Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

June Resources

Here are our Family Ministry resources for the month of June:

All Parents:

Orange Blog

252 Basics (1st grade-6th grade

Parent Cue

Extra Memory Verses

God Time Week 1

God Time Week 2

God Time Week 3

God Time Week 4

First Look (age 3- Kindergarten)

Parent Cue

Parent Cue Cards

Our services:

9:00 Sunday morning KidZone (smallgroups for 1st-6th grade, large groups 3s-preschool)

10:30 Sunday morning KidZone (Large group for 1st-6th grade, small groups 3s-preschool)

6:30-8:00 Wednesday night (teaching and games, 3s-6th grade)

 

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What do you do in times of suffering?

I got a call 2 hours ago from my dad. He told me that my grandma (his mother and the woman who raised me most of my life) has cancer. What a scary word. Cancer. As most of you have known someone who has had a difficult struggle or have died from this disease, you can feel my panic. My grandma has breast cancer and her doctors believe that it has spread to other parts of her body. They will be doing more tests  My aunt (this same grandma’s daughter) died from breast cancer, and  so did a great-aunt of mine on my mother’s side. I can’t imagine what life would be like without my grandma, but with the ominous details that she was given, I might need to prepare myself.

This led me through a whole string of emotions – anger, sadness, fear, hopelessness.

Then it made me think, how do we help kids who deal with these difficult ideas?

I’m 23 and feeling this way. How do we help kids who are struggling with fear and suffering? We’ve all heard “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4…But how can we make this come to life for a child? Especially when you have a loved one with a deadly disease, and they’re not a Christian. Or you try as hard as you can to be good, but your parents get a divorce. Or you pray and pray but your brother has to go to Iraq anyways. How can we comfort kids in these times? How can we help them to stand on God’s truth and make it through the day?

I think that we can just be there and love the kids. There’s not much more that we can do…right? We can love them like Jesus and tell them that they will make it through these difficult times. I think that’s all I want right now.

If you have any ideas on how to get through grief and suffering, post a comment. What do you do to help your kids in times like these? Is there a special ministry that your church has? How can we teach kids to lean on God during these difficult times?

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How do we make sure our kids have a servant’s heart?

We have a sixth grader in our ministry. She seems to be pretty mature for her age. She isn’t loud, isn’t pushy, isn’t whiny. As a matter of fact, she’s going to spend a month in Africa this summer. She’s going to Sierra Leone to minister to sick people in hospitals, bring eyeglasses to people who need them, and evangelize on the weekends using the Jesus film. I am so extremely proud of her.

Then we have sixth graders who whine. They complain about the games. They goof off during the lessons. Frankly, some of them are selfish. But, how do we have such distinctly different kids coming out of the same ministry? Is it all about maturity and attitude of the child? Well, this could be a part of it. But, believe it or not,  the major part of insuring that our kids have a servant’s heart doesn’t come from the ministry that our kids attends. This attitude comes from home.

When you look at your kids, you need to ask yourself, “what am I doing?” Where do you serve throughout the week? Do you come to one service every Sunday and think you’ve got your fill for the week? Do you serve in a church ministry? How about at a school or community based group?Even more than that, are you filling yourself and your family up in order to want to serve others? Do you spend time in devotions alone? With your spouse? With your kids?

I stayed with a family when I was in Africa. They were missionaries in Choma, Zambia and were raising their kids there as well. They taught their kids to not only serve the less fortunate Zambian people, but to also serve the Americans who came to serve the Zambians as well. The girls did minor medical work, tutored other kids, and fixed our team meals. The boys did different things around the house and helped educate the men on getting jobs and providing for their families.  Any guess what these kids are doing now? Well, one of them is finishing up college where he was studying to be a missionary pilot. One of them is studying to be a teacher in a third world country, and one a nurse to those who can’t afford healthcare. The fourth child is still in high school.

I know another family. Both parents worked in the church and love the Lord. When they came home they didn’t serve other people. They thought that working in a church was enough. They didn’t reach out to the “least of these.” They didn’t do Bible studies and devotionals with their kids. They figured, the people hired at their church were much more qualified for that job. They got tired and complained about the difficulty of their jobs and their children noticed. What are their kids doing now? Their son was addicted to drugs for a long time, and is now in prison. Their daughter is an atheist and has children with a few different men, making her a single mom.

What’s the difference here? How can two “good” families end up with such different results? I have one word for you – Demonstration! Now, I’m not saying that in order for your kids to grow up with a servant’s heart you need to live in Africa. What I am saying is, your kids will do exactly what you teach them. You’ve heard the old saying – Actions speak louder than words! Serve the least of these, reach out to the needy, teach your kids about the love of the Lord. You’ll be surprised with the awesome things that they will do if you just show them how!

For more information on this topic, read Teaching Servanthood

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The Awkward Years

I have one sibling. Who is 10 years and some odd months younger than me. And it’s a boy. I have a twelve-year-old brother. We get along really well, considering our age difference…except he is entering into those awkward years of life. You remember them – weird body changes, noticing the opposite sex for the first time, wearing deodorant…all strange and awkward things.  In my mind, my brother is still a cute little five-year old that says my name funny and is more innocent than an angel at Christmas. In his mind; he’s a macho, brilliant, Olympic athlete and the ultimate ladies man. Would he tell you this? Of course not (well, except for the brilliant part…and he is pretty smart, I guess). So, how do I get this representation of my little brother? His friends. Preteens love to rat each other out.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because this stage in a kids’ life is undoubtedly the most trying and the hardest to get through without some sort of physical or emotional scars.

Being a Middle- Schooler (and my friends in the Mid West say Junior-Higher) is tough! In fact, sometimes it’s miserable. Kids start picking on each other for any reason they possibly can, classes are much more difficult, there are many more extra-curricular activities and requirements, and on top of all of this…your parents don’t understand you anymore. No wonder why so many kids get into serious trouble at this age!

Some statistics about things that preteens might get mixed up in (I love statistics):

  • A majority of teens (58%) do not think posting photos or other personal info on social networking sites is unsafe. They should read the news.
  • Nearly half of teens (47%) are not worried about others using their personal info in ways they do not want (although that represents a 10-percentage-point improvement over 2006). About half (49%) are unconcerned posting personal info online might negatively affect their future. (Most employers now do a search for their prospective employees.)
  • A large majority of teens (71%) have established online profiles (including those on social networking sites such as MySpace, Friendster and Xanga), up from 61% in 2006.
  • 69% of teens regularly receive personal messages online from people they do not know and most of them do not tell a trusted adult about it.
  • Teens readily post personal info online. 64% post photos or videos of themselves, while more than half (58%) post info about where they live. Females are far more likely than male teens to post personal photos or videos of themselves (70% vs. 58%).
  • Nearly one in 10 teens (8%) has posted his or her cell phone number online.
  • Overall, 19% of teens report they have been harassed or bullied online, and the incidence of online harassment is higher (23%) among 16 and 17 year-olds. Girls are more likely to be harassed or bullied than boys (21% vs. 17%).  
  • Parental awareness of their teens’ online activities has risen significantly. This year, 25% of teens say their parents know “little” or “nothing” about what they do online, down from 33% last year.
  • 41% of teens report their parents talk to them “a lot” about Internet safety (up five points over 2006), and three out of four say their parents have talked to them in the past year about the potential dangers of posting personal info. The level of parental involvement is higher for younger teens and girls, although it has increased across all age groups and both genders.
  • Teens whose parents have talked to them “a lot” about Internet safety are more concerned about the risks of sharing personal info online than teens whose parents are less involved. For instance, 65% of those whose parents have not talked to them about online safety post info about where they live, compared to 48% of teens with more involved parents.
  • Teens whose parents have talked to them “a lot” about online safety are less likely to consider meeting face to face with someone they met on the Internet (12% vs. 20%).

Check out this site for more!

There is a balance that you need to keep while parenting your preteens. Part of this is in my last blog, parenting. But, this article should really help you understand a bit more about what your child is thinking and seeing at this age.

Also in this stage, you may become more frustrated as a parent and want some parenting ideas or little things to help get you through the day. Moms, check this website out. Dads, this one is for you. And remember, you can always come to your church staff with questions. We’re here to come alongside you and help you to be the best parent that you can, training your child up into the person that God wants them to be!

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Parenting

Parenting, there’s so many styles. You can decide to make lots of rules and enforce them. You can decide to not make any rules and let your children come to conclusions and learn lessons on their own. But, what is the Biblical and most effective way of parenting?

Here are some verses about parenting:

Deut. 21:18-21 – “stubborn and rebellious sons…should be stoned to death”
Prov. 13:18 – “poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline”
Prov. 19:18 – “discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death”
Prov. 22:6 – “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Prov. 22:15 – “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him”
Prov. 23:13,14 – “do not hold back discipline from the child. Although you smite him with the rod, he will not die…”
Prov. 29:15 – “the rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother”

Sounds pretty harsh, huh? But these are all Old Testament verses… Let’s see what God has to say after Jesus sacrifices His life for us and makes a new covenant to be in relationship with us –

Eph. 6:4 – “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Col. 3:21 – “fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart”
I Tim. 3:4 – “an elder must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Heb. 12:5-11 – “what son is there that the father does not discipline?”

This sounds much more like a balance, doesn’t it? And it makes me think about what our staff devotional was today. Ephesians 4:15-16 – “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Are we supposed to discipline our children? Yes. But how are we supposed to do it? With love!

Here’s an excerpt of an article on the Focus on the Family Website that I think would be very beneficial to all of the Christian parents out there: “Many people believe every parent’s job is to make sure his or her children turn out “right.” Even though most of us don’t quite know what that standard means, we feel obliged to meet it.  But if it were true, it would mean God messed up.  In Genesis we read about a place called the Garden of Eden. It was a perfect environment, a perfect “home.”  In this perfect place there were two perfect people — God’s children, Adam and Eve. Wouldn’t that be nice to have perfect children?

And there was a perfect God — the perfect parent.

There was also a rule: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).  You’ve probably heard the rest of the story.  Adam and Eve chose foolishly, defying what God had told them. Our human decay and ultimate death are stark reminders of that wrong choice — made by perfect people in a perfect environment with a perfect parent.  So what did God do wrong? If He “trained them in the way they should go,” why did Adam and Eve choose the other option? If Proverbs 22:6 is a guarantee of success for parents, why wasn’t it a guarantee for the Author of the Book?  Enter free will.  I’m talking about a God-given freedom to choose — part of being created in His image. Adam and Eve exercised it, and your kids exercise it today.” Read the whole article here.

 

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How can we keep our kids safe?

How many of your kids use the internet? All of them, right? Well, more and more frequently, children and teens are put into dangerous or threatening situations because of ads, social media sites, and gaming networks. If your child has a research project at home and accidentally types “.com” instead of “.org” for many government agencies, they are linked to pornographic sites.

You might even be putting your child in danger by the activity that you participate in on the web. There are some steps that need to be taken to insure our kids’ safety on the internet. But first, I know you’re thinking “this can’t happen to me or my kids” so, let me give you some statistics (from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children):

– 1 in 3 teens (12-17) have experienced online harassment.

– 27% of teens (12-17) play games with people they don’t know online.

– 1 in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact (to put that into perspective, we have an average of 50 kids coming through KidZone each week… that means statistically, 2 of them will be solicited online each week.)

Aren’t those statistics scary? It seems like every new and great piece of technology comes along with a scarier danger. What can we do to keep harmful people away from our kids? Well, there are a few things, but the first and most important thing is – BE EDUCATED. A lot of times I see parents letting their children surf the internet without even knowing what sites they visit or having protection set up on their computer! Know that there is danger online, from even the most seemingly innocent websites like YouTube.com or AddictingGames.com and that there are people trying to solicit and harm our kids.

To become more educated on this issue, there’s a great site called “Enough is Enough” – Protecting your family

Next – Protect yourself so your kids are protected. These three things can keep your kids, and yourself protected:

1 – Set all of your social media sites (Facebook and MySpace) to “private”. If you don’t do this; Anyone and Everyone will be able to see your pictures, your posts, your likes, and any personal information that you share (where you’re picking up your kids, what friend they are spending the night with, what park you’re going to….and the list goes on and on).

2 – Go into the settings of your SmartPhone and turn your location settings “off” at least for the photo section. Here’s why – NBC news

3 – Create safety settings on not only your computer, but on your router at home. This will automatically protect your computer from pornographic sites, extremely violent sites, and pop-ups that might come up in front of your kids’ eyes. Here’s what you can do for a free (and this is what I use at my house – thanks, Pastor Mike!) – This Website explains it better than I could

How do I know what I’m talking about? Do you still think that you don’t need to take measures to protect yourself online? Well, you may notice that my husband and I don’t have Facebook. It’s not because we aren’t social people. It’s because we were harassed via email (which we had to change) and Skype (which we don’t have anymore) because someone found our information on Facebook – and we weren’t even kids when this happened! We were young adults! It was hard enough for us when this happened. But I can’t even imagine what it would be like for a kid who didn’t know what to do to fight back and protect themselves.

So Please take this seriously. Protect your family!

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What is VBS?

It’s that time again…time for VBS planning and training. With all of the cool new curriculum and excitement of creating the perfect and most widely visited VBS, we lose sight of what Vacation Bible School really is. What is VBS? Why do we do VBS? What value does it add to our church and community? Who are we trying to reach?

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a specialized form of religious education which focuses on children. Churches usually hold the week-long events during the summer, though the lengths of such programs may vary, and they are sometimes held during other times of the year…Basically- VBS is a time that the church gets together to help kids learn about Jesus and build relationships with other people in the church who can guide them and help them grow spiritually.

We do VBS for one main reason – to tell kids about Jesus. George Barna (a well-respected Christian group on statistics) found that “nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. One out of eight born again people (13%) made their profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. Less than one out of every four born again Christians (23%) embraced Christ after their twenty-first birthday. Barna noted that these figures are consistent with similar studies it has conducted during the past twenty years.” Whoa! This means that helping kids to learn about Jesus is really important.

So, what value does VBS add and who are we trying to reach? We obviously want to reach people in our communities…that’s what churches are Called to do! But, how many of our churches actually do that? Do you go to the church closest to you, or do you drive 15-20 minutes to get to church? With VBS, we can connect with kids in our community, and then help reach their parents, too! By doing that, we are connecting families from the community and creating relationships with them that could be life changing.

We have some really cool new things that we will be exploring with VBS this year. Pastor Mike and I will be making some announcements that should get you really excited and pumped up for this summer!

Also: Here are our parent links for this month’s 252 Curriculum (1st grade-6th grade)-

Great Ideas for Parenting and Connecting at Home

MonthlyParentCue

ExtraMemoryVerses

Parent Links for this month’s First Look Curriculum (age 2-5) –

ParentCueCards

MonthlyParentCue

ParentTime (Toddlers and Babies)

If you’re interested in volunteering for VBS this year (June11-15) please contact me by email: mwood@encountertrinity.com

Have a fantastic week!

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