Displaying items by tag: Ask This Mom
Ask This Mom - Where do I fit?
As I was bustling down the hallway, on a busy Sunday morning, she strolled by me. The young woman who had been on my mind for the last week was right in front of me. Calling her by name, I asked if she was interested in meeting with me. Without a moment’s hesitation she agreed to come to my office later in the week.
On Wednesday morning, she sat on the other side of my office, twisting a napkin in her hands. Nervous ,but also she seemed excited to update me on her life. She talked about the older people, people my age, in our congregation who encouraged her on a regular basis. This had made our church her home.
Staring at her lap, she then said, “but I don’t feel our church makes a space for other people my age.”
Together we investigated some possible solutions to her dilemma. How can we make our church a welcome place for your generation, Gen Z, who wrestles with anxiety and aspirations?
Gen Z is coming of age in a time of uncertainty. They are a highly talented group of young adults who recognize they possess little control over much of what happens in the world.
That must feel frustrating, but our generations can find the balance together.
Part of life’s journey is to draw you closer to where you belong. The church should be a safe place for you to explore your ideas and share your feelings. A place where correction draws you closer to God; not stifles your spiritual curiosity. You want to belong to God’s people, but how do you find the place for you?
Here are some strategies that might work for you.
- Like the young woman in my office, look for a place that sees you. Ask your friends for places that they feel welcomed, heard, and supported.
- Do you know someone who lives the Gospel in their day-to-day life? Find out where they attend and follow them there.
- I know it is difficult but seek out an older person you admire to mentor you. This is going against your generation’s norm, but you can do it. I’m giving you permission to ask.
To you who are the older generations, are you making a space for young people?
This quote from Fuller Youth Institute caught my attention:
“I’m tired of the church answering questions I’m not asking.” – anonymous Gen Zer
To answer the right questions, we need to know this generation. Not just understanding statistics but face to face relationships that edify both of us. They want to know you, but they are waiting for you to make the first move. It all starts with a hello, remembering their name, and inviting them in.
One young woman said it this way, “I want a safe place where I can ask the hard questions.”
If we are answering the wrong questions, we will lose our relevancy. Honor the Gospel and make a space for them to continue to deepen their discipleship in Jesus Christ.
A ministry can be built that is a ministry run by young people for young people. Partnering with older mentors, it will become a place where they can investigate the beauty of the Gospel and passionately serve the people around them.
This will be healthy and productive for both generations.
Ask This Mom: How do I return to my faith?
I’m starting to hear this question a lot. Interlaced with this desire comes a great deal of pain and loneliness. Here is the common litany of statements I’ve gathered.
I still love Jesus.
I’m exhausted by all I’ve been through in recent years.
I’ve lost hope due to all the chaos in this world.
I don’t trust the church.
My friends have turned their back on God and encourage me to do the same.
I believe God is real, but I don’t know how to find my way back to Him.
Looking at our young adult generations, Gen Z and Millennials, they both struggle in this area but look for fulfillment in different ways. Young millennials, now in their mid to late twenties, desire authentic, meaningful connections. They want to impact their world positively and powerfully for the better. In contrast, Gen Z desires financial stability and security. They are passionate about normalizing mental health. Both struggle with loneliness, isolation, and anxiety.
If this description fits you, I’m here to invite you in. You are welcome here.
- I ask your forgiveness for any way the church has let you down. Many of you see us as hypocrites and at least for me you are correct. I make mistakes, missing opportunities to react and love like Jesus. So please forgive me.
- This world is full of disappointment, and it is not the source of hope. Evil has encroached in all sorts of horrifying ways and it makes us feel powerless. But our hope is not in the world, it is in Jesus. Even if your hope has been whittled to the tiniest fragment, nurture it.
- You are not alone. I pray you can find a mentor to walk you through this journey back to God but if not in person, know you can lean on me. I’m extending the invitation; I hope you receive it that way. Reach out in email or on social media. This is not just a hobby for me, I am all in and ready to partner with you. I know of other women who feel the same. We need to find ways to bridge the disconnect and build safe relationships.
- Pray Mark 9:24b “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” as often as it comes to mind. It is beautiful to me that the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to write this down for us. It is okay to doubt but you don’t have to stay there.
- Find people that are like-minded. Spend time with authentic people who allow you to explore this relationship. Take time to develop safe relationships that will allow you to grow.
- When you are ready, return to church. We miss you.
No matter what know this: YOU ARE LOVED. God’s love is unconditional, extended to you with an ever-present invitation.
Ask This Mom – Is it ok to leave the church I grew up in?
On a steamy July evening, we sat on the porch reflecting on her faith journey. She had spent the last ten weeks away from home for the first time. At twenty-one, she tasted independent living, although she entered it with anxiety and she’s now leaving with a newfound confidence.
“I’m thinking of looking for a new church home, is that ok?”
Certainly, that is ok.
The question to answer is why?
This was the church she grew up in, her family still attends there. She, however, no longer felt like part of that community.
You may relate with her concern but feel conflicted over this move. Especially if you experienced a healthy church life as a child, you may struggle with feeling disloyal. Your loyalty lies with Jesus first and your church family second. Pray and ask Him to show you whether you need to stay or go.
The church or Ekklesia, is the gathering of people who share in their belief of Jesus Christ. This group of people are meant to be family, sharing in worship, serving one another, and building the Kingdom of God. It is to be a place where the participants learn and grow to be more like Jesus.
Every church is flawed with imperfections of one kind or another. This is part of the human condition, so if you are leaving to find the perfect church, you aren’t going to find it. But leaving your childhood church, to see what else is out there, may help your faith move to the next level. As young adults, especially Gen Zers, you are looking for autonomy, for a place in which you will be treated as an adult.
Here are questions to ask yourself as you explore new congregations:
- Can you authentically serve in your current church?
- Does this church draw you closer to Jesus? Do you reflect Jesus to others because of attending there?
- Are you building community or see the potential to build community – especially an intergenerational community?
- Are you recognized as an adult, ready to commit to this community?
We are to avoid cherry picking, taking what we need, to meet our own needs. We need the love and support of other people to continue to pursue Jesus. True, as a young adult, you are going through a lot of changes, but you are also setting habits that will last a lifetime. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” We each need a place to learn to live vulnerably in community.
Ask This Mom - Is it okay that I question things I’ve been taught about my faith?
Is it okay that I question things I’ve been taught about my faith?
The short answer is yes.
Does that surprise you? I think we get confused between theology and faith; a tension between the two brings moments of confusion causing us to seek clarity.
Theology is defined as the study of God and religion. Theo means God and ology means study of, it is a pretty straightforward understanding of the word. As believers we seek knowledge to better understand who God is and how to build a relationship with Him. That knowledge, appropriately applied, develops our wisdom as to how to properly live what we know.
Scripture is clear that we are to seek after wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 assures us that the knowledge and wisdom is in Jesus, we just have to look for it. “2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Some of theinformation presented to us can be misunderstood or misrepresented. This is why we test and search out the truth.
Faith, although related, is based on belief in God, spiritual comprehension instead of proof. As it says in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith, pistis in the Greek, means a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is God.
Theology is knowledge based while faith is belief based. When we question theology, we are not to throw away faith. On the contrary, when we investigate, we are simply answering the why we believe to grow our faith.
As imperfect beings, we recognize we don’t know it all and we continue to seek wisdom and knowledge through our relationship with Jesus Christ. This builds a better understanding of who He is and who we are to become. Find a trusted friend and investigate these questions together. Accurately applying Scripture, while seeking Jesus, will help you sort out what He has for you.
Ask this Mom is a monthly post that investigates the questions that matter to you.
Five Steps to Build Family Bond
On a cool summer morning, hinting at the approaching fall, we gathered. Each of us recognized this was a special moment, identifying it as a time worth celebrating. No speeches or toasts were given, just plenty of stories and laughter shared. We celebrated the intimacy of our family bond nurtured over a lifetime of experiences.
It started as a getaway weekend to my sister’s summer home. A quiet place on a river, a perfect escape destination from the stress of life. Within a few days of our departure, we discovered two of my other sisters were camping nearby. Texts flew back and forth as we realized our fifth sister also planned to be in the area. Expectations turned to excitement as we saw an impromptu party become a reality. For the first time all five sisters, with their five husbands, gathered without our children.
An extraordinary moment to treasure, the day remains a cherished snapshot in my mind. A simple backyard barbeque full of love and laughter ensued. Admiring the circle of family and friends, I quietly thanked God not just for them but for the legacy of my mom and dad. Their purposeful pursuit of family identity and unity permeated our time together. Essence of each of them peppered our conversation.
My parents raised five independent women during a tumultuous time in our history. However, their gifts to us remain timeless, a beautiful testimony to those who followed. Although far from perfect, they invited us into an adulthood centered on Jesus and His church with the freedom to choose our own path. Here are four intentional steps you can take, to form a similar legacy.
1. Make encouragement part of your daily lives.
No matter the age, recognizing both the gifts and struggles of the individual emboldens them to move forward in the path God set out for them. Encourage the good choices and coach them through the failures, reminding them that both develop us into our God designed selves.
2. Declare your family identity. I’m not sure when my dad started calling us “the good guys”, but it was a continual title used throughout my life. This is how my parents saw us and this is how we behaved. He set an expectation, through this positive declaration, of our character. When others urged us to step outside our family beliefs, that identity curbed the temptation.
Find a simple phrase that fits your family to undergird your identity. Make it positive and empowering.
3. Make unconditional love the expectation of your household. We were not measured by our achievements but loved because we were theirs. So much of our society rates our worth on what we do. However, a grace filled home counters that pressure, making it a safe place for the whole family.
Unconditional love extended into our poor choices as well. Living out the consequences of those choices impacted each of us as we grew and learned to navigate this world. No matter our choices, home remained a safe place.
4. Ask for wisdom before you act.
Even with all this in place, not all our choices lined up with the beliefs of our parents. Measuring the moment to determine their response took not only grace but wisdom. My sister moving to New York City challenged my parent’s peace, but it proved to be the correct choice.
Taking a moment to examine our own motivations before we comment or correct, helps direct a positive outcome. Measure our words and remember sometimes it is best to say nothing at all.
5. Daily choose gratitude. Living on a salesman’s wages with five daughters held challenges beyond our understanding. Each night at supper, we declared God is good and God is great. Thanking God for what we had permeated our home. Comparisons to friend’s material possessions were quickly squelched.
Thankfulness, demonstrated daily, trickles down to our children. Make a point to invite your children into sharing their gratitude.
Intertwined within our celebration, and our lives now, dwells the promise of Jeremiah 31:13 “Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” Building a lasting impact in your family through subtle daily choices will ensure joyful family gatherings even after you are gone.
Connecting the Generations Day 1