An intentional mentoring and discipleship initiative.
This initiative is aimed at engaging children in significant relationships with adults from their faith community outside their own family.
A Big Buds mentor intentionally engages in relationship with their Little Bud. They take the time to listen, send letters, cards, emails, make phone calls, remember significant events such as birthdays, school tests, sporting events, and promise to regularly pray for the child. Each Big Buds partnership may look different, as they will be tailored to the individual child’s personality and needs.
Lost in Transition
Many of our children are lost to our faith communities in key moments of transition. Working against this trend is an important part of this ministry. Working strategically towards a vision of children connected firmly into the faith community in ways that mean they grow in relationship with God and the whole faith community means it will be less likely for a child to leave.
Celebrating milestones is an essential element in helping a child to sense they belong.
Celebrating with a child in creative and positive ways will communicate love and care thus helping to cement a child into the faith community.
Each type of event will need a special team leader (a champion) and their team to ensure the celebration and the communication surrounding each event is effective.
For each transitions or milestones there are a range of possible ideas provided to help either families, wider families or faith communities to mark and celebrate them. If not provided, they will be listed and marked for development.
In the midst of each celebration it will be appropriate to make the most of each opportunity to equip and resource parents and the faith community with some important wisdom. This can be either in the form of handouts or through semi-formal teaching moments.
Where possible, a number of resources are provided or at least are listed and marked for development.
WOW! … Wonder AND Words of Wisdom
WOW … is a big word! It is an expression of wonder; it is said with wide eyes and raised eyebrows; it is a celebration word!
WOW … is also a word that can stand for ‘Words of Wisdom’.
The general sentiment is: “As we stand with you at this milestone or as we transition with you over the next little while, we hope you appreciate these few words of wisdom. They come from lots of places and are given to you with love and in the hope that you will continue to follow Jesus and grow in your faith in God.”
Marked for development are a series of 3 pdf WOW cards:
Each card design contains specific words of blessing, teaching and encouragement to each party in the drama of life surrounding each transition or milestone.
- WOW* … * indicates this card is for the person whose life we are celebrating
- WOWp … p indicates this card is for the parents and extended family of the person whose life we are celebrating
- WOWc … c indicates this card is for the immediate faith community of the person whose life we are celebrating.
Explore further …
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01 The Announcement of Pregnancy: The baby is at the door!
A new family member is on the way and things are about to change.
This time of celebration and hope is often mixed with trepidation, sometimes with surprise and maybe a little fear. For some, this time doesn’t go well. For some, the announcement has not been made all … because of a miscarriage. There is a kaleidoscope of emotions in all the possibilities here.
Mostly, all goes well and we smile and rejoice at the news.
02 The Birth of a Baby: Welcome to the world
Birth is a huge milestone. Well worth celebrating!
Birth is celebrated in many different ways in many different families and cultures. The role of the faith community surrounding the birth of a baby is something that needs to be worked out by each faith community. In this section, ideas and stories are gathered however the major themes are to do with love and support, especially where a family may not have that from their immediate or extended family.
03 The Naming/Dedication/Baptism of a Baby: Welcome to the Church
Typically this happens for infants 0 to 1 years of age.
There are many ceremonies celebrated by family groups, communities and faith communities that welcome a child to the heart of those communities. The celebrations vary in meaning for the participants. There is much we can do to ensure the meaning of these events are well communicated to the family and extended family gathered together to celebrate.
04 New Beginnings at School: Happily started
Children typically head off the school as 4 to 6 year olds.
Whether it is a formal school or a home school, it is a milestone. It is often much anticipated and, while it is worth celebrating in the first week of the school year, it is also worth noting many of the other new beginnings at the same time. These could include the start of secondary school, university, new courses, jobs or endeavours and even retirement. A mention and even a prayer for these other new beginnings at the same time may often be included.
05 Faith Commitment: Following Jesus
First Communion & ‘first’ decisions by 7 to 11 year olds.
There is no one time when children are making a faith response. Indeed, faith responses take many forms. It is part of our privilege to be able to invite, encourage, recognise and celebrate these faith responses in their many forms as appropriate to each child at the same time, not expecting too much or too little. Nevertheless, there is a discussion here as to the sorts of ways children could be helped to consider ‘milestone’ faith responses, especially if they are a formal part of the culture of a faith community.
06 Children to Youth: Moving on up
Primary to secondary school transitions as 11 & 12 year olds
This is a key transition area where children move from programs for children to a more typically youth program. In many places, transition begins in the last term of primary school to introduce children to new leaders and styles of program. Things are changing. The risk of dropping out is huge. There are a few key things to remember and get right to minimise this risk.
07 Passage to adolescence: Well and truly on track
Young people, typically 11 to 14 year olds, are changing!
In many ways the pressures, the cultural changes, the expectations on children are evident at even earlier ages these days. In this ‘transition’ section, the emphasis is giving children some of the tools with which to take on responsibility for their own choices. In many cultures this has to do with ‘rites of passage’. In some cultures, this transition is considered to be one of ‘child’ to ‘adult’. There is a wealth of stories and ideas to consider applying to any one particular context.
08 Passage to independence: Courage and grace
Often, big decisions and pressures face 15-16 year olds
Again, young people are facing a variety of personal, sexual, vocational and other choices at earlier and earlier ages however the voice of the faith community is one that could be the loving and graceful call to deeper discipleship at this age. If wisdom is needed, prayer and support! If mistakes have been made, love and grace! While great programs and friendships are offered in the context of youth ministry, further opportunities are either affirmed or encouraged in this area.
09 Passage to adulthood: Standing in the world
Milestones for 17-19 year olds abound!
Whether it is a driver’s licence, final exams and assemblies, vocational and study choices, moves out and away from home or even no change at all … each of these milestones involve transitions that are often difficult to navigate. A lifetime of wise support may not have been present for each individual to this point but can be now carefully provided alongside support for even a deeper call to discipleship.
10 Birthday: You are unique, loved and important!
Individual birthdays are worth celebrating at any age.
Birthdays are an amazing opportunity to sow a blessing and a Word of Wisdom into a persons live. Some of us have even saved all our birthday cards from birth or placed little postcard or sticker mementos up on our wall or the fridge. They serve as an reminder of the message of God’s love to each of us regarding how loved we are by God. Let’s celebrate how unique and important each individual and there gifts and contribution to the faith community is.
11 Life in Christ: Keep on following Jesus
At any age, there are a range of resources that encourage faith responses.
Teaching, inviting, recognising and celebrating faith responses are at the heart of our ministry and mission. Learning what is involved and how to do this is part of other sections of midst. The topic of celebrating some of the key faith responses in a variety of ways is explored here.
12 Anyone with a ‘zero’ birthday this year? Happy Decade!!
You are not a zero! You have a special story to tell!
This idea brings together the immediate families and a few close friends of the birthday people who are celebrating a ‘hero’ birthday. It could be on one night of the year of the birthday of the ‘oldest’ decade person. It is a night for key leaders in the faith community to lead a process of sharing the faith stories of each person in ways that encourage all those present to keep growing in their faith journeys.
13 Life is hard sometimes: And sometimes a lot!
Anyone at any age can find seasons where life is tough.
It is much easier to laugh when others are laughing than to weep when someone is weeping. Nevertheless, these times are important to acknowledge. It is critical for those who are struggling to experience at least one person’s loving presence … to experience ‘Jesus with skin on’. Sometimes it is also appropriate to offer other forms of support and wisdom that can be provided by a faith community.
Milestone and Transitions Consultancies & Training
There are a number of options to help get the direction right for you in this area
- A phone or coffee conversation with Phil on this topic.
- A review of your program and training against these keys to affirm and encourage those areas you are doing well and suggestions for improvement where and if required.
- A presentation of an overview of these areas with discussion. (20 minutes or up to 1hr)
- A 4hr workshop exploring these one or more of these themes in a interactive discussion.