Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bringing Adult Children (back) to Faith 4c

People, your child included, rarely come to true faith, become assimilated into Christ's story, due to intellectual discussion or convincing argument.  Most people come to Christ through a profound, ongoing relationship with a authentic Christian.  This is why it is so important that you as a parent have an active faith and demonstrate to your child that you really do love them and you love, not the philosophy of but the person, Jesus Christ.  Clarity in these two relationships overcomes almost all obstacles and shifts people to a position where they can accept that this God-story is true.  "This is how they will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35.  Grow yourself transparently towards God and towards them.
The last step in bringing your child to faith is helping them find their place in the story.  Now Hear This....this does not mean telling them what they should be doing in the church or on Sunday.  Helping them find their place means celebrating any activity that they do and orienting it to Christ.  Instead of taking them with you as a part of your story like in section "B", now it is time to let them know that you think they are great and have wonderful things to offer in Christ's story.  "You really are a good artist.  That work would look great in the Parish Hall."  "This is a great omelet!  The Men's Hike guys would love this."  Planting seeds.  It will help your mission to talk to ministry leaders, explain your child's talents and ask them to ask your child for help.
A final word: you are long past telling them they need to change.  Hasn't worked so far and won't work now.  You are now adult acquaintances (not even friends yet) so treat them that way.  You wouldn't tell an acquaintance to get their act together.  You would ask, "How are things going?  You look kind of down."  And then you would simply listen.  And pray.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bringing Adult Children (back) to Faith 4b

We are still moving your adult child from an Accommodation type of faith to their Assimilation into Christ's story - giving up their life and agenda and taking up a life for Christ.
The predominant activity on your part, setting the stage, turning on lights and music, remains your relationship with Christ.  Give up your own life for Christ.  Be engaged as fully as possible.  This doesn't necessarily mean going to multiple Bible Studies and being in the church building whenever the doors are open.  What it means is that your life is actually centered in Christ and it is part of your conversation - not bragging but matter-of-fact testimonies.  You are proud of how careful the vestry is with your tithe.  It is great that God invented golf.  Your testimony on the golf course with _____ went so well.  You hold hands with your spouse so your child can see a model of righteous intimacy.  You retell the story from the guy you served at Crisis Ministry.
The second thing to do to bring them into Christ's story is very hard.  You need to confess your failings to your child.  For you to assist your adult child in making this transition you have to be in the right position with your adult child.  If your interactions with your child remain parent:child interactions, you will make little progress.  
Confess that you are sorry for being a crummy parent (we all are).  Next, confess that you are sorry for talking to your child through all the baggage of the last 25 years instead of having clean conversations.  Confess that you are sorry for not listening well.  Confess that you are sorry for not changing your role from teacher/parent to adult friend yet. 
Now - position changed - you proceed as an equal friend.  You are starting over with Saint-Exupery's thought,
“If you want to build a ship, ...don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Live a life that is full and undoubtedly a part of Jesus' story and invite your child into the story.  Bring them into your adventure with Jesus.  Bring them into your mission trip, into your Habitat work, into your SS teaching, into your hunting excursion fellowship times.
As you do that, continue your praise of your child's efforts at accommodating the teachings of Christ. “I have been paying better attention to your life lately and you have been doing a good job of turning over areas in your life to God.  I am proud of you for the job you are doing following God."  Even adult children need praise and encouragement.  We're not there yet so...more to come.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bringing Adult Children (back) to Faith 4a

Accommodation faith to Assimilation.
Even after Jesus was resurrected and taught the disciples, in Acts 1:6, they ask Him, "Is this the time you are going to beat up the Romans and throw them out so we can have our kingdom back?"  [slightly paraphrased.]
The disciples, after all this time, years, were still looking for Jesus to fix their lives, to make things work, to be a part of their story.  The stage of spiritual growth that they can't seem to get to is called assimilation.  It is the stage when one commits oneself to be assimilated into Jesus' life, into His story.  Assimilation is the phase when you lose your life because you know that Jesus' life work is where you are supposed to be.  This is the place in growth where the rich young ruler collapsed.  "I have done (accommodated) all these things."  "Go and sell all you have...."  Can you hear the crowd?  "Jesus didn't tell me that."  "Is Jesus being metaphorical again?  Surely He isn't telling this guy to sell everything?"  "Watch, Jesus is going to call him back any second.  Just kidding, you only have to sell half."  Compare the disciples in Acts 1 with them a couple of days later in Chapter 2.  New creations.  The Holy Spirit comes upon them and they are new creations.  There is no more talk of them and their lives.  It is all about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.  Their lives are forgotten.  Their story over-written.  We depend on the Holy Spirit for this work...but we can help.  We can set the stage.  We can bring up the lights.  We can start the music.  How?  Stay tuned.