Partnering with parents in encouraging
your children’s personal journey of faith.
Jump to a Specific Milestone Event:
What is Maranatha Milestones?
Without a map or a GPS, it’s easy to get lost – especially if you are entering into unfamiliar or unknown places for the first time. Out on the hiking trail, cairns mark a hiker’s progress and serve as trail markers, letting you know that you are on the right path. Tools and trail markers are essential as they guide and direct you to your final destination.
Maranatha Milestones seek to become some of the essential tools that parents and guardians can use to guide and direct their children in their personal journey of faith. Like a map or GPS, the Milestones paint a broad picture and give a lay of the land. Like a cairn on the trail, the individual Milestone markers help to keep your children on the path.
Beginning with God’s work in your children through baptism, these fourteen events are designed to recognize and celebrate the spiritual growth and development of your children, laying a lasting foundation of faith that is firmly grounded in Jesus Christ.
Milestone events will be offered once each year. Some events, such as the receiving of a Bible in second grade, will occur during the same season each year. Other events, such as the fifth and sixth grade service projects, will be offered once during the year as various opportunities present themselves. As always, the dates for the Milestone events will be published well in advance so that each child and their parents can attend the event together.
Why are they important?
Losing My Religion
If you’ve ever looked around the sanctuary on a Sunday morning and wondered, “Where are all the college kids and young families?” you would not be alone. In the last decade, thousands of pastors, churches, and researchers have asked that same question. And the results are staggering. A recent survey from Lifeway said that, nationwide, 2 out of every 3 students (66%) who are active in church during their high school years do not attend church during college and into their mid-20s. Think of that! If we apply those statistics to our own congregation, it means that only 1 out of every 3 students that graduate from Maranatha will continue to attend church during or after college. The same study showed that many of those students will even lose their faith during their college years. This is a sobering reality.
Our Good Shepherd Searches for the One
There is hope, however. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still powerful and effective, able to soften even the hardest of hearts. We trust the Lord’s promise in Isaiah 55 that His Word “will not return to Him empty, but it shall accomplish that which He purposes and shall succeed in the thing for which He sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). We trust that the students who have attended Maranatha have heard the Gospel and it is planted deep within their heart. Even if a student has walked away from Him, they will never stop being loved by the Lord. Our Good Shepherd will leave the ninety-nine in the field and relentlessly pursue the one lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14). He will continue to generously spread His Word (and His love!) on the road, the rocks, and the weeds (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). There is hope, even for the most prodigal of sons and daughters!
The Church Can’t Do It Alone
Therefore, at Maranatha, we take seriously our mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ as we wait for His return.” We aim to make disciples of even the youngest children and foster within them a deep love for the Lord, a love which has been anchored in His love for them.
But the church cannot do this task alone. We need help. We need to partner with parents to make lasting disciples of Jesus Christ and to create a firm faith-walk in their children.
The Most Significant Influences
It might sound surprising, but the most significant influences on students staying in the church and in the faith during their college years is their parents. Yes, you read that right. In his book Church+Home, Mark Holmen cites a survey of the “Most Significant Religious Influences” of junior and senior high students. The results were surprising. They were asked to pick the top five most significant influences in their lives. The number one, most significant religious influence in a student’s life: Mom! And the second most significant religious influence: Dad! Parents are vital in shaping the faith-walk of children and students. Here are some selected responses from that survey:
Mainline Protestant Youth: Most Significant Religious Influences
Partnering with Parents
Parents are significant in the spiritual formation of their children. That is why these Milestone events seek to get parents and their children engaged in activities together: reading Scripture, worshiping the Lord, serving our neighbor. These Milestones aren’t just simply trite achievements that occur during the year; these are training and equipping workshops for parents as they take the mantle of spiritual leadership within their home. Marjorie Thompsons summarize it well:
“For all their specialized training, church professionals realize that if a child is not receiving basic Christian nurture in the home, even the best of teachers and curriculum will have minimal impact. Once-a-week exposure simply cannot compete with daily experience where personal formation is concerned.” (Marjorie Thompson, The Family as Forming Center, p 26.)