Back To School Connection Recap

back-to-school-recapGod has done amazing things in and through our church over the last few weeks.  I want praise him for everyone who made our Back To School Connection a success and for George Smith’s vision for the Back To School Connection. By God’s grace, our church donated hundreds of backpacks, pencils, crayons, folders, and glue. And when we asked for additional supplies this past Sunday, FBCE responding by bringing the supplies needed to fill an additional 85 backpacks.

I also want to praise God for the numerous people who counseled with our guest this past Saturday and Monday. Together, we got to share the gospel with hundreds of men, women, and children. Together, we were able to show the families of Eastman that God cares for them and loves them. Together, we got to live out the gospel.

And our friends and neighbors responded. We had initially prepared 480 backpacks, anticipating a slight
increase from last year’s event where we handed out 350 bags. But by 11:15AM, we were out of backpacks. Desiring to help as many people 20160730_085448as we were able to, we invited our guests to come back on Monday. And they did. We gave out the additional 87 backpacks. In total, we have handed out 566 backpacks over the last few days! In other words, we were able to outfit almost an entire school’s worth of children! To God be the glory!

There are many things wrong with our world, our nation, and our county. But it is events like these – it is intentional, sacrificial gospel outreach, empowered by the Holy Spirit – that brings change. It is service attached to the proclamation of the gospel that causes Christ to shine brightly in dark and depressed places! I praise God for all that he has
accomplished through us this past weekend. I praise God that our church dreamed big and fulfilled its promise to serve the people of Eastman.  

But, the work is not done. Ministry, service, and sacrificial love are bigger than an amazing event. They are a lifestyle. Going forward, we 20160730_090145must continue to invite our community to church, we must continue to meet the needs of our neighbors, and we must continue to preach Christ crucified. And we must continue to do so, expecting God to work, expecting God to seek and save the lost! Are you ready to keep sharing the hope of Christ with our community? Are you ready to keep seeing God do amazing things?

5 Habits That Kill Kids’ Ministries

kid toys freeI think its fair to say that every kids’ ministry needs more staff. And I don’t mean the creepy kind with no teeth and a criminal background. We need kid’s workers who love Jesus and who love kids, (even the screaming toddlers). And, I believe that God will provide all the laborers we need. The ministry and the mission is his!

But with that being said, we can still do things that undermine our kids ministry. Below are five deadly habits that regularly keep people serving and some tips for overcoming them.

  1. Poor Organization:

Nothing scares committed volunteers away faster than chaos. And we can’t blame people for avoiding a human zoo. No one would board a cruise ship whose final destination was the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. And no one is going to work with our kids if they think someone may die before the night is over.

Quick FIx:

Get organised. If we want people to work with our kids, we must empower them by creating schedules, using great curriculums, and enforcing discipline. We, the children’s leaders, must have a practical vision for our ministry that others can respond to.  Now vision will not  win everyone over on its own. But you can’t succeed without it.

  1. Lack of Vision:

Many adults think kids’ ministry exists as a holding cell for whinny, noisy, stinky kids. Many don’t serve because they don’t think kids’ ministry is a ministry. They view the kids’ wing as a swanky, religious nursery that frees adults to worship without anyone asking to go to the bathroom.

Quick Fix:kid anger free

Share our vision with our church through discussions, sermons, and training events. We need to help others see that kids’ ministries exist to strategically equip parents (and the entire church body) to declare the glory of God to the next generation! Sunday school, Wednesday night activities, and those wacky events happen because churches want to see everyone worshiping Christ together! Kids’ ministry is not just nursery, its intentional, hands-on mission and discipleship work! We need to get the word out! 

  1. A Selfish Mindset:

Those who’ve fallen into this category believe “Church is me time.” They don’t serve because God only called them to attend church. Because their life is crazy and/or hard, they think God has freed them from serving others, especially kids. Even if they have kids, this group knows that God called them to only attend Bible studies and concerts. 

Quick Fix:

First, We need to invite people to serve. Second, we explain the danger of not actively serving in church. Admittedly those who make Sunday their “adult time” or their “time away from the kids,” will have an easier day. But their day will also be far less biblical. We are called to put the needs of others before our own. (I.E. the church is not about you or me). We read in Philippians 2:2-4:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

“Yes,” some will say, “but you have no idea what my kids are like or what I have to put up with on a regular basis.” A We don’t. And we need to be considerate of others struggles. But, we need to help all see that service is not based on feelings. We serve because the God of the universe put our needs before his own comfort. We want to be like him! Help others see that our earthly comfort is not more important than a child’s salvation and find a reasonable place for them to serve. 

  1. A Quitter’s Mentality:

These adults say things like, “I did my time and my kids are grown.” In short, they’ve tapped out and have done their time.

Quick Fix:

We need to encourage people to refresh and to follow God’s call on their life. Many people exit kids’ ministry for great reasons. We should support God’s work in their life!

But we should pursue those who leave the kids’ program to retire from ministry all together. We need to remind quitters that God doesn’t put a time limit or a quota on serving the next generation. God’s missional call to reach kids involves all of his church. Ands, kids need older adults to teach them. The energy of young singles and new marrieds cannot compare to the wisdom possessed by older believers. If we want to see our kids greatly influenced for Christ, we need to expose them to the Godliest men and women in our church. And not surprisingly, most kids actually want to hang with wiser men and women!

  1. Lack of Communication:

There are people in our churches who are sitting out because they’ve never been asked to help. These adults never interacted our kids’ zone because they are single or empty nesters. They are open to serving. But they’ve never connected with a kids’ ministry worker or leader. They may have heard that their kids’ ministry needs help, but they don’t know where to begin.

Quick Fix

The solution is for somebody to directly ask them. As kid’s ministry people, we need to make an effort to interact with the whole body, inviting health believers from all walks of life to be part of our kids’ ministry.

Now its your turn! What struggles does your kids’ ministry face when it comes time to recruit?

Consumers or Servants

Consumers or servants“So, when do I get one,” was the perhaps most innocent and revealing questions that I have encountered from a kid.  Several of us had just spent about an hour running an energetic Easter egg assembly line consisting of hard candy, pencils, and chocolate bunnies. And as we were placing the bags and eggs back into their boxes, one kid naturally wanted to know how to get her share of the goodies. She was surprised and a touch disappointed to learn that we had been working to serve others. But on the upside, she learned an invaluable lesson: Church is not just about us.

As adults, we too need to be reminded that church is not about us.  Though we all recognize Jesus’ command to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and know we should use our freedom in Christ to serve one another (Gal 5:13), we still at times look at church, wondering what we will get out of it. While we don’t see the church as the ticket to free candy, we see it as the ticket to free childcare, entertainment, and community.  We want other people to teach our kids, to sing for us, and to care about our problems without offering to serve those who care for us. Instead of asking, “What can we do for the body;” we ask only, “What will the body do for me?” In so doing, we downsize the radical service of the Bible to common, everyday service of self.

Love, community, and peace are not found in relaxing, fun actives or in cool worship services. They are found in radical, unnerving obedience to Christ. And being obedient to Christ means we have love God with everything and then care more about our neighbor’s needs than our own. We have to willing sacrifice for others, counting them more important than us. This calling is ridiculously hard. But to follow Christ as individual and as a church, we have to live to serve.

And, we need to teach our kids this Biblical mindset. Although I firmly believe kids’ ministry should be evangelistic (avoiding the common pitfall of training unbelieving kids to be missionaries,) I also think we need to practically demonstrate God’s love for others in front of our kids. We need to go beyond wacky Wednesday and Super Sundays. We need to include kids in mission trips, fundraising drives, and service projects. We need to help our kids see that true faith is not a call to consume but call to give.

I’ve been blessed to work with many teachers who have great ideas for serving others. What things or activities have helped your kids learn how to care for others?