Dispatches from the ECO National Gathering, Part 21
This week we continue our series of notes where members of our leadership team report back from the ECO National Gathering. This week, Student Ministries Director Josh Higgins and Senior Ministries Director Carol Jaeger share their thoughts:
How can Good Shepherd support and equip families to be the primary spiritual caregiver for their children? Youth group activities, missions trips, devotionals and intentional discipleship of youth are all important to give kids the best chance to be life-long followers of Jesus. Yet studies show that it’s not enough.
The family unit is the primary environment that allows faith to stick. That’s why I love this Sticky Faith stuff we’ve been talking about. Yet, families today don’t have the social structure necessary to support them in this endeavor. Extended family often live far away and relationships with neighbors are fractured, because they are just as busy as everyone else. It’s been a trend that’s been going on for sometime now, and our kids aren’t benefiting from it.
Being at the ECO Convention I had the opportunity to be in the same room with ministers and lay people trying to figure out how their congregations can best support families and children. Below are some ideas Good Shepherd can be part of what Jesus is doing to restore families and children.
- Have one person for every family unit and teenager committed to calling once a month to ask for prayer requests and praying for those things everyday.
- Do you miss going to your kids sporting events now that they are out of the house? What if we had a team of people willing to go to high school games, dramas and recitals? Kids and families could have their own Good Shepherd cheering section!
- Emergency Grandparents: Some families just need a little extra help every once in a while. An emergency has come up at work andkid needs to get picked up from practice, maybe you could help?
- In our digital age, the art of letter writing has been lost. I know of some kids who literally have never mailed a letter with a stamp! A monthly letter to an adolescent could be something that lets them know they are loved, just for being who they are!
The ECO convention spurred these and many more ideas to help families and kids have an active and vibrant faith. Let’s be known as the church that goes out it’s way to support and love on families and kids!
What a privilege it was to attend our ECO conference together as a staff. A staff united in ministry, looking forward, together, as we move in a new direction in the upcoming year as part of a new “movement” in ECO.
I was especially touched by the statement made by our morning leaders that we are not looking to be another denomination but a “movement.”
We are called to live out our faith in love and service to others actively demonstrating the love of our Savior so that others will come to know Him. We are called to intentionally move beyond our walls, beyond our comfort zones and out into the world that so desperately needs Jesus. This task is one that is continuous and ongoing throughout our lifetime. There is no stopping, no resting or breaks from serving our Savior but we are called to change as we journey through life, lest we become stagnate and ineffective in communicating His message.
This conference reminded me of my days in Labor and Delivery, watching a birth, looking around to see all the emotions of joy, hope and anticipation of this new life, as well as knowing there will be trials along the way. Here we have a new opportunity to join together, supporting one another in faith whether it is in church planting, missions, reaching across borders of faiths or most importantly, investing in the faith of our children.
One of my favorite reminders from Ephesians is that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. We need to be listening for His call and choose to be intentional so that we can become the moving, living church of God to His world.