First Homes: Equipping Families for the Journey
Yesterday I wrote a post about the lack of a roadmap for the spiritual development of children and youth. I have been on a mission to discover what this roadmap could be like for families at First Presbyterian since I started my role here. Today I want to share this roadmap in a redefinition of our First Homes initiative. First Homes is all about incorporating the Christian faith into the home and equipping parents to be the main spiritual guides for their children.
Here is the link to what this roadmap looks like: First Homes Exits
The roadmap includes eight different sequential exits for families to stop at on their journey. Just like an exit on the highway, these are opportunities for families to recharge and refuel. Each exit is designed for a specific life stage that the child is going through. There will be an element of experiential education and learning for the child and for the parent at each exit.
FIRST KIDS: CHILDREN’S MINISTRY EXITS
Parenting 101: New Parents
New parents or those who are expecting will go through a three week class which equips them for starting the parenting journey. We will discuss ideas such as the importance of couples connecting in the faith together. We will also give them practical resources for this exciting stage and show them various parenting philosophies.
Independence: 2-3 Year Olds
Parents will once again go through a three week class focused on the unique needs of 2-3 year olds. Once again they will be given practical tools for parenting children at this age. Our hope during this stage is that parents start to connect with each other and even get together outside of the class for play dates.
Stepping Out: Kindergarten
This stage is overwhelming for parents as they see their child leave the home for a significant part of the day. This class will be held in August so we can help parents process this big step. We will give them resources for taking an active role in spiritually guiding their children. As parents are going through these classes, we will plan fun experiences for the children that prepare them for kindergarten.
Biblical Foundation: 3rd Grade
At third grade, children are to the stage where they can practice their faith by reading Scripture themselves. Parents and children will go through this experience together and be exposed to the transformational, exciting Word of God. After the three week experience, children will receive a Bible in front of the church congregation.
FIRST YOUTH: YOUTH MINISTRY EXITS
Adolescence Prep: Incoming 5th Graders
Because of the emergence of the “tween culture,” we are thinking of moving our 5th grade students into our middle school ministry so that we can have four years to walk alongside them in this adolescent transition. In May before 4th grade students transition to 5th grade, parents will go through a three week class devoted to the changes of adolescence. We will cover the mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual changes that will happen in the next four years. The incoming 5th grade students will also go through a separate three week experience devoted to relationship building and spiritual formation. We will also instruct them on the practice of communion as they will be in the adult congregation as 5th graders on Sunday mornings. The experience will conclude with the incoming 5th graders taking their first communion in the adult congregation.
Confirmation: 8th Grade
For our congregation, Confirmation is a major milestone for teenagers where they become members of the church. We are thinking critically about what this transition needs to look like. We have done some research on the confirmation students over the last ten years and a majority of those currently in high school are not actively involved in the church community. This is causing us to reevaluate how we walk students through Confirmation.
This exit is devoted to opening up honest lines of communication between teenagers and parents in the area of sexual purity. This will be a weekend experience where the student will attend the retreat with their same gender parent. If their same gender parent is not involved or able to attend, one of our same gender youth ministry leaders will step in and be their guide for the weekend.
This exit is one of the most important and yet too often overlooked. The fall of their senior year in high school, students will go through a pretty rigorous two month, weekly training on how to think critically about their faith. Our hope is that this will be the final step in preparing students to think about their faith and how they will live it out at college or the work world. Parents of seniors will go through a three week class devoted to preparing them for the next stage as their child goes to college.
We are exciting to see how these “exits” will play out and what effect they will have on families in our ministry. I am most excited for my daughters as they will be our test group as they will be the first to go through most of these exits. I will keep you all updated to how these are going. Hillary and I are excited too as we will lead the first exit in January for new parents.