Why Millennials and the Church Need Each Other

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In this series on young voices, I am blessed to have Hannah Pannell with her consideration of church and her generation. I love it! Don’t tell me the young have no depth of theology. This woman knows exactly why she needs her community, and she knows it from  reliance on scripture. Read on and be blessed.

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After graduating from high school, I attended a large Christian university. I quickly found myself involved at a local church. Girls on my floor often remarked that finding a church that felt right was difficult. After a year, many of my friends were still attending a different church every Sunday.

Eventually, someone asked me how I had found a church that felt like home. My answer was simple: I hadn’t. My church was not a perfect fit for me, nor did it immediately feel like home. I had connections, but mostly I just kept showing up.

For the first year, I went to nearly every service and event the church offered as I tried to get to know people. By the time I graduated, my dearest friends were people from my church small group. We prayed together, cried together, forgave each other, and loved one another.

Don’t get me wrong–my time at that church was anything but easy. I made mistakes, which made community with people I had hurt and been hurt by incredibly difficult. Many Sundays I sat in my car and cried before going in, but I went in anyway. My decision to stick with a church doesn’t make me any holier, or even right, but it did teach me a lot about God’s people and this gathering we call church.

My generation is cited as being nearly non-existent in the church, and as seeing the largest decline of all demographics. I seem to be an anomaly. Although I’m still in my early twenties, the church and I have been through a lot. My parents are church planters. I have had a backstage view of ministry. I have seen the ugly, the extraordinary, the hard, and the mundane. I have never walked away, though, and I love the local church more deeply today than ever.

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Here’s why this millennial is sticking it out:

  • God expects us to be part of a local body of believers. Our salvation in no way hinges on church involvement, but our sanctification does. I know at times great hurt and confusion may necessitate a break from the church. In no way do I want to discount the difficulty of finding a good church, but sometimes we are the problem, not the church.

No church is perfect and neither are we. So take a break, do some digging and healing, and then get back in the game. Many millennials claim the global body of Christ as their church. The kingdom is a powerful group of believers, but it does not replace living with other believers in love and accountability.

Instead, God call us to “not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV). Nearly every great act of God in Scripture takes place within the context of believers gathering together. After all, God promises, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20 NIV)

  • At the 2016 Passion Conference, pastor Louie Giglio called attending and serving in the local church a “radical act of defiance.” He introduced sixty thousand young people to the idea of radically defying the low expectations society has set for us. There’s always been some rebel in this pastor’s daughter, so his words clicked for me.

As a generation, we  like to swim against the current. Our rebelliousness can fuel cynicism, or we can defy the odds and be the generation that reawakens the church. You lose credibility critiquing from the sidelines. However, when you’re a key player, people listen to you.

Perhaps if we want to see our churches changed from the inside out, we need to be inside. Maybe millennials need to write a few less open letters to the church and instead need to build credibility by filling seats each Sunday and serving throughout the week. If we want to influence the heartbeat of the church, we have to be part of it.

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  • If we’re honest, church isn’t really about us. Discipleship is critical, but without evangelism, there are no disciples. Our churches must insist on an outward focus. We cannot expect the people who most need us to show up at our doors each Sunday. Instead, we must go to them. We have to meet them where they are and infuse hope into their lives. Then we invite them in, we save them a seat, we hold their hands.

Relationships allow us to practice love, accountability, forgiveness, and reconciliation. If we stick it out long enough and let the Lord work, relationships are mended and disagreements settled because we share a common bond and mission. Walking away when things get tough doesn’t allow for reconciliation. Perhaps this is why Scripture calls the church the bride of Christ. Working out our relationship with the church mirrors a marriage relationship. We miss the growth if we walk away.

At its best, the church is a bunch of messed-up sinners. With all of our broken, jagged edges, we inevitably cut each other deeply at times. This is the cost of doing life with broken people.

We need each other.

This post originally ran on The Glorious Table.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 4.52.58 PMHannah Pannell is a wonderer and a wanderer. She is a southern-speakin’, Jesus-lovin’ coffee consumer who writes about life, whether pretty or messy (usually leaning toward messy). She is the daughter of two amazing, brave, church planting Jesus followers, the sister of an amazing worship pastor, and a lover of Jesus. She blogs at thissweetlybrokenlife.com.

Because They Promised

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This woman. She’s been my mom for over thirty years. I’ve called her mom since the day I married her son. Easier, I suppose, since I no longer had one. We’ve been very different people for those thirty-some years, except in our mutual fierce love of our children. I know she didn’t understand me in the beginning or, really, for quite a while.

But she loved me. It didn’t matter. Honestly, when your son marries a 23-year-old who knows a lot about Shakespeare but not about life, you can assume she won’t even understand herself for a good many years.

Kneeling by her bed and crying last week, I listened to her soft voice, almost inaudible from dehydration, tell me those things we seem to only tell when we know we have limited time to speak them. I heard, “You’re one of my girls. You’re my daughter.” And I will treasure those words for as long as I have my own breath.

She deserves her loved ones around her, fiercely protecting her this time, and she has them. Children and grandchildren, being the loving humans she taught them to be. I see her nearest granddaughter drop by regularly, her grandson sitting at her side whispering kind words. I watch my own daughters paint her toenails, hold her hands, and caress her hair.

I am undone by this.

It’s the hard work of 85 years to have family like that. There is a legacy that will remain a thing of beauty long after breaths are taken and heartbeats cease.

I’ve never walked with someone at the end of life. I’ve lost a lot of people. Both parents and two sisters. But they all were there one moment and gone the next. No preparation. No ability to say all the things that need to be said and hear all the things that need to be heard. No time to process all the feelings that come with this downhill walk, and no choice in whether you want to make it.

I do want to.

I had this discussion with my daughter recently about our two cats that passed. One quickly and with no warning, the other with a diagnosis a few months before. Which was worse, saying a sudden, unwanted goodbye, or dragging through the daily hurt of watching it happen and being helpless? We mourned out kitties—we loved them so, and two in quick succession was too much. We both knew we were talking about more than the cats. We both agreed warning was better.

Yet we don’t know how to take this slow walk down the hill, a quicker walk than we had hoped, really. We don’t know when to laugh, when to cry, and we’re figuring out that both are OK, and they happen when they happen. We hate the tug-of-war between our lives here, jobs that demand us, lives that need living, and our longing to be there, sharing every minute we can. We don’t how to dance that choreography, and we realize no one does.

And what of this man? He’s walked beside her for over sixty years. When I tell him he’s a good man and a great husband, he merely says, “Well, it was all in those vows.” Indeed it was, but I’ve seldom seen anyone live his promises so well. He knows that a man’s promise is where his character is determined. But I don’t think he’s thought that—he’s simply done it.

I know this is supposed to be a series on young peoples’ voices. But these words needed to be said. Maybe these words need to be said to young people, not by them. I know marriage isn’t so popular anymore. I know suspicion of institutions leave the next generation wondering if it’s worth the risk. Commitment is frightening, and there are no guarantees. If there’s anything we have taught the next generation, it’s that they should always demand guarantees. Never try anything that isn’t sure to succeed.

Silly us. Why? That was such a foolish lesson. These are the lessons we needed to teach. The lessons of time. Long-haul belief in the family you’ve created. Faith that others will cling to after you’re gone. Love regardless of comprehension. Commitment to people who change, hurt, and confuse you, because they’re your people, and we keep hold of our peoples’ hands. Even, especially, when they have no idea where they’re going.

I’m glad she knows well where’s she’s going.

Men who delicately wipe their spouse’s forehead and hold her hand and walk with her through the pain of loss. Because they promised to. 

If only we had taught you that, rather than “success.” Because that right there is what success looks like. Like my mom and dad.

I Can’t Shake the Church

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Photo by James Baldwin on Unsplash

Today’s post comes from a dear friend and divinity student, Kirsten Trambley. Kirsten surprises me always with her creative thinking and passion. I can’t wait to see what she does with her degree and her wonderful heart. Here are her words, in answer to my questions about the next generation and faith.

Disclaimer: I have chosen to interview young people of several traditions for this series. Their beliefs may not be the same as my beliefs. That’s okay. Dialogue is the best way to understanding one another and living in the peace and unity that Jesus spoke about. Yay for not all thinking the same.

 

If you could tell us one thing about your generation, what would it be?

Millennials are not ignorant, uninformed airheads. We are pushing 40, we are past college, we are not only entering the workforce but becoming established in our careers. As a middle millennial born in the early 90s, I can attest we are not a pack to be defined as one but an evolving mystery of knowledge with care for justice and change that is already being employed. We are not “leaders of the future”; we are people who have been leading for over a decade, many even longer. We love to learn from older generations, yet we have much to learn from the generation below us. GenZ’ers are fantastic, phenomenal, witty, quick-thinking, problem-solving, fun, amazing children of God.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What do you need from older generations?

We need openness. One does not necessarily need to be open-minded because I’m not one to say that I’m always right. But, with open listening and open dialogue (I think we used to simply call this conversation), we can see each other – not as sides, parties, progressive vs. traditional – but as humans alongside each other on the journey. We are in this together for life and for meaning-making while searching together for faith, beliefs, and sacred texts. We need to hear the positions of reason, scripture, tradition, and experience from older generations in order to balance our understanding of the world and the ways in which we work to move forward.

As a youth leader, we need intergenerational work. To bring life into a dying church, we can’t cluster into age segregation. Rather, it must be intergeneration to engage youth with a reason to find their sense of purpose within a religious community. I need different age groups working together to make my work with youth be productive, and I need friends of different ages in my life to share their perspectives of experiences and interpretations of my experiences to help guide my path.

What are your dreams for the church / faith?

One of the Drew Theological School professors, Mark A. Miller, who is the director of Craig Chapel and the composer-in-residence has a song that I love, “I Dream of a Church.” The modern hymn opens with, “I dream of a church where everyone is welcome. I dream of a place we all can call home.”

In a service at Drew, Miller recently said that everyone is welcome “as we are all pilgrims on the journey.” Sometimes, I see this welcoming as an act of inclusion via the work of Jen Hatmaker (whom I have read and followed online for a few years, my link to Jill), but sometimes inclusion feels too much like “us” having power. I agree with those who say the church needs a divide so we know where / with whom / on what we align, though I also think we have a place for great hope of a church that radically works together despite its differences as I have learned from Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly-gay bishop of the United Methodist Church.

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We could divide over racial desegregation, women in leadership, human sexuality, etc., but we are already divided on ableism that literally keeps people out of our buildings or on issues of migration that separate our families. While I dream of a church where everyone is welcome, my current contexts are very left-leaning. We won’t deny people based on physical or identity factors, but our views on social factors are well-defined and dividing. There is conflict among moderates and conservatives in my liberal progressive spaces, and it’s not always handled with respect toward all. The ideal would be for all to come together under a common good. I am determining the reality of where I sustain hope for this shared well-being or if I lean toward the divide.

What’s your greatest fear for the church?

We are cutting off people because they are not the majority, the privileged, the people with social capital. When we limit and say Christianity can only look like / be like / enacted like / live like one certain understanding to experience God, we cut off the marginalized.

We lose the voices and experiences of women when we deny their callings or do not intentionally include gender-balanced leadership.

We ignore the faith of those identifying as LGBTQIA+ when we discount their Christianity for being in the queer community, even if they display the training and skills needed in their positions.

We exploit people of color when we lead all-white churches, have tokenized people of color on church staff, and / or we say we “don’t see race.”

We harm children and reject their faith when we don’t allow them to participate and lead in worship because of their age.

I can continue to give examples for days, but it concludes with the fear that leads to exclusion. We cannot be an ecumenical body of Christ if we are not communally affirmed in our faith and in living with the divine Spirit in each person simply on the basis of humanity.

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If you could contribute one thing, what would it be?

I desire to contribute many things as a theological student with some skill in a lot of places.

I hope I’m funny. I hope I’m relatable and honest with myself and with others. I hope I’m contributing to engaged thought through writing. I hope I’m creating change through social action in “big” things like rallies or marches and in “small” things like adapting worship service liturgy on art and justice or providing resources for engagement in immigration rights.

Even with all of this, my greatest contribution in my current context and in the past seven years of my work is to mentor youth. I work to provide hope, a place for creativity, space to explore faith, somewhere to ask questions without always coming to an answer, and opportunity to be involved in the local church and in demanding justice. I’m analyzing my work every day for its potential long-term effects and for finding resources for meaning in life to connect that with the quest of our youth. Engaging with the younger generation is beautiful, overwhelmingly-pressured, and an honor.

What do you love about the Bible?

I love that the library of books of the Bible that I’m reading through my current lens as a progressive theological student are entirely different than the one cohesive book that I read as a young person who was given a conservative story from the same text. I think the books really have space for that varied interpretation, and that honors each of us in our place with God.

Some pieces of the story are too cool to not recognize. I love discovering that Genesis has two creation stories and finding the references to early cultures’ origin texts. I love that the canon includes four different readings of the life of Jesus the Christ. I love that the books include divine representations as feminine and gender-neutral and masculine, warrior and lover, crucified and resurrected, Creator and Sustainer, and encompassing ideas of what God can be.

I love how the books that I’ve read have real-life locations that I have visited in Turkey. I love that I don’t understand or believe all of the writings to be historically true because that contains an unexplainably holy mystery. I love that I don’t have to purposefully engage with the text every day for it to make an impact on who I am and how I live my life. I love that I can read the Bible entirely differently than I did one, five, eleven years ago, and I still find a sacred nature within the text.

Other thoughts?

I have great hope and hurt for the church. I don’t know what exactly it means in my life right now, but – as hard as I’ve tried – I can’t shake it away or abandon its purpose. It’s a messy bunch of weirdos, but it’s our mess.

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Kirsten E. M. Trambley is a second year Master of Divinity: Social Justice Advocacy student at Drew Theological School. She is originally from southernmost Illinois where she worked with youth in a public high school, an ecumenical biannual camp, and various churches and small groups. Kirsten puts her faith into ministerial action by working with youth, engaging with social change, and expressing herself creatively through visual and performance arts as well as through writing. Through her leadership, she persists in encouraging courage, creating community alongside storytelling and partnership, and working toward God’s call for liberation, justice, freedom, peace, and love for all.

Wisdom from the Young

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This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Young people. They’re my heart. You can see that by my tagline up there. “Repicturing faith with the next generation.” They’re my favorite people to listen to. They’re where our faith community is going. They’re filled with ideas, passion, mistakes, dreams, hopes, compassion, and fears.

Three of them are responsible for carrying out my retirement plan of living in a foreign country for three months and then rotating living with them for one. It’s a sweet plan.

They are also one of the more maligned populations in our country, and, statistically, the loneliest.

I want them to speak. I’ve dreamed of doing this blog series since last year in January, when we saw the courageous action of a group of young people from Parkland, Florida, speaking the truth about the unthinkable.

They were brave. Brilliant. Passionate. Right.

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I loved it. Even though I had doubts it would change anything. Even when they didn’t do it perfectly. Even considering the horror that they had ever had reason to to be that brave.   

Scripture offers us several snapshots of young people whom God did not consider too young to have a voice and a mission.

When Jeremiah objected that he was too young to speak, God told him not to stress about his age—God had all the words he would need. (Jeremiah 1.6-9)

Josiah took the throne of his country at the age of eight. He ruled long and wisely and was one of the few the scriptures mention as one who obeyed the Lord and followed him. (2 Kings 22-3, 2 Chronicles 34)

Samuel was a child when God called him toward the post of leading some of the most difficult, hard-headed, self-willed people on the planet. Much like most of us.

Mary was a teenager—the age of some of those Florida kids—when God handed her the most difficult, most blessed job ever performed. He trusted his choice.

A young girl taken captive and made a slave still pointed people toward the power of God in ways adults would have feared to do. (2 Kings 5)

David is thought to have been about seventeen when he had the faith and the background knowledge to pick up five stones from a creek bed and tackle his giants. His victory is usually lauded as an unlikely blip in history, but there is evidence that David prepared well for this confrontation and followed his beliefs. He was not a young pup determined to show off despite his inexperience, as his older brothers suggest. 

Miriam had the presence of mind at a young age to save the life of her baby brother, offer some solutions beyond what people would have expected of a child, let alone a girl, and thus pave the way for the salvation of all Israel. Not bad for a child thought to be 10 or 12.

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4.12)

I love that God never disqualifies people from serving him because they are too anything—and he welcomes the contributions of the young. He doesn’t create criteria they must pass before they can be good enough to bear his images in this troubled world.

I love that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have no age limit, and we are free to use them whether we are three or 103. (That, in fact, was a big reason for our first mission trip as a family and my book.)

So for the next few weeks, we’re going to hear from young people. If you’d like to be included or know someone who might, let me know.

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We’re asking questions such as:

  1. If you could tell people one thing from/about your generation, what would it be?
  2. What are your dreams for the church? What are your dreams for your faith?
  3. What are we missing that you’d like to see?
  4. What do you need from us?
  5. What’s your greatest fear for your faith and/or the church?
  6. If you could contribute one thing, what would it be?
  7. What might stop you?
  8. If you could tell us to read something, what would it be? Why?
  9. What do you love about the Bible? About Jesus?
  10. Anything else?

I think you’re going to love it.

Pokemon GO and the Salvation of Western Civilization

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As a prelude to what I hope will be a series on young people, and a follow up to last week’s discussion of Growing With–I’m retuning to a favorite of mine, originally run here on the Theology Mix blog.

I have to update–statements made in the first paragraph are now invalid. My daughter taught me to play a few weeks ago. And all my assumptions that I could get addicted were accurate.

Pokémon GO will save the world

Well, that could be an overstatement. Other things are doing their share.

Still, it’s a valid hope. I don’t personally play the game. It looks fun—and I do have an inherent passion for collecting things that is totally compatible with the idea of going around catching various creatures, indexing and organizing them like my junior high insect collection that took on epic proportions. My highest StrengthsFinder score is Input–ie, collector of things. Any things, really.

\So, really, best I don’t touch the thing. I know my limits, and with time an endangered commodity in my life right now, another way to spend it should not be on the table. I will stick with geocaching when I feel the need to hunt outdoors.

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Yes, this is actually mine. Yes, it’s fun.

However, I have trailed along as a cultural observer when others play. In the trailing, there is a tale to tell. Pokémon players are changing the lonely landscape for the better.

Fact: Millennials are the loneliest age group in America.

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https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/07/12/who-loves-pokemon-go-the-police

This as determined by researchers from the University of Cologne and the University of Chicago. They have eclipsed the presumed leaders in that race, the elderly. Their buzzword of choice may be community, but the reality is, they are finding it less and less. Blame social media, economic issues, mobility, competition, overzealous parents and ovescheduled lives, and fear of commitment. Whatever we blame, the reality is, our culture finds friendship and relationship disposable, and no one suffers more for it than the generation that learned friendship online.

Enter Pokémon. What I witnessed when accompanying my two Millennial daughters was nothing less than a modern social miracle. Dozens of young people wandered around the lakeside park. Some in groups, some alone, everyone staring at their phones. Suddenly, a random “Charmander!” rang out from across the field. Once, twice, three times. Strangers were calling others to come share the mecca of fiery creatures they had found. Other people who passed us offered up clues—“Dratini right over there.” “Go to that willow tree—there are Bulbasaur all over the place!” Everyone in the park was helping one another play the game. Something made them act as a team. Some sense of “we’re together here” permeated the area.

They are not becoming fast friends. They’re not walking away together linking arms and singing kumbaya or planning to be in each others’ weddings. But they are helping one another toward a mutual goal, with no personal gain at all.

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In a particularly contentious and angry time in the US, a game on a cell phone is causing strangers to work together. This is nothing short of miraculous. We should all be standing and applauding.

Of course, we’re not. Instead, I read random rants about how young people are staring at their phones again/always and how this makes them self-centered. I see older people condescending to younger ones with broad assumptions like, “If they put this much effort into getting a job, they’d be out of their parents houses’.” Such assumptions bother me, since my children, and most players I know, are gainfully employed and/or full time students. But they bother me further, on a much deeper level, because they prove the speaker has never had a conversation with any young person. At least, not a mutually respectful one.

This matters in the church. If we care about the loneliness epidemic outside (and inside) our walls among the Millennial generation, we will care about ways to bring them together. We will want to understand how they form community and why it matters. Pokémon GO has a few things to teach us about our relationships with and continued learning from the next generation.

Pokémon GO reminds us that Millennials don’t think play and work are mutually exclusive.

Will our leadership accept that work and play often look a lot alike for Millennials, and sometimes they are doing their best innovating when they are having fun? Can we adjust our committees, classes, and teaching to reflect this?

Pokémon GO is a game. It’s also a community, a place to belong, and a network. It didn’t take players long to realize that a game can be used to meet people, learn about other cultures, find job opportunities, or shatter their Fitbit goals.

Cities report that police officers are joining the game to create relationships in their communities. People are using the social phenomenon to solve seemingly intractable problems—like racial tensions and law enforcement woes. While the lines are blurring between work and play, they are also completely blurred between fun and practical change. Will our churches follow suit, or will we retain our insistence on old methods of solving problems?

Pokémon GO reminds us that Millennials want to ask questions rather than be told where everything is and how it works.

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Can our discipleship involve the kind of seeking that Millennials seem to prefer over the straight telling we have embraced for so long? Maybe we should ask more questions rather than give so many answers, so the search for being like Jesus can consume us like the search for Pikachu.

Pokémon GO reminds us that Millennials value relationships over formulas.

Can we encourage evangelism that’s more like playing games with a group of new friends than sealing a used car deal? Do all the right words mean less, ultimately, than being with another person? What would that look like in church programming?

Pokémon GO reminds us that Millennials want for a place to belong.

Will the church embrace that need and offer a balm for loneliness? Will we hold out the ultimate relationship rather than rules to live by? Will we invite them in regardless of their tribe or background or beliefs? Will we be the ones standing on the path calling, “What you’re looking for is over here! Come be with us. We understand the search. We’re with you in it. Let’s look together.”

It could save the world, you know.

Growing With–a Book You Must Know About

Growing With parenting_ A mutual journey of intentional growth for both ourselves and our children that trusts God to transform us all.

As a pastor, I am “in a relationship” with the Fuller Youth Institute. I’m not even shy about it. In a culture that makes it challenging for our kids’ faith to thrive, I have found abundant resources for both parents and church leaders in their publications. I’m even using a number of them for my thesis project.

That’s why, when my email magically notified me they were looking for a book launch team for their next resource–– Growing With––that was one of the few emails I didn’t scroll past or trash with abandon. I applied immediately.

I mean, my tagline you can read above is” Reframed: Picturing faith with the next generation.” It’s kind of important to me.

Growing With’s subtitle– –Every Parent’s Guide To Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family, and Future––captures the thing well. The authors, Kara Powell and Steven Argue,  use three verbs to help parents during the three stages of their children’s growth.

Growing alongside our kids requires holding our future snapshots loosely, because our dreams may not end up being theirs

Withing

  • Withing––how do we relearn to actually be with our children, not simply around them?

Faithing

  • Faithing—how do we help our kids navigate the changes in their faith with patience and optimism, realizing that our faith, too, is or should be ever-changing?

Adulting

  • Adulting– –what tools do our kids in need to thrive in their own new life, and what is our role in supplying and them?

As parents, we remember the lyrics to our kids' past dreams and sing them back to them when the timing is right.

I won’t lie ––Growing With can be a tough read if your kids are already in their 20s, as mine are. You can’t help but notice the many things you could have done better. Yet Powell and Argue lace Growing With with grace. They are parents, too. They have made their own mistakes and are not afraid to let the readers know it. The message comes through––

We’re all imperfect humans raising imperfect humans.

We all need some help. Both generations need grace to understand that the other is still growing, learning, and making mistakes. That understanding alone it is worth the price of admission for this book.

The authors talk about the cultural changes that have made growing up in this generation far different than the world their parents knew at their age. They lay down some of the stark facts that might depress us about our children’s faith, but they also debunk some of the myths about the Millennial generation and iGen that keep parents awake at night in fear.

The clear, well-informed, and fact checked understanding of the next generations’ hopes, worries, and beliefs is invaluable to parents, grandparents, and church leaders who wants to understand what is going on in the heads and hearts of these generations.

Teachers, Guides, Resourcers

I love how the authors explain the different roles parents need to take on as their children change. Parents need to evolve from teachers to guides to resources. We can’t hope to parent a 25 -year-old the same way we did a 14-year-old. At least, we can’t hope to do it and retain a good relationship. And genuine relationships are what it’s all about for the next generation.

A guide doesn't carry your pack or do the exploring for you. They walk with you, attending to the novice travelers untested instincts, wrong turns, missed opportunities, and awe-inspiring moments. Thus the parent of

We need to be, as one story puts it, ”A wall they can swim back to”—a firm and sturdy place that will always support them after their forays toward and into adulthood. The writers don’t just leave us with that pithy picture, however. They give readers wonderful ways to be that wall. 

The important words are verbs

I love that the writers, like our scripture writers, know that the important words are verbs. Parents don’t simply ”be with” their kids. They are withing, together. It’s a verb because it is active. We need to intentionally practice withing.

Likewise, faith isn’t a static thing we can hand off to our kids when we think they’re ready. It’s a verb we practice more than we preach. It can’t be given––it can only be lived together. This flows perfectly with the biblical view of faith. Faith is never a thing in scripture––it is always an active, living way of life.

If you’re intrigued, or if you know someone who could benefit from “every parent’s guide to helping teenagers and young adults thrive,” check out Growing With––and preorder yours now (before March 5th) to receive some very special extras as well. I know I’m going to.

Whose Face Do You See?

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Photo by Robin Röcker on Unsplash

“What’s the matter, honey?”

I heard her voice before I saw her face. My own face was bent into my hands, covered in tears. A lot was the matter, and I didn’t know how to fix it. But when I looked up into that kind face above mine, I saw Jesus standing there.

The summer after college, I traveled across the country with a music tour. Halfway through, my family called me to come home—Dad might not make it this time, they said.

A week later, after we’d confirmed that Dad would make it, my sister bought me a Greyhound bus ticket to rejoin my tour group. Unfortunately, when I got to Omaha, I discovered they were still four hours away—a geographical miscalculation that left me sitting in the bus station at 10 p.m., imagining what could befall a young woman in a place like that in the seedier part of Omaha.

 

For the rest of the story this week, go here to The Glorious Table For an amazing true story about loving your neighbor.