Just this morning as I was taking my dogs for a walk, I was listening to a podcast in which the hosts were having a discussion about discipleship, specifically how we disciple our kids/students.
There were so many thought-provoking things that caused me to pause and later re-listen to the podcast as I took my own notes and pondered for a bit.
Some of what was shared affirmed what we as a NextGen team as Century believe is our mission: to resource and support parents as they lead and guide their child’s discipleship journey. As we’ve said before, parents are the #1 spiritual influence in the life of a child, whether ‘spirituality' is present or not. The church is also one of the greatest influences, which is why we partner with families to leverage our combined influence so that students grow to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.
One thing that was reiterated over and over again in the podcast was this: a compelling faith in a parent and a richness of living in community with other disciples of Jesus are the greatest catalysts for launching our kids into the real world. Even if there is a season where our teenagers are pushing back on the truth of Scripture and the building blocks of their spiritual lives, if they have witnessed a compelling faith in their parents and see that faith lived out by other disciples of Jesus in community, those teenagers will still come back to a life that abides in Christ.
The question we have to ask ourselves as parents and influencers in the life of kids/teenagers (because research has shown that the influence of other adults who follow Jesus on a kid/teenager matters a lot!) is what does a compelling faith look like? What does living in community with other disciples of Jesus look like?
For us at Century, we’ve defined a ‘compelling faith’ as being a disciple of Jesus, someone who actively follows Jesus and loves people. That looks like finding our identity in Jesus alone, focusing on becoming more and more like Jesus every day, holding high and applying the Bible to our lives, worshipping God above everything else, giving spiritual gifts because we’ve been given spiritual gifts, knowing, applying, and speaking the gospel at all times, living in community with other disciples of Jesus, and being for our city and loving people wherever they are. Living in community with other disciples of Jesus means living out those 8 Characteristics (Identity, Imitation, Word, Worship, Gifts, Gospel, Community, City) with other people, joining together with the rest of the body of Christ, learning, and growing together.
It’s a gift to play an active role in the lives of our own kids/teenagers, but also to play a role in the lives of other kids/teenagers. The goal, the end-game is to make disciples of Jesus who will go and make disciples of Jesus. That process and goal is not a conveyor belt producing cookie-cutter humans that know what Scripture says and have knowledge of it, but don’t act upon it. The goal is making disciples who make disciples. It’s a privilege to be a part of the work of God in the lives of others, to be asked to join in and be on mission with Jesus, being empowered by the Holy Spirit to make disciples and make his name great.
This summer, a friend of mine invited me to be on a parent panel.
Yes, a parent panel.
I asked her if she was thinking of a different April or a different month but she assured me that I was indeed the person she was looking for.
When it comes to writing and talking about Middle School students, identity, belonging, and purpose, I feel adequate. I feel like I know what I'm talking about because I've spent the last 12 years completely immersed in these arenas, learning, growing, and soaking up any and every bit of information I can get so that I can be more equipped and empowered than I was prior to that information.
But parenting? Lord, help me.
And a panel? That would almost suggest that I 'know' something about the subject. Last time I checked, this girl was Googling what was the suggested amount of sleep for a kindergarten boy. And to be honest, I only looked it up so that I could feel a little less guilt over saying yes to watching one more Mickey Mouse cartoon on Disney+.
It's an honor to sit on this panel with two fellow parents and be interviewed by another parent (shoutout to Mariah, Sara, and Amber). As we sit around (or in our little squares on Zoom), there's a collective sigh of "you're figuring this all out, too? whew. I'm not alone in this."
That's a collective sigh that I hope is felt and heard throughout the waves of the internet and TV. Parenting is hard. Parenting in a pandemic is hard. Every human right now-whatever journey he or she is on, parent or not-needs to hear "I'm figuring this out, too." I'm hopeful that our stories or "how do I do this?" questions are connecting with others on similar journeys. That even our mistakes help another feel less alone or have greater compassion on himself/herself. The more spaces that we provide for other humans to have these exhales and collective sighs of relief, the richer and fuller our lives will be.
P.S. That one time has turned into a recurring time. Check out Studio 701 on KXMB at 9 am, Monday through Friday. Parent Panel airs on Tuesday mornings. Tune in for your collective sigh of relief.
For the last few weeks, I've felt a stirring to sit down and write. It's the feeling of a million things I want to say but not quite knowing how to say them.
Getting words down on a piece of paper (or typing them on a screen) have been one of the most healing and redemptive practices for me. It is a safe, sacred space even if those words go out all over the internet for 5 people to read.
There's something about releasing the words into the wild that are a part of the process that I can't skip through. Sure, there are plenty of things in my journal that may never see the light of day and I realize that's okay, but then there are some things that are meant to be released into the great wide open internet because it's an important step in the process. It could even be that it's vital, necessary, and a missing puzzle piece.
The words may come out shaky and wobbly like a newborn animal trying to figure out how to use his/her legs, but starting and taking those first steps are a part of the process of learning how to walk. How can I learn to run if I am too afraid to take the first wobbly steps? The shaky, wobbly steps prepare me for the sure, sturdy steps ahead. The first steps are the hardest and also most vulnerable, but the first wobbly steps are needed. In fact, what if the first wobbly steps taken propel another human in the world to take his/her own wobbly steps, too? That would make all of those shaky steps worth it, knowing that it was those uneasy, unnerving steps that ignited something in someone else to take a step forward, too.
Consider this the moment that was being searched for as a sign or gentle nudge to take the shaky, wobbly steps forward. Whatever has stood in the way, consider this the moment that those roadblocks have been pushed aside. That the path has been made clear for the first shaky, wobbly step to be taken. Everyone has to take a step at some point.
May this be the moment.
Step forward even if its shaky and wobbly.