Milestones Ministry Manual
Vibrant Faith Ministries
Milestones Ministry Manual, a recently updated resource to help congregations, homes and communities live into the principles of lifelong, lifewide formation, is now available from Vibrant Faith Ministries as a download or in hardcopy and CD*. The resource provides a model for connecting faith practices with life experiences.
The purpose of the program is to promote Christian formation and outreach into the larger community. It comes from Vibrant Faith Ministries, whose vision for passing on faith “places children of all ages in the center of the church’s concern and sees God’s redeeming work at play through home, congregation, community, culture, and creation.”
Milestones Ministry is centered around key experiences—or milestones—in the life of young people. A milestone is a meaningful, memorable moment in the lives of individuals and communities, such as baptism, weddings, confirmation, beginning school, getting a driver’s license, graduation, anniversaries, and retirement. By recognizing, blessing, and reinforcing milestones, life experiences can be woven into the fabric of Christian formation.
The authors of the manual identify four faith practices, which they call the Four Keys, to help people integrate milestones into their daily lives in addition to the life of their local congregations. The Four Keys are caring conversations, devotions, service, and rituals and traditions.
The keys are designed to focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ to open the imaginations of those involved in the program. Use of the keys will help them nurture their faith and reach out to others.
Although many of the activities are centered on the home, Milestones Ministry suggests role modeling of the Four Keys in a congregational setting, which includes a follow-up gathering in several weeks. The authors believe that the program becomes more deeply rooted in the lives of people if faith experiences are reinforced.
A typical milestone begins with a description of the life event, such as a blessing of backpacks at the beginning of the school year. For each life event, there is a naming, equipping, blessing, gifting and reinforcing.
In the Backpack Milestone, the blessing “allows us not just to image, but also to experience the larger picture of life – the one that says life is not dominated or formed by pressures and uncertainties. The gifting might be a zipper pull or key chain, and the reinforcement comes in a follow-up activity where participants share stories about how their school year is going.”
The four keys in the Backpack Milestone cross-generational event emphasize stories about school during caring conversations, devotions centered around Proverbs 9:10, reaching out to others by sharing a skill with another person, and praying together during a ritual blessing of backpacks. Similar activities are suggested for small groups or home settings.
This resource will help congregations understand and implement a faith formation program that incorporates lifewide events in the lives of young people. The full program is ambitious and will require significant buy-in from leaders and participants. Some churches may wish to start out by focusing on three or four milestones and follow-up events. Milestones Ministry is worth the investment of time and money, even if only a few of the modules are used.
The revised manual and CD includes 18 modules with two new milestones (baptism and mission trips). The printed copy is in full color; the CD has two versions of each milestone: a printable PDF and a Word version that can be altered to meet specific needs.* Follow-up event ideas also encourage continued growth for participants.
*Vibrant Faith Ministries recently announced that they will cease selling print copies of Milestones Ministries through the Vibrant Faith website on August 2, 2014. They will announce the new home for selling Milestones Ministry in July. Please refer to the Vibrant Faith website for further information.
—Dorothy Linthicum is a program coordinator and instructor for the Center of the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary