Prayer This Week Kids Camp

Thanks for praying with me for Kids Camps!  As all the prep work is getting done, I’m getting more and more excited watching God work out the details.  Please join with me in praying for these things this week:
  1.  Pray for the witness of volunteers at home and work
  2.  Pray for parents that are not involved in their kids’ lives
  3.  Pray for those without a church home
  4.  Pray for church members to reach out to those without church homes
  5.  Pray for the witness of all youth involved at home and school/work
  6.  Pray for the families of all of our pastors
  7.  Pray for children in 2nd grade

Thanks Friends!

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Kids Camp Prayer Week

We are another week closer to Kids Camp 2013!  Thanks for all who are praying with me for the kids, staff and speakers.  Here is the prayer focus for this week:

1.Pray for our Activity, Décor, and Chapel time coordinator; Pastor Harvey Walls

2.Pray for our Prayer Coordinator; Pastor Isaiah McGarry

3.Pray for fun, organized, and safe activities for all

4.Pray for all of our prayer partners

5.Pray for operation of all equipment to be flawless

6.Pray for consistent prayer among all our prayer partners

7.Pray for kids with difficult home situations

Thanks for praying!

Mythbusters Part 2

“Children are the church of tomorrow!”

Have you ever heard someone say this? People who say this have the best intentions. I understand what they mean, but it is a statement that is incorrect in every sense.

To make the statement kids are the church of tomorrow implies they are not a part of the church today.  The truth is kids have just as much to offer in the church as many adults do;  not just in skills and talents but in their spirits as well.

In my lifetime, I’ve met kids with a deeper spiritual walk than some adults.  I’ve met people who have served Christ for 2 years who are more spiritually mature than some who have served Christ for 20 years.  I’ve seen kids get filled with the Holy Spirit, share Christ with their friends, see their friends come to Christ, prophesy, lead worship, and do just about anything adults do.  When it comes to spirituality, age or amount of time a person has served Christ does not always determine maturity, yet we get wrapped in this mindset that kids have less to contribute than adults.

In 2 Kings 22, God set 8 year old Josiah on the throne of Israel.  No doubt he was surrounded by strong advisors for a long time, and his decision making ability was probably limited for a time, but I believe God appointed him for a reason.  God is speaking clearly though this story saying that age does not matter, children are capable of leading.  In this passage of scripture, we read that Josiah was righteous, following God in all he said and did.  In his reign, the book of God’s law was found, he instituted as the law of the land, and brought the people of Israel back to God.  Not bad for someone who started as an eight year old.

If children are the church of tomorrow, Jesus would have gone along with his disciples in shooing them away.  He would have spent his time with the adults rather than blessing the children.  Furthermore, He would not have made children the role model, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).”

Jesus understood the important role children play in the church today.

Children are a vital part of the church today, in every sense that any adult is a part of the church.  If children are a part of the church of today, than who is the church of tomorrow? Anyone who has yet to receive Jesus as their savior is the church of tomorrow!

What a Good Children’s Ministry Does

This last weekend, I had the opportunity to stand in front of key stakeholders in my ministry and talk about the vision of the Children’s Ministry, and their role in it.  As I cast vision and shared my heart, I began to think about Children’s Ministry as a whole, and came up with these things that a good children’s ministry ought to be doing.

1) Give kids a chance to encounter God on a weekly basis.  Church is not solely an academic activity.  Many times, especially in children’s ministry, we get too caught up in learning and forget about the spiritual side.  Truth: Kids can, desire to and do approach the throne of God and have a genuine encounter with Him.  I’ve seen kids get filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesy over adults.  I’ve seen kids encounter God in such a way that not only are they changed, but their families are changed as well.  Children must be given a chance to encounter God in real ways.

2) Partner with Parents.  Even if kids are involved in everything the church has to offer, they are spending at most 6 hours (that might be pushing it) in church activities in the average week.  If we were to add to that the roughly 49 hours a week (168 total hours in a week minus 40 hours for school, 70 hours for sleep, church time and extra curricular activities) then we can see effective life change in a child’s life.  The kids that are most successful in any arena of life have parental involvement.

3) Partner with other ministries in the church.  The best partnership for the children’s ministry is the youth ministry.  Children’s Pastors must work together with youth pastors to find out what the next stage of church life is like for kids, and what the youth pastor expects incoming kids to be like, then work to make sure the kids are ready for that stage of life.  Adult ministries are a great partnership as well.  Many parents out there need or want tools to make them better parents, and expect the church to help them gain those tools.  Children’s ministry may not be able to provide those tools, but they can help other ministries of the church see what tools are missing.  Partnership with other ministries exponentially increases the possible impact of Children’s ministry on a child’s life.

4) Lead with the end in mind.  Establish clear goals concerning what the kids should be like as they move onto the next stage of life, and work from day one to reach those goals.  What should a typical 5th or 6th grade student know?  What experiences should they have?  What does their devotional life look like?  These are some of the things I ask myself on a regular basis, and structure my ministry so that the 5th grade students have the tools they need to be successful not only in this stage of life, but in the next as well.

5) Develop leaders.  Children’s Pastors (no matter how skilled/loving/passionate or good with kids) are not able to connect with every child in their ministry.  It is only through volunteers and leaders that they are able to connect with more kids.  Raising leaders is a difficult job, but necessary for the sake of ministry.  There are so many areas of children’s ministry that the Children’s Pastor cannot manage them all.  This is where it is vital to raise other leaders to take care of the things that the Children’s Pastor cannot do.  Raising leaders who are equally passionate about the vision of the children’s ministry spreads the influence wider than a single leader can do on their own.

6) Definition of success.  “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time” -Zig Ziglar.  Children’s Ministry must define success in a child’s life.  Different ministries will have a different outcome they are striving for.  In my Children’s Ministry, success is “seeing kids growing up serving God their whole lives.”  As long as the children in my ministry both past and present are serving God, we are succeeding.  When they are not serving God, we are not succeeding.  Without a definition of success, how can you know you are being effective?

These are all things that I feel God is putting on my heart are essential for success in Children’s Ministry. They are things that you will begin to see at Northwest Kids, if you do not already.  As they are being put into place, I pray that God blesses us and the ministry grows as He sees fit.

 

God’s Plans

I recently had a chance to live a lesson that I taught in kids church.  It’s kind of cool when God prepares you for what is coming.  This opportunity came in two forms, one immediate, and one a bit later, but more powerful.  The last Sunday of any year is generally a more low-key service.  The attendance is low and being a holiday weekend (the day after Christmas) this year  was no exception.

In kids church, I go all out every weekend.  It makes no never mind to me how many kids are or are not there, what matters to me is who is there.  In any event, we also made a transition in Kids Church to go from having small groups every week to every other week.  It is a good transition in many regards.  So naturally, the last week of the year was the week for small groups.  I coordinated the small group leaders, asked them to give up their worship experience for the week to lead their small groups, and take time to prep. I taught the lesson and was almost wrapped up getting ready to let them go into their small groups, when parents started arriving.  Oh, yeah, I should mention the lesson.  The bottom line of the lesson was “You can have joy because God has a plan.”  The text of the lesson was that God’s plan is not always our plan, but it is always better.  As parents showed up, I realized that God’s plans were once again more important than mine.  For whatever reason, small groups were not supposed to happen that weekend.

Second learning opportunity: Roberta and I gave birth to our first-born on January 1st this year.  Through our pregnancy, we talked about the “birth plan” (who would be in the room, to get an epidural or not, those kind of things).  We had a pretty loose plan: those who wanted to be in the room could be, go as long as possible without the epidural, but there was one thing we did not discuss: the possibility of a c-section.  Though we tried as hard as we could, the c-section eventually became the best option.  Nothing went according to plan.  We wanted the baby born before the new year, he made it out 2 hours 20 minutes late.  We wanted a natural birth, he came by c-section.  Roberta wanted to do it without an epidural, but it became necessary after they  they broke her water and put her on pitosin.

Long story short, God has plans, we have plans.  The best plans to make are to follow God’s plans.  Oh, yeah and we have a beautiful, healthy baby boy.

If you volunteer in your church…

First of all, thank you.  Too many pastors (myself sometimes included) forget these two words.  Whatever it is that you do, if it is clean the toilets, pick up garbage, hold babies, teach a class, lead a small group, greet, direct the parking lot, work on the tech team, take kids to the restroom, work security, sponsor youth, or something else that I can not think of please hear these words: IT IS VITAL TO THE CHURCH!  You may think that your role is insignificant, but it is so important.  As a pastor, if I was to have to do all the things that volunteers do in my church, I would never have time to plan Sunday’s activities.

In many ways, the role of the volunteer is just as important or more important than the role of the Pastor.  It is easy as a pastor to lose touch with “the world”.  I once saw a graph that depicted the percentage of non-believer friends a person has when the receive Christ and the decline of that percentage as their life goes on as a Christ follower.  Basically, the longer you are a Christ follower, the less non-Christian friends you have.  As a pastor, the decline happens exponentially faster.  The less in touch with “the world” a pastor becomes, the more difficult it is to invite or bring others into the church.  Volunteers who understand the vision of the church, and are passionate about it are the key to churches being successful in their communities.

The sacrifices that volunteers make is huge.  I am continually amazed especially by my midweek volunteers.  Some of them work all day, go home for a quick bite and change of clothes, then come and serve the kids for their evening.  Others work nights, so they wake up, eat their “breakfast” and come to church before heading off to work.  I think this is the equivalent of waking up at 3:30 am, getting ready for work, but rather than going straight to work, going to volunteer at church, then going to work.  Not only do volunteers sacrifice their time (which by the way is a person’s most valuable commodity), but also their opportunity to be ministered to.  Many volunteer times occur during church service times.

I recall a certain usher  at one church I ministered in.  This guy was probably in his mid 70’s fighting stomach cancer.   At one point could barely stand up straight.  Nevertheless, he loved his church and being an usher.  Each week he stood his post, for at least a few years after being diagnosed.  As far as I know, he is still standing at the door every week his team is on call.  That is a sacrifice that gets me on my feet and ready to serve him and the people he is passionate about serving.

It is easy to become discouraged in volunteering.  There is little recognition, seldom thanked, frequently taken advantage of, and you may feel trapped in your ministry because you love your ministry and you want it to succeed, but are ready for a break or to do something else.  Know this: God sees what is done in secret and is ready to publicly reward those who are faithful.  I am reminded of Jesus’ parable about the master who went on vacation leaving his servants in charge of different sums of money.  His words to the ones who handled his money well resonate in my heart: “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  It’s about using what God gave you.

I dare say on behalf of every pastor in America: “Thank you for serving.  You are making a difference in people’s lives and in eternity.”

Random Monday

I’ve read through Job a lot lately.  If you have not read Job, give a good read.  Here are some thoughts about what I’ve read, followed by some more random thoughts:

  • Leviathan, boy am I glad that those are not around any more… to me, it sounds kind of like a dragon.
  • I’ve been through some hard times in life, but nothing has gotten me as down as Job.  He cursed the day of his birth…
  • It is so important to surround yourself with people who love you and will stick by you no matter what.
  • Sometimes, people don’t need your words, they need you (2:13).
  • God is the one who gives all we have to us, and He can take it at His will.
  • Sometimes, God allows bad things to happen to good people, it does not mean that he does not love them or is mad at them.
  • God is more powerful than Satan.  Satan had to seek permission to afflict Job.  I wonder if this is usually the way it happens or if Job was somehow a special case.

Now for the more random:

  • Christmas is a season of Joy.  We can have Joy because God always keeps His promises!
  • My heart is heavy today thinking of friends who do not have Joy this holiday season because of missing places at their table.
  • If you know someone who is lacking Joy this holiday season, for this reason or for another, be sure to reach out to them
  • Speaking of Joy, Mini-Me is due in like 4 weeks.  Getting excited!