About a year ago I picked up a book called “Shift” it was Brian Haynes’ book written to church leaders explaining this idea of creating milestones. The basic idea was as church leaders you would use the big moments in the life of each family “Salvation”, “Baptism”, “Baby Dedication” etc. to partner with the parents and to equip parents to use those Milestones in the life of their kids to infuse the message and essence of the Gospel.
As a complement to “Shift” which was aimed largely at church leaders Brian has written his newest book called “Legacy Path” which is aimed largely at parents. If you are a parent or a ministry leader you are going to want to pick up a copy of this book. I so appreciate the discussion Brian has started and how he has challenged the though process of church leaders as to how we are going to empower parents to intentionally disciple their kids. Head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy for yourself and one to give away.
In the spirit of full discloser I was provided a free book and a book to give away. The questions listed below where not provided for me I came up with them and Brian graciously answered them for me. I was not paid by the publisher for this blog post.
1. I remember a tweet you tweeted where you said if everything is a milestone than nothing is. Could you unpack what you mean?
If I remember that correctly, the tweet was in response to ministry leaders who were designing strategies that sometimes included 30 or 40 milestones. I think too many milestones makes it impossible for the average parent to understand where to step next and can be overwhelming. I typically encourage ministry leaders to try and keep the process, strategy, or plansimple. An everyday, busy parent has to be able to read, understand, and apply the principles of the path without being overwhelmed. To make everything a milestone takes away from the most important ones. I decided to choose the milestones that I considered most important in the spiritual development of a person from infancy to adulthood without cluttering the strategy with extra.
2. Why did you choose the milestones you did?
This concept began in my mind as I was working on my D.Min project titled “TheIntegration of Church and Home.” As you can imagine I read every book and studied every model I could find to determine how a church might connect with the family to disciple the next generation. One of the books that I read by Jim Wideman and Otis Lebetter is called Spiritual Milestones: A Guide to Celebration your Children’s Spiritual Passages. In their book they detail a set of milestones that parents can use to celebrate with their children.
I began to ask myself this question: “What if the local church had a plan for discipleship that made sense for a family to practice?” My team began to explore Jim and Otis’s milestones and came to the conclusion that most of the milestones they identified would also work in our ministry context. Our big tweak to their idea was making it work in the preschool, children, student, and adult ministries at church so families would be encouraged and equipped to walk this common path of milestones at home. We changed a couple of the milestones to fit our context and theology but basically Jim influenced much of our thought around which milestones are important.
3. What in your mind is the essence of each milestone?
This question has a long answer. I will simply refer you to www.legacymilestones.com. You will find a description of each milestone there as well as supporting resources foreach milestone.
4. In order for the milestone strategy to work, who needs to be the main champion of it?
This is a changing variable dependent upon staff structure, etc. in a local church. The best-case scenario is that the lead pastor champions the philosophy and theology of the path as part of the vision and mission of the church. He then empowers a spiritual formation pastor, family pastor, or discipleship pastor to oversee or champion the strategy from milestone 1 to 7. At the same time a Children’s pastor must champion milestones 1-3. A youth pastor should champion 4-6 and someone focused on adult discipleship should champion milestone 7. If you have the staff (paid or volunteer) you can meet consistently to develop alignment and ensure that you are helping people move along the path. This too has to be customized to fit your church.
5. From what I know of youth pastors and kids pastors, I would say kids pastors would love this and youth pastors would not. How would you overcome the objections of those in youth ministry?
I find two objections typically from youth pastors: (1) We can’t trust parents to disciple their kids and (2) If the parents did not start when their teenagers were children, their kids certainly will not listen to them now. On the first count, youth pastors are right to a degree. Some parents can’t be trusted to disciple their kids. This however, cannot be an excuse to ignore the theology of spiritual formation beginning with Dt. 6:4-9 in our practices. The only way to trust parents to disciple their kids is to equip them to do it. So the youth pastor has to overcome this trust obstacle by encouraging and equipping parents of teenagers. I know, not all of the kids’ parents come to church. So use your youth ministry to help them walk the path.When their parents are even a little engaged, reach out and overcome the obstacle by equipping.
It can also be true that parents of teenagers who have never trained their children spiritually will find resistances from their skeptical youth who wonder where all this is coming from. Youth pastors can overcome this obstacle by helping students understand the plight of a parent. I remember many times that our youth pastor had intentional talks with our students in mass about how their parents were going to ask them to participate in a weekly faith talk at home. He taught the kids about this parental responsibility and then asked the students to approach the whole idea with the understanding that their parent is trying out of love. “Give them your attention and give them some slack,” he suggested. Of course lots of kids said, “my parents won’t do that”and some of them were right. They get the best efforts of our youth pastors, leaders,volunteers, and they still walk the path.
6. Is the milestone strategy a principle to be tweaked or a formula to be followed?
I think the principle behind the milestone strategy is the important thing. Churches need to grapple with using family as a vehicle for discipleship. Each church should find away to mesh the theology of Dt.6:4-9 and Mt. 28:18-20 in their practice. Lots of modelsare emerging. If I were you, I would study them all. “Milestones” is just a plan to be
tweaked. The formula to follow is found in Dt. 6:4-9.
Thanks for making it all the way to end of this long post as a reward tweet the following for a chance to win a free copy of Legacy Milestones.
@samluce is giving away a copy of “Legacy Milestones” from @brian_haynes over at http://wp.me/pJNKB-1lE #kidmin