Archives For children’s ministry

I’ve been living in two worlds lately.  On one hand, I’m establishing a lot of new relationships in my new ministry role.  On the other hand, I’m back living in my home town and so I’m reconnecting with a lot of old relationships that I’ve had for many years.  With this resurgence of my social life, God has really been speaking to me about the purpose of those relationships.  And in those conversations, He has really challenged my heart with one gripping question.

The questions is this…
What if the purpose of every relationship you have was to lead the other person closer to Jesus Christ?

What if I was intentional enough so that every person that I met, talked to, worked with, played softball with, or had a meal with was encouraged to move to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ?  What if I took the focus off of me and placed it on Him?  I don’t fully know what this would look like if it were played out in my life, but I’m dying to discover what God can do if I will submit to it.  I know that to do so, I need to be walking much closer to Him.  I need to be much more obedient to his calling when he says go or when he says speak.  And I need to have much more boldness and confidence in sharing my faith with every contact I make.  This questions has really stretched me and continues to do so.  My prayer is that God would show me what it looks like to use every relationship to point the other person closer to Jesus Christ.

I’m interested in hearing others thoughts and insight into how to live a life that could answer this question.  What does it look like in action?  What does it take? What would the end result be?

 

When my wife sees an expensive piece of furniture or decorative item for our house, I have a humorous response that always pops out.  I look over the object and quickly reply, “They want $_____ for that?  I could make that!”  This always draws a laugh from my wife because she knows my lack of skills in the craftsman department.  But in the discussion, I always bring up the fact that I could do it if I just had the right tools.  I’m not sure that I wouldn’t fail, but I would definitely have the confidence to try if I just had the right tools.

Parents are looking to the church for the right tools to do their job with confidence.

I’ve never met a parent who didn’t care about the spiritual condition of their child.  But I have met parents who do not feel equipped for the job as spiritual leader.  There is a great opportunity for the church to partner with parents in developing a plan for the spiritual upbringing of children.  But that’s harder than it seems.

According to the 2010 State of the Church and Family Annual Report (Barna & Rethink Group) 72% of churched and 46% of unchurched parents said that the church would be a good helper in developing a plan for raising their child.  This statistic shows great opportunity for the church.  Parents are looking to the church for the right tools.  However, less than half (45%) of parents said that they received “very clear” expectations on parenting from the church.  Only 27% of unchurched parents with recent church experience said that the church clearly communicated its expectations of parents.  We have a great opportunity to equip parents as spiritual leaders, but we are failing to clearly communicate the essentials of Biblical parenting.

It’s time to stop talking about the importance of leading a child’s spiritual development, and start equipping parents with resources that will help them meet that goal.  I’ve been guilty of thinking that I just needed to convince the parents of the importance of their role.  But they already understand the importance.  They are screaming at the top of their lungs, “We understand the importance of our role.  We want to be the spiritual leader for our child.  We want to do it, but we need the right tools for the job.”

The 2010 State of the Church and Family Annual Report says it like this:

Almost half of all parents say they have no plan in raising their kids; they simply do the best they can. And even among the parents who say they have a plan in mind to help their child become what they desire, you might wonder whether their plan is well thought out or cohesive.  This is a great opportunity for leaders to speak into the lives of parents.  If we actually have a clear and compelling approach to helping families, this is a chance to help families realize more is possible. (p. 34)

Some great ways to equip parents with tools might be:

  • sermon series on parenting that highlights the methods/tools your church uses to create a partnership between church and home
  • small groups or discipleship classes for parents that focus on parenting for each stage of development (preschool, elementary, preteen, jr. high, high school, college)
  • regular scheduled meetings for all staff/volunteer leadership of family ministry (preschool—college) to talk about integrated strategy
  • compile a list of books, articles, blogs, sermons, etc that would be helpful for parents
  • shared experiences for parents and children/teens

This list is by no means exhaustive.  It will be different for every church, but it is always better to do something rather than nothing.

What is your strategy for equipping parents with the right tools to be spiritual leaders?

(2010 State of the Church and Family Annual Report is available at The Rethink Group Store.)

 

My wife, Dana, and I have been having some conversations about how we plan to raise our 9-month-old daughter.  It’s not so much about the “everyday” things (although we have had those conversations as well), but it’s more about the transitions of life that are worth a pause and celebration.  We call these milestones.

We haven’t mapped out her entire life’s worth of milestones.  I mean she is only 9-months-old!  But we have been discussing the first of those milestones: baby dedication. We have absolutely nothing against the way our church or any church does baby dedication. As long as it doesn’t violate Scripture in some way, then I think baby dedication is a great event in whatever format the church decides.  It was just a choice for us that we do something different and unique to our family.  We wanted the event to be a charge to our family, our friends, and ourselves.  We want to be held accountable for the physical and spiritual upbringing of our daughter.  We want those that we feel will have an influence on her spiritually or physical development to be a part of this milestone and future milestones.

We haven’t nailed down all the details yet, but here is the framework so far:

Create a Network
We want to invite family and friends, and recognize their role as an influence on the spiritual development of our daughter.  We want to invite them to take hold of that influence in her life.  We also want this group to hold us accountable to our role as the primary spiritual influence.  The have the right to speak into our daughter’s life, as well the life of Dana and me.

Establish Values for Our Family
We want to structure our family around what is most important and model that for our daughter.  We are placing a high importance on worshiping as a family, praying as a family, and studying Scripture as a family.  Other things that we want our daughter to value are service and giving.  We want to establish certain times of year that we model service for her, even at this young age.  We understand that our service is never limited to those times, but we do want to be intentional about modeling that part of our Christian duty.

Protect our Marriage
I know that the best thing I can do for my daughter and show her that I love her mother.  I want to protect my marriage from the dangers of neglect that often accompany the addition of children.  Again, we understand the need for accountability.  We are committing to spend time, energy, and money on the enrichment of our marriage, and we want others to hold us accountable for that. 

I can’t wait to get together for this milestone.  We’re planning on it being a casual dinner where we will explain our intentions and values for parenting.  Following dinner, we’ll have a time of prayer to thank God for our daughter and to ask for His guidance in he upbringing.  We will also ask others to pray for their role as spiritual influence and an accountability partner.

This event has just been on my heart the last few days, so I wanted to throw the idea out and see if there was any helpful information you could give.  I would love to hear if you have done a similar event at your church or for your own child.  I will definitely post pictures and stories following the event.

 

 

Yesterday’s post was about the issue of pornography in the life of a preteen.  It is a growing issue that churches need to be addressing with parents to better equip them for that battle.  The post generated some requests for resources and strategies, so I’m going to do my best.   I know that there are lots of helpful articles and sites out there, so I encourage you to search.  My advice is simple, but I feel like it is effective.

1. Make it Public
A huge step towards protection for families is to move all computers to the family room.  Usage of computers behind closed doors is always dangerous, for adults and kids.  By moving usage to a more visible place, you will be able to monitor the how much time your kids spend on the Internet and the sites they are visiting.  This goes for mobile devices as well.  Parents don’t think of these devices, but they are becoming the primary source of pornographic material for kids.  Get together as a family and set some rules for the time and place of computer use. 

2. Set Boundaries
It is important that you monitor the use of computers, but that’s still not enough.  Things still happen.  When and if they do, don’t you want to know about it?  Set up some protection by installing Internet software on your computers.  It’s pretty amazing how far some of these programs have come over the years.  They will now block inappropriate movie clips, inappropriate Youtube videos, websites, and Internet searches.  Some great resources for this are X3 Watch Pro, Safe Eyes, or Covenant Eyes.  There are some free versions of these programs, but the few dollars a month are worth the extra protection, which includes mobile devices. It is also advisable to block known “problem sites” in your internet options.  By adding such sites to a blocked list, you can ensure that no user will access the site content.

If you’re a Mac user, there is also a way to set a “white list” in your Internet settings.  If you assign your child a user account, then you can make a list of websites that they are allowed to visit, and only those sites will be accessible.  I’m sure that there is a similar feature in Windows.

3. Communicate
With all the protection and boundaries set, it’s still imperative that you communicate.  Keep an open line of communication with your child.  Bring up the issue of pornography and ask if they have experienced any of the images.  It may be necessary to get further help if they have already been exposed to inappropriate material.  Make sure that the communication between you and your child is constant.  There is no such thing as over-communicating.  Keep talking to your child and assuring them that they can talk to you if they have received pornographic material on their computer or phone.

Another great resource for preteens are the books, Parenting Today’s Adolescent and So You’re about to be a Teenager by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.