I had this phrase, "It's about relationship," come to me during a prayer time recently and it has been staying with me. I keep thinking about it for how it can shape each day of my life when I allow it to do so, but also what it means for how I communicate with all of our children, teens, families, and teachers at church. Here's what I mean...
It came to me when I was praying about our teens and what/how I would see us teaching them on Sundays and Wednesdays. We have a mission statement, we have a plan of activities on Wednesdays for theme nights, we have scripture application challenges, and we have a Sunday curriculum with a comprehensive 3-year plan for going from Genesis to Revelation, but what do I (and we) want to see our teens take away with them as they go off to college? The response that God told me was, "I want them to know that each day of life is about having a relationship with Me."
I have started to share this good word with others and now I am sharing it with readers here. I posted it on my Facebook page the morning I heard from God; I have been sharing it with Priscilla, Carrie, and Stephanie who head up the grade level areas of ministries with our preschoolers, children, and teens; I will be sharing it with the Youth Steering Team in our monthly meeting this evening; and it continues to be a theme in texts, teaching resources, and workshops that I have encountered the past three weeks. God is guiding this process.
I just attended a Saturday workshop for children's ministries with Priscilla and Carrie where the workshop leader focused the entire morning on one's relationship with Jesus. Her theme was A Jesus-Centered Life. I had expected a workshop filled with materials and resources to fill up one's shopping cart, but instead it was a Jesus-centered time of engagement where we were asked to reflect on our own relationship with Christ. She encouraged us to share out of our personal experiences to communicate our love and faith in Christ. As we love Jesus deeply, our desire for our children and teens will be to have them love Jesus deeply, too. As we are honest about our struggles and needs for Christ to heal us, our children and teens can be honest about their struggles and needs, too. We can be praying for one another and lifting one another up before God.
Through reading Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara Powell, I have been given evidence to support that what teens will take with them to college is their relationships and how they were made to feel by their teachers, leaders, and peers. When they have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus, that will help them to make the smart choices that we would hope for them to make. Our responsibility, then as parents and teachers, is to have deep, personal relationships with Jesus ourselves which we are willing to share and articulate. As the prayer book speaks to us, share it with them. As a word of scripture speaks to us, share it with them. As a sermon speaks to us, share it with them. As a song speaks to us, share it with them. As a life experience speaks to us, share your prayer with them.
As our respective relationships with Christ continue to deepen and mature, we will be stretched and transformed in ways we never would anticipate for ourselves, and I know from experience that God will use these times (as we are open to sharing them) to speak to our children and teens (as well as fellow parents and teachers!) in their faith journey.