As a pastor, I am “in a relationship” with the Fuller Youth Institute. I’m not even shy about it. In a culture that makes it challenging for our kids’ faith to thrive, I have found abundant resources for both parents and church leaders in their publications. I’m even using a number of them for my thesis project.
That’s why, when my email magically notified me they were looking for a book launch team for their next resource—Growing With—that was one of the few emails I didn’t scroll past or trash with abandon. I applied immediately.
I mean, my tagline you can read above is “picturing vase with the next generation.” It’s kind of important to me.
Growing With’s subtitle—Every Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family, and Future—captures the thing well. The authors, Kara Powell and Steven Argue, use three verbs to help parents during the three stages of their children’s growth.
Withing—how do we relearn to actually be with our children, not simply around them?
Faithing—how do we help our kids navigate the changes in their faith with patience and optimism, realizing that our faith, too, is or should be ever-changing?
Adulting—what tools do our kids in need to thrive in their own new life, and what is our role in supply and them?
I won’t lie—Growing With can be a tough read if your kids are already in their 20s, as xmine are. You can’t help but notice the many things you could have done better. Yet Powell and Argue lace Growing With with grace. They are parents, too. They have made their own mistakes and are not afraid to let the readers know it. The message comes through—we’re all imperfect humans raising imperfect humans. We all need some help. Both generations need grace to understand that the other is still growing, learning, and making mistakes. That understanding alone it is worth the price of admission for this book.
The authors talk about the cultural changes that have made growing up in this generation far different than the world their parents knew at their age. They lay down some of the stark facts that might depress us about our children’s faith, but they also debunk some of the myths about the Millennial generation and iGen that keep parents awake at night in fear. The clear, well-informed and fact checked understanding of the next generations’ hopes, worries, and beliefs are invaluable to parents, grandparents, and church leaders who wants to understand what is going on in the heads and hearts of these generations.
I love how the authors explain the different roles parents need to take on as their children change. Parents need to evolve from teachers to guides to resources. We can’t hope to parent a 25 -year-old the same way we did a 14-year-old. At least, we can’t hope to do it and retained a good relationship. And genuine relationships are what it’s all about for the next generation.
We need to be, as a one story puts it, “A wall they can swim back to”—a firm and sturdy place that will always support them after their forays toward and into adulthood. The writers don’t just leave us with that pithy picture, however. They give readers wonderful ways to be that wall. One of my favorite quotes sums this up well:
I love that the writers, like many of our Scripture writers, know that the important words are verbs. Parents don’t simply ”be with” their kids. They are withing, together. It’s a verb because it is active. We need to intentionally practice withing. Likewise, faith isn’t a static thing we can hand off to our kids when we think they’re ready. It’s a verb we practice more than we preach. It can’t be given––it can only be lived together. This follows up perfectly was the biblical view of faith. Fate is never a thing in Scripture––it is always an active, living way of life.
If you’re intrigued, or if you know someone who could benefit from “every parent’s guide to helping teenagers and young adults thrive,” check out Growing With.
Jill Richardson is the pastor of Real Hope Community Church near Chicago. She is the author of six books and a national speaker, as well as a contributor to books from Dayspring, Lillenas, and Christianity Today. Jill’s doctorate in "Church Leadership in a Changing Context" is helping her with her passion—passing on a healthy, creative church and doing it with the next generation. She is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Bethel Seminary (St. Paul), and Washington University. Her focus is on church leadership, creative preaching, immigration and refugees, women’s issues, and intergenerational leadership. She has an unnatural love for Middle-earth, chocolate marzipan, old musicals, fish tacos, oceans, cats, and Earl Grey. She believes in Jesus, grace, restoration, kindness, justice, and the Cubs. You can find her work at jillmrichardson.com.