The following is an article that I shared last year on the Fellowship Bible Church blog. In just a few weeks, we will send our daughter to her first day of Kindergarten. I’m excited about practicing some of these notes, and I thought it might be helpful to other parents.


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It’s time to go back to school.

I can hear the collective groan of children from all over the city. The memory-making events of summer are coming to a close, and parents’ days will soon be filled with school supplies, homework, pickup lines, and trying to fit all five food groups into that tiny lunch box!

I dreaded the first day of school every year. Well, every year except for one. The year I started second grade, my excitement was off the charts. I just knew that I was going to be the talk of the school because of my new G.I. Joe lunchbox.

This lunch box was bright red with locking latch. The front was decorated with the battle-ready cast of the cartoon. But the pièce de résistance was the Thermos. It featured a matching G.I. Joe design, and it had the lid that could also be used as cup. There was something classy and sophisticated about a second grader who could pour Kool-Aid into a cup and sip as if drinking tea with the Queen of England.

Whether your child has a G.I. Joe lunchbox or a paper sack, you can make it a great discipleship tool by including a special note from you.

Deuteronomy 6 specifically commands parents to pass faith on to children as they go throughout the day. Imagine your son or daughter sitting down for lunch, opening their lunchbox, and finding a special note from you to remind them of who God is and what He has done. These lunchbox notes can be your way of speaking Truth to your children even when you can’t be with them throughout the day.

Three types of notes that could be used to disciple your child through their lunchbox:

Affirmations or Encouragement

Every child needs and wants to hear encouragement from their parents. As you see the unique gifts and character that God has placed in your child, be sure to acknowledge and affirm that to them.

Try not to make this about their performance. Instead, focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing in them and through them. An example might be a note that says: I have noticed how patient you are with your little brother lately. I can see the Holy Spirit working in you.

Scripture and Prayer

There is nothing more necessary for children than to know Scripture. In a world of information, some children may not understand the authority of the Bible. As a parent, you can help them to store up God’s Word in their hearts.

This type of lunchbox note can be as simple as a Bible verse that you’ve been talking about as a family and a prayer. It might also include a question that the family will discuss at dinner. For example, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 God, help Maggie know that she was created in a wonderful way for a wonderful purpose. Help her to feel Your amazing love today!

Challenge

What kid doesn’t love a challenge? As children are growing in their faith, challenge them to apply it. This type of lunchbox note is geared to helping your son or daughter be more intentional in how they live out the Gospel in their school. Here’s an example: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 I challenge you to ask a friend or teacher this question: What’s one thing that is making you worry? Tonight, our family will pray for that person and for God to give them peace in that one thing!

The beginning of the school year is a great opportunity to be intentional in the discipleship of your child. As you’re packing their lunch with PB & J and handi-snacks, write a special note to encourage them, pray over them, or challenge them in their faith.

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For the past two years, I’ve been doing my best to lead our Kids’ Ministry staff team. The team consists of 8 paid staff who are all very gifted leaders. Each of them has their own way of communicating, their own set of needs from me, but one common passion to reach kids with the Gospel.

I cannot even express how humbling this experience has been. In the mixture of wins and fails, I’ve learned a few things that I think are critical to leading any team. Here are my 4 essentials for leading a team:

Take Suggestions & Make Decisions

I’ve learned that leading a team requires me to be a good listener. My natural inclination is to make decisions and move forward. While this is necessary at times, I’ve come to realize that a better way is to listen to others’ input and reach a collaborative decision. Even if we need to make a hard decision, this gives me the opportunity to communicate the how and why behind decision so that everyone can feel confident in the decision. When the decision is made and it’s time to move forward, I feel more energy and excitement because we are all moving together.

Look for Ways to Add Value to Each Team Member

I remember hearing John Maxwell speak on this point about 12 years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. He says that leading people is really an opportunity to add value to their life. It could be  picking up coffee for the team in the morning, a note of thanks, public praise, or meeting one on one to hear how they’re doing. If I want the team to be growing, then I have to be faithful to water it.

Make Room for Growth, Change, and Failure

I can’t stand to be micromanaged, and I suspect that my team feels the same way. I am not always the best at delegating authority, but I do know that the team needs the freedom to grow in their leadership, question how we could change to do things better, and take risks that might result in failure.

Be a Servant to Your Team

We’ve probably all suffered the effects of a leader who has taken advantage of their position. I know I’ve been guilty of it. But I want to be the leader that doesn’t ask anything of my team that I haven’t already done or am not willing to do myself. I want to use my position to serve them.

I’m learning that I can’t always be in the trenches with my team because I need to be leading in the ways that only I can lead. But I know the power of serving alongside them when I can. Those times help me to see what they do and how valuable it is to our team. When I have to lead from the front, I hope they trust that I care about them and their role on our team.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned these essentials more through my failures than successes. I’m still learning. I hope to continue learning and practicing these essentials for leading a team.

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Every human is created to worship something. God designed that something to be Him, but, as Romans 1:25 says, we tend to focus on the created things rather than the Creator. This can be especially true with children.

So when we dreamed of where to begin with the FellowshipKids app, it only seemed right to help kids see God’s power. Paul Tripp says, “Only when awe of God progressively replaces awe of self will we joyfully, willingly, and consistently live as God designed us to live.” We want kids to develop an awe of God that radically transforms their every thought, word, and action.

Here are a few ways you, as a parent, can help your child develop an awe of God:

Point to the Powerful Works of God in Creation

God has filled the whole Earth with His glory, which means every where we look is a reminder of His power. When you see a beautiful sunset, a powerful thunderstorm, or a fresh snowfall, make every effort to point to the Creator behind the creation! Take a moment to say, “Wow! Isn’t God amazing? Just look at what He made to remind us of His power.”

Verbally Thank God for His Power at Work in Your Life

God’s glory and power is on display through creation, but sometimes His power comes in less visible ways. My wife was driving with our 2 daughters in the car when she realized that the gas gauge had slipped way past empty. In a moment of panic, she started looking for a gas station and told the girls just to pray! When they coasted into the gas station for a fill-up, the girls celebrated that God had answered their prayer. Whether it’s big or small, take time to talk with your kids about the way God answers prayers and works in your life.

Let Yourself Be Overwhelmed by the Power of God.  

Many children will learn to value the things their parents value. Concentrate on setting an example by living in awe of God. Find wonder in His grace that saves and sustains you. Find peace in His power that protects and guides you. Find joy in the relationship that He has chosen to have with you. And let your children see you be overwhelmed by an awe of God.

This article was originally posted in the Parent Talk section of the FellowshipKids app. To download the app, click here.

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There is one thing that every ministry has in common—volunteers. And most of us share the struggle to find more!

Our children’s ministry team has been recruiting year round and really ramped it up between May and August. We personally invited, had multiple church-wide campaigns, and shared a vision for why current volunteers should re-up in the ministry. God has really blessed us by sending 491 people to volunteer on our team! Even as I type that sentence, I’m overwhelmed by what God has done.

So, why do I feel worried, frustrated, and defeated by the handful of volunteers I still need?

Do you ever feel that way? Do you find yourself focusing on the need, the problem, or the failure? It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting those things keep our attention and steal our joy.

I was wrestling with this when God taught me a lesson through Gideon. As I tucked my daughter in bed and opened our devotional book to the day’s devotion (story of Gideon), what God was doing for the Israelites hit me like a ton of bricks.

Judges 7 tells us that as Gideon went up against the Midianites, he went with 32,000 soldiers. Who knows if that was enough, but it surely gave the Israelites a fighting chance.

But then God told Gideon to shrink the army.

God knew that a victory would lead people to boast in their own ability and their own strength. So Gideon shrunk the army. First from 32,000 to 10,000, and then the army went down to just 300 men. Gideon went up against the Midianites with less than 1% of his army! God decreased the size of the Israelite army so that He could increase their dependence on Him. God wanted them to see God’s power and boast in Him alone.

As I thought about what God did, I realized that I was looking at volunteers the wrong way. Could it be that God was decreasing our “army” so that He could increase our dependence on Him?

I quickly wrote down this prayer and I’ve been praying it since:

Lord, increase my dependence on you. Make Your strength visible through my weakness. Help me to boast in nothing but You and what You have done.

If you have a volunteer need or some other daunting task ahead of you, are you delighting in it? I know that sounds like the craziest question ever, but listen to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [thorn in the flesh] away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In the end, God provided the victory for Gideon and the Israelites in such a way that only He could do. I’m not sure how or even if God is going to provide volunteers for our ministry, but I will continue to pray this prayer and know that He is in control.

Lord, increase my dependence on you. Make Your strength visible through my weakness. Help me to boast in nothing but You and what You have done.