Over the past year I stepped up to coaching my 15 year old daughter’s netball team,
and for the first time in the team’s 8 year history they won the finals! High fives all round!
Now I must admit I was amazed, as you see I had never played a game of netball in my life and I hardly knew the rules. Nobody else was available to step in and I was delighted to spend some time hanging out with my daughter and her peers. Thanks to a little phone AP and some fast learning we got through!
My journey into missional faith communities and raising my children as passionate disciples of Jesus has been a similar journey, the journey of setting our little family on a course outside of traditional religious norms – took a huge step of faith! Many times I’ve been bought to my knees in despair wondering if we are on the right track.
Knowing something wasn’t working around us we pastored in a more traditional setting and saw young people busy attending every program on offer, yet struggling with following the ancient ways of Jesus – that make life work. Some Christian researchers suggest that at least 50% of young people in western churches walk away from faith. As missional faith communities we share the challenge of seeing our children live passionate about following Jesus – knowing who they are and His purpose for their life. We are a new generation of parents, passionate about Jesus but without a road map, we haven’t done it before and many of our Christian family and friends are still involved in traditional contexts.
A challenge for many families who have removed the weekly cycle of church services, youth groups and Sunday schools is we can fill their lives with sports, clubs and afterschool activities – and find whilst we encourage them to be missional they can become absorbed in those things, with hearts far from God. John Maxwell writes, If you don’t plan your own life someone else will fill it for you! Families can find themselves on a roller coaster attending everything that is put out by the school, clubs and groups – and pretty soon missional families can find their living children living secularised lives.
A couple of great fun tools we have loved in living intentional disciple-making lives has been the Flag Page flagpage.com, a great resource in looking at personality types and our personal preferences. We spent a great morning laughing and reading our profiles out. Another tool for teens is Life Purpose Planning, lifepurposeplanning.org. This little booklet is great and could be used in a missional group or even better as a great parent/child bonding time and helps to design a plan of action to faithfully carry out the purpose God has for you.
We need to guard time – it’s both quality and quantity! One of the great joys of missional life has been serving and working together as a family and not being segregated. Living in simplicity – not living life to the edge in rushing around in deficits of time, debt and health. Just stopping, being still and knowing that He is God! Getting out on nature walks daily, and having time to eat simple healthy ‘slow foods’. This has been one of the riches of home schooling - having so much time to sow into the lives of our kids. We have found them more rested in their spirits because they aren’t swamped by peers, media and a constant busy schedule. What are the spiritual practices the spiritual DNA that keeps Jesus as the Rock in their lives? What are we shooting for? One of the keys is ‘Children learn best what they live’! When they see parents with a balanced life, good character qualities, a healthy marriage, active in sharing faith and a personal relationship with Jesus. It sets a great foundation for their lives.
Creating memorable spiritual moments creates the community they might miss in being part of traditional church life; fun days in the park with our missional group and friends, regular gatherings of bringing regional missional families together for a camp or gathering, visiting shut ins, helping sick neighbours and praying for them, serving at the local neighbourhood house, eating meals with the destitute people in a food kitchen, sharing our faith and including our kids in the exciting moments of inviting our friends to accept Jesus.
What am I shooting for in helping our kids to be Disciples of Jesus? I’m looking for the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) in their lives, that they are dressed in the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and know the reality of spiritual warfare, and that the principles of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1- 12) are played out in our lives and in the Kingdom of God that we are a part of.