Leveraging Milestones: Making Spiritual Conversations Normal At Home

Fuller Youth Institute released this article, and I wanted to share because it deals with rites of passage in a faith community.  The article is mislabeled as most of the content deals with addressing milestones and spirituality within a church or spiritual community.

Leveraging Milestones: Making Spiritual Conversations Normal At HomeI believe that the article does a great job of pointing out spiritual milestones or rites of passages for children as they grow into adults.

Here is the article.

My Highlights include:

  • Whether rites of passage or milestones, church communities have unique opportunities to intersect families at these various points and equip them to normalize spiritual conversations within their home life.
  • Our desire is for spiritual conversations in the family ecofriendly-minivan to be as normal as the conversations about basketball or the latest Disney hit.
  • Chart of Rites of Passages and Questions that they answer.

If you are new to the discussion of rites of passages in faith development, here are some additional resources.



A New Swag Bag for Seniors – Rethinking the Church Graduation Rite of Passage

Image via Wylio

 Spring is here, and many churches are set to once again launch a group of seniors.  Parties will be hosted.  Pictures will be shown.  Bibles will be distributed.  Graduation banquets will be held.  As someone who has led many of these events, here is my revised list of what I believe seniors should be given as they leave. 

Acknowledgment as an Adult

Within the church, emerging adults often wonder what the church expects from them.  Use this opportunity as a rite of passage to let them know that they will be treated and respected as full-members of the community.  Our banquets always included a word of encouragement from our senior pastor or pastor of adult ministries.    

Good Memories. 

I want them to remember moments of God’s goodness (and not simply memories of skit nights).  I want to provide times when they knew God’s presence was real.  I want to provide testimonies that show His mercy was undoubtable.  I want to provide times of reflection that engrave a knowledge of His goodness in their own lives.    

 Sharpened Social Skills. 

Most of our students had never experienced how difficult it can be to make new friends at a church, and so we literally walked through the entire process of finding a new church.   We changed their curriculum, roles, and experiences during their senior year to prepare them for departure.      

Unquestioned Support. 

 I want my students to leave with my cell phone, and the numbers of others who will continue to care for them.  I want them to know that absent does not mean forgotten.  Here is one simple way to communicate your continued care (The First Two Weeks). 

 A Hopeful Expectation of Spiritual Growth. 

Our students need to know that they don’t need to abandon their faith during college in order to be “normal.”  In contrast, I had several graduates whose spiritual growth exploded during their college years.  We need to rewrite the metanarrative of both adolescence and emerging adult as a great time to be a follower of Christ.  The church must guard the perspectives given about these phases of life.  

This new swag bag is not perfect, and I am sure that you will find it lacking.  What would you like to include in your senior swag bag? 

All of us who work with adolescents can rejoice that as they leave, they do not go alone.  The God who saw them through junior high retreats and senior high mission trips, God goes with them now. 

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to encourage and equip parents and churches to minister to emerging adults.  He is also the Founder of the EA Network.



Maxing the Memories: Solid Ideas for Creating Rites of Passage for Students

Here is a link to an article on YouthWorker.com that discusses the reasons for having Rites of Passage in the church.

It is written by Stephanie Caro who is a youth worker, author, and speaker.

I am a strong believer in reintroducing Rites of Passages into the church and our families.  If we are going to help emerging adults step into adulthood, then we must give them clear directions and expectations.  Rites of passage are part of this process.

Here are a few links to read more about Rites of Passage.

The Loss of Rites of Passages

Who Defines Manhood?

21 and Over

Raising a Modern-Day Knight

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to provide resources to churches, families, and emerging adults.


Who defines Manhood in your Home? – Family Emblem

Eeeeew. A chemist's on Portobello Road in London. So much for the whole up-market Notting Hill thing, eh?

Who would use store deodorants?

Recently, my wife and I had to buy deodorant for our middle child.  Although he is young, his armpits just smell terrible.  So we had the conversation planned out perfectly, so as to not hurt his feelings, and help him adjust to this new idea.

As soon as we shared the news, he exclaimed.  “I’m a man.”  My wife and I just sat their confused.  Instead of sad about his stench, he accepted the news with great pride as a sign of his being a man.   I am not sure where he got this idea, because I sure don’t run around the house proclaiming the manliness of stinky armpits.

In a world where there are many strange ideas about what being a man is all about, I believe it is important for me to define manhood (based on God’s truth, and with God’s direction) for my three future men.

I am a believer in celebrating rites of passage within a family.  As my oldest turns ten this spring, I am already planning ahead a first step in his transition from boy to man.  A pattern that I appreciate and have chosen to use in my own family comes from Robert Lewis’ book, Raising a Modern-day Knight.

During my years in ministry, I have observed and participated in several rites of passage with young men.  One emerging adult spoke about his father’s role in preparing him to be a dad,

My dad played a large role in my transition into being a man.  When I left for college, he told me, ‘You’re a man now.’  He trained me.  I know that I have his support.  He will back me up and give me advice.  He was the man in my life, and he has trained me on what to do in order to be a man”.

That is the way I want to lead my sons, so that they will understand what God calls us to be as men.  This is not a project that I should do alone, but something I want to do with my wife.  Rachel and I did some reflecting together on what we most want for our boys to be, and we set three goals for our little men.

Boyd Crest - JpegAs a symbol and teaching tool for my family, I asked a friend to sketch a Boyd Family Crest (the uber-talented Allen Nevalainen).  My hope is that each of my boys will instill the values that it represents.  The swords represent the community that they will need as they journey through life.  The rose represents the love that they will demonstrate to others.  The cross represents the purpose for their lives.  The Greek words on the banner can be translated, “One Lord, One Faith, One Hope.”

I believe that intentionality is important for raising our boys to become healthy men.

How do you plan to pass along a legacy of authentic manhood?  Share a thought for our community.


The Loss of Rites of Passage in Western Society. Will they be missed?

Adulthood Ahead SignAdolescents and Emerging adults need to know what is expected of them as they approach adulthood.  They are constantly asking themselves and others, “Are we there yet?”  Just as mile markers along the interstate can monitor your progression towards your destination, so can rites of passage encourage emerging adults by confirming that they are going the right way.

Unfortunately, many of our culture’s rites of passage have been lost or outdated in our fast-paced, changing society.  There is a desperate need for rites of passage to be reinvented and reintroduced within Western culture.  Ronald Grimes declares the current lack of rites of passage to be an urgent global problem:  “The absence of rites of passage leads to a serious breakdown in the process of maturing as a person” (Grimes).  Ronald Grimes, Professor of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University says that transitions between life stages, “can be negotiated without the benefit of rites, but in their absence, there is a greater risk of speeding through the dangerous intersections of the human life course.”  As adolescents take steps towards maturity, their steps need to be noticed and celebrated by the community around them.

Rites of passage show the pathway towards adulthood, and can serve as motivators towards adulthood.

Many adolescents are motivated by milestones that require defined work (for example, obtaining a driver’s license or graduating from high school).  Few adolescents complain about practicing driving, or memorizing traffic laws because they know that they will soon receive the legal right to drive and the freedom that comes with it.  Emerging adults need to have definable achievements and freedoms before them that will motivate them to push forward.

While some rites of passage are earned, others happen naturally (the beginning of puberty, or reaching legal drinking age).  These “natural” rites of passages within our society have been minimized, or celebrated in unhealthy ways.    Without adults taking the initiative in these areas, rites of passage have been left to be developed by those experiencing them.  Grimes says, “Initiation in Western society often takes this postmodern, peer-driven form—adolescents initiating adolescents, sometimes compulsively, unconsciously, and violently” (Grimes).  I believe that this problem is illustrated in the movie 21 and Over.  As a young man approaches his 21 birthday, his friends believe it is their moral obligation to give him the experience that our culture requires – one filled with inappropriate and destructive behavior.

Rites of passage signal changes within the life of the adolescent to their community.

“Experiencing a rite of passage allows young people to let go of childlike behavior and to begin taking on adult responsibilities and their accompanying consequences” (Moore).  Rites of passage signal to the individual and the community that they have changed, and are ready for autonomy and responsibility.  The community needs to be aware because their expectations on the individual changes, as well as their role within that community.

HandsRites of passage should be celebrated within a community.

Rites of passage are not important solely for the sake of the individual, but are beneficial to all involved.   I have personally been blessed by playing a role in the rites of passage for individuals.  It is an affirmation to all invited of your impact on the life of the individual.

There is a need for our families and faith communities to reintroduce rites of passage into today’s culture.  What way have you or someone you know used rites of passage with their family?  What way has your church used rites of passage with the community?


Grimes, Ronald.  Deeply into the Bone.

Moore, Walker.  Rite of passage parenting:  Four essential experiences to equip

your kids for life.


21 and Over

21-AND-OVER-Poster1[1]Last weekend, Rachel and I went out to see a new movie.  I was hoping for something with a little action; however, my hopes were dashed as soon as she said the name Nicholas Sparks.  So we arrived early for Safe Haven, and I got to do my favorite thing about going to the theater – watch the trailers.  After watching one of the trailers, I felt sick to my stomach.  Continue reading