Author Info: Dr. Brian Haynes serves as Lead Pastor at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City, Texas. Brian is the creator of the Legacy Milestones strategy designed to inseparably link church and home to equip the generations.
Why I chose to read this: We need a shift in how we minister to students. There have been many books written and messages spoken about what it takes to reach this generation. I've enjoyed learning and studying how we are to lead and equip parents to be the leaders in their homes. I had a "shift" in my understanding of being a student pastor when I started in ministry. Instead of looking at parents with a positive attitude, I looked at the statistics and lack of parents leading their children spiritually. What I have learned over the years is that my desire is to reach students, one home at a time.
Highlights of "Shift: What it Takes to Finally Reaching Families Today."
Brian Haynes wrote this book to highlight a cultural shift back to the principles of scripture. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the Shema was given to set up the biblical model of spiritual formation.
Haynes says this, "The tragedy, unless something changes, is that today's children will live a warped, individualistic, self-serving form of Christianity. They'll make decisions based upon feelings rather than truth...And eventually, as life goes by, the influence of Christianity in our culture will grow dim and silent."
As I have watched and talked with many parents over the past 8 years, one thing I have learned is that less often does the home life become an incubator to help children develop spiritually.
Reasons parents do not lead in the home: - Families are busy: Children are in extracurricular activities by the time they enter preschool. Students are stressed out and filled with anxiety many times because of the pressures of many activities. In today's culture, rest is considered many times for the weak.
- Parents think discipling their children is the professional's job: We cannot outsource the spiritual formation of our own families to the church. Although the norm is to outsource their education to the school systems or to a local sports coach to help students improve, God's original blueprint is for parents to disciple their own children. The church and parents need to work together!
- Parents aren't sure how to be primary faith influencers: Many parents have no idea how to lead their children spiritually. Sometimes it is because they were never shown how by their parents.
As a student pastor, my first ministry is to my family. If I am supposed to lead other families then I need to be authentic. Brian explains the importance of evaluating your own family strategy. I have started to think about what kind of environment that I hope Micah grows up into and how Cassidy feels loved in my family.
The book helps explain the importance of one simple approach to discipleship. One simple path. What if the church embraced a strategy to help equip parents to be the primary influencers in the home? Resources, training, encouragement and more.
The book has some terminology associated with the strategy:
1. Milestone: The strategy focuses upon the seven milestones that every person growing in their relationship with Christ experiences and celebrates. When a person reaches this milestone, that growth is celebrated as praise for how God is working in the person and as a motivation to continue walking the path.
2. Core Competencies: Each child, adolescent or adult must learn key truths as they progress from one milestone to the next.
3. Faith Talks: The parents must reinforce the core competencies to their children or students in formal and informal ways. Faith talks are intentional times set aside each week for conversations based upon scripture. It can be done at the dinner table, a walk in the park or a trip to Starbucks.
4. God Sightings: It gives parents the opportunity to reach core competencies in informal ways by modeling and speaking truth. It could be a sunset together or watching a baptism. It is capturing the moment with your family in order to teach God's truth.
5. Church Events: The church would host events to support each milestone. The purpose is to connect parents with each other for support, ideas and encouragement and to celebrate God's working in the family life.
6. Parent Summit Conference: Twice per year, they would host a conference that has a passion to encourage and motivate parents. It is a time to help chart their course and determine where their student(s) is on the journey along the milestones.
7. Parent Seminars: Training is given for each specific milestone.
8. Family celebrations: Helps teach parents how to host an at-home celebration for almost every milestone. For many families these celebrations are the most moving and meaningful steps along the way.
As natural development occurs in the family, the seven milestones are clear steps to help lead the family spiritually. It highlights the importance of building the parents up to be successful in making the most of the time.
1. The birth of a baby: This milestone connects new parents with the responsibility and opportunity of leading their children spiritually. It is baby dedication but with a seminar to teach parents the ways to lead.
2. Faith commitment: It is to lead your children to Christ. Teaching and helping parents know how to help their students make the decision.
3. Preparing for adolescence: The church partners with parents of 9-12 year olds to help them grow spiritually.
4. Commitment to purity: It is leading parents to help their students make a decision to be pure.
5. Passage to adulthood: Helping students walk into adulthood with maturity and God's vision for their lives.
6. High school graduation: Leading upcoming graduates to be influencers for Christ after high school.
7. Life in Christ: A process of helping adults become discipled in the main 7 competencies of a Christian (Prayer, scripture, authentic faith, obedient follower, disciple maker, giving/serving, and community.
"Cookie cutters are for cookies. What I am about to show you is a strategy designed specifically for Kingsland Baptist Church in suburban Houston, Texas. The principles behind this strategy are universal... You're the expert regarding your church and your ministry" (page 42). Shift has been an eye-opening book on the need for a shift in how the church partners with parents. I plan to take many of these principles and apply them in our culture at church. We are opening our new resource center called, "Homefront" at Church @ The Springs in the next few weeks. Reading this book has helped me understand a clear process of partnering with families. We hope to provide a resource center for parents to adequately receive the helps and encouragement to grow as a family.
What are your thoughts about what it takes to reach families in 2012? What thoughts or ideas do you have to shift into partnering with parents?