Sweet Morning Prayers

October 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

morning prayers

One morning, I parked the car at school and turned around to talk to my 2-year old daughter. She was having a hard time with being dropped-off at school. And by hard time I mean snotty-nosed crying fits that left me feeling like a terrible father. As we talked, I asked her if she wanted to pray about it. I’d like to say that moment was my wisdom, but it was really just a moment of frustration and desperation!

We prayed a simple prayer that morning, but nothing really changed about the drop-off meltdown. I didn’t think anything else about the prayer until the next morning. As soon as I turned off the car, she said, “Let’s say a prayer?”

That prayer has turned into a moment that we share every time we pull into the parking lot. Before I can even turn the car off, she’s getting excited and ready to pray. Part of it is that she just likes to see her daddy talk with his eyes closed, but I think she also gets the point of Who we’re talking to.

As we were praying this morning, I was just reminded at how important those types of moments are for parents and children. As parents, we are called to disciple our children but we often don’t understand when or how to do this. These moments create a rhythm that is necessary to discuss and model faith.

This rhythm is a routine. It is not necessarily a sit-down Bible study that bores the kids to death. It is infusing Grace and the Gospel into every moment of every day life. These moments are special. They take the ordinary and connect the dots to the extraordinary. They will often lead to other moments. And the goal would be that the whole day is filled with moments that strengthen our faith and bring us closer to God. I think that’s what it means to disciple your children.

I want to find more moments like this to share with my daughter. I want to be constantly looking for teachable moments when I can help her see God’s Grace and the power of the Gospel. Even as a toddler, I want her to understand Who God is, what He has done and what great plans He has for her.

I don’t have it all figured out. No one has called and asked to make a documentary on my life because I’m an expert of discipling my children. I doubt that will happen. But, I’m thankful for our sweet morning prayers and what God is showing us in that time.

This image is a “To Do List” from one of my all-time favorite musicians (and an Arkansan) Johnny Cash. The list was sold at auction in 2010 for $6,400. I really wanted this list, but not just because I’m a huge Cash fan. I wanted the list because it gave a simple, yet life-changing example of priorities.

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Item #2 and #9 really stood out to me.

2. Kiss June

9. Go see Mama

These lines show that Johnny Cash valued relationships. He valued them so much that he was willing to carve time out of his schedule for them. He made sure that his to-do list included investments in those relationships.

My “To Do List” had a lot of tasks, but not too many relationships.

It’s easy to say that I invested in relationships even though they’re not on my list, but that’s not the truth. As I looked at past lists, I can remember weeks that were so busy that I actually damaged relationships rather than building them up. Something had to change.

After seeing the list from the Man in Black, I started intentionally placing relationships on my to-do list. I now have a Task column and a Relationship column.

I try to make sure that the Relationship column is equal or greater than my tasks each week. It may be a phone call to say thank you or a lunch meeting with a volunteer to share how God is moving, but I want to put forth some type of effort to invest in relationships.

I’ve entered into one of the busiest “task” times of my life. I have to admit that the tasks are wearing on me. But for every new item in the Task column, there is also a new Relationship that I get to invest in. For a relational guy like me, this has sustained me and energized me more than ever.

How can you use your “To Do List” to value relationships?


This past Sunday, we invited students from our High School ministry to come and share with our preteens. We asked them to share specifically about their experiences in Middle School and High School.

I wish we would’ve filmed the interaction, but here are a few quotes from the High School students:

“Be careful what you listen to. What goes in your ears will come out of your mouth.”

“You always have a friend in God.”

“Watch what you say. You never know how it will affect someone.”

“We’re not perfect. Don’t think that. We’re still struggling with the same things and trying to figure it out.”

“This is not the end. Eternity is the end.”

It was amazing to watch the preteens (boys and girls) be glued to the High School students. They were hanging on every word out of the students’ mouths. After the Q&A with the students, preteens went off to small groups. Several of the Small Group Mentors said it was one of the best small group sessions they’ve had. They said the kids were so talkative and repeating back all they had heard from the High School students.

I’m so thankful that God moved in this service. We will definitely do it again in the near future. After the service, I jotted down a few notes and a couple of thoughts. As I looked back over my notes, I’m really left with 2 big questions regarding preteen ministry.

How are we preparing preteens for something bigger than the issues of right now?

A 12th grade girl made the comment, “This is not the end. Eternity is the end.” She explained that good things and bad things will happen, but the most important thing is a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was such a great statement. It made me think about how we need to spend more time focusing on the big picture with preteens. We focus on the issues they face, and I think that is good. But they also need to be reminded of the awesome God that created them, loves them, and uses them for His glory.

How can we use the experiences and wisdom of teenagers in preteen ministry?

I was absolutely blown away at the maturity and wisdom of the teenagers. They shared great advice from a place of humility and honesty. As I watched the preteens, they were completely engaged. For those of you that work with preteens, you know how rare that is! I’m not sure how, but we need to find ways to use the experiences and wisdom of teenagers in preteen ministry.

What do you think?

Parent Meeting

No matter what age group you minister to—children, preteens, or students—parental involvement is essential. Parents need to know about your ministry so they feel confident that it is safe and secure. They also need to know how you will equip them and call them to disciple their sons and daughters.

One of the best ways to communicate vision and strategy with parents is to host a Parent Meeting. Bringing parents together in one room can be very beneficial, but it takes planning to be effective. Here is a basic outline for how to plan your next parent meeting.

Step 1—Invite Parents

Guess what? Parents won’t know about the meeting unless you invite them! Send out an invitation (via print or email) at least 1 month in advance. Give them plenty of notice so that they can make the meeting a priority in their schedule. Try attaching some meeting details to the invite. Let them know what the meeting is about and why it is so important for them to be present. Be careful not to give too much away! The best invite will communicate two things to parents: urgency and mystery.

Step 2—Create a “Wow” Environment

You may only have one chance to connect with a parent, so make it count. Use videos, bulletin boards, or testimonies to highlight what God is doing in your ministry. Make the room comfortable and provide refreshments. Who doesn’t love some warm cookies??

Step 3—Keep Content Limited and Focused

A parent meeting is not the time to try to cover everything you’ve ever wanted to tell parents. Try to focus on one topic that is relevant to your audience. For example, you might have a parent meeting that trains parents on how to have a family devotion or how to share the Gospel with specific ages. Other focused topics might be specific to your ministry vision or strategy. If you need to cover multiple topics with parents, it may be better to consider a parent retreat or a parent discipleship class that meets over several weeks.

Step 4—Leave Room for Discussion

Every group of parents I’ve ever met with has requested more opportunities to talk about issues with other parents. Talking with one another helps parents to get ideas and share their stories. It also helps them to see that they are not alone in their struggles and failures. Encourage parents to break into small groups and discuss the information covered in the meeting. Provide some discussion questions for the parents, and ask them to end by praying for one another in their groups.

Step 5—Provide Action Steps and Follow-Up

When the meeting is over, it will feel like a huge success—mainly because it’s over and one with! However, the true test is whether or not the meeting led parents to take action. Give some specific action steps and ideas for parents during the meeting, and follow-up with them 3-6 months later.

Here’s an example of action steps and follow-up. We hosted a parent meeting last spring on the topic of adolescent transition and sexual purity. At the end of the meeting, we gave parents a copy of Passport 2 Purity to use with their child. We asked parents to schedule a purity weekend with their preteen sometime this year, and then send us testimonies about their weekend once it was complete. It’s amazing to read the emails we’ve already received from families that have taken that step. At 6 months (mid-November), we will follow-up with all parents and remind them about the call to take that step with their preteen. Instead of a one-time meeting, we’ve managed to create a year-round conversation. It’s all about the follow-up!

If you haven’t hosted a parent meeting in your ministry, I strongly encourage you to do so. Parents need to have a major role in your ministry if you want to be effective. Parents have far greater influence and time than anyone in your ministry, so find a way to connect with them and leverage that influence for good!