When we gather as a group, these are some ways we ensure the best group discussion:
We make the circle safe by staying honest and transparent - leave the masks at the door.
We keep it inside the circle. Each person’s story is theirs alone to share.
We look to the Bible for wisdom and truth, and work together to let it shape how we see the world.
We don’t try to fix each other in front of each other or give unsolicited advice. We lovingly save hard conversations for private moments.
We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
No matter what your situation is, the reality is that the next generation needs everyone’s investment. We all want to be great parents and influences, and to hand off the best possible world to the next generation. But no matter what, we all get tired. Discouraged. Lost.
But there’s hope for something better. Instead of getting lost in the day-to-day grind and battle of parenting, we can lift our heads up for some much needed perspective. Where are we headed? How do I adjust as they grow? How do I get the help I need? How do I release them as healthy and wise adults? When we know the answers to those things, it changes how make decisions each day!
Mike started by talking about where we’re headed and what we think success looks like. Jesus told us the most important thing was to love God and love people - so if we believe that’s true, we have to make sure our kids know that that’s our definition of success.
Remember, the questions are not a checklist to be completed, or in the perfect order! They’re simply guardrails to help you have a natural discussion about what we learned on Sunday.
no one is off the hook in this conversation!
Every group has a different makeup of people in it! Parents of little ones, parents-to-be, parents with grown kids, and of course, NON-parents!
But no matter what the situation is, this series is for everyone. The reality is that the next generation needs all of us to help them win as they grow up. This series works for everyone on two levels:
1. Everyone has some direct influence on the next generation
Rarely does anyone NOT have any relationship with someone under 18. Aunt, Uncle, friend, grandparent, coach, neighbor… Kids don’t just benefit from adults aside from their parents investing in them - they NEED it to thrive! So no matter how BIG that direct influence is, it’s always important.
2. Everyone is creating the world the next generation will inherit
What we share, what we build, what we celebrate, and what we hate all plays a part in creating the culture that the next generation is growing into. What we do and how we live will determine what they have to deal with when they grow up. So therefore… indirectly… NO ONE is off the hook! Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that we should be like Jesus, valuing the interests of others over our own, and in this case it means caring deeply about the world that we’re handing off to those coming up behind us.
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
Your influence on the next generation
Everyone has an influence on the next generation - it’s everyone’s responsibility to aim the next generation in the right direction.
If you’re a parent, tell everyone about your journey into parenthood and how you’ve felt about the responsibility on your shoulders over time.
If you’re not a parent, or you’ve got grown kids; where do you have influence right now on the next generation? Do you think about that influence often?
Questions We Don’t Think About…
Mike said there are some important questions that we don’t think about very often when it comes to parenting and influencing the next generation… talk about your own experience with these questions and ideas!
What’s the goal of parenting?
I’m not a parent… how important is my influence in kids’ lives?
What’s the finish line?
How do we know when we get there? (especially if we don’t know the goal or the finish line…)
CONNECT WITH THE MESSAGe
Love God, Love People, Have Character
Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Matthew 22:36-40 together.
The kind and quality of relationship a kid has with God determines the kind and quality of that relationship when they grow up - so all throughout a kid’s life, it’s our job to reinforce Jesus’ call to love God, love people, and have character.
What kind of relationship with God were you encouraged toward as a kid? How did that affect your relationship with God as you became an adult?
Growing up, how were you taught to think about other people? Were there villains to be afraid of? Were there enemies to be defeated?
How has this affected your view of people and feelings about serving others sacrificially?
When following Jesus, HOW we do things matters. That’s what having character means - being a compassionate, kind, self-sacrificing, patient, joyful, loving person in any type of situation. Thinking honestly, what’s your scorecard for success in life? Is it more about what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it?
step lightly please…
it’s kind of a mine field out there.
As you move forward in the conversation… remember something: this is not an emotional neutral conversation.
No parent wants to screw up their kids - it’s the opposite; we’re all fighting as hard as we can to do what feels impossible. And when you care so deeply about something so important, you’re never flippant about the HOW. We’ve all arrived at our parenting choices and styles based on how we were wounded or loved growing up, the deep-seated insecurities that we all have in different areas, and so much more.
So don’t let this become a “parenting styles” conversation: because that will NEVER end well. It’s not about strategies, individual choices, or fighting for whose method or style is right. It’s about taking faithful steps toward making wise decisions about how to do what is best for your own individual kids.
So listen, don’t preach.
Be curious, don’t guess.
Believe the best, don’t assume the worst.
Encourage, don’t condescend.
Love and Limits
We all grew up mostly in one of these quadrants; and how we grew up always affects how we parent now.
Growing up, what quadrant was your family life mostly in?
How has that affected what quadrant you tend to parent in now?
The goal of the authority quadrant is not to hold our power over the next generation’s head - it’s to empower them to live free, self-controlled lives under the loving authority of God. What can you do to increase either the love or limits and move more toward the authority quadrant?
What holds you back from parenting like that?
How do you think those changes would improve your family life or your kids’ understanding of God?
Say It Out Loud
The younger generation we are investing in right now is probably the most performance-based, comparison-trapped generation in all of history. The pressure to live an “Instagram-worthy” life is off the charts. The problem is, we just talked about how who they are is way more important than what they do.
Knowing that, how much do you think it will take to counteract that so the next generation can believe that who they are is more important than what they do?
Parent or not, we are all creating the world What part do you have to play in that when it comes to your own influence over the next generation?
Mike mentioned that one challenging example of this is that when a kid does something wrong, if the consequences are the same whether they own their bad choice or they’re found out unwillingly, a kid will always learn to hide. What could it look like to value who our kids are becoming over what they do when it come to consequences?
Law of the Mask
We may teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are; if we want the next generation to do it, we have to do it first. I have to put on my oxygen mask before I can help a kid put on their’s.
We all inherited a world that was built for us by previous generations - not just what they said, but mostly by how they actually lived. What kind of world did you inherit, both culturally or in your family?
Based on how we live and what we act like is most important, what kind of world do you think our kids will inherit? What are our actions teaching the next generation about God, people, and character?
God, Give Me Wisdom
In James 1, James says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
What has been your main source of wisdom when it comes to parenting or investing in the next generation?
How does God give us wisdom?
In what area of your life or parenting do you need to pursue God’s wisdom? How are you going to do that, and whose help do you need?
FYI… this would be a perfect opportunity to look through the Parent Resources (click here) on the app! There are over 25 resources to read, listen to, do with your kids… it’s a gold mine!
It’d even be a cool idea to look through it together and commit to getting one of them either individually or as a group!
Our homework challenge this week was to create our own family values (or values for any area or environment that you influence the next generation!) as a clear indicator of what’s most important in our homes!
Has anyone started yet? Share your experience and progress!
Let’s take a look at the homework together and make plans together to get this done!