At our most recent Watermark Kids Live, we announced that we are deeming 2016, “The Sticky Year,” and spent some time unpacking just what that means. Last year, a number of us read through an interesting book titled Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids. In this book, Kara Powell and Chap Clark unpack the findings of years of research on what exactly impacts the faith of kids in such a way that their faith “sticks” after they leave their parents’ home. We were both encouraged by what God is already doing in families here at Watermark and challenged by the many ways we can still take ground as we serve families through our ministry.
The mission of Watermark Kids is not just to help kids make it through their childhood well. Rather, our mission is to partner with parents to train up the next generation of fully-devoted followers of Christ. That means we are investing in families for the purpose of establishing and building a lifelong faith. In line with the message of Sticky Faith, this year we believe God is calling us to focus on encouraging you in 3 key areas of influence that you have as parents to build a lasting faith in your kids.
(Disclaimer: Much like Proverbs 22:6 is a principle and not a promise for how our kids turn out, these areas of influence are not guarantees of your kids turning out right. Instead, let us encourage you that these are ways you can be faithful as a parent to God's call to make disciples of the kids He has entrusted to you.)
The first area we will focus on in 2016 is the area of SERVICE. One of the common denominators in kids who develop a mature, lifelong faith is that they come from families who make serving others a priority.
This should come as no surprise since Jesus told his disciples that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (see Matthew 20:25-28). So, questions for us as parents include: How are we doing at modeling in our homes the importance of serving the world around us? What can we do to be faithful to this call of discipleship for the little ones we are training up?
We believe there are 3 key principles to a Sticky Serve:
- SIMPLE: Family life is crazy enough, and this charge can sound like yet another thing to add to the calendar, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Start by simply looking at the service opportunities right around you. How can your family serve in your kids' schools? What needs could you meet on behalf of your neighbors? How could your family serve together at Watermark? Start simple with something that fits into the regular rhythms of your life.
- SUSTAINABLE: One-off service opportunities are fine, but the ones that have the most lasting impact are ones that are repeatable. What can your family do on a regular basis (at a minimum monthly) to serve those around you? What are the issues that your child is interested in or has shown an interest in that will keep them consistently engaged? Find a regular rhythm of service, and stick with it.
- SELFLESS: The final principle of “Sticky Serve” is that it is focused on relationships. You can meet needs of poverty, justice, education, etc., but the relationships you form with the people you serve are what will have the most lasting impact on your kids. Focus on the “Who” of your service more than the “What”.
Where Do We Start?
The opportunities and needs around us are numerous and sometimes overwhelming, but we hope if you begin with the principles above, they will help you narrow your choices. For additional help, here are some great ministries that we partner with that you can also check out as potential starting points. All of these are trusted ministry partners with some ideal opportunities for families. Take a look, find a spot, and jump in on some “Sticky Serve” opportunities.
- Brother Bills Helping Hand: BBHH is on mission to enrich the lives of men, women, and children in the community of West Dallas by empowering through learning, encouraging through relationships, and ensuring the essentials of life. Click here for a list of family-friendly opportunities.
- DIY Service Opportunities: Starting Blocks offers opportunities for parents to serve alongside their elementary kids right here in Watermark Kids. Hands & Feet Service opportunities are also ideal for families with younger kids. Click here for ways to connect with both.
- Interfaith Housing Coalition: To be the hands of Christ by helping families transition to self-sufficiency and new hope, is the heart behind Interfaith Housing Coalition. Click here for a list of family-friendly opportunities.
- Our Calling: A discipleship ministry for the homeless of Dallas. Click here to learn about family-friendly ways to get involved.
- Cornerstone South Dallas: Partner with our friends at Cornerstone Baptist Church to serve the needs of their community, including children and the homeless. Click here for a list of family-friendly opportunities