MENTORING FAMILIES

December 2, 2012

MENTORING FAMILIES

 In a recent conversation with my daughters I asked them what  particularly stood out to them as they thought  back though their years of  being involved in home groups.  I believe their first response was how much they respected, appreciated, and valued the “older” people (my peers) who took the time to reach out to them, and consider their thoughts about anything.  They loved being talked to as people rather than as children.  That the listener really connected with their heart as the girls shared their thoughts and ideas was of utmost importance to them, and has made a major impact on them to this day. Those memories still serve as a type of reference-point as they now seek to make heart-connections with others of various ages.
Multi-generational home groups are something about which I’m particularly passionate.  I believe each person can learn much and value something from each generation. It’s become more the norm for people to segregate into age groups.  Relating to people outside of of our own age groups seems to be something that is becoming a lost art. Perhaps through having a variety of ages of people meeting together, we can bridge the generations, encourage working together, as well as valuing the strengths that each age group brings.  For the purpose of clarity, I am not saying that people should never meet together with ‘their own’ ages. These types of relationships tend to form more naturally.  My intent rather is to share another viable option for consideration.

A multi-generational home group closely mirrors a family in its make up and its closeness. The older members help train the younger, and those who are younger can learn to respect and value the knowledge and wisdom that older people have gleaned simply by the fact that they have lived longer.

Leviticus 19:32, “Show respect to old people;  stand up in their presence.”
Prov. 16:31, “Gray hair is like a crown of honor;  it is earned by living a good life.”

There are many things we can learn from those who have gone through some of the same situations we may be facing.  Knowing that they made it through is quite encouraging, and they can teach us how.  As they share some of their mistakes those who are younger have the opportunity of learning and being enabled to make fewer of their own.

Children need good, solid, and strong mentors/teachers which a home group with a variety of ages could provide. It is wise to seek God’s leading when considering who teaches them spiritual truths, or in selecting who is going to ‘watch over them’ in any particular setting that is chosen.  Children have value and  worth.
 
Psalm 127:3, “Children are an inheritance of the Lord..” 

God has plans, purpose, and destiny for our children.

Psalm 139:13,15-16, “You made my whole being;  you formed me in my mother’s body.  You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body.  When I was put there, You saw my body as it was formed.  All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.

Jeremiah 29:11, “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope (confidence) and a good future.”

Children bring a level of excitement, enthusiasm, and energy into the group.  They can help things not become stagnant.  In all, I believe multi-generational groups offer a sense of wholeness.  Each person will have many  opportunities to learn to set aside personal preferences b/c children are unpredictable, and spontaneous. And, there will be various needs that come up requiring a shift in focus. Flexibility is a great strength when it comes to home group ministry.

Jesus became upset with people who were discouraging the children from coming to Him, and said this,

“Permit the children to come to Me;  do not hinder them;  for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, ‘whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

Unbelief is much more minimal in children unless they’ve had some unhealthy circumstances with which to deal. They believe what they are told.  Even if they’ve been abused, their tendency is still to believe what they hear. They simply believe and expect that it is, or will be according to what they were told.  This is something very precious. God is more able to be free to work through their lack of unbelief.  They can truly teach by example.

Acts 2:17, “And your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.”
This verse is talking about the level of maturity, and not necessarily confined to age.  And, about the different purposes for the age groups.

Younger men are busy.  In Biblical times, they were the ones who went OUT to do battle.  They need quick, to-the-point instruction.  A vision is not about being awake or asleep, but it’s about the ‘clarity of the message’ in that very little interpretation, if any is needed.  It simply ‘is what it is.”  People who are young in their faith do not have enough knowledge of the Word of God for in-depth metaphorical understanding…

Older men are symbolic of those who have done their time in the trenches.  They are retired…they have more time to meditate, study, inquire of the Lord and allow Him to reveal Truth in layers. This is the nature of dreams.  They are more metaphoric.  They use biblical language to paint pictures that require understanding of those pictures.  They take more time to understand.  Dreaming in this passage is not used in reference to being lazy.

To me this paints a beautiful picture of how the generations can work together.  We do this as families.  Since home groups are like “families” this type of ebb-and-flow, no competition relationship should be the norm.  It takes time to establish but it is so worth the time and effort spent to build relationships that are full of respect, love and life-giving.

In Titus, we see the older women being encouraged to train the younger women in the things they need to learn.  I love this and have been fortunate to have had women (including my own mother)  in my life who  spent time with me, encouraged me, and taught me many life-skills.

Here is an acronym that might be helpful:  F A M I L Y

F- Focus on Father.  Help each person in your group grow in their relationship with God.

A- Attend to the people.  Pay attention to and. listen with a heart that desires to understand them.

M- Model meaningful relationship building.(think “Mom/Mothers”–healthy moms look for ways to “nurture” all of those in her family.)  Look for ways to get to know others in the group, outside of the group meeting times.  Find things in common, and do some of those things together. Perhaps someone in the group could teach a particular skill to another/others who would like to learn.
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I- Interact/include participation by everyone.  Proactively look for ways to encourage participation.  Let children be involved in doing things that are suitable for their age.  They will feel involved when given a task that is “theirs.”

L- Lifestyle of love:   Love each other, and live what you believe.  Be real.

Y- Young at heart/fresh  Enjoy, laugh, do things together.  Go on outings.  Sometimes, let  the kids pick  from a  list of acceptable, do-able options  Keep your ‘youth renewed’ through times of refreshing.

©Vanetta Stephens

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanetta Stephens January 19, 2015 at 3:32 PM

Thank you. We have and think your suggestions are spot on. Inch by inch we’re moving forward with the time we have to work with, currently. Appreciate your suggestions and encouragement.

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Vanetta Stephens January 20, 2015 at 6:12 PM

Thank you. We’re pleased you are blessed and encouraged. I’m glad this information could be of help for your presentation. It comes from many, many, many of our years of experience in small group ministry. We LOVE small group Life.