Dibs on the Baby

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“Dibs on the baby … he’s ours” was an expression used by Mark Devries, author and youth pastor, as he shared his thoughts with St. John Lutheran at our "Generation to Generation - Planting Oak Trees" event. Mark said this is how we often respond and then fail to follow through with our youth ministry goals.  We unwittingly find ourselves as contributors to the crisis rather than resolvers of the issues at hand.  

The Crisis: We are not successfully launching our youth into mature Christian adulthood.

We marvel as God’s kingdom expands every time we witness an infant or young child being baptized.  We confess our shared faith on their behalf and we promise to help lead them in their spiritual development. We all publicly state that we have “dibs on the Baby … he’s ours” as we share the excitement of God’s welcoming of this child into His kingdom.  We are willing participants in the process and we genuinely want and expect the maturing in faith to just happen.  

But then it often unravels. Statistically, our youth are most likely to drift away as they navigate through the adolescent years and launch into their adult lives.  The finger pointing is inevitable.  Why do our young people fade or shy away from their faith?  Some will say it is the fault of the person that “holds the position” of youth director or youth pastor.  Others may point to the church as a whole, and still others will pin the blame squarely and solely on the parents.  The truth is, it is the job of each of us to help successfully launch our kids.  Remember, too, that young people are not only the focal point, they are also a key player in the process.

Enabling Christian Teens to Become Mature Christian Adults

What happened to the enthusiasm we had in the early years now that the maturing process is at its most critical time?  What happened to all of the commitment we voiced as we spoke on behalf of that newborn christian at their baptism?  Mr. Devries offered his observation that the root cause of the failure to successfully promote our young people as mature Christian adults is isolation.  

To become mature Christian adults, these kids need the opportunity to hang out with those who already are mature christian adults. An alarming 89% of youth without connections with adults other than their parents fail to maintain their church connection and frequently fail to achieve mature Christian adulthood. It is imperative that we build cross-generational Christian connections.

What Can We Do?

As the parent, grandparent, youth leader, church member or friend of a teen you can play a role in their successful launch into adulthood.  Here's how:

  • Pursue mentors and/or be a mentor. As a mentor you must pursue your commitment faithfully and be diligent in your participation.  
  • If your kids have already launched, be there for the children of others who need solid Christian support.  
Think back to the day when you welcomed the newest members of God’s kingdom and redouble your enthusiasm as we work to successfully launch the youth of today.  Stake your claim in christian development and continue to proclaim, “dibs on the baby … he’s ours” … for God’s kingdom.

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