FBC Jackson’s Milestone Ministry
Biblical Mandate: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7
1 Baby Dedication
Christian parents are naturally compelled to dedicate their newborn children to God. The act of dedication is actually a commitment on the parents’ part to raise their child in the ways of the Lord. Taking our cue from the Bible, we lead parents to celebrate Milestone 1: The Birth of a Baby (we will call it Baby Dedication).
This milestone connects new parents with the magnificent responsibility and opportunity of leading their children spiritually. When parents present their children to God, even as Mary and Joseph did, they’re acknowledging two simple facts. First, this new baby is God’s creation and therefore God’s possession. Second, as stewards of God’s possession, parents have the responsibility to intentionally raise the child in a way that’s pleasing to God.
Strategically, Milestone 1 is all about connecting with parents in a natural season of excitement, curiosity, and perhaps even anxiety, to show them the milestone road map for leading their children spiritually. This is a time of life when parents are looking for help. They leave the hospital with a few pamphlets and no idea about how to raise their new baby. They need God, community, and a plan to do it right. We will use Milestone 1 to introduce parents to God’s desire to walk with them through this journey called parenting. We will (italics are mine) demonstrate our commitment as a church to embrace the new family in community and partner with them all along the way in the child’s process of spiritual development.
Core competency: the parent(s) as the primary faith influencer.
2 Gospel Foundations
Children growing up in the context of a Christian family and a Christ-centered church are likely to make a public affirmation to follow Jesus when they’re between the ages of 7 and 13. Between Milestone 1 and Milestone 2, parents lead their children toward a relationship with Jesus-quite a journey when you think about it. During this time parents initiate Faith Talks to reach the core competencies, capitalize on God Sightings, and pray like crazy for their son or daughter. This path requires work, persistence, and intentionality.
Core competencies: Jesus, faith, the Bible, sin, repentance, and salvation.
3 Preparing for Adolescence
The church partners with parents to help children between the ages of 9 and 12 prepare spiritually, emotionally, and physically for adolescence. This stage of development requires parents to rethink how they connect with their children relationally to lead them spiritually.
As Christian parents we have the responsibility to equip our children with a strong sense of God’s truth to deal with many unavoidable issues in our culture. Isolationism, though appealing, isn’t the answer. Instead of protecting our children from the outside in, we will need to strengthen them from the inside out. Milestone 3 is all about giving parents the tools to lead their children spiritually through the tumultuous years of adolescence.
We will focus first on identity in Christ. Understanding our identity in Christ answers two questions that are important for every person to answer. Who am I – and whose am I? A 9 to 11 year old can understand this when it’s taught in Faith Talks at home and in Bible study at church, especially when parents model this in their lives. Identity serves as the necessary base for practical discussions about real issues in preparation for adolescence. Equipping parents to have comfortable, biblically informed conversations with their kids about uncomfortable topics isn’t easy. We will give parents the encouragement, resources, and skills they need to discuss developing bodies, emotional changes, and sex, as well as our culture’s perversions of God’s gifts. All of this relates to a proper understanding of identity in Christ.
We will partner with parents to teach children competencies in spiritual growth and discipline. If a child reads the Bible regularly, he will hear the voice of God. If a child prays, she will find wisdom, direction, refuge, forgiveness, and community with God. Many parents find this challenging. Parents must be pursuing spiritual growth and exercising spiritual discipline as an outpouring of their identity in Christ to influence their children to do the same. This is why a strong adult Christian education ministry is so important. We will be the instigators for improving our adult Bible studies.
Core competencies: identity in Christ, spiritual growth, spiritual disciplines.
4 Commitment to Purity
Purity for life is a foreign concept in mainstream culture. Without a foundational moral source like the Bible, young people face a chaotic number of relational options. But God has a clear plan for life, relationships, marriage, and sex. In the 1990s the biblical principles behind the True Love Waits campaign brought about a generation of young people committed to remaining sexually pure and saving sex for marriage, as an act of love to God and to their future spouses. We’ve simply broadened the issue because it’s our desire to lead young people to become men and women who live a total lifestyle of purity whether single or married. This includes the topic of pornography which can cripple our kids with a warped sense of sexuality and extreme feelings of guilt, some of which can greatly impact their future marriages. We will do much more than simply tell kids to wait until they’re married to have sex. Milestone 4 is about equipping parents to lead their sons and daughters to embrace the biblical principle of purity for life.
Core Competencies: biblical purity, healthy relationships, identity in Christ.
5 Rite of Passage
The growth of a child into adulthood is a significant milestone. In our culture, the age of 16 represents an important threshold, but the passage to adulthood milestone isn’t about superficial freedoms such as keys to a car or the latest model of cell phone. Instead, Milestone 5 delineates the responsibilities associated with becoming a man or woman of God. It also lays out the Bible’s expectation that parents will lead their children to become men and women of God before they leave home. This is Milestone 5, a rite of passage given by parents and practically applied by boys desiring to be men and girls desiring to be women.
During this time the church provides opportunities for teenagers to experience their new sense of responsibility and freedom by learning to serve in meaningful ways. We involve young people headed toward Milestone 5 in everything from our First Impressions on Sunday morning to international mission efforts. We will encourage parents to take the lead and serve alongside them. In our church’s context we ask teenagers to join us in our mission to love God, love people, and equip generations, one home at a time.
Core Competencies: roles of men and women, spiritual gifts and service, and basic tenets of the faith.
6 High School Graduation
Parents need to prepare teenagers who are in the last two years of high school for the realities of life away from home. We teach parents how to lead discussions about God’s plan for their children to become people of influence for Christ, dating and marriage issues, and life skills such as managing finances. We also train parents on how to defend the Christian faith so they can help get teenagers ready for the non-Christian influences they’ll confront at college, career, or active duty. Parents learn how the church supports these core competencies by teaching them in the context of small group Bible studies and through influential mentoring relationships.
Core Competencies: defending my faith, God’s plan for my life, dating, marriage, and life skills.
7 Life in Christ
Every adult has a place at the table of Milestone 7-single or married, kids or no kids, young or old, all of us must abide in Christ and join Him in the mission. Churches embracing a strategy linking church and home for the spiritual formation of the next generation can’t afford to be apathetic about adult spiritual development. All along the path of milestones, we ask adults to be disciple-makers. Adults who become parents are expected to be the primary faith influencers of their children. Adults from every season of life serve in the ministries relating to children and teenagers. The key to this entire strategy involves developing adults who are also parents, volunteer leaders, and deeply committed Christ-followers.
Core competencies: prayer, Scripture, authentic faith, obedient follower, disciple-maker, giving/serving, and community.