By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
MURFREESBORO, Tenn.—Middle school minister Jeremy Lee knows that the parent of a teenager invests a lot of time, money and energy into academic and athletic training during their student’s middle and high school years.
As believers, these parents know the importance of investing as much or more energy into their children’s spiritual training; equipping them to become more like Christ as they cross over into adulthood.
To that end, Lee and a team of writers from his church, New Vision Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has developed the Rites of Passage Project, a strategic approach that helps parents acknowledge and celebrate key physical and spiritual growth stages with meaningful life-markers that their students will never forget.
Other contributors to the project include Richard Ross, professor of student ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the founder of True Love Waits; Jim Burns, president of HomeWord and author of “Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality;” and Hunter McFarlin, member of New Vision Church and author of “Rites of Passages for Teens.”
“I see this as a very hands-on approach to ministry that happens all year long,” Lee shared, explaining that he developed the project to partner with parents and help them celebrate their children’s stages of growth.
Lee, son of David Lee, the executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, noted that Jews have a great hold of their faith, which has been passed on through the generations using symbols and ceremonies. He felt that Christians could benefit from similar symbols and ceremonies as well.
Corresponding with grades 6-12, the rites of passage include the following seven areas: preparation for adolescence; the blessing; purity weekend; driving contract; money matters; family tree; and the manhood/womanhood ceremony.
Lee offers free materials on his website (www.newvisiononline.net, click on “for Students”) for each rite of passage. Each section includes WHY and HOW videos for each grade level as well as downloadable PDF resources and a list of suggested books to read.
Since recently beginning the implementation of the Rites of Passage Project at his church, where he has hundreds of middle school students, he has seen the positive peer pressure from participants encouraging other families to participate. There is a building excitement over the family-focused ministry.
Though it’s still early in the process, Lee is excited to see three to six years from now after families have gone through each rite. He can only imagine that the seven conversations that parents have with their children will have great impact on God’s Kingdom.
“How could you not, out of those seven healthy conversations, come out ready to face the world?” he asked.
To follow Lee’s journey through student ministry, visit his blog, http://wonderfullyawkward.com.