Growing up, I loved going to McDonald’s. I loved the play area, the Happy Meals and the Happy Meal toy. In other words, I wanted the “Mickey D’s” experience because I knew it would be fun, I would get fed and I would leave with something. Shouldn’t the church be the same way?
Jelani Lewis on ministrytodaymag.com
via Children’s Ministry Magazine July/August 2011 pg. 22
Red Cedar Community Church in Rice Lake, WI is tackling a huge issue: human trafficking. Some of their high school students have started a project called Kinetic Love Project. You can find more information on their website here or on Facebook.
The Kinetic Love Project was started by a group of high school students wanting to take a stand against modern-day slavery and make a differerence in the lives of those victimized by human trafficking.
The mission of the Kinetic Love project is to educate and empower teenagers to think globally, by taking the global social issue of modern day slavery and being active participants in its eradication. It’s estimated that there are 27 million people in slavery in our world today. Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of organized crime generating billions of dollars each year.
The Kinetic Love Project is joining with World Hope International to stand against trafficking. This project seeks to raise funds and awareness in efforts to aid WHI as they assist girls who have been rescued from sex slavery.
Along with my current job assignment (children’s pastor @ Hayward Wesleyan), I will be joining the Spiritual Formation Department of The Wesleyan Church on their Children’s Ministry Leadership Team. Rev. Colleen Derr (former Children’s Ministry Director @ SFD) just recently accepted a teaching position @ Wesley Seminary and resigned leaving a vacancy that was filled with a field staff rather than a full time person (for the next year).
You can view the bios here, but I’ve stepped in as the Connections Coordinator and Team Leader, along with two other really neat people who serve as Resource and Training Coordinators. I’ll know more this weekend as I head to Indianapolis, IN to meet with the other staff more specifically what this new venture entails. I’m really intrigued and delighted to serve, resource and advance children’s ministry as an important means of discipleship in our churches and in the kingdom of God.
This looks to be a fun ride!
You attend church, and all of us that work to prepare exciting environments for your children are thrilled that you do. It’s obvious to us that you value what the Body of Christ can bring to your life, and to your familie’s life by attending together. For that be commended. However, please allow me to humbly remind you that church attendance is only the first part of spiritually leading your family. This letter is written to encourage you to talk about your experience at church with your children. Do you ever ask what they really learned? Not just if they had fun (which is an equally valid question, just not the most important information to get from them.) Do you ever tell your kids what you learned? Do you ever think to fall back on what your kid has learned when the situation arises during the week?
Here what can happen if you fail to talk about what happened at church this weekend.
- First, you can communicate that what we do at church is separate from the rest of our lives. // As parents we should be teaching our kids that God is the center of our lives and worthy of organizing all that we do around glorifying Him. But when we fail to talk about what happens at church, we are quietly telling them that what happens at church stays at church. This isn’t Vegas; it’s important to live out what we learn at church outside of the church walls! Work to destroy the walls between church attendance and real life.
- Second, you’re telling them that you didn’t learn anything. // You did learn something right? You are grateful for your experience in worship, right? You should be learning something, or being encouraged in some way with each encounter (and if you’re not please talk to someone.) Share with your children what you are learning, and how thankful you are for what God has showed you.
- Third, to not talk about church is to miss a key step in spiritually leading your children. // That’s a daunting phrase right there, isn’t it? “Spiritually leading your children.” Throw out all those images of nightly devotionals, and long family prayer services. You might get to that point eventually, but right now we are talking about just taking a small but deliberate next step toward nurturing their spirituality. When you fail to ask children what they’ve learned at church you are missing the easiest of easy times to talk to your kid about spiritual things. Take advantage of the awesome team of volunteers and leaders that teach your kids each weekend, and just use what they’ve already taught your children to start conversations. I bet some of them will even put things in your hands to help this happen!
It’s not too late to start talking with you kids today about what happened at church. Please don’t miss the opportunity that you have each time you attend church to start spiritual conversations at home with your children.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Children’s Pastor
You love your kid. That much is obvious by your willingness to set rules and then hold your children to obedience to those rules. As a pastor to children, I commend your commitment to follow-up your parenting rules with consequences for disobedient actions. Consequences are good things.
However, suspending your child from church is not a good consequence. It sets the wrong precedent. Well-meaning as it is, for many reasons it is the wrong consequence. Obviously it’s a different scenario all together if your punishment is to suspend them from a lock-in, extracurricular activity, or other church-related activity. But when the church doors are open to teaching, mentoring, accountability, and the right kind of Godly relationships…please don’t keep your child from this as punishment.
This what I normally hear in the “witholding church as punishment” dialogue:
“[Insert Name] was not obedient at school this week, and so I told him he has to sit with me in the sanctuary. I know he really loves church, and I just couldn’t let him attend with all of this bad behavior recently.”
What is wrong with this statement? Here is what you are basically saying to them:
You aren’t good enough to go to church, and I will use the adult service as punishment for your crimes.
Why is this bad? It’s bad because you are telling you child a few things when you do this. You are telling them that:
- Adult Worship service is boring and is a worthy punishment. // Your adult worship services may indeed be boring, and if they are I hope that you work to make sure that you find a place to worship that isn’t boring. When you this strategy as a punishment, you are telling your kid that church is something to be “suffered through.” Why would you want to make that impression on your kids? That’s right, you wouldn’t.
- Learning God’s Word is NOT something important. // I know, I know…you think this is crazy and believe that God’s Word is important. But when you deny your child the opportunity to learn God’s Word from godly people who have prepared all this week for the moment that your child would experience on their visit…you are communicating to your child that the lesson he would have learned is not valuable or life-changing.
- God doesn’t want you when you’re disobedient. // This might be a stretch, but hang in there with me on this one. When you punish disobedience by witholding opportunities to learn about God, you are tying obedience/disobedience with God’s acceptance of us. Our Father in heaven has promised to forgive us of ALL confessed sin, and he has said that nothing will ever separate us from his love, and he has said that he has redeemed us from our past mistakes by sending his Son to pay the price for our sin. I say all that to say this…please be careful how you represent the most grace-giving, loving heavenly father in your discipline to your children.
I know that you love your kids, and you are trying to do your very best to lead them spiritually. But from your Children’s Pastor’s heart to your heart let me please remind you that there are many, many, many more creative consequences for disobedience. May I suggest suspension from television, video games, sporting events, after-school snacks, and I could go on and on and on?
Your Friendly Neighborhood Children’s Pastor
Thank you for coming to church…last month. Where ya been? I love seeing you and your family, but it’s been a while. Don’t lie about how much you attend, because nowadays I can track your kids attendance pretty easy with all the sophisticated software solutions out there. I’m sure your schedule has been really busy lately, and you feel like you’re having to choose to say no to some things. And I’m sure that it’s easy to say no to church attendance. I mean really, you can always go next week, right? I know that there are weeks that there really are conflicts; soccer tournaments, out-of-town trips, and the occassional sick times. But in all honesty and with as much sincerity as I can muster, what do you have going on a Sunday morning that takes priority over worship?
Let me be your cheerleader for a moment: You can get here to church more regularly! You can get there, I know you can! And I’d like to encourage you to make it more of a priority. But why should you?
- The Bible Says So. // That is always a great fall-back, huh? Seriously, you should read some of what Hebrews, Romans, and James says about the matter. It’s important to be in church, period. The church was and is a part of God’s great Rescue Plan to introduce Jesus to the world. It also exists to helps us grow, learn, and give to a community of people all seeking the same things. You knew I’d say this one, right?
- You need to establish good habits with your kid early on. // I’ve rarely met a person that attends church once-a-month that would say that they want their children to grow up and NOT attend church. It’s quite simple really, if you want your kids to grow up and be a part of a community of believers (church), it’s in your best interest to attend one yourself. Make it a priority for your family, and your kids will learn that it’s a vital part of their walk with God.
- Without regular attendance you miss the mentoring and relationship benefit of Children’s Ministry. // This same principle applies to every area of the church, but let’s talk about your kids for right now. One of the best benefits of taking your kid to a thriving ministry for Children is that they get to know other kids learning about God’s Best for their lives, and the adult leaders leading these areas. If you attend inconsistently, you are greatly diminishing the chance for one of our fantastic Small Group Leaders or Classroom Teachers to make an impact on your child’s life. Trust me, it’s so important that your kid hear the same things you tell them coming from a different voice.
It’s obvious, in that you sometimes attend, that you do indeed value what church means in your life, and what it can mean to your kids as you are walking this journey of parenting them. Now it’s time to make it more of a priority, and start getting involved. It starts with being here consistently, then we can happily start finding places for you to serve in this wonderful family called “The Body of Christ.”
Your Friendly Neighborhood Children’s Pastor
What a creative use of technology! The worship band @ North Point Community Church in Atlanta, GA used iPads to play Christmas music in their service.
keeping things simple and focused and sustainable
Colleen Derr (Children’s Ministry Leader via Spiritual Formation Department @ The Wesleyan Church World Headquarters) shared along with Shannon Whaples about this concept of church ministry called: “Simple Church”. The idea is to do a few things and do a few things well, rather than try to accomplish many things and do many things poorly. I’m intrigued by the concept and the examples of what we saw in Atlanta (i.e. Mountain Lake Church and 12Stone Church). I wonder what the consequences of this area for the church overall. What if all churches bought into this model? What would that mean for lots of different ministries a church typically does? It seems that these “simple” churches know what they can do (and they do it well) and it seems they know what they can’t do well (so therefore, they don’t do ‘em). I heard this remark a couple of times: If people want that, then they can go to other churches that do those (i.e. Christmas Eve service, VBS, Kids Camp, MOPS, etc). Interesting concept… I don’t know what I think about that yet.
It’s funny, every year the week leading up to our Trunk or Treat event, I wonder if anyone is going to come, or if the last year was the best and it’s just going to go downhill from here. However this year was another record attendance year. The official count was 1017 kids came through with bags. Add one adult per kid and you’ve got close to 2000 people we gave out candy to in under 2 hours! All of our vehicle participants were amazed at the turnout, and almost every one underestimated the amount of candy they would need. I had to do a last-minute Wal-mart candy fun in the middle of the event because we were almost out of candy! Our parking lot attendants kept the traffic under control during those 2 hours, which was very helpful and important for keeping things safe.
All in all it was a very safe and fun evening of giving out candy and promoting a fun and playful atmosphere on “International Candy Day” (my take on the popular use of Halloween). There are a few things I would do differently logistically, but overall this particular event as an outreach in our community continues to be an amazing success!
Last weekend, October 24, 2010, Hayward Wesleyan Church met at the LCO Convention Center for one combined church service. It was pretty neat. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon shared the message because we have been talking about what it means to be blessed these last several weeks. She talked about “The Blessing of Reconciliation” which is a powerful topic.
All in all it was a good day to connect and get to know people in our church that we may not see because of which service (1st, 2nd or 3rd) they attend.
I saw this video in a post on Elemental Children’s Ministry blog.
I am always inspired when I see various ways the church tries to communicate what Jesus meant when he told us as his followers to “love your enemies.” I remember thinking about this when I was a kid: “NO WAY was I ever going to turn the other cheek… I would turn the other cheek all right, I would make that other person’s cheek turn RED!”
A constant principle that I see embedded in the Kingdom of God ethic is the idea of doing the opposite. Doing the opposite of our natural human reaction in a situation, is usually the right “kingdom-kind-of-action”. I have found that in almost every situation in life, doing the right thing, is almost always doing the opposite of what my natural human reaction is.
This video depicts this counter-cultural principle well…
What is a normal, everyday Christian capable of and expected to do in the kingdom of God, the church? I don’t think we define it concretely enough. Do they have to ingest one Christian book a month, study the Bible everyday devotionally (and intermittently, theologically), pray, be involved in “ministry” at their local “church building” community as well as outside the “church building” in their particular civic community, show up for church every Sunday, be involved in a small group, journal, etc?
What does it really mean to be a spiritually involved person? What does it mean to be an active participant in the expanding spiritual kingdom of God in this world? And particularly for the normal, everyday human being? How much stuff is too much? What is reasonable, sustainable, appropriate, etc? When are we supposed to just live and recognize God is entirely okay with that…actually more than okay than we think?
Perhaps our lives (normal and everyday as they are) are the labratory of God’s kingdom. Perhaps the daily decisions we make as God’s special people actually bring about his kind of kingdom (or world). Perhaps we shouldn’t lump a lot of really good, “spiritual” thing on people, but teach and instruct a viable “kingdom-living ethic”, modeled after the pattern of Jesus (who being in very nature God…). Maybe then we will truly be exercising God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.
Pastors, in particular, seem to do a marvelous job living beyond what a normal, everyday person has the time (realistically) to handle. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s actually fairly good to be able to have the time to devote to the spiritual life in order to lead people through their spiritual lives… but I wonder if pastors are supposed to be modeling a “daily living, everyday/normal, kingdom ethic” as well? What are people “seeing” modeled in the normal, everyday life of their pastor?
I came across a video that describes what I’m wrestling with in this post. This video is actually a promo video for a curriculum, but the content the speaker discusses actually addresses some relevant things.