Several years ago the Supreme Court of Michigan made a monumental ruling declaring, in essence, that parents are responsible for the education of their children. Although the court case was primarily about the rights of parents to educate at home, the ruling gave notice to all parents to take responsibility for the process of how children are educated and what they are taught no matter the educational route chosen, i.e., home, private, public. Prior to this ruling the majority of parents sent their children off to school with little thought about the how and what of education. In reality, this is mostly still true today.
Sadly, it appears that this same educational approach has carried over into the area of spiritual education for the majority of Christian parents. With little thought children are handed over to Sunday School teachers and youth leaders to be trained. Frankly, this practice is nonsense and poor parenting. At best the Church is a supplement for the spiritual development of one’s progeny not a replacement for parental leading. The lessons from Church activities should be an affirmation of the lessons at home.
The question becomes, “how?” Unfortunately, the how is well beyond the scope of this post but some of the “what” can be overviewed by the milestones presented below. Ideally, parents will find the pastorial staff to be an excellent source for resources of the “how” and guidence toward reaching the milestones.
I have summarized, paraphrased, or taken directly from the book Student Ministry and the Supremacy of Christ by Richard Ross (book info here) the following milestones for parents to use as a guide in the spiritual development of teenagers (for help training a youth through task oriented milestones see my post here)
By the end of 7th grade a teen should affirm one’s personal identity as centered in who her or she is in Jesus.
By the end of 8th grade a teen should affirm Jesus has a unique plan for his or her life.
By the end of 9th grade a teen should affirm God’s Word is truth, understand that one’s worldview is centered in Scripture, be able to put into words one’s basic beliefs, and give a reasoned defense of one’s faith.
By the end of 10th grade a teen should affirm that the greatest freedom comes from conformity with Jesus Christ, understand that balancing freedom and responsibility is central to decision-making, and have a genuine love and value for those in authority.
By the end of 11th grade a teen should affirm that the reason for existence is allow Christ to live out His life through his or her own, be willing to follow God’s unique plan for his or her life, understand the directive to share one’s faith, and recognize that achieving power, prestige, or possessions is of no importance compared to the joy of joining Jesus in His kingdom purposes.
By the end of 12th grade a teen should affirm that God’s Word is absolute truth and is the sole basis for one’s worldview, God’s plan of redemption in the Bible is the only one available, those who are sincere, faithful, and moral adherents to any non-biblical religion will spend eternity in hell, and that the Bible is the only repository of God’s written truth.
What has worked for your family?