There’s still time to register for Tell the Next Generation: A Family Ministry Conference on March 9, in St. Charles.
Jolene Siebarth, DCE at Immanuel Lutheran Church, has been working with families and youth for almost 20 years. In that time, much has changed, but much has also stayed the same. One thing that has remained constant is the family’s role in faith formation. Jolene says, “Let’s say a family attends worship each week and attends a weekly Bible class. That’s two hours a week at church, compared with how many hours a week with their family?”
In her work with students across many different school districts, Jolene has noticed almost all families seems to be struggling with the culture of business. “All parents want what’s best for their kids,” she says, “and what’s best is Jesus.”
Not all families feel confident in their ability to teach the faith or in asking for help. It’s easy to put Bible study on the back burner when parents are working to provide for their families, run households and manage everyone’s competing schedules. Here are some of Jolene’s recommendations:
- Make time to talk openly with your children about your faith and encourage them to ask questions. Build regular (screen-free) meals together into everyone’s calendar, even if it can’t happen every single night. Take advantage of time together in the car. Time management is going to be different for every family, so really consider what will work for you. Look for hidden pockets of time throughout each day.
- Ask your congregation for resources, such as family devotions. Whether you grew up going to church every week or you’re new to the faith, spending time in prayer and God’s Word as a family will lay a strong foundation and make it more likely your kids will feel comfortable coming to you with questions or talk about their experiences.
- Be intentional about your children’s schedules. The culture of busyness makes it seem like kids need to be in every activity and challenging class that interests them. However, no one can do everything. It’s hard to tell your children “no,” especially when they care about something, but really help your kids prioritize.
- Take advantage of confirmation classes. In her confirmation class, Jolene includes topics like technology, social media and time management. In addition to the usual topics in confirmation, looking at these tools within the context of Christ and His Kingdom offers another filter through which kids can consider the demands on their time and attention. This helps them know how to prioritize time with God, instead of trying to squeeze it in at any leftover moment.
Strengthening families is a critical target of the Missouri District office for 2019. We also host several events for both junior and senior high school students to take a step back and focus on their faith.