the parents, family and church family)?
As we've explored earlier in this series, it is important for us to note that we cannot create faith but that God does use us as parents, grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins and church families to lead kids to Christ. Similarly, if you are looking for tricks to encourage faith and are not seeking Christ in your own life, the contradiction will be quickly observed by your kids.
(First time reading? We are doing a summer read of Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids. This post is based upon that work which you can get here. The book expands on the insights below with excellent quotes from students who participated in the study and giving some great ideas and teaching points you'll benefit.)
3...2...1... (The Countdown)
Whether it is to college in another community or even a job in the community, the transition from high school is a significant time of change and deciding on ownership of their faith. Powell & Clark, as their research was in the transition to college, focus on this theme the most but aspects of this will be easily applied to any student leaving home.
As we prepare for kids to launch, Powell & Clark's research found important themes reported:
- Only 1 in 7 seniors felt "very prepared" for college life.
- The trajectory of a life at college is set in the first 2 weeks.
- Finding and connecting to a church is hard.
- Managing daily life was a major challenge.
- Contact with parents helps kids in this time (It's not "I'm done" time).
Due to these above factors, here are some ideas for you to impact your child:
- At HOME:
- Trust God with your child: As a parent, don't become child-centered. Stay God-centered. It's important for us to live what we believe about God (theology). That means trusting God and living a life of prayer for our child.
- Express unconditional love to your child: Freedom for mistakes... and to come back to you. As God did for you.
- Don't do what the child should do: Prepare them with life & spiritual skills BEFORE they leave home.
- Prep for COLLEGE:
- Visit a variety of churches: (See p. 161 for some excellent questions. Some examples are below.)
- What is the mission or vision of the group?
- What is the theological heritage of this group?
- What's the teaching like? How about the worship?
- Are there small groups or Bible studies?
- Learn about the spiritual life at potential colleges (even if it is not a Christian school, it is good to know the tone or spiritual leanings of the area.)
- Talk about life after high school: Again, check out the full list on p. 162-3 but some were...
- Finding a new church and campus ministry
- Finding new friendships (especially Christian friendships)
- Recovering after falling, stumbling or even turning from Christ
- Managing time
- Managing money
- Discerning vocation and calling.
- Prepare for loss (material, relationship, dreams, etc.)
- Create a "first two-weeks" plan (Friends, church, Christian campus ministries, etc. are important connections in this time.)
- Celebrate a few "lasts" together
- Give money to the youth to take each sibling out
- A family dinner at youth's favorite restaurant
- Process your empty-next (or emptying-next) emotions
- Invite your church into the preparation process
- Create mentoring partnerships
- Share some of the quotes from this book (esp. pp. 171-2)
Were you surprised by any of these? Anything you would add?
Check out the series or follow-up on the conversations in the posts below:
- An Invitation to Sticky Faith for the Generations (Our intro/invite post)
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 1): The Not-So-Sticky-Faith Reality
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 2): The Sticky Gospel
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 3): Sticky Identity
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 4): Sticky Faith Conversations
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 5): A Sticky Web of Relationships
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 6): Sticky Justice
Next (& last) week: Chapter 8 “The Ups and Downs of the Sticky Faith Journey"