Recently I was asked to provide some basic guidelines for milestones for kids. I love this assignment because it represents two things:
- Intentionality: This assignment is rooted in creating a pathway of spiritual growth for kids rather than just hoping for the best. Having milestones is strategic.
- A natural link with the home: Since discipleship begins in the home, and the family is the largest influencer in the faith of children, it gives opportunities for the church and the family to partner together.
Consider the following milestone ideas for your church.
Age: As early as possible
Involve: Entire church if possible. If not, have as many family members present as possible. This is a chance to set correct perspectives for every child belonging to God, but also to challenge the family members to model and mentor God’s message every day of their life.
Early Readers Bible
Age: As the child is beginning to read
Involve: Parent and child. It’s not uncommon for members of the household to sit and read with children. Since reading is such a huge indicator of success in life, why not pair it with the embedding of faith to help ensure the child’s lifelong faith advancement?
Age: As he/she is able to understand wrong, punishment, grace, and mercy
Involve: Family members who will celebrate with the child. Generally children who are between 5–9 years old can begin to understand these concepts. However, some kids who develop at a faster or slower rate may be able to cross this milestone earlier or later than others. It’s important to remember that age is not the important factor, but rather the comprehension of the faith principles.
There are several elements of personal commitment to consider: Salvation, water baptism, first communion, and baptism in the Holy Spirit. Because there are several elements of personal commitment, be sure each one is fully understood. Take time to continually talk about each commitment, what it means, and why we participate in it.
First Study Bible
Age: Mid-elementary (3rd grade)
Involve: Family members and peers. Your little Christ followers will begin understanding spiritual concepts in greater detail. They will begin having questions about faith, other religions, and what is happening in the world. By helping them discover God’s truth in a study Bible form, you are setting them up for continued focus on God’s Word throughout life. Self-study devotionals and short-term reading plans are also appropriate at this age.
Rights of Passage
Age: 13–15 years
Involve: Men and women who you believe will be godly examples to your children.
The purpose here is not to pressure your son or daughter into making commitments that adults have a hard time keeping. Instead, the purpose is to help them know they are going to face spiritual challenges. Stress your desire to help them navigate these successfully, and emphasize the commitment of all in attendance to be a living example to your child and to be willing to help whenever they are needed.
I recommend having each attendee (or couple) write down thoughts or blessings for your child, and present them with a token that will stand as a reminder of this transition of intentionality of responsibility toward adulthood.
There are some less common milestones to consider celebrating with your children: First opportunity to share their faith, first offering, first cross-cultural missions experience, memorization of key Bible verses and/or elements, discovering God’s call.
Regardless of what milestones you select or the ages you recommend for these milestones, I encourage you to partner with parents to help create memories around key spiritual moments in the life of each boy and girl.What milestones do you have?