From the Presidents Desk:
Discipling Youth By Equipping Parents
Consistently, the most common concern expressed in congregations is related to the retention of children and youth. Baptisms occur far less often. Confirmation classes are smaller or only happen every couple of years. What can congregations do to curb this tide that is leading young people away from the congregation? This is a question with which congregations of all sizes and settings are grappling.
LCMS Department of Youth Ministry has highlighted “7 Practices of Healthy Youth Ministry.” The sixth practice is “Engaged Parents.” On the LCMS Youth Ministry E-Source website, it is noted, “Engaged parents prioritize faith development by encouraging daily faith practices especially during times of transition. Today’s busy families are constantly forced to make difficult decisions to prioritize their schedule and resources…By teaching Christ centered priorities in the home, young people learn to set similar priorities during life’s transitions as they grow and become independent.”
This issue of The VOICE focuses on examples of how congregations can assist parents in faith formation in the home. The Missouri District has trained Tell the Next Generation coaches from across the state to work with congregations that would like support in this effort. The coaches have been trained by Concordia Center for the Family and are available to work with congregations as of July 1. A mailing will be sent to all congregations this summer with more information about Tell the Next Generation and how your congregation can participate.
The challenges facing our children and youth are great. Congregations cannot stop the pressures and influence of our culture on families. However, by equipping parents in this critical work of family discipleship, congregations are helping families to be centered in Christ, formed by the Word of God and prepared for lives of witness and service. The goal is for catechesis to be a partnership of the church and home, whether it is Sunday School, Confirmation, or a mid-week program. We hope this issue will provide some new ideas for your congregation and lead your leadership to consider participating in Tell the Next Generation.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan
Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was elected as the fifth president of the Missouri District-LCMS in 2015. He is a 1992 graduate of Concordia College (now University), Seward, Nebraska. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with a Master of Divinity in 1996 and Doctor of Ministry in 2011. Dr. Hagan served as associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Indiana from 1996-2002. In 2002, he was called to serve as senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Missouri until he was elected district president. Additionally, he served as the Interim Director of LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission from 2011-2012. He has previously served as Missouri District first vice-president from 2012-2015, fourth vice-president from 2011-2012, and chairman of the Board for Congregational Services from 2006-2011. He has presented workshops and retreats on a host of ministry topics including elders, rural ministry, outreach and ministry to inactives. He has written articles for Lutheran Witness, Concordia Historical Quarterly and Missio Apostolica. He has led mission trips to Cambodia, China, Guatemala and the Bahamas. Dr. Hagan is married to Jill (nee Johnson), who works as a speech-language pathologist. They have two children, Caroline and Jack.