Stop and think. What milestones are being marked in your congregation? In some households, teenagers have just received their driving license. In other households, soon-to-be parents prepare for the birth of their first child. Somewhere, a child has just lost a tooth. A man or a woman may be preparing to sell the family home and move into a retirement community.
Some are mourning the death of a loved one. Some may be getting married or divorced. Others are beginning a new life through a second marriage and blending two households. This is the "stuff" of life. The ordinary and out-of-the ordinary happenings in families are what life is about. All of life is part of God's gift to us. Thus, each of these happenings invites a faith response.
Think about your congregational life. When, within the congregation, do you stop, recognize life's moments (like those mentioned above), hold people in prayer, and join them in sorrow or celebration?
Your congregation can join individuals and families in recognizing such milestones. Consider the following:
- Encourage Sunday school classes and small groups to include time to offer joys and concerns at every gathering.
- Become familiar with the many worship suggestions in The United Methodist Book of Worship. Ask worship leaders to offer these services to family members in need.
- Create a "firsts" section on one of the church bulletin boards. Include "first" happenings of those in your congregation, such as first job, first child, first tooth lost, and first home. Take pictures of members experiencing these "firsts," and ask for the congregation's prayers.
- Offer a short-term study using the book Capture the Moment: Building Faith Traditions for Familiesby Rick and Sue Isbell. This book takes many of life's happenings and links them with discussion starters for family conversations, meditations, and suggestions for celebrations within the family.