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Do you attend New Vintage Church?
Recently I was asked to review a new book coming out from Group Publishing. Here are my thoughts about the book.
“Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today” – By Brian Haynes
I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t need another book to tell me how to reach families. I need more ______ to help me do it.” I’m sure you could put any number of things in that blank. I’m sure, volunteers, money, and support would all be great words to plug in to that space. But before you write off Haynes and the systems from Kingsland Baptist Church, read this quick quote, “Parents teach their children how to love God by loving God in front of them. Parents intentionally impress the truth of God on their children. Nothing fancy. Beautifully simple.” (pg. 34) Sounds too good to be true right? Nothing in the church is “beautifully simple” is it? While the programs and systems suggested in Shift may not be as “beautifully simple” as it claims to be, what Haynes and his team have done is found some biblical principles that can be adapted to fit in any church context.
Shift suggests several key elements to reaching families: an Old Testament model, 7 milestones of a faith journey and a fundamental shift in the way we think about family ministry. Recently, there has been a cultural shift to the Old Testament model. Churches, pastors and ministry leaders don’t want the entire weight of bringing up children into devoted followers of Christ anymore. That’s what Shift is all about, empowering the church and the family to work together in raising children up in the way of the Lord. Haynes quotes Deuteronomy to help drive his point home.
“Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NIV)
Ministry to children starts at home and the church should be an aide in the process. Since raising children in the way of the Lord is such an incredible challenge for most parents, Haynes suggests using faith Milestones as a way to educate parents and create teachable moments for parents to capitalize on. The Milestones are: The Birth of a Baby, Faith Commitment, Preparing for Adolescence, Commitment to Purity, Passage to Adulthood, High School Graduation and Life in Christ. What I like about Shift is that the milestones remain fluid. If a family enters into the church while their children are in High School, they may go through Milestone 2 and then skip to 5. Haynes does not suggest that every person needs to start at 1 and go in order all the way to 7.
Every church needs a streamlined strategy of how they are going to reach families and equip them to be the primary spiritual influence in their children’s lives. If you feel like your spinning round and round, not getting anywhere and need direction, this book can certainly point you in the right direction. You may not think that this specific strategy will work in your context, but that’s okay. Haynes is just sharing what he and Kingsland have discovered through trial and error.
“New Vintage wants to partner with the parents in raising the next generation to be devoted followers of Jesus. We only have a very small amount of time with your kids on a weekly basis at church compared to the time you spend with them at home. This is why we want to provide resources for parents to follow up what we do on Sunday morning every day of the week at home. Please use this website to learn more about our Family Ministry environments, and stay informed about what is going on each week in Children’s and Student Ministry. You can also leave comments on posts, and see what other parents have to say! We are excited to partner with YOU because what happens at home is more important than what happens at church!”
I strongly encourage you to take full-advantage of this resource. Go ahead, check it out.