“What in the world are we going to do for a Parent Ministry?”
That is the question that burned in my mind about two years into a new student ministry position. I had been in student ministry for 15 years but all I really had accomplished in the area of parent ministry was a really snazzy newsletter.
I processed my thoughts out loud one Sunday Morning with an amazing volunteer and Dad in our ministry. He asked, “What are some powerful things you have seen happen between parents and their teenagers?”
I immediately flashed back to a manhood ceremony I attended many years earlier. The father had invited a few of us men to help celebrate his son’s 18 birthday. At one key point in the evening the father asked his son to kneel down. He went to his closet, pulled out a huge Braveheart sword, and set it on his son’s shoulder. Then he said to his son, “I know many 30 and 40 year olds who act like boys because no one ever told them they were a man. Based on my God-given authority as your father I tell you that you knelt as a boy, but you will rise as a man.”
That powerful exchange of blessing from parent to teenager sparked an idea. How could we help parents unleash their Blessing and set their teenager up for success?
We began to wonder, “What if we created a Rite of Passage for every year from 6th-12th grade?” My brainstorming partner got out a napkin and we sketched out these Rites of Passage. For the next three years these became the foundation of our parent ministry and revolutionized many families in our city.
- 6th Grade- Preparation for Adolescence
- 7th Grade- The Blessing
- 8th Grade- Purity Weekend
- 9th Grade- Driving Contract
- 10th Grade- Money Matters
- 11th Grade- Legacy/Family Tree
- 12th Grade- Manhood/Womanhood Ceremony
Here are 3 things that happened from this new kind of Parent Ministry:
- 1. The parents were the stars of the Spiritual Training. We took the back seat and cheered as the parents took the reigns of the process. We simply set them up for success.
- 2. It was all online. We didn’t need a ton of parent meetings where no one showed up. We created a website where they could go get the training anytime they wanted.
- 3. It created Positive Peer Pressure. Once every semester we did a sermon series on the Rites of Passage and asked the teenagers to request that the parents would do it for them. With the families carrying out the same strategy they were able to compare notes. It was exciting to watch a culture be created around spiritual symbols and ceremonies.
The Rites of Passage that currently exist in our culture today for most teenagers are the loss of virginity and the sweet 16 party. Instead of inviting our student’s to something greater than themselves, they are only invited to themselves.
I think James McBride said it best, “Why should you do a Rite of Passage? Because inviting your child into adulthood is much better than letting it happen by accident.”
Passing down faith through symbols and ceremonies was God’s blueprint in the Old Testament for inviting children to their faith and family, and it is still true today. There is an unexplored territory in the area of student ministry of equipping families to give away their faith to their children through symbols, ceremonies, and Rites of Passage.
Jeremy Lee encourages Parents of Teenagers everyday at www.parentzilla.com