Who Are Your Strong Trees?

IMG_20150610_142940787_HDRThe truly happy person
    doesn’t follow wicked advice,
    doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,
    and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
Instead of doing those things,
    these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,
    and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!

They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
    which bears fruit at just the right time
    and whose leaves don’t fade.
Whatever they do succeeds.               Psalm 1 (CEB)

Our entire congregation has been invited to read one psalm per day for Lent. We’ve offered a child and teen version so that all ages can read the same psalm each day. The hope is that reading the same scripture will foster discussion in families, in faith formation classes, in worship, and across generations.  On Ash Wednesday, we read Psalm 1 at our family dinner table. And, on the very first day, we found something to discuss – something that I’ve been pondering all week.

I asked our daughters which adults are their strong trees, the adults that lived and modeled Christian life for them. These are the adults that honestly share their joys and their struggles. These are caring people who ask my children about their lives. They are adults who are seen in the community caring for others, as Christ calls us to do. These same adults are active in the worship life of the church. My children are watching them, and they see that their faith is real, that it matters, that faith informs their daily lives. I am extremely thankful for these individuals who support my children (honestly, they support me, too, but that is another post).

I noticed that while their role models are people I love and respect, there are far too few trees in their lives. Research shows that youth who have five or more Christian people who know them well and care about them are more likely to stay active in the life of the church. If my children are challenged to name five, then I am guessing many others in our community are, too.

Imagine if every child had a forest of strong trees! Imagine that these faithful people display such love, joy, authenticity and strength that our youth willingly choose to plant themselves by that very same stream of living water. I imagine we would spend far less time encouraging people to attend activities and more time creating opportunities for people to enjoy conversation, and to serve and pray together. I imagine that coffee hour would naturally become hour+, because people of all ages would need longer to catch up after a busy week. I imagine that Bible studies and prayer groups would be more organic and multi-generational.

That is the vision we have for our ministry. We are nurturing a forest. One tree at a time.

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