For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
It is a busy time at our house right now. This is the year of two graduations: our son Scott graduates from Northwest Nazarene University on May 5 and our daughter Abby graduates from Coeur d’Alene High School on Friday June 8.
The years have quickly gone by as we look over our shoulders at the season of raising two children that are moving into their rightful places as adults. As parents we’ve diligently brought our children to church, introduced them to Jesus, included them in family devotions and prayer, and encouraged them to form relationships with the people of God’s family. Parents, nursery and Sunday School teachers, and Youth Group leaders all shared in the shaping our children’s faith. We’ve collectively invested in their spiritual journey with a goal of helping them move to a vibrant faith journey of their own. We trust in God’s faithful work in their lives after graduation!
So here are some observations for parents and the faith community!
- The faith you live as a parent is going to be the most influential model in the faith journey of your children. Kids know if the faith of parents is authentic or superficial. They are not convinced by “do as I say, not as I do.” Watching parents pray, read the Bible, and participate in church is all recorded in the mind and heart of a child. The conversation about the people at church and about the pastor’s sermon is carefully recorded and processed by children of all ages.
- Building relationships with Godly people provides a collection of healthy and encouraging mentors that can speak wisdom, be friends, be prayer supporters, and celebrate special milestones along the way. Generally the people you most want to influence your children are found in a healthy faith community.
- Graduation from high school and college marks the transition to independence and adulthood. Often children move out of the house and begin a journey of their own. Along with this they may move out of their home church and begin to see if there is another church that fits them. Or they may quit going to church altogether. For parents and friends this is a great time to dialogue with the graduate about matters of faith and pray for God’s watch care and guidance. Instead of a time of loss and disconnection it can be a time to meet a new set of people faith and deepen existing friendships.
- Our challenge as followers of Christ is to Love 1st. Connect with those graduates! Encourage their journey of faith with hospitality and encouraging notes, emails, and texts. Stay connected and speak to the development of personal faith in Christ.
Together we can welcome graduates into a challenging and meaningful journey of faith that is a great fit for young adults!