there are many spiritual markers that dot the timeline during the 18 years a child is in the family’s immediate care. in a recent breakout at #etch16 we discovered how to be intentional about applying a Gospel-centered approach during special times from birth to high school graduation.

in a Bible study i am taking it describes john as a man that had Jesus as the very core of his existence. this really got me thinking about all we do in ministry. let’s not look at these spiritual marker celebration times as programs or events, but a chance to make the Gospel the core of their existence.

Gospel-centered spiritual markers – the whys:
– the goal is the Gospel. without it we have just another event.
– celebrations don’t change lives, the Gospel does.
– these spiritual markers bring many non-believers and/or family members together.

question-purzen_icon_with_question_mark_vector_clipartGospel-centered filter – five question to ask when planning/evaluating spiritual marker events/celebrations.
– is the Gospel at the core of this spiritual marker celebration?
– does it create an opportunity for life-change?
– how is it different than worldly celebration? (is Jesus the takeaway?)
– is the Word of God the backbone of the celebration?
– how will you help families apply these truths beyond the walls of the church?

ideas:

pre birth
– intentionally share Gospel with expecting parents – because so many coming to the church or back to the church in this
season.as this time
– expecting parents have an assigned prayer partner and encourager.
– testimony from Christ-centered, seasoned parents
– challenge families to look ahead with eternal perspective -in the end what matters most?

birth
– hospital visits include intentional conversation and prayer.
– gifts for new parents: prayer book, Bible with babies name, magazines, books

baby dedication
– family mission statement (what kind of 18 year old you want)
– life verse
– letter from pastor sharing the Gospel for kids to open when they are older (8, 13, etc.)
– church challenged to pray and support family
– challenge to families to share Gospel with family through this celebration

new Bible
– God’s Words is how kids learn the Gospel
– highlight verses that outline the Gospel (roman road – Gospel God’s plan for me)
– teacher and staff scriptures to get kids into God’s Word

seeking Jesus
– involve family in this – Gospel class with parents
– share the God’s truth based on scripture
– allow families to experience truth
– kids discuss truth with parents

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-9-39-24-am– family worship
     – Creator
–  the fall
– redemption
– restoration

new believer & baptism – build on foundation of the Gospel
– new Christian’s class
– how to grow – what’s next (devotional)
– how to study God’s Word family class – help them own their faith.
– Gospel testimony during baptism (whether written or on video).

tween transition
– lesson plan of basic Bible truths taught by church leaders.
– secret prayer partner (a vetted adult in the church that they write letters back and forth with each month. adults are given a topic      to write about.) this means there is another adult praying for and investing in that child.
– parents write and read aloud a letter to their child as they transition to student ministry. (important for child to hear the words said not just read.)

middle school
– 3 year discipleship plan
     apologetics, spiritual gifts, spiritual disciplines
– mentors patiently pouring the Gospel into middle school
– free standing coffee gift card to talk

purity
– purity commitment service (purity not just to wait, but purity for kingdom purposes)
– coupons to pass or ask to talk

high school graduation
– lead in worship – share testimony of life-change
– special Sunday commissioning them from pulpit
– assign church prayer partner for first year in college
– college Bible and devotion

during this breakout at #etch16, we had participants share ideas they had about celebrating spiritual markers. they were a wealth of great stuff. here are some things they shared:

  • home dedications – this helps include families that start coming to church when children are older, or for adopted children.
  • pink and blue party – invite expecting parents and baby room workers and tour the preschool area
  • testimonies form seasoned parents – structured and Gospel-centered
  • make a new mom devotional book complete with devotions written by season parents in the church.
  • parents write letter to child including verses.
  • senior adults make wooden treasure boxes for baby’s dedication. these boxes hold memories form their spiritual journey.
  • mentors for new parents
  • a parent “commissioning” service
  • home visit after birth and a two week meal schedule
  • required classes for parents along with milestones (i.e. baby dedication)
  • personalize baby dedication (fewer vs bunches)
  • bring new parents to staff or seasoned parents house to partake in a family devotional.
  • online classes & orientation of the Gospel before dedication
  • weekend trip with teen – share testimony, Biblical man/womanhood, rite of passage
  • mother/daughter and father/son events
  • spiritual gifts assessment to help them feel a part of the body of Christ and begin to serve
  • take classes of kids to church to observe and take communion after a class on the Lord’s Supper
  • transition retreat with kidmin and student ministry leaders
  • parents present Bible to child in new Bible class/sunday
  • intergenerational service on sunday mornings
  • high schoolers serving in middle school small groups
  • high school graduation dinner with staff
  • for seniors – get a 4×6 photo album. adults write notes and verses on cards. cards and pictures are added to each students album.

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