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Sticky Faith Book Club, Chapter 3

This is part 3 in an 8 part series on Sticky FaithJoin our book club by signing up here. (part 1, 2)

Kristen - Chapter one hit me hard as it exposed several weaknesses. I admitted that I while I had a ‘sticky faith’ parenting goal in mind, I had lost sight of important steps defining ‘how’ to get there. I knew that I needed to respond to what God was saying to me during the first chapter. In the past two weeks I’ve made progress towards that end. I’ve been consistent and intentional about praying out loud with the kids (note, I’ve never stopped praying for my children but I’ve not been consistent in leading them in prayer). I’ve helped Megan and Paul complete their church take-homes sheets – looking up, reading, and discussing Scripture. We’ve even had “God Talks” (as the book calls them). Specifically, talking about justice and how God calls us to act and stand up against people who are mistreating others (using the example of a current event). I started including this situation in our prayer time at the beginning of the week and updated Megan and Paul each day. Interestingly, it wasn’t until their Sunday school teacher talked about the situation that they really started asking questions. We had a great conversation that probably wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been praying all week. As we all move into chapter three, I’d love to know what kind of actions (if any) you have taken as a result of this study.

Adam – Last week, I ended the book club with a question for parents about goals. I asked, “Have you ever stated goals for your children’s faith development?” and most of us kind of winced a bit in responding to that question. (Myself included) It was an easy question to write but the fact is that it’s really hard to articulate what we would like our children’s faith to actually look like at specific life stages.

I reflected on that tension as I read chapter 3 of Sticky Faith. As a parent I have a hard time defining what faith development looks like at specific life stages of my own kids. But when it comes to my professional life? That’s like standard operating procedure in the church! I remember working on a document called “A description of a discipled person” and reviewing that with high school parents for years. How is it that I can run a parents meeting and describe in detail what a students faith should look like upon high school graduation but I can’t even articulate what that looks like in my own home?

For me, that revelation gave me a lot to reflect upon.

Identity formation, intentional friendships, the power of ritual

Our kids are 8 months, 8 years, and 10 years old. Each is full of personality. And it’s fun to imagine what they will be like as adults. Chapter 3 was a great reminder that my role as a parent has great importance in their identity formation process and I shouldn’t take that for granted.

We aren’t quite at the point where they wrestle with “Who am I?” questions. But I know that the words and actions we pour into them help them know that they are God’s beloved child. As Kristen referenced above… we can begin things in them today which will help them not only know who they are in God’s eyes, but also know that God’s Word is bedrock for figuring out who they are and where they fit in this world. It’s one thing to guide my child towards whom I want them to become. It’s an entirely different thing to help guide them on a path of discovering who God wants them to be!

Rituals and relationships are so important to this process. Ministry has lead us geographically far from our physical family. And yet God has, in His benevolence and providence, provided families and friends who deeply impact our kids. I love surrounding them with people in our life and saying, “Yes, I hope those adults rub off on my kids!” We have a lot of rituals in our house. From Saturday mornings at the Farmers Market to going to ball games to hiking Cowles mountain, we have established things that we, as McLane’s, do. But as Kristen mentioned above, we need to be more intentional about helping them connect the dots between what we are doing and why we are doing it. Megan and Paul could each tell you that we go to the Farmers Market so that they can learn where their food comes from. But I wonder if they would so quickly articulate why we worship Jesus at church?

For discussion

  1.  What are some ways you identified yourself growing up? How were they helpful to you as you grew older? How were they harmful?
  2. Of Nouwen’s three answers to the question, “Who am I?”, which of these are you most prone to rely on? Describe what that looks and feels like. Which of these does your child rely on? What does that look like?
  3. On a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being easy, 7 not so easy, how hard is it for you to see yourself as the beloved child of God? How easy is it for your child? Describe what you mean.
  4. Name some ways you can emphasize who your child is (a beloved child of God) rather than what your child does. How would this emphasis change your approach to your child’s extracurricular activities or academic achievements?

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11 Responses to Sticky Faith Book Club, Chapter 3

  1. Teri V October 24, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    In a silly I’m-not-actually-going-to-answer-a-single-question fashion….
    I LOVED the section about rituals in this chapter.  It’s the stuff that makes me excited to have kids someday.  It’s also the stuff that I remember most dearly from before my parents’ separation.  It was also really affirming in regards to how we “do” camp…  I’m excited to share it with the other Assistant Director and with (at least) our Senior Staff.

    • Adam McLane October 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      The ideas in this book, this chapter especially, are fantastic. I was SOOO encouraged when I read this. 

  2. Joe Watkins October 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    My wife Gwynne and I are trying to be really intentional about these sorts of identity forming decisions with our almost-2 year old son Micah. As far as emphasizing who he is vs. what he does I can think of two things we are already doing and one possible idea I’d like to pursue.

    1. We named him Micah. I heard Micah 6:8 when Gwynne was pregnant and I thought, “If I had a son and he lived that I’d have done my job.” We talked about it and it seems that once he’s able to know where his name came from it gives us the chance to say, “When you’ve forgotten who you are and whose you are, remember your name.”

    2. We want him to be a part of our congregation. Maybe this is cheating since I’m a youth pastor, but we don’t want him to ever think that his faith journey is something that he does alone. The community of believers is a part of our life and it is a part of who he is because of what Jesus has done to make this community possible. It’s my hope that this leads to relationships with Christians who take him into their homes and sow into his life because he’s a part of their Kingdom family.

    3. I’m imagining what it might be like if to encourage Micah in the areas of caring relationship, and serving others. What things would we applaud? How would we schedule our time? Would we spend more times at the local food bank than the local soccer field? It’s difficult because Gwynne and I both love sports and the arts so there’s all sorts of things that he could want to do that we would love to support him in, but I’m wondering what sort of family atmosphere would place those events in proper relationship to the reality of the gospel?

    I’m really struck by the idea that the gospel is as much about an entirely new reality and existence because of Jesus, and as a parent thinking about the spiritual identity of my son, I just hope we can cultivate a home where Micah learns that reality must be seen through Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 6:53 am #

      Joe, I love your heart, man.  I’d say, just listening to what you say on here, you’re well on your way to cultivating the home you want for Micah.  Keep it up!

    • Adam McLane October 27, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      I think with a 2 year old he probably notices more that you’re present and wholly present more than he notices the things you’re exposing him to. I dunno, I’d love others insights. 

  3. Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    1. Growing up, my parents did a good job of making a big deal out of being a “Chenoweth”.  There were certain things we did, certain values we held, and certain things that were out of bounds if you carried our family name.  I didn’t always like it, but I got it.  I’m trying to pass that sense of belonging on to my girls as well.

    3. I’d say a 2 for me.  I believe Him, He’s proven it over and over, I just never understand why and that keeps it from a 1.  I mean, I understand the theology and Biblical teaching behind it, and believe it.  I’m just always shocked at it.  For my girls, it is difficult.  We push our girls to do their best.  We reward them for good grades.  They are both leaders in their class, and used to achieving.  We also work equally hard at teaching them that it’s not about grades, but about using the gifts God has given them, and about loving others.  It’s not either/or for us, but both/and.  I believe if we are consistent, as our girls cognitive abilities change, and they begin developing that sense of self, they will be able to see both sides.  At least that is our goal and prayer.

    It was a great chapter, and I’m really enjoying the book.  Thanks for your work on hosting this.  The accountability, although from a distance, keeps me moving.

    • Adam McLane October 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

      Dude, so much good stuff to unpack. It made me wonder if my kids are proud of their name? Like… are they proud to be a McLane? And if not… what steps can I take to get them like the Chenoweth girls? 

  4. Russ Cantu October 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Yeah, that’s right- I’ve made it here… finally!

    1. Honestly, I identified myself by the situation that surrounded me: my parent’s brutal, drawn out divorce. It was a place of despair, heartache, hopelessness, yelling and screaming. I took all that in and found myself wishing for something else. During the times that influence was not defining me, I was a scholar-athlete. Obviously, identification of anything central outside of the image of God will have dramatic effects. I am a pastor now, but that is not what defines me. Adam is a computer geek, but that is not what defines him. We are all a part of a much larger identifier, as found in the KOG.
    4. My wife and I absorb the faults and encourage that which stokes their fire. Rituals and routines are a big part of what we do, but who we are is a family, and our kids know that. It’s who they are too. Nothing satisfies our kids (and us parents) than being around one another. The family is always a big part of the kids’ extra activities. We do everything together, even if we aren’t kicking the ball on the field at the same time; we’re there. Family as a team sport, I guess. 

    • Adam McLane October 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      Welcome to the conversation! I’m glad you caught up and got after it. 

      I like that distinction… you do one thing but that isn’t what defines you. As I think about adolescent development, part of the process is trying on a bunch of “different selves.” I think what freaks me out about that a bit is that I hear parents who think they have their child nailed from a personality perspective… and they might, with that one self. But are they willing to keep listening and discovering with their child? I hope so… that’s the kind of dad I want to be. 

  5. Lisette Fraser October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Sorry to be a week late on joining this discussion . . . I’m ready for 4 too :)

    I remember a brilliant assignment we had to do in a Theology of Missions class. We were asked to think of the family stories that were most told. The ones that come up at reunions, dinner conversations, etc. We were then asked to reflect on those stories & see how they formed the culture of our family. I’ve never forgotten that assignment! It was incredibly eye opening & I realized how my identity was shaped by those stories. I’m still grateful for those stories. I pass them on & I hope we’re creating more!

    I realize I’m not following format here – but I have to say I love Jason’s thoughts on being proud of your name. Very cool – something for me to ponder! I also really appreciate Joe’s comments on name. We named our daughter Abbigail, “Father’s source of Joy” & our son Mattias, “chosen by God”. We’ve told them often what their names mean & hope some healthy identity comes from that. 

    This chapter was awesome! I’m pondering a lot because of it. I appreciate Nouwen’s questions & the reminder me to think more intentionally of how I speak to my kids & my students. An important reminder!

    I love the stuff on rituals. My Mum always thought there was reason for a party. She loved to celebrate everything . . . to the point it was embarrassing sometimes as a teenager! Today, I can’t thank her enough for doing life that way! We have lots of parties at the Fraser house. And we will keep doing that & do it more, with more intentionality! 

    This book is gold!

  6. Leena Prindle November 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    CAtching up! :

    What are some ways you identified yourself growing up? How were they helpful to you as you grew older? How were they harmful?When I was growing up I identified as shy, quiet, sorta-smart, really really skinny and short, redhead but wanted black hair because everyone noticed my red hair, not athletic – but good at baton twirling, loved learning about music and singing, and enjoyed doing ‘church’. Also I was the oldest child in a single-parent family – often I was considered the good child and my sis/bro made out to be trouble makers. Being coined as quiet/shy and too skinny and taking this on as my identity was harmful in giving me a low self-confidence in so many ways. I have a hard time taking complements on my hair,body, clothing, etc. Even in athletic abilities, shy & skinny set me apart from participating because it involved my body. I dabbled here and there but nothing seemed to stick. I found tennis in high school and did pretty well with that. 

    I believe I made up for my lack of self-confidence by being involved in whatever I could to lift others up or achieve a status that had to do with what was inside of me rather than how I looked on the outside. Knowledge, Heart, and Faith. Sometimes this got me to places that were quiet vulnerable with my peers. I gave a speech my sophomore year in high school that apparently got me the vote for “Most Easily Embarrassed” my senior year. The activities I was involved with, though, because of my lack in confidence in my appearance did give me several mentors that through the years God used to help rebuild my self-confidence. This is an on-going God project in my life.

    2. Of Nouwen’s three answers to the question, “Who am I?”, which of these are you most prone to rely on? Describe what that looks and feels like. Which of these does your child rely on? What does that look like?

    I think I take #3 (I am what others say about me) and use #2 (I am what I can control) to prove I am or am not what others say about me. Everyday I take encouragements/words of affirmation to heart and really try to live up to the good things people have to say about me. If I am told something not so great about myself, or someone says I need to improve certain skills or attitudes, I immediately go to work to change that perception others might have about me. It eats at me day and night until I either fix it or realize it simply is a perception and may not be reality. My mind gets tired emotionally bouncing from affirmation to disappointment. 

    I’m pretty sure Elie (7) is a “I am what others say about me” type… she is always very concerned about approval from others to dictate whether she is happy or sad. Reminds me very much of myself and I try to safeguard her from it, probably too often. I don’t know what Katie (4) relies on, probably “I am what I control” at her age.

    3. On a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being easy, 7 not so easy, how hard is it for you to see yourself as the beloved child of God? How easy is it for your child? Describe what you mean.

    Depends on the day, some days more or less than others. I guess if I have to I’ll choose 3. I don’t think I look for approval from God, but definitely base others’ approval (or my perceived others’ approval) as a litmus test on how I am doing as a human being. Ellie is a 2, she knows God loves her and is always telling others of God’s love for them. Katie – probably a 1 at age four. She has had an epiphany in the past few months that she is a child that God loves SOOOOO much – she’s not afraid to let you know either.

    4. Name some ways you can emphasize who your child is (a beloved child of God) rather than what your child does. How would this emphasis change your approach to your child’s extracurricular activities or academic achievements?

    * I’ve been trying to do this already with Ellie and, man, is it hard somedays. There are days she has low self-confidence in her homework abilities, piano practicing, friendships and more. She is at an age where girls constantly threaten “I won’t be your best friend or I will be your best friend if….” and the promise is more often than not made out of trickery or simply a broken contract. We work to teach her what it means to be a good friend… sometimes that probably comes across as “you’re a bad person if you are a bad friend”. Lately, she keeps asking me “Mommy. do you love me?” and I answer “yes”. I try to find out why she asks, but she rarely has a reason why. I assure her I love her no matter what. 
    With Katie, she is still PreK and the extra curriculars are different – and she is treated differently than Ellie when she plays. We always try to affirm them when they make good choices and treat someone well. 

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