Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Coaching the Kids

Like many parents these days, we are spending some time at the local little league or soccer fields.  It's  a lot of fun.  Not only do I enjoy hanging out with all the kids on our team, but it's a great way to build new friendships with the parents, and shine Jesus' light onto others.  Ethan and Elisha play tee-ball for the Grizzlies, and Elli plays softball for the Bandits!

Ethan asked me the other day what college he should play for when he's older...then he asked me if Tara and I will move to wherever he plays professionally, so we can still watch him:)  That's confidence!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning from Other Churches

Over the last 12 years or so that I have been in children's ministry, the greatest ways to learn have been from other churches.  I just can't understand why Christians and churches would ever put each other down--it certainly doesn't please Jesus and it gets in the way of building His kingdom.  I love visiting other churches when I get a chance to talk with the kids, dialogue with the staff, and just observe whatever I can.  It doesn't mean that I'm going to take everything I see back to my home church or agree with every belief another church has, but there is something to learn from a church that God is blessing.

I was in Dallas this past week for a leadership conference (Catalyst) and CE National Board Meetings.  Yesterday morning I got to go to Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX--FC Kids has thousands of kids in their ministries on the weekend!  I had a great time hanging out with one of their assistant Children's Pastors and gaining some fresh ideas of how to reach the hearts of kids and parents in today's culture.  Thanks to Fellowship, Alisha, and all their kids for their great hospitality!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank You Church Janitors Everywhere!

Being a Children's Pastor is a risky enterprise.  Like teachers or pediatricians (or just your average mom), you're around germs all the time, so you're way more likely to get sick than the average human being.  Without doing any research or data gathering, I'm going to estimate that a Children's Pastor is 68% more likely to catch a cold than the average adult in America.  Every year I can count on, at least, one bout with Pink Eye, but I'm getting off point of this entry...

Being a Children's Pastor is a risky enterprise for many reasons, but one main reason is they are Public Enemy #1 of church janitors all across this nation!  I can hear the church janitors yelling now, "Why is there glitter all over the floor?  Wasn't that banned by the church last year?"  "Do the kids eat any of the goldfish they are given, because I just swept up a whole bag full and put them back in the cupboard!"  "Whose idea was it to give the kids silly string?"  "But it was a great illustration of how lies turn into a web that smothers us," answers the CP, ducking for cover around the corner as the silly string comes flying across the room...

CP's need to send "thank you's" to the church cleaning team more often then they do, because they are often the ones left to clean up after a weekend of high-energy, over the top creative, kingdom of darkness battle axing ministry in the children's area.  Thankfully, at Grace, we have an awesome team of Jeff, Jana, and many others that serve our church this way week after week.  They do an awesome job of putting our rooms back together for the next round, and they do their job as unto the Lord.  They are an integral part of our team, and they don't complain as I described in the (not so fictitious) stories above, so from all of us in children's ministries everywhere, "Thank you, to Jeff, Jana, and your posses!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Power of Forgiveness

We had a very moving service in Kid City this past weekend.  We're talking about forgiveness this month--a crucial skill/attitude for anyone to learn.  Adults and children that talk with me in counseling situations are hurting for all kinds of reasons--the wide array of all the situations is endless.  However, most of those people aren't able to get past whatever happened because of some slight or major issue with forgiveness (either with themselves or someone else).  Learning to forgive is that big!

We've talked about that with the students the past few weeks.  First, we made a mental list of all the things God forgives us for.  Once we realize how long that list is and how much we hurt God, it makes it a little easier to choose to not make someone else pay for what they've done to hurt us.  This past Sunday we took a fresh look at the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19--how when Jesus forgave this man, it drastically changed his life.  Someone who was so greedy before was now extremely generous!  We challenged them to realize that if we choose to forgive someone, it might change them, too!  We closed each service giving the students a chance to think of the people/person hardest for them to forgive, to write their name down on a slip of paper, to offer a prayer to God for help to forgive, and then drop it in a bucket as a symbol of letting go of the unforgivness toward that person. 

Not all the students got up--some just sat in their seat and watched, perhaps, because they are good forgivers already or, perhaps, because they weren't ready to forgive.  But many were willing to come forward--some with tears because they have been really hurt by family or peers, but they were ready to try forgiveness.  Perhaps, you could be inspired by their young faith to choose to not make someone pay for how they have hurt you.