It’s so good to be part of a community that actively values people of all ages. It’s precious and rare in our society today – even in the church. It takes effort and intentionality and it goes against the grain of the norms of our society. Thanks for the part that you play in making St Philips this kind of church community.
More than just valuing people of all ages, we want to see people of all ages coming to know Jesus and growing in their relationship with Him. And we want to see this relationship continue to grow as people move through the different stages of life. We’ve been focusing on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus with our young people this term. It’s such a privilege to see our children and young people growing in both their knowledge of God and in their relationship with Him.
The statistics of the number of people who leave the church (and their faith) as they hit teenage years and beyond are staggering. There’s been significant research done on what the factors are that contribute to people continuing on with faith and staying part of church communities. Ultimately this is the work of God’s Spirit and there are choices that individual people make along the way; but as well there’s lots that we as the body of Christ can do to build into young people (and all of us) the likelihood of continuing on in faith.
Information is important but it’s when that’s combined with formation that transformation happens. According to Here2Stay, there are two Foundational Principles and eight Formational Pillars that help.
The two Foundational Principles are:
- Generational Connections – Discipleship is about being intentional, relational and holistic in creating a culture of lifelong formation across the ages.
- Family/household nurture – Families (households) are the primary faith communities
And the eight Formational Pillars are:
- Encounters with Jesus – Be intentional about providing spaces to encounter Jesus.
- Big Story of the Bible – Understanding the BIG STORY of the BIBLE is important in faith formation.
- Mentors and Life Coaches – Take the time to listen, to be encouraging, to be available, to be accepting.
- Anchors/Rites of Passage – Anticipating, honouring and celebrating our ‘transitions’ and ‘rites of passage’.
- Peak Experiences (like camps) – A place where God meets you, stretches and inspires you … and transformation happens.
- Positive Peer Community – We are not meant to travel alone in this life … true friends are important!
- Respond with Compassion – Model the compassion of Jesus in response to the needs of the world around us.
- Serving in Mission – Encourage the broad spectrum of ages to be involved in mission.
These things are key for all of us but they have been found to be of particular importance for young people continuing on in faith. And these are some of the factors that we are aiming to ensure are part of the experience of our children and teenagers within and beyond our church community. Family Gatherings, material for families at home, Kidschurch and Youth, church services, encouragement to participate in peak experiences and more all form part of this picture.
Thanks again for your part in shaping this church community as a place where many of those principles and pillars are actively experienced.