Monday, June 23, 2014

Bible Memorization

As I prepare for D62014 and look back on the thoughts from years prior, I found this. I believe with all my heart that we cannot ever embed enough scripture into a child. Sadly, I have heard people say that it isn't as important as I feel it is. Some have the opinion that we should only introduce what they can fully process in scripture.  While the goal is to teach them the meaning, value, and understanding of all the passages they learn, I realize some kids will learn a verse for points or a candy (I know I learned stuff for candy, and probably still would). II personally believe that the verse is hidden in a child's heart and can be accessed and recalled by the holy spirit later in life or whenever needed.

What is your take on this subject, how do you implement memorization in your kids ministry? And what is the coolest method you have ever used?

Happy Monday All!!

Let's process this together!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Train up a parent?

Family Ministry

According to Nielsen Media Research's latest report, the average American household watches 8 hours and 15 minutes of television in a 24-hour period. The average amount of time per individual (over the age of 2) is about 4 and a half hours. Something tells me this isn't the bonding type of T.V., if there is a bonding type. As a mom of two, ages 10 and 16 I fully understand that our children are having life piped into them by various objects. Even as I sit here, I am on my laptop, husband next to me is on his phone, 16 year old on his phone and the Olympic games are on T.V.. Our youngest however is outside playing with friends, kudos Jonah! The three of us are in the same space, but there is no togetherness happening. While this is not always the norm for our house, it is for many. 

Let's face it, we live in a world of constant interaction via technology. For companies needing to market a product, this is a beautiful thing, for parents wanting to mold their children into pillars of faith, not so much. I can actually get a faster response for dinner requests via text than asking around! And with an iPhone I can do it in one message, and yes I have! While being a tech savvy family is ok, it must require balance. Even in church we are broken up, kids are dropped off and parents worship elsewhere. I agree that age appropriate worship is essential, but we have got to teach our families to do it together as well. 

So why did I just take you on that side road? Well, families! This year we added Family Ministry to our church. After our senior pastor approved this addition to my current position, I sat down last November and made a list of things I desire and then asked God to fix my list as He always does. My vision or list was as follows:

1. Cost effective activities for families of all ages 
2.Training for parents - parenting classes
3. One getaway for families - a weekend of family tech free interaction 
4. To see parents and kids praying together and for one another
5. Hands on local mission projects for families to do together
6. Tools for families via our website

I kept this list on the corner of my desk for a while and prayed about it, and am happy to say there wasn't much change. Once we had the first gathering, it was like wildfire! Families are craving something different, and many have no idea where to begin. I started by putting dinner time devotions on our website that were a simple three to five minutes over the dinner table. Which of course causes them to eat together! Pray together! And interact! Score! 

I have come to the conclusion that family ministry is a must, not a program, not a curriculum, and not a token annual date. The current generation of up and coming parents have one of the largest percentages to have never been to church. They need answers, tools, direction, and the Biblical principals to do this. More importantly they are seeking all these things, and are willing to listen. 

So as you plan, plan for families. If you're having a church picnic, find an activity for parents to do with their children. Find ways to have parents and kids serve in ministry together, in the end you will really have trained up two generations at once. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Salvation: leading kids to Christ

Salvation: Leading kids to Christ

Teaching kids about Jesus is something that I love, getting to introduce Him to their world and see them form their thoughts about God, church and faith is one of the things I love most about what I do. But as a Children's ministry leader, I also recognize that this is in fact what I do. Our team is comfortable having conversations about salvation and baptism on a kid level and answering all their questions. But what about the parent or grandparent who fully understands salvation and baptism for themselves, but has a hard time getting it to the level of a kindergartner? Or what about the parents who might still be learning this information for themselves? 

This month we will look at salvation discussions that can happen in the home. While we know they hear it at church, we want to know our families are also prepared to talk to and even pray with their kids.  Praying a prayer of salvation with our ministry kids is amazing, but the ability to share that moment as a parent is a memory that is a treasure. 

Most kids with a church background know that:
1. God created everything
2. Jesus is God's son
3. Jesus died on the cross for our sins
4. That we cannot experience heaven or grace without Jesus

It is in the next area that kids have the basic understanding, but need to know that we must ask to be forgiven, and make a decision to commit our lives to following God. The place I often see a lack of understanding of kids, is the knowledge that there must be a time they have decided to follow Jesus. Many kids think that they were born this way, since they have Christian parents and are growing up in the church. I love to ask kids when they were saved, and hear about that experience. When they start with "I have always been a Christian" I know we need to talk. One of the key moments of salvation is repentance, we must acknowledge that we are sinners, and no matter how many times we go to church our how great our behavior, we must admit this before God and ask for salvation. I love to teach this with a gift, I have a kid hold it out to give it to me. And I tell them that it's mine (while refusing to take it) but insisting it belongs to me. This helps them see that salvation is freely given to those who believe, but we must choose to accept it. The beauty in this is the ability to teach that there will be times we mess up and need to ask forgiveness, for a child who didn't do that in the first place, this doesn't make sense. 

Another area of confusion for kids is when they are simply given a prayer to repeat and then left to go about their life, it communicates that this was an action, not a lifelong commitment. So how do we teach kids that salvation is more than a repeated prayer? They need to hear it, and see it.  Below I have included some ways to get the conversations going in your home. Maybe you will find that your kids are more spiritually mature and understood than even you know! Maybe you will find there are some things they need more help understanding. And maybe you might be able to pray with your child as they come to a full understanding of God's grace through a discussion with you. (how exciting!)

Testimony Time: Your kids may know you to be a Christian, but have they heard your testimony? Spend a week sharing these! Maybe around a dinner table, allow one person a night to tell their story. How they came to know Jesus, where were you when you prayed? Who was with you? What God has done for you since that time? And don't forget to share the relationship you have with Him now. Kids love to know these things about their parents!

Verses to know: As we know, salvation doesn't stop. Once we have given our life to Jesus, we are to share that with others. It's important that kids know that too. One way to help kids (and adults) prepare to share their faith is to equip them with the too
ls to do so. Here are some very important verses that you can learn as a family this month to strengthen those sharing muscles. (Matthew 8:8-12; Matthew 19:25-26;  Romans 3:8; and Romans 10:9-10)

If you find your self in a position to lead a child to Christ, don't over complicate it. Salvation is intended to be simple, as simple as A,B,C's. A brief discussion of making sure they understand that they Admit that they are a sinner, and this separates them from God. Believe that Jesus paid God's price for their sin by dying on the cross. Confess and repent of their sin and come to Jesus by faith. And Decide to live for Him. Some kids just don't know how to start, when you bow to pray, ask them if they want your help with the words or if they are ok praying on their own. Most kids will formulate the sweetest prayers on their own once they have a full understanding of what they need to do. And if they need help, that is ok too. 

I would love to hear of some great family discussions this month!
Friday, April 4, 2014

AHA: the God moment that changes everything

Aha: The God Moment That Changes Everything

Bestselling author Kyle Idleman reveals how three key elements can draw us closer to God and change our lives for good.

by Kyle Idleman

Kyle Idleman's new book AHA (by David C. Cook) is a great read. As a seminary student, I am doing my fair share of reading these days, and I am appreciative of this book. AHA is well written and "real", when we as people of faith seek something that will push us and help us grow, it can be frustrating to thumb through an overwritten book. Idleman did a great job of making it to the point and easy to follow. I think what I appreciate most about this book is the fact that it can be picked up by a very new Christian and fully understood. The Biblical references and principals are aligned well with life application.

In his book, Idleman outlines the process of Biblical transformation and explains how it is profound yet so simple. He explains the three elements of an aha moment; Sudden Awakening, Brutal Honesty, and Immediate action. His no-nonsense approach is refreshing! 

As you read, you are taken through the journey of the prodigal son. I appreciate Idleman's ability to connect to scripture. I personally felt like I had just finished a Bible study, and less like I had just read another book. AHA calls for a great level of personal inventory and is very thought provoking. The use of many real stories of other believers is done very well, illustrating that we are not alone in some of life's trials. Without giving glory to these,  Idleman shares the progression to find grace and move forward. 

If you are a new Christian, you should read it! If you are a person of many years of faith, you really should read it and allow yourself to be challenged. 
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Teaching Families to Worship

As we unpack what worship is, it is important that we understand that worship is about God; it has nothing to do with us. More than being a part of the congregation or singing, worship is what we were created to do. Teaching kids that worship is a constant motion within us that doesn’t cease can help them better understand that it is more about our relationship with Christ and less about actions.  Worship is our inner (and sometimes outer) response to God that displays our reverence, honor, respect, love and joy for Him. 

Worship begins with salvation. When we can humbly come to accept Jesus and the gift of eternal life we begin to worship Him for loving us, the debt He paid, and accepting us into His kingdom. This form of worship is personal, and can only be truly expressed by a transformed heart.
·       If your kids have prayed the prayer of salvation, encourage them to tell you what God has done for them. And help them identify that their joy and love in these words is representative of their worship for Him.

The Bible has many scriptures about worshipping God with others. Worship within you is very important, but worship as a family and church is too. Colossians 3:16 says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Coming together to praise, learn and encourage each other are all things we do as worship to God.
·       Help your kids understand why we come together, and then prepare. Arriving at church late and rushed can throw off the day and most often attitudes. Get to church on time; consider grabbing something from the cafĂ© and having a few minutes to talk before kids go to class.

As parents, we can teach our kids to be mindful of worship. Kids need to know that they can worship God anywhere, at any time, in any circumstance. We also need to remember that worship happens in the good and hard times of life. Psalm 34:3 says, “Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name forever.”
·       Encourage your family to take a mental note of things that are in their day. Things like, a beautiful day, being at school, God’s continual care as we travel etc. Over dinner ask what they noticed. Kids (and parents too) will begin to see the creation around them differently and can be encouraged to worship God for it.

In January we focused on prayer, continuing with that article, remind kids that prayer is also a form of worship. Teaching them a few more ways to pray like:  “God you are great because… I worship you because….” Will help them put worship into words. As you do this, read through some of the Psalms to see how others spoke praises to God. Taking in God’s word and reflecting on the scriptures is a form of worship too.
·      Read a Psalm a day as a family.

How is your radio? Music is an amazing tool for worship! We all know the song selection at church glorifies God, but what about the car? Or the house? Encourage kids to sing and listen to music as worship.  Finding music everyone enjoys and making a playlist for the car is a way to get the whole family singing along.
·       Let kids choose some music. There are great bands with every sound for worship, look online or at the Bible bookstore and let kids make a selection for their use.  Be willing to let them play it in the car or when chores are being done, involvement in this choice will keep them motivated.

Lastly, giving is worship. Giving God our everything, our time, our talents, and even our tithe, are all acts of worship. Teaching kids to give through serving and through financial stewardship will lay the foundation for them to understand that these are acts of faith that God will provide and worship for what he has provided.

·       More than likely you are already serving others in some capacity at church. Verbalize why you do this, many kids know their parents serve as a teacher or sing in the choir, but do they know why you do it? Once explained, encourage kids to find ways to serve as well, helping them identify spiritual gifts that can be used to worship God.

Use these small steps in the month of March to focus on all the many ways of worship. 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Beyond Background Checks

If you attended this session at CPC, thank you! You made it so much fun.

Below you will find the slide show as promised. If you didn't attend the session, you can get a copy of it on the incm website and use these notes as tips.

Remember, what we do requires us keeping kids safe. A safe loving, well thought out atmosphere allows families to go to church together and grow without worrying about safety.

Here is the link to my volunteer application as well.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Session 2 at CPC14 with Matthew Luhn

Great worship to start the morning, followed by Todd Burpo sharing a bit about "Heaven is For Real".
The book has been out, and the movie will be released Easter 2014. I will be doing an upcoming review of this material, curious to know everyone's thoughts.

Today's initiative is "Providing a safe and relevant atmosphere"
Speaker Matthew Luhn

Matthew Luhn began his career at Pixar Animation Studios in 1992 as an Animator on the very first CG movie, “Toy Story”. Since that time, Matthew has worked as a Story Artist on “Toy Story 2″ “Monsters Inc.”, “Finding Nemo”, “Cars”, “Ratatouille”, “UP”, “Toy Story 3″, and “Monsters University”. Prior to Pixar, Matthew attended the California Institute of the Arts, and would later be hired as an Animator on “The Simpsons”. Matthew grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where his family has owned and operated “Jeffrey’s Toys” toy stores for over three generations. Along with working at Pixar, Matthew teaches children and adults all over the world how to draw and create cartoon stories, characters, perspective, and animation.

Notes from session 2:
Being raised Jewish, Matthew first heard about Jesus when working as an animator on the Bart Simpson show at the age of 19.

The characters he draws affect people, not because they are cute or bright, but because the stories they tell have connection. 

Story structure and character development should be key components in developing your stories. 
Quality characters paired with a great story line is a win. 

(video clip of early Carl & Ellie from the movie "Up" was shown)
 This clip had no verbal dialogue, people laughed….cried…it makes us feel. 

Story is a powerful tool. 

Story works, nobody is telling you to feel a certain way "you just do".  Jesus used story telling. 
Story has a big part in how we vote, how we buy, how we believe.
It's not trickery, it's a common connection to persons story. 

Structure and character are the 2 most important things when telling a story, it's naturally in our DNA to tell stories with structure. It's a universal language language across the world. Make sure you have a beginning middle and an end. 
When telling a story, your testimony, a sermon, make sure they have these 3 elements. 

Character is what creates what your story is going to be about. You cannot have a story… a good story, without a character. Your character needs to have identifiable human traits. People have to able to connect to them. Whether they are an animal, and object or anything else., they need to have identifiable traits. You want to make sure your character changes, they start off one way, and become a different character by the end.  

Your story, must have an embedded redemption story. The ability to connect and insert ourselves in the story as we watch, communicates hope. We connect to that character. 

1 practical thing you can do when you prepare…
Write 1 sentence that describes what you want to communicate for what you want to communicate. 
We all have the natural storytelling instants, we need to be reminded of them. 

Form a sentence with the beginning middle and end, and showing how the character changes. 

The most common mistake is to give too much information without the common theme, leaving you bored and confused. 

Stay focused on having one theme, one character that goes through a change. "I want to communicate hope, forgiveness, etc… pick one and stick with it..and stay focused on it. 

This is why kids are drawn to the movies, story is powerful. So why not use story to communicate the message of Christ to kids. 

GO question : On a scale of 1-5 how is your team doing on storytelling? And what can you do to improve that?