My friend Brandon is a magician—not a big time professional, but sort of a kids’ birthday party kind of guy. Maybe I’m too gullible, but every new trick I see him do impresses me. Something about a card trick or making something change or disappear is just cool to me and allows me to let my imagination run free. I want to figure out how it works, but I also always enjoy those moments of wonder that a trick or illusion can bring. Those few seconds of wonder are magical moments.
As a parent, I long to have those magical moments with my kids. That’s why I love traveling with my family. I love the thrill in their eyes when we travel to a new city or hike down a new trail to an incredible waterfall. Those moments when we experience adventure together as a family are magical. I want to experience as many of those moments with my kids as possible as they grow into adults. When they grow up, I want them to be able to connect the adventures we had as a family to the fact that their mom and dad traveled with them!
What if we could help parents create magical moments that connect with faith? We need to set up every family to have as many of these moments of magic as possible. What if we could help parents create a moment each year that they could leverage to pass down their faith in Christ—a moment that was magical? We call that kind of moment a rite of passage experience.
I looked up the meaning of rite of passage and the simple definition is a ceremony or event that marks an important stage in someone’s life. These kinds of moments are common in our society and each of them is magical in different ways. When our kids start kindergarten, move to middle school, get a driver’s license, graduate from high school, choose a major in college, or buy their first house, these are all significant milestones in a person’s life. We know these moments are important, but what if we looked at creating other moments? What if we created moments where we shared an experience that would allow us to pass on our faith over time year after year?
We believe rite of passage moments don’t have to only revolve around moments our society values. We believe that we can help parents create magical moments and schedule them each year so that families intentionally invest in the life of their child. There are some lessons in life that parents should guide their kids through. If we are not intentional about creating and scheduling these moments with families, they often will miss the chance to have necessary conversations with their children. It never happens on purpose, but life has a way of replacing what is most important with busyness. In the craziness of our pace we miss saying and experiencing what is most important.
Your ministry can foster some magical moments for families if you will intentionally create rite of passage experiences for the families at your church. I bet you already have four of these experiences instituted in the life of your church right now. You probably have baby dedication and I know you celebrate baptism, communion, and graduation. You already have a head start on setting families up to invest in their child at each step of the journey if you leverage these four experiences in the life of your church. What could happen if you maximized each of these milestone moments so that families could share an experience together? The way these events move into a rite of passage experience is by helping each one to become a time where parents speak into the lives of their kids and not just attend a ceremony where you do all the talking or presenting. Make these interactive times where parents share from their hearts. Kids need to hear their parents verbalize their love and hopes for them—what incredibly powerful family moments. Best of all, these moments are made possible by your church.
What if you took the rite of passage idea even farther? What if your ministry set families up each year to have a rite of passage experience to tackle a yearly theme your ministry feels passionate about? These moments matter because every parent wants to influence their child, but every parent needs help along the way. Parenting never comes with a playbook or instructions. God gives us these children and then we learn as we go. Rite of passage experiences can help give parents at your church a map through the years so they don’t miss opportunities to say what matters most.
Helping parents have rite of passage experiences at each grade level ensures that kids are influenced by parents each step of the way. When I think about powerful lessons that I learned from my parents, they all happened by accident. Life happened and then the teaching moment was to follow. By leaning into rite of passage experiences we have the chance to get ahead of life and be more intentional about the memories parents make with their kids. These experiences build the memories that kids have about the issue they revolve around, and when kids look back, they will remember their parents speaking into their lives. When we leverage yearly rite of passage experiences the parent gets to be the hero by giving their child time and attention.
Rite of passage experiences matter most because they make it possible for parents to create magic moments that turn into incredible memories. They give us a shot at bringing this verse from scripture to life.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
With every rite of passage experience we create in our ministry we are giving parents another shot at pointing their children to the way they should go. It’s worth the time and effort to create these kinds of moments.
Michael is a follower of Christ, a husband, a dad and a pastor. He serves Grace Community Church as the Executive Pastor. In the past, he has served in multiple family ministry roles. He’s also the Team Leader at Parent Ministry for Kids and drinks way too much Diet Mountain Dew! michaelbayne.net