Rites of Passage

Anticipating, honouring and celebrating
our ‘transitions’ and ‘rites of passage’.

Many cultures are rich in significant events to acknowledge the rights of passage of a person within their community. Within Western culture our children move through various life stages, each of which brings its opportunities and challenges. How do we best help a young person to navigate through each of these – as a household of faith and as a community of faith? How can we be more strategic and intentional for our kids and create spaces and anchors to help them in their transformation? How important is this at any stage in Life?

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
1 Corinthians 13:11

Principles and practical ideas to inspire you as you implement this formational experience into your long term plan …


Anticipating, honouring and celebrating ‘transitions’ and ‘rites of passage’ for all ages is important. This is something we need to be intentional about, it needs to be public and an event or experience that can become an anchor in a person’s life. This anchor can become something that helps them to stay on track with God when times are tough.

Why are RITES OF PASSAGE so important in the faith formation process?
Here are 3 reasons….
1 There are anchor points throughout the Bible for memory and understanding
2 They anchor us in our culture – who we are and where we belong
3 Many young men and women are making up their own rites of passage

Top 10 reasons why…

1.They become great points of reference to come back to.

2.Without “Rites of Passage”, elders will never hand over the keys to the next generation and the next generation won’t know that it has permission and responsibility to continue the mission of the gospel.

3.It involves memories, recall, connections and anticipation.

4.It is a recognition and encouragement of progress in life.

5.Strategic times of influence equip someone for the next phase of life.

6.It creates opportunities to mourn, celebrate, play and remember.

7.It reinforces family culture and community.

8.It is a way of living in the moment with thankfulness.

9.It marks “time”. We don’t stop often enough to remember a moment and sometimes we miss God and what He is doing

10.Something to look forward to – younger people seeing it happen and can’t wait to be part of it for themselves and see a bigger story  that creates expectation. In a society that says “why wait”, it gives them a reason to wait.

Practical ideas

Spiritual Milestones

  1. Baptism Celebration.
  2. Confirmation.
  3. Dedication.
  4. Key people to share INTENTIONALLY, the spiritual values and information about being an adult with children that are not their own.
  5. www.DriveFaithHome.com: This site provides great tools for families to celebrate each child’s special milestones in each year.
  6. Quest camp – A positive rite of passage (SUQLD).
  7. Plan for the inclusion of discipleship courses like the Alpha Course.
  8. Mission trip to disadvantaged community /country with your teenager.
  9. Family holiday to a desired place – shared experience eg. Back to parent’s home country, Israel – walk where Jesus walked, special place for parents to share with kids, a place everyone has wanted to go.
  10. Road trip / holiday – read a book of the bible together – a small piece every day.
  11. Climb a mountain and pray together at the top.

Physical Milestones

  1. Baby Dedications – making them more personal and across the generations where extended families and friends are asked to commit to walking with this child and their parents.
  2. On 13th birthday – mother/daughter and father/son day or weekend.
  3. Puberty camps.
  4. 1st Bike – celebrate it.
  5. Do a challenging hike with each child at a certain age.
  6. Road trip when they get their “L”s.
  7. Big weekend away @ 10 – special time to talk about puberty.
  8. GENTS camps -The Mission of GENTS Camp is to develop in boys, real manhood and authentic Christian faith. Link

 Social Milestones

  1. First birthdays in home – calling family and friends around and making a time capsule for them to open when they are 18.
  2. 18th birthdays. Special prayer element in church for 18 year olds.
  3. Honour people reaching significant birthdays (with a 0). Include opportunities to hear from them as to the difference following Jesus has made and continues make in their lives.

Relational Milestones

  1. Replacing “Bucks” and “Hens” night with something more uplifting.
  2. Funerals/Marriages. Consider creative ways to include all members of the church family in this celebration.
  3. Mum and dad take opposite sex kid to a special dinner to teach them to be a lady and gentleman. e.g Daddy Dates, Son and Mother adventures.
  4. Coming of age for daughter – pamper night with mum and grandma.
  5. Special holiday with someone close e.g. Grandparent.
  6. Finishing school celebration with family.
  7. Letters from extended family.

 Intellectual Milestones

  1. Backpack Sunday – Within a Sunday church service context – Celebrating the upcoming 1sts – first day of school, new school, high school. Teaching on the implications of this on the whole family.
  2. Dinner out with mum or dad to celebrate first great school report
  3. End of Primary School. Present students with a Bible and/or helpful resource.
  4. Formal dinner graduation for Year 7’s – older youth group kids serve and parents come along.
  5. Being more intentional about the transition from Primary School to High School.
  6. Year 12’s. interview year 12 students about their dreams and hopes. Special prayer for them within your church family. Prayer for Year 12s before and during Schoolies’ Week.
  7. Alternative to “Schoolies” for positive rite of passage.
  8. Gap year: Young Adults leaving their HSC year can be a more intentional and meaningful rite of passage. Eg. year13.net or plunge-gap-year or  freshhope.org.au/navigate.
  9. Instead of going on the usual schoolies celebration, encourage Y12 students to go on a “Schoolies Revolution” trip see www.schooliesrevolution.com
  10. Another gap year course is NEXT run by Whitley Bible College in Melbourne.
  11. Support year 12 students with cards and prayer as they sit for exams and prepare for their final year of study in High School.

Links to Excellent Resources for this Pillar:

An introduction + 2 foundational principles

8 formational pillars