This past weekend we had lower attendance, those who attended decided to postpone this week's session to next week. So, the new schedule will be:
December 6- Chapter 4- Testify
December 13- Chapter 5- Transformation
December 20- Chapter 6 & 7- Hope For Tomorrow and Final Reflections
Our discussion this week encouraged us to take the steps to starting having the "Behind-the-wall" conversations with our youth/children. Behind-the-wall conversations help us bring meaning to our faith, traditions and why they are important to us personally. Realizing the first few times these conversations may fail, we are starting to create a space or culture allowing our youth/children to ask questions and seek their own understanding in the world around them.
We also talked about how "Behind-the-wall" conversations do not need to defend against "On-the-wall" conversations (conversations happening in culture and the world). "Behind-the-wall" conversations can help make sense of "On-the-wall" conversations in a way where God is infused within the world all around us and is telling God's story everywhere.
With the upcoming holidays take some time to ask your extended family members to talk about their faith and why they find it important. Ask them to share a struggle they have had as well as a time where they felt God was close to them. As a parent/guardian we are encouraged to share our stories as well, yes our youth/children may roll their eyes at us and pass us off as being weird, but eventually they will take parts of our story with them out into the world!
Faith Tool Focus
It's important to remember that on-the-wall and behind-the-wall conversations are for one single purpose: so that the language of the empire does not prevail in the lives of our students. Faith conversations are the explicit and implicit curriculum in the lives of people of faith. We talk with our students about our beliefs, and as we do that, they are taught correct theology and doctrine. The more we chat about our beliefs, the more their beliefs are fleshed out in their lives. And the more that happens, the firmer their foundation will be.
Behind-the-Wall- There's nothing special about starting a behind-the-wall conversation with your youth. These conversation starters below are designed to get your "behind-the-wall" conversation started with your student. You can begin with a question or by sharing something and then inviting youth to respond.
We had another fruitful conversation on Sunday. (See what we did there?) Our focus was on what "highly devoted" looks like in faith as well as our role as parents/guardians in the faith formation of our own family.
When it comes to our own faith and the passing on of faith, we can often times look at our faith as an heirloom. Something that is meaningful to our family, sometimes we know why it is meaningful, other times we know it has significance, but we're not sure why. For instance, I have my grandfather's hammer. He used this hammer almost everyday as he built houses as a carpenter. It reminds me of the hard work he put into his profession and his ability to create. If I take away the story or the reason behind the hammer and hand it to my son, the heirloom loses it's meaning and he might go out and try to hammer a nail into a board with it. But if I sit down with my son and explain who his great-grandfather was and why this hammer is important to me, he will better understand the significance of the hammer.
Passing on our faith as an heirloom can be a very good thing! When we are able to sit and explain to our children why our faith is important to us, rather than for them to except the faith because we always have, we are given the opportunity to express how God has worked, is working, and will work in our lives. This doesn't have to be a daily or even weekly sit down and hammer it out type of meeting. It can be more effective if we bring faith up in causal conversations surrounding daily life happenings.
Be encouraged to talk about why you believe what you believe. If you don't know why you believe, take some time to think through your response first. It doesn't have to be polished, in fact if it is too polished your youth may think you are not be authentic and are trying too hard. Let it come natural and continue to open doors for conversations. (Knowing that we will probably fail 50% of the time, that's not a bad thing!)
A simple way to get your family talking faith is to lay a few family heirlooms and say something like "These are objects that remind us of important moments our family has had. These items remind us of special moments and great memories. They help create family stories which, in turn, help flesh out some of the identity of who we are as a group."
Sharing family stories of faith can be an important way to connect generational faith together. Encouraging conversations about faith with old family members can be very powerful. Share your memories of your children's grandparents or great-grandparents' faith. If you are a first generation believer, talk with your family about what legacy of faith you hope to leave for your children and future generations.
With Thanksgiving coming up and families meeting together, this may be a great time to ask some of your relatives to talk about why faith is important to them. On the flip side, especially for teenagers, you could ask a family member who does not believe to share why. This can open up some discussion that makes us uncomfortable or uneasy, but eventually your teenager will come into contact with people who do not believe the same as them, and to have a conversation like this in a safe place with people they love, can have a lasting impact on all involved.
This week we looked at the Introduction and Lesson 1- Benign Whateversim. The hand out below gives you some of the highlights of the chapters, the book will give you more information to fill in the holes throughout the week.
One of the items we had some conversations about, but was not in the book, surrounds the idea of the Faith Tools. As a church we have become really good at giving families tools to use. Whether it is devotions, study ideas, take home sheets, etc. We often times miss the need for families/parents/guardians to learn how to use these resources or to become comfortable talking about faith in the home.
We spent a few minutes at the end of the session talking about "Roadblocks" when it comes to talking about faith in the home. Here is a list of things which came up:
Each week we will talk about and process how your Faith Tool activity/discussion went. This will give us a chance as parent/guardians to bounce ideas off of one another and to gain perspective from other parents/guardians.
Who is God?
One of the ways to get faith conversations going is to ask questions. Questions ignite discussions and give you a chance to explain your faith journey to your student. Questions also give students opportunities to express their faith, and their doubt as well. When we engage students in faith conversations through questions, we should be prepared for a variety of potential topics. If you ask a child or youth a question, then you should be prepared to receive a question in return. If you do, you have started a conversation. Consider exploring the following questions with your students sometime this week. Youth might want to bring up a question while you're on your way to school or to the store. Or, consider bringing up one of these questions after dinner.
The reality is this may fail at bringing any meaningful conversation. But it will allow your student to know the conversation can happen when/if they are ever ready for it. Be ready to say "I don't know," to some of the questions. Send me an email with any questions you may not have considered and I'll try to locate some resources for you to check out!
We will use this space as a follow-up to our Sunday morning discussions. If you're unable to make it to one of the Sunday morning discussions we'll also post a brief summary here as well as some specific questions or activities you can do with your family.
If you would like more information on the book we are using click here to be taken to the Amazon.com page.