The church, or faith family, plays an active role in the spiritual formation of children. The tool of spiritual benchmarking provides a critical piece to the formation puzzle. These markers help parents and faith families walk alongside children as they grow in Christ. We call them GrowthRings®.
We’ve taken twenty years of GrowthRings and grouped them into five-year phases. The church can develop practices that contribute to the faith formation of young people in each phase. In this issue, we focus on ages eleven through fifteen. This phase broadens the focus of loving God and loving others, giving the church opportunities to engage young people in the areas of relationships and serving.
All humankind is created in God’s image. Mercy shows compassion and respect to all, despite disagreement, discomfort, or sacrifice. We show young people how to love God by loving others mercifully.
• Offer opportunities to provide respite care or to contribute needed items to families offering foster care.
• As a church or family, spend Thanksgiving serving at a shelter.
• Host a Christmas card-making event. When cards are finished, travel to a local retirement home to deliver them in person.
• Lead a church-wide event to show mercy to those with less, such as “Merry Mercy Christmas” (www growfamilyministry.com/resources) or “Operation Christmas Child” by Samaritan’s Purse.
When believers experience the blessings of God, they want to be a blessing to others. The church can help young people realize their influence by providing opportunities for them to give back through time, talent and treasure.
• Facilitate “Thankful Thursdays.” Each week in November, provide notecards for young people to write a message of thanks to someone who has blessed them.
• Host a financial class designed for preteens and teens.
• Invite families to regularly consider their belongings & share the excess with those in need. Provide a list of trusted places to donate.
• Host a Christmas Giving Tree with a local organization supporting needy families. Instruct young people to pick a name from the tree, set a budget, and shop for their chosen name. Gather the gifts so the partner organization can distribute them.
At this stage in life, the world will do whatever it takes to label children with a false identity. As a church, guide young people to proclaim, “I am who God says I am,” by appreciating and supporting them.
• Host a celebration dinner in honor of “Turning Teen.” Invite a guest speaker to share what it means to be a teen who lives out faith in a world that does not.
• Link young people in the church with an adult prayer partner.
• Equip small group leaders to record a trait or gift that makes each young person in their group exceptional. At the end of the year, share the record of traits with each young person.
• Equip volunteers to maintain open and honest dialogue with young people. Help small group leaders to practice listening and wondering more than advice-giving.
God gives us the gift of the church to walk alongside, encourage, rejoice with, carry burdens, and spur one another on in love. Be a community that surrounds young people with a faith family that experiences God together.
• Be welcoming to all generations. Host a special time to share generational stories that guide understanding of one another and their life experiences.
• Host a spiritual gifts workshop for young people.
• Provide young people opportunities to use their gifts and growing faith to participate in the church community. From serving on committees, social media, and tech teams to music, dance, or participation in worship, creatively engage young people in the serving life of the church.
• Begin a befriending program that pairs young people with adult mentors in the church. We have tips on befriending at www.growfamilyministry.com/resources.
As young people explore boundaries and limitations, be a church that models proper submission to authority, passing on the trust of complete surrender to God’s leadership to the next generation.
• Host a biblical study on leaders in the Bible who exhibited their own authority over God versus leaders who aligned under God’s authority.
• Consider a sermon or church-wide learning series on the 10 Commandments.
• Teach young people the structure of leadership in your church and or denomination.
• Be a church that models obedience to authority as outlined in Ephesians 1:22 and Romans 13:1-2.
You can access this entire magazine for free here: Edition 38