Newsletter, Spotlight

Raising up kids who will worship as adults (not just a job for parents).

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I’ve been blessed to attend some events this summer that focus on continuing education and general support of DCE’s and other church workers.  There is one theme that has come up repeatedly: How do we keep our people (especially our youth) connected to our congregations and committed to living their faith?  There’s no fool-proof answer, but there is some interesting evidence that can help us find an answer that works for our congregation!

Studies have been conducted by multiple organizations (Barna, Pew Research Center, 360 Impact, Facts & Trends, and even our very own Lutheran Youth Fellowship), and one thing has become incredibly clear: There are two characteristics most commonly true of people who stay connected to a church into adulthood:

1) They SAW their parents live out their faith.  They didn’t just hear about it but witnessed it.  That means worshipping WITH their parents, SEEING their parent read their Bible, and doing devotions TOGETHER.
2) They had relationships with NON-PARENT ADULTS in their congregation.  This could include Pastors, DCEs, or Sunday School Teachers, but it also means random folks who sat in the same pew or people they’ve served with (think Tech Team, Ruby’s Pantry, Ushers, etc).  These are adults who talked with them, came to their games and concerts, and cared about what was going on in their lives.

Many other factors were considered, and none of them came CLOSE to the significance of these two.  The size of the congregation, type (or quality) of worship music, quality of sermons, church facility/building—none of those things had a significant impact.  It didn’t even make much of a difference whether or not there was a thriving youth ministry.  None of these things mattered as much as whether or not they connected with other adults and had parents who set the example.

We often hear comments or complaints about the habits and practices of certain generations, but this information does not only apply to the youth and young adults right now.  These statistics crossed over all generations, denominations, and socio-economic statuses!

So, now the big question: What do we do with this information??

The Immanuel Staff have been working to change small aspects of our worship services to better engage our children as well as other members of all ages.  We pray that this makes it easier for parents to regularly participate in worship with their children.  We have also been handing out cards at worship with our weekly memory verses as well as conversation starters for your family; we have designed this resource to assist in having regular spiritual conversations in your own homes!  We are providing opportunities for parents to be equipped and encouraged in sharing their faith and studying scripture with their children (Parenting in the Pew and Other Places is coming again this fall – date/time TBD).  We are also working to coordinate a dedicated time each week to provide Christian growth opportunities for members of ALL ages, so that entire families can easily participate together.  It’s been a while since we’ve been able to offer this sort of “education hour” and we pray that ALL of our people will choose to participate.

Here’s the thing, though, our church staff can’t do it on our own.  Next time you’re interacting with your Immanuel family, whether in worship or serving together somewhere, please take some time to reach out and connect with those around you, especially those younger than you!  You don’t need to be explaining scripture to them, or doing anything profound, but please, take an interest, invest some time!

Also, no matter how many changes we make in an effort to equip parents and connect different generations within our congregation, none of us can create faith in someone else; we rely on the Holy Spirit for that.  So please, take some time to pray for your children, and pray for the families of Immanuel.  Pray for the wisdom and the courage to step out of your comfort zone and begin a new relationship.  God has promised a Helper for you in this, and we can always rely on His promises!

In Christ,
Tara Barrett, DCE


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