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Posts Tagged "Christ"

Breaking Bread

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

This year Kyle and I get to celebrate communion with our two oldest kids.   It’s an exciting event.  We’ll break bread, share wine (aka grape juice), read from scripture and enjoy a special moment as Christ-followers on Good Friday.  What a cool moment this will be.

Things I’m remembering today…

  • I (self) was crucified with Christ on the cross
  • I (self) no longer live, but Christ lives through me
  • When God sees me, He sees Christ… not my mistakes
  • The gratefulness and humility that comes when I acknowledge the sacrifice Christ made for me
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The fly

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Community

I’m a fly.

A silly, tiny, clueless fly that flitters around a window banging against it knowing that freedom lies on the other side of the glass but absolutely powerless to get there.

I know freedom is found in Jesus. I know the fresh, sweet breath of Christ is found on my knees. But I continue to beat against that window that seperates me from freedom in Christ insisting that maybe one more body slam will break through this barrier.

Won’t happen. I need my Savior to show me the crack. The little hole to slip through where freedom, peace and life are found.

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Can We Please Get This Straight!

Posted by on Apr 21, 2011 in Leadership, Ministry

I don’t typically rant.  At least not on my blog.  🙂

I like to leave lots of room to change my mind later. 

However, today I’m on a soap box.

I recently read the testimony of a young adult and their experiences over the past few months as she rediscovered her faith and is now in a growing relationship with Christ.  The story is precious and a wonderful testimony of how God shepherds us back to Him.

But the statement I can’t shake is a common thought among adults.  She says this,

“I met Christ when I was young.  But I grew up in church just going through the motions.”

Here are some other statements I’ve heard in the past…

“I was baptized as a kid, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.”

“I accepted Jesus as a child, but it didn’t mean anything.”

This is a common mentality in adults.  That any spiritual decisions or investments made as a child were meaningless because they didn’t fully understand what they were doing at the time.

I think this is bogus.

My kids brush their teeth every morning.  They shower every night.  They eat healthy.  They look both ways before crossing the street and they don’t climb into cars with strangers.  They’re learning to respect authority, make wise decisions and to act increasingly independent of their parents.

Simply because they don’t fully understand the impact of these daily decisions does not discount the benefit of said decisions.

In other words… just because my 5 year old doesn’t understand the physiological benefits of brushing his teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste doesn’t discount the benefits his teeth gain.

I’m certain there are plenty of people out there that simply went through a ritualistic response in an emotional moment without really making a spiritual decision for salvation.  No doubt I have peers that “walked the aisle” just as I did at 6 years old yet they never really made a decision to accept Jesus’ payment for their own sin.

These very same people encounter Christ as an adult and realize they never made a decision for Him so much as walked through a set of steps their parents encouraged them to take.  I get that.

However… I think we have an epidemic of adults who discount true, sincere, heart felt decisions made as a child.  They attribute their ‘wandering’ as a young adult to a lack of sincerity or understanding of the decision they made when they were younger.  In reality, their departure from Christ is not evidence that they never received the gift of salvation.  It’s merely evidence that they took their eyes off the Giver of the Gift.

There are plenty of times in my life where I’ve taken my eyes off of Christ.  And that is evident in the decisions I make.  As I’ve grown in my relationship with Him, I stray less.  Doesn’t mean I don’t ever stray at all.  It just means I don’t get far down the road before I’m reminded that He is my source of Abundant Life… and I return.  However, none of this discounts, detracts from or eliminates the spiritual decisions I’ve made in my past… whether as a child or adult.

Here’s the reality… I made a decision at 6 years old to accept Christ’ death on the cross as payment for my sin.  At 26 years old I understood more about the realities of daily walking with Christ than I did at 6 years old.  And now at 38, I understand even more than I did at 26.  Simply because I comprehend my own humanity more today than I did as a child doesn’t discount the fact that I understood enough at 6 to make the right decision.

Scripture says we are created in the image of God.  Therefore a child responding to the Gospel message is a response they were designed to make.

Let’s stop devaluing the choices a child makes simply because they don’t know as much as an adult.

Instead let’s dive in, celebrate and commit ourselves to demonstrating for them what it looks like to live a life yoked with Christ.  So they may progressively learn that as their humanity fights to draw them away from Christ, abiding in Him is their source of Life.

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Making Preschool Rock – Activities 0

Making Preschool Rock – Activities

Posted by on Apr 19, 2011 in Ministry

Last week I shared some tips we use to make our Preschool worship truly engaging for kids 2-5 years old.

Activities & crafts are common place in a preschool room.  I’ve never been a fan of glitter… but I know that necessity of it.  🙂  Preschoolers are hands-on, active learners and they learn best when they’re actively engaging with the message we want to teach them.

However, this post is not about where to find the best preschool activities out there.  Google it and you’ll find a ton of resources.  This post is about the common mistakes a preschool volunteer will make and how I work to overcome them.

4 Common Mistakes

Missing the Point – An easy mistake to make is place more emphasis on the activity and not the overall lesson being taught. Why?  Because it’s easier to focus on the craft.  A preschool volunteers dialogue is balanced between providing instruction/guidance & telling a story.  There is constant interruption from little people asking questions about the craft, requesting help or just sharing random tidbits of information about their cat and the litter box.  Attempting to tell even the briefest story can feel like a futile effort.

Helping a child complete an activity/craft can feel good.  It feels like we’ve accomplished something.  But misplacing our focus on completing the craft detracts from the overall goal of connecting the activity with the story. When I work with Preschool kids I have to remind myself that telling the story is more important than finishing the activity.

So I remind volunteers that if a child goes home with an incomplete craft and a complete story the processing they commonly do in the aftermath will still come together.  You can even encourage them to finish the craft at home, giving them an opportunity to share the story with mom or dad.   Let’s not get hung up on the craft and miss the opportunity to open their eyes to a bigger story.

Herding vs. Shepherding – Lately we’ve spent more time reminding volunteers to “work in pockets”.  Working in pockets means intentionally dividing a group of kids rather than keeping all of them together.  This means we want them to work in groups of 5-6 kids at one time.  It’s not a new concept.  Preschools and Kindergarten teachers call them ‘Centers’.  It’s a common practice.  And it’s the difference between herding a large group and shepherding small groups.  When herding, you’re primary focus is moving large numbers through a project.  You spend more time trouble-shooting than connecting.  When shepherding, you’re primary focus is connecting.  You spend more time focused on fewer kids creating connections for them and with them.

The Craft Conundrum – Preschool is known for their crafts.  In fact, the highest concentration of materials can be focused on preschool ministry.  Lots of money invested in glitter, glue sticks and crayons.  But simply b/c preschoolers love to make crafts, doesn’t necessarily mean that is the only way they learn.  In fact, I think sometimes our kids miss out on a great song or game because we (as adults) place so much emphasis on the craft.

Please don’t hear me say that crafts aren’t great.  Crafts are a functional element of the preschool environment.  However, if you find your volunteers always hitting the craft and never exercising the other options you provide for connecting the story with the kids… it’s time to reshape their perspective.  We remind our team that using a variety of games, songs, rhymes & crafts helps us to connect with the diverse group of kids God brings.

Diminishing the Return – It’s easy to diminish the impact to be had in preschool ministry.  Sometimes you might have a volunteer that really believes they’re only there to keep the kids occupied.  Often you have volunteers whose goal is simply to survive the hour.  Easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you’ve got a room full of 2 year olds.  For that very reason, I remind my volunteers on a regular basis… The root of our sin all comes down to our faith in one single Truth.  That God loves us.  When we choose to believe this, we focus our eyes on Christ.  When we choose not to believe it, we focus on things other than Christ.  Life is only found in Christ.  When a 4 year old learns this Truth… God loves you… then they learn the Truth that draws them back to Christ for the rest of their lives.

We can debate the theological simplicity of this all day long, but let’s be real.  There’s not a problem I can think of that can’t be traced back to the fear that God doesn’t really love us.  Imagine a child that grows up with this foundational truth rooted deeply in their hearts.  How does her life look different at 10 years old?  How will this impact his decisions at 15?  How does this shape her self-image at 20?

When I fully buy into the potential that exists within the preschool environments each weekend, it changes how I view the time we have with them… it changes how I prep my volunteers… and it changes how we engage our preschoolers.

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Family Ministry Structure – Part 3 0

Family Ministry Structure – Part 3

Posted by on Dec 13, 2010 in Leadership, Ministry

Recently I posted here and here about some of the foundational ‘moorings’ we’ve put in place as we’ve launched Family Ministries at Faith Promise Church.  Today I’ll share a little of how we are building upon that foundation.

For the sake of review…

Our mission is creating partnership that equip families to lead the next generation in following Christ.

Our values are Imagine the End, Fight for the Heart, Create a Rhythm, Widen the Circle and Keep It Personal

Creating a common language is the next critical step.  A common language (by definition) is simply a language common to a group of people.  We’re utilizing our values as our common language.

How do we do this?
By incorporating these terms in our everyday vernacular.  It means as we talk to volunteers in our volunteer meetings we make connections for them between the things we do and the values we embrace.  It means that as we equip them as volunteers we remind them…

Keep It Personal by remaining in the word yourself.  If your teaching kids scripture and you’re not in it yourself then you’re teaching from a shallow pool.  Utilize the weekly lessons you teach and do your own personal study.  Dive deeper in your own relationship with Christ.

Fight for the Heart by maintaining an environment in your small group that embraces each child and their uniqueness.  That gives each child every opportunity to learn what’s being taught.  By imparting the Truth of scripture as opposed to simply getting through the activities.

Widen the Circle by intentionally connecting with the kids in your small group creating a relationship that allows you opportunity to really speak truth into their lives.

We do the same with parents at key opportunities (i.e. milestones… I’ll talk about those in my next post) reviewing the values and equipping them with tools to exercise at least one of the values.  Our annual parenting series in 2011 will be focused around each of the 5 values.

In short, we work this common language into every applicable avenue.

Currently I’m waiting on a poster design that has our vision statement, the 5 values and a brief description of each.  These posters will be displayed in our common volunteer meeting areas.

The next to come is a refrigerator magnet to go home with every parent that includes the 5 values and descriptions.

We maintain a family ministry blog that currently goes to 200 families.  We post 5 times per week often connecting the topic of our post to a specific value.

The point is to keep the terminology in front of people.  To make it familiar.  We understand that it will take time for these to catch on but as we gain traction the momentum will build.  And as the common language takes root then we equip ministry leaders, volunteers & parents to live out the vision we’ve defined.

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