They Told Their Stories

Last night I was involved in leading a parent-student event as part of my congregation’s Confirmation ministry.  We have moved away from a “class” model of Confirmation to a model that resources and supports parents to be the primary Confirmation “teachers” (for want of a better word … the emphasis is more on walking alongside and journeying together with youth, not standing over them).  In our two year program we have five “focus” events each year where parents and youth learn and share together around key topics, and then provide at-home materials so that they can unpack the topics together in the context of their daily lives.  There are also other elements designed to integrate our youth into the life of our wider faith community, but I’ll leave that for another post. The focus at last night’s event was upon the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed.  In one activity we asked the parents and young people to think about arguments for and against the existence of God and to respond to those arguments.  And then perhaps the most poignant (and unscripted) moments of the evening took place.  Parents, on their own accord, shared their personal experiences of God at work in their lives … their own “evidence” of the life and presence of God.  One parent shared about experiencing the presence of God in the midst of a tragic loss of life in her extended family.  Another parent spoke about being overwhelmed by the wonders of God’s creation while camping out in nature.  And the youth listened … intently.  The content we had examined with them came alive as it was grounded in the stories of their parents.  They probably won’t remember our finely laid-out Biblical and theological points in and of themselves, but they will remember their parent’s stories, and from them draw meaning and truth. I am convinced of this:  the best way for children, youth and family ministry leaders to nurture our children and young people in faith is nurture their parents/caregivers in faith together with them.  That means bringing parents and youth/children into the same places and spaces to hear and reflect together on God’s Word.  That means inviting them to speak out their stories of faith with one another.  That means trusting the Holy Spirit to be at work in and through whatever unscripted moments emerge along the way.

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