"What do you mean I have to attend a mandatory class in order to dedicate my child?"
2 weeks before the First Steps event, we hold a class. I know, I know. It seems a bit strict. And we really did struggle with the decision to make the class mandatory. We felt if we could create a compelling environment for the event, people would think it was worth it to sit through a class.
Have there been people who had to miss the class for various reasons? Of course, and luckily we've been able to record the audio for the class for those who had to miss. I've even met one on one with those who needed to make up the class.
These are the elements we include in our First Steps Class:
The main 2 resources I use for the content for the class is from Brian Haynes' Shift with the bulk of the content coming from Orange's Baby D Dedication Kit. The content we cover centers around the famous parenting passage, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, along with these 3 principles from Orange - Imagine the End, Make it Personal and It's a Partnership.
Imagine the End: 18 years from now when your child leaves your home, who do you hope they become? We can get so focused on what our children our doing that we forget to focus on who they are becoming.
Make It Personal: You can't invest in your children what's not in you. You have to spend time cultivating your own relationship with God and with your spouse.
It's a Partnership: As parents, we don't have to do this alone. We want a partnership between the church and parents! We want to constantly resource parents to help them "win" in their home.
2. Event Overview
We want parents to understand how the night of First Steps will flow. We walk through the order of the night and show them a recap video of a previous event.
One resource we give the parents in the class (that originated from Orange also) is a jar of marbles that is customized to how many weeks they have left with their child before they turn 18. During our Imagine the End portion of the class, we challenge them to take a marble out each week. "When we see how much time we have left with our kids, we tend to do more with the time we have." This is probably one of the most impactful things we give them.
We also give them some books. We've changed it up each time, but here's a list of some we have given out.
No one likes homework - especially adults who are no longer required do it. But alas, we make them do a little homework. There's 2 aspects to the homework we ask for.
Imagine the End: We ask them to write a prayer/blessing/letter to their child to their child that concentrates on who they hope their child becomes the day they leave their home as an adult. Mom or Dad can each write their own one, or they can write one together. We print them out and have it ready for them the night of our First Steps event so they can read them over their child. This is probably the most meaningful portion of the night/experience. Oh the tears that are shed...
Make It Personal: We ask both Mom and Dad... What are 2 things you will commit to doing to invest in your relationship with Christ? and What are 2 things you will commit to doing to invest in your relationship with your spouse? We don't do anything with this homework portion. We feel that if we have them do it as homework they will be more likely to think through these questions. These questions are so important when you are beginning your parenting journey!
Want to catch up on the First Steps blog series? Check out the previous post.
First Steps (Part One)