Archives For celebration

Things have been a little crazy over the past month and I’ve failed to really pause and celebrate the thing God is doing. I know it’s Wednesday…days after Sunday…halfway to the next Sunday…I get it. But I figure better late than never on celebrating how awesome God is.

This past Sunday was Launch Sunday for Fellowship. This is the Sunday that all ages begin the new year in their new age-divided class. It’s an exciting time for the kids and a confusing time for the parents. But here’s what God did on Sunday…

1. 1300+ Kids and 700 FellowShip Kids Volunteers
I’m pretty sure that’s more people than the Polish Army. It was awesome to see families reconnecting after summer schedules, and the energy of the kids was out of this world. While I’m thankful for that many kids getting up and coming to church on a Sunday morning, I’m so much more grateful for the 700 or more volunteers that answered the call to serve. God used them in a tremendous way.

2. 250 Preteens and 70 Preteen Volunteers
It was so much fun to dive into a new year with this group of preteens.  They are super blessed because they have 70 leaders that have committed to walking through this phase of life with them.  I’m so thankful for the energy of this volunteer team and the time that they’re willing to invest in students.

3. Relationships are Growing (already)
I wasn’t expecting students and leaders to gel and connect so quickly, but it’s happening.  It’s like planting a seed and waking the next morning to find a fully bloomed flower!  Mentors (what we call Small Group Leaders) are writing cards, sending emails, and making phone calls to connect with their students and encourage them.  When we cast the vision for them to do this sort of thing, we were hoping to see results by October or November but it’s already taken flight. God is so good.

4. We Found a Community Group
We moved from Missouri 8 months ago, but we’ve really been transitioning ever since.  We were renting a house, selling a house, and hoping to buy a house.  It’s an awesome God-story of how all of those worked out.  We (My wife and I) knew that we wanted to find a community group once we had purchased a house.  We purchased a house in July, and so we met with a new community group in our area this past Sunday night. We had a great time connecting with the other couples. Each couple seemed interested in what God would teach us as we moved forward into forming a group. Dana and I are excited about “doing life” with this group. 

There is so much to celebrate as God keeps moving and working.

As I write this, there is a lot of transition going on in my life.  My fingernails have been bitten down to the bone because so much is going on and it just doesn’t seem like there is enough time or energy to manage it all.  I’m taking on the full leadership of preteen ministry at Fellowship, which involves about 60 volunteers and 300 fifth and sixth graders.  I’m in and out of town all summer with children’s camps and other trips. Our daughter is now crawling, so nothing is in a safe distance from her grasp.  And my wife, Dana, and I just this morning bought a house that needs its share of TLC.  A lot is changing.  It is fun, but it is also daunting.

This has just further reminded me of the pains in transitioning preteens from elementary to middle school/jr. high.  This is such a taxing time emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.  For those of us in children’s ministry, this is one of the most critical parts of our job.  And yet, it is often overlooked. This takes some attention and planning to be successful.  It also takes a partnership between the children’s and student ministries.  If you haven’t done so already, let me encourage you to sit down with key leaders and staff from children’s ministry and student ministry at your church and ask these questions:

What is your strategy for helping a preteen to successfully manage the transition from elementary to Jr. High?
How do you prepare them for this transition to a new ministry before they reach this point?
What do you do to celebrate/commemorate this passage between stages of life?
How do you equip the parents to lead their kids during this process?
How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy?

These questions are great to ask about every transition between life stages, such as between preschool and elementary or high school and college.

I posted a few weeks ago about the strategy that we used this year to help preteens navigate this transition.  You can read about that HERE.
If you have any questions about events that we do for preteens, you can contact me via TWITTER or EMAIL. 

Today has been a great Sunday.  I’m amazed every Sunday at the dedication of our volunteers.  It’s a holiday weekend, but we have probably 95% or more of our leaders here this morning.  Some that had to miss sent messages to their students to let them know!  How amazing is that!  They love their students and it shows in their commitment to their role.  I’m definitely celebrating them today but there is really something that is even more awesome.

I was handed this envelope this morning with no explanation or words.  A 5th grade girl just handed it to me and said “no one needs to know who it’s from.” Then she walked off.

Dadiya_money

 

In it was almost $125 raised by this small group of girls.  We have a partnership with The Seed Company to put the Bible into the language of the Dadiya people of Nigeria.  This money will help these people to read the Gospel in their own language.  It was a huge contribution.

I’d love to know which group gave this offering, but there was no names, no note, nothing!  They obviously had worked hard to raise this much money, but they wanted no credit for it. They didn’t present it during large group or even as a whole small group.  Instead, it was just one group member dropping it off and saying no one needs to know who or how.  They gave out of love and obedience, and they didn’t want recognition. One girl…no words…$125!   

I’m humbled by their gift. And I am encouraged by their love and service.  It’s been a great day for me, our church, and the Dadiya People of Nigeria!

 

Today was bittersweet because it was 6th Grade graduation.  I’m sad to see them moving on, but I feel a sense of excitement for how God is going to use this group for His purpose.  So on this Sunday, here is what I’m celebrating:

1. Graduation
We had an awesome time tonight celebrating the accomplishment of our 6th graders. The best part was the closing when parents had the opportunity to pray over their student and their passage into adolescence.  It was amazing to see families huddled together all over the auditorium and praying together.  It was a powerful moment that highlighted the importance of partnering with parents.

2. Conversations with Small Group Leaders
I had a short but amazing conversation with a small group leader this morning that really moved me.  We’re in the middle of organizing our leaders for next fall, and this leader wanted to talk to me about her role.  She approached me in the hall and began to tell me how God was moving in her life.  She spoke of how she felt unworthy of what God is doing.  The conversation moved her to tears.  She is 60+ years of age, and I’m only in my 20s.  That point made the conversation even more amazing to me.  I admired her desire to continuing growing closer to Christ.  I admired her willingness to open to me.  And I was honored to be able to speak encouragement to her.   I’m not sure what God is doing in her, but I’m really excited to see the amazing ways that He is going to use her in the coming year!

3. Amazing Message to Our Church
Our church was so blessed today by the guest speaker, Christopher Coleman.  Christopher has a powerful testimony of how God has moved in his life and used him in powerful ways to share the Gospel.  Christopher’s website begins his testimony with these words,

He was pronounced dead at birth, but miraculously survived. Though he struggles with cerebral palsy, Christopher Coleman knows his disability was a gift from God.

I can’t do justice to the message.  You just have to take time to watch the sermon.  You can see it HERE.  Get your Kleenex and get ready to move for God!

There were so many other things that were great today.  But as I sit and think back over the day, these three are the largest on my mind and heart.  It’s Sundays like this that remind me how blessed I am and how awesome God is. 

What did you see God do today?