Archives For faith development

Most youth workers, including me, have been doing student ministry since they were students themselves.  Because of this reality, there is often an unchecked issue brewing just below the surface.  This is that we often fail to differentiate our spiritual development and needs from those of our students.


Remember being a high school student?

There was a time, and maybe you are still in that time, when you remember being a high schooler and you remember the spiritual journey of that time.   This memory is one of the things that makes you such a great youth worker.  I remember how great it was when I first started out in student ministry.  Whatever I was learning, however I was growing, only added fuel to my growing passion for students and for them to encounter the living God who was rocking my world!  In fact, I have found that it is always best to teach from a place of authenticity and personal growth.

But as the years wore on, I began to realize that I was outpacing the spiritual development of my students.  I found myself trying on new ways of connecting with Jesus.  Lectio Devina, candles, solitude.  I found that the more I was growing spiritually, the more I wanted to share my new spiritual growth with my students.  But now realized, the more I shared with my students, the more I was losing them.

We have different spiritual needs than our students do:

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Ok, that isn’t totally what my simple parenting advice is.  It is actually, “Check yourself before your kids actually end up like you.”

Over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to speak to MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) groups and Parents of Teenager groups for my church as well as for some of the churches in Northern California.  Working with students and their parents for the last 15 years and then realizing how awful the challenge of parenting is as I have become one myself has made for plenty of space for spiritual growth and transformation.  Coninuting to work out my own faith development while having my own kids has proven to be quite the challenge.  So difficult, in fact, I had to write a little book to wrestle through my junk.

What I have learned is very simple.  Our kids will reflect us and our values.  Not necessarily our stated values, but our true values.  I have enjoyed pointing my fingers at the parents of my students as I have stood separate from them and their issues.  But this is no longer the case.  Now that I am a parent and I can empathize with the unending challenges and complexities of parenting, my finger is no longer pointed at those “old people” with high schoolers for kids, the finger is firmly pointed at me with my parenting advice.

Below is post I wrote for a friend’s blog,, as she put together a little blog series on the spiritual formation involved in parenting. My post is the third installment of a series on children’s faith development called Vision from the Frontlines:  Voices, Experiences & Practices of Faith DevelopmentI hope you enjoy :)


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