- They are converted (Real Relationship with Jesus)
- They have been equipped, not entertained (Real Relationships with the Church)
- Their parents preached the gospel to them (Real Relationship with Parents)
Relationships are so crucial to our growth at church and in the Church. If we do not have a relationship with Jesus, we won't see a need to come, if we do not have a relationship with others we won't want to come and if we don't have a relationship with our parents we won't be expected to come!!
Though the first two are very important you (the reader, I'm assuming most are parents) have little to zero effect on them. A relationship with Jesus is two ways: the Holy Spirit and the Soul (we as individuals make this decision and literally live with it for eternity)! As for the relationship with others, as much as I want to have influence here (and I'm sure you do as well) I do not. I cannot force students to engage other students or even make them continue coming and I definitely cannot make a student learn when he/she arrives. Intentionally, we have created an atmosphere that is safe and are relentlessly teaching God's Word, praying it does not return void but no promises can be made that teens "get it." However, it's in the third "trait" that we, Family Pastors at New Beginnings, believe can help and even equip parents (married, single, divorced, step, etc.) to proclaim the gospel in the home, just like in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
This past Sunday was another big moment for NBFamilies at New Beginnings. We launched our first "Family Equipping Class" during first service (9:30a) in W301. This month, Matt will be walking Wired (Middle School) parents through the basics of 'Preparing your son/daughter for adolescence.' We are so excited about this discussion getting kick started and setting the stage for next month (November) when I will be hosting a series of Family Equipping times on the 'Rite of Passage.' At these times parents of freshmen and sophomores will engage the principles of being a Biblical man or woman and preparing for the experience at the end of the month (See Faith Map for more information)!
Family Equipping each month for specific NBFamilies ministries is just another way we are wanting to come alongside parents and help the gospel to be presented and effective in your son or daughters life.
But before you leave today, I wanted to ask a quick question and give a couple thoughts... How is your relationship with your son or daughter? I'm guessing that if they're a teenager, there's probably a little tension if not some outright fighting going on. That's okay, it's even normal!! Some distance and conflict happens while teens develop their autonomy outside of mom and dad. But how do we choose to respond to this distancing can be the difference of communicating the gospel effectively or just flexing our rule and reign.
What do you think about these steps for parents after conflict has arisen:
1. Win the Apology Race. This can be so difficult, especially when your teen started it. But once both sides are raising voices and rolling eyes, apologies are going to need to go around.
*A good friend of mine always says "you can always own up to, at least, 3% of any situation"... even if you were minding your own business reading when a little girl, we'll call her: Charleigh (hypothetically speaking), overflows the bathtub when you thought someone else was taking care of bath time. No pointing fingers, this was hypothetical, but if it was real, I still could have done a better job at communicating my intentions.
2. Listen and Respond don't React. Do you listen to your teens heart or are you just waiting for your turn to speak? Ask open-ended questions and don't be afraid of honest feelings.
*Court always says "respond don't react to the ball" (when coaching volleyball), which means if you react you are often hiding your face or just throwing up your hands as a reflex. But if you are responding to the ball you are thinking about what & why the other play is going to do and responding with intention and thought.
3. Prayerfully Answer with Truth and Love. If the situation is going to call for punishment, then do it with love and with your teen’s best interest at heart (also, let the punishment fit the crime). Don’t punish because you are angry or to get the conversation over. In my opinion, the only way this can happen is with adequate "downtime" and prayer.
*We have a calendar-like-thing on our refrigerator that gives you specific Bible verses and Christ-Centered thoughts for different "Punishment-Worthy" scenarios. I have often used our "downtime" to be a few moments for everyone to collect their thoughts, allow the tempers to lower and read some focused answers from Truth and then share them with Love.
For most of us conflict resolution is done by either the way our parents did it or the exact opposite (so as to "never put my kids in what I had to put up with"). But if our common goal was for our sons and daughters to see, hear and feel the gospel in our home... Maybe we will have to find more ways were the whole family wins!?
May God grant your mercy this week as you are stressed with work, bills, relationships and the drama that comes from teenage lives... May He show you a new angle to the loved He has already lavished upon you... May we continue to learn to love like Jesus loves... May we choose to be different, counter-cultural, selfless and humble... May we yearn to be holy and flee far from sin... May the gospel be understood and lived out in our own lives so it can impact our future!!
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