Saturday, November 06, 2004

life transitions and resourcing spirituality

This week, Beth, part of the church, turns 5. Last week, Matt, part of the church youth group, got his driving license. A month ago, Helen and Ray, church stalwarts, went into a retirement home.

These are significant life transitions for each of them: new environments, new freedoms and responsibilities, times of change and letting go. The question is how the church honours these transitions. On Sunday I am planning to give Beth a sticker, for her to put on her lunch box. In the shape of a heart, it can remind her of God’s love and the love of the church community.

going to school
getting a driving license
retiring and retirement homes

What other key life transitions should the church be honouring?

If we live in a spiritually alert world, then part of the mission of the church can be to resource the spirituality of these life transitions. What about “retirement packs,” filled with resources to engage the spirituality of those going into aged care?

And how? I know about 5 year olds. What should be done to spiritually resource first time drivers, or to let God be part of the saying goodbyes that are part of retiring?

Posted by steve at 05:29 PM


  1. Steve, I often thought about this.. but I must admit not much action to my shame.

    But I have often said that Church ministries could be built around transition points of life.

    Death, marriage, birth we do reasonably well.

    What about divorce, job start, loss or change, moving from employment to full time carer, change of boy friend/girl friend, new home, pets – birth and death, moving to different levels of care (nursing home).

    Comment by phil — November 6, 2004 @ 7:03 pm

  2. Great, great questions.

    Faith Inkubators (spelled w/ a k) is an outfit in Minnesota trying to come up with creative answers to questions like yours. “Faith Stepping Stones” is a child-teen oriented model. Here’s the link:

    Enjoy. Hope it’s helpful.


    Comment by Evers — November 7, 2004 @ 6:14 am

  3. Have always thought that we should have a resource (pack) for teenagers to help them make the right choices especially when they come from non-Christian homes and again when they start Uni etc. Rather than a trip to the GP for the pill or to the chemist for condoms initiate teens by resourcing them with stay pure incentives and scripture to inspire them.

    Comment by Karen — November 7, 2004 @ 11:08 pm

  4. I so wish churches would notice these transition points more often, and celebrate/encourage/be there more. Our local Baptist church does a big thing for all the kids writing their final school exams each year, but that seems about it. I’d love to see more “family” things noticed, if we as church are truly a family.

    Comment by Michelle — November 8, 2004 @ 8:05 pm

  5. I like your going to school, driving licence ideas. Along with graduation, engagement, housewarming, change of employment.

    What’s really hard though is the socially unacceptable transitions – miscarriage, divorce, abortion, failing exams, redundancy, menopause… the kinds of things where people don’t WANT attention drawn to them, but they are in need of care through transition even so. I would love some creative Emergent~kiwi advice and ideas on those!

    Comment by maggi — November 8, 2004 @ 11:59 pm

  6. Maggi, see where you are coming from. Having experienced a couple of those things myself I think there is definitely a place for ‘pick-me-up’ aids. Something that says “We care and we are there for you in whatever way you need”. These times should definitely be the times that as Christ-followers we are there for each other and yet often we don’t allow people the chance to grieve or talk about their losses. Why are these socially unacceptable transitions when so many of us will go thru them?

    Comment by Karen — November 9, 2004 @ 12:32 pm

  7. Good thoughts maggi and Karen. One of the reasons I made the post was to be stretched in my own limited view of key transitions. I wonder if some of your comments maggi mark a shift from something public that everyone knows eg turning 5 or retiring, to something that asks for different types of care and communication. I am thinking of menopause or exam failure. Does this private/public interaction thus shape the type of ritual and who is part of the ritual

    Comment by steve — November 9, 2004 @ 12:36 pm

  8. I’m sure you’re right about the distinction between public/private ritual, Steve. I’ve seen wonderfully effective private rituals for miscarriage. I wonder whether publicly we need some cover-all “transition” acknowledgement? Or maybe there are some things that should just be kept private? One of the things I’m thinking about is the need for privacy within community.

    All the same, if our communities are “missional” or whatever, growing in numbers, we need somehoe to indicate publicly that such a thing exists privately (or who will know where to find it?)
    hhmmmm, thinking on…

    Comment by maggi — November 9, 2004 @ 10:45 pm

  9. maggi, a website would be great for this … a place to collect rituals, it would perhaps nicely capture both private and public, with a missional lens. hmmmm … the wheels are spinning ….

    Comment by steve — November 10, 2004 @ 9:38 am

  10. Steve – a site like that would be awesome…hehe. One thing I think would be cool would be something for the just-out-of-teens transistion. Me and my friends have been talking a lot about our “feeling old” – the feeling of reluctance of no longer being a teenager. I think this is a good opportunity for discipleship…or at least a “takeaway kit” for encouragement.

    I mean, what does life hold for us now? All of a sudden, turning 20 or 21 means a lot more responsibility…

    Or maybe that’s just my experience?? What do you guys think?

    Comment by Jon L — November 11, 2004 @ 9:34 am

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