Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

New Years for Christians?

Christmas is OBVIOUSLY a great time to talk to your kids and start fun traditions about their faith in Jesus Christ. But, what about New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day? What can we do to focus on God during the start of a New Year? The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up and get our bearings. For starters, here are 31 questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God as you “Consider your ways.” Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month. (Focus on the Family)

  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to become more intimate with God?
  2. What’s something miraculous that you can ask God for this year?
  3. What’s the most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. Which spiritual discipline do you want to develop the most this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. Whose salvation will your pray for this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What one thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
  11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
  12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?
  13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
  14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
  15. Who do you most want to encourage this year?
  16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
  17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
  18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
  19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
  20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
  21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
  22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
  23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
  24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?
  25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
  26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
  27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
  28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
  29. In what area of your life do you need to change, and what will you do about it this year?
  30. How will you live a more sacrificial life this year?

And we can help our kids with these ideas, too. We can talk about what good achievements they’ve had and what shortcomings they’ve experienced. We can talk about goals to set for the New Year and can help them to make plans in order to achieve these goals.

One great goal to set for this year – Spend 15 minutes reading the Bible everyday, and then pray to God that He’ll show you what you need to change, or do each day to become more like Him.

Have a Great New Year Everybody!

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Thank You!

During the Christmas Season, it’s easy to get busy and all wrapped up in things like gifts, cookies, or decorations. But, we need to remember all of the blessings that we have all throughout the year. This made me think – do I appreciate my volunteer enough? Do I show them how much they really mean to me and how much I really enjoy having them on my team?

So I thought, what are some ways that we can appreciate our volunteers, co-workers, employees, or just someone we are acquainted with? I read a blog from 252 Basics to get some ideas. Here are the top ideas from Orange (now this is volunteer-based, but could work for others as well):

  1. Find some cute portable tissues. Create a label that says “Bless you!” and hand them out after volunteers serve. These are guaranteed to get a grin or laugh, plus they’re actually practical!
  2. Provide your volunteers with a quick pick-me-up. Load up a wheeled cart or a basket with treats; walk around handing out breakfast for morning services and snacks for afternoon/evening shifts. Hint: if you buy in bulk or on sale, look for non-perishables, so they last longer!
  3. Pick a week and ask other parents or adults who aren’t serving regularly to surprise your weekly volunteers with a full-on buffet of goodies. They can send in breakfast foods or snack things. Set it up on a long table off to the side of your gathering area with fall or winter decorations so they can easily “graze” and load up a plate while still keeping an eye on kids.
  4. With Red Box and Blockbuster Express kiosks in so many places, it’s never been easier or cheaper to thank volunteers. Pair a dollar or six quarters with microwavable popcorn or a box of movie candy, providing the entertainment and snack! If it’s too overwhelming to do this for everyone, think about highlighting and celebrating one volunteer a week or month.
  5. Find out if you can have a special sign made to mark one or two parking spots closest to the children’s ministry area. It would be great if it said, “Volunteer of the Week” or “Volunteer of the Month,” and had a place where you could change out the name. They’d get a thrill to see their name and be able to run right in!
  6. Buy a bunch of Pay Day and 100 Grand chocolate bars—write up a little note saying how much you appreciate what they do and this is just a down payment on all you wish you could give for their service! Sign it with a smile.
  7. Ask around to see who in your church takes decent photos and has patience with herding kids. Find a week (or two in case some leaders are absent) for them to stop by and take pictures of each of your leaders with their kids or serving on stage with the kids in the audience. Print these in black and white or sepia tones, then put them in a classy or fun greeting card with a magnet on back. Write a note, even getting their kids to sign it, saying how much they mean to the ministry and to you!
  8. Get everyone on your staff and other key volunteers to show off their favorite dance move. Take videos and photos. Put them all together and upload them to a service like Animoto, pick a fun background and music, add some text and a word of thanks, then email out the link. This will unleash lots of warm fuzzies with not a lot of cost! There are also other options like SmileBox to add photos or JibJab where you’d just add your faces to a funny scene.
  9. Create a Gratitude Card or End of Year Newsletter with a goal of mentioning all your regular volunteers by name in the body of text. Group them up by things they have in common—always arriving with a smile or coffee cup in hand, staying behind to help clean up, going the extra mile with kids, etc. Volunteers love to see their names as part of the team and get a specific, public shout out that shows you notice and appreciate them!
  10. Plan an Appreciation Night where you not only thank the volunteers, but their families and close friends or roommates that share them with you! Host a drive-in movie—turning a wall into a big screen—or watch a big game or even awards ceremony together. Your snacks and other activities can match the theme. This is another time you could ask kids/families not serving right now to bring in something as their way of saying thanks to help offset the cost. Borrow a projector and encourage people to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets inside the building and spread out. Go over the top—serve in roller skates or set up a photo booth with lots of props to make it a night to remember!
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Why do people do bad things?

There was a lot of talk between the kids in our eXclaim service. And some of it was about Christmas. Some of it was about friends and toys and exciting things that kids usually talk about. But, most of what I heard this morning from our Kindergarten-sixth graders was – Did you hear about what happened in Connecticut? My family knew someone there! Why do people do bad things?

Whoa! What a deep question, why do people do bad things…and what a difficult question to answer for kids without a huge explanation about higher Theological ideas like the problem of pain or the fall of man. How do we address these problems with our kids at church? How do we talk about the horrible things that can happen in our world? How do we talk about tragedy?

So, I thought I would take the time to give the 1, 2, 3 of talking tragedy with kids. I used our curriculum’s blog (252 basics) to find the tips. You can use these when you can’t find the words to say, or you can go over this strategy when you have a training for your ministry lay leaders:

1. Remember that the parents are the primary teachers for kids. And different parents may have chosen to handle the subject differently. One kid in your group might know all the details while another may only know generalities. We need to respect the choice parents have made for their family. Do not review details, or allow a kid to review details with the rest of the group.

2. We always want our groups to be safe environments for kids to process tough issues. If one kid seems to have more questions or have a need to talk, find a way to pull that child to the side and let him share his feelings, thoughts or concerns. Then suggest you both talk with his parents together.

3. Just like adults, kids have a desire to want to do something to help. Let them write letters encouraging the kids of Sandy Hook Elementary. Lead them in prayer for the families and the survivors.

Also, you can simply tell them that, God is good. He will work through all things, good or bad. He didn’t make the bad things happen because those people were bad or needed punishment. Even though God is Good and Powerful, there are still bad people in this world who do very bad things.

Help your kids to pray for those who have known tragedy intimately. Encourage them to talk to their parents, and that it’s alright to be scared. But, teach them to remember – “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

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What can I do with my family?

Since we’re in the middle of December, and we all want to do special things with our families…but the time just gets away from us – I’m going to challenge you to take one day a week and devote that day to your family for the rest of this month. Really make your family a priority; turn your phone off, don’t go on the computer, and forget about work and school (once homework is done, of course). Now, I know what you’re thinking. My family is WAY too busy to take a day away from all of our scheduled activities! But again, I challenge you. There are even some churches (mine included) that has canceled mid-week activities so that families can spend more time together during this month. Make your family a priority this Christmas season.

Since I’m giving you this challenge, it’s only fair that I give you some ideas for your family to do together. So, here it goes

– Visit the zoo. A lot of zoos across the country do something special for the Christmas season. And if you’re having an unseasonably warm winter like we are here in central Indiana, the zoo can be a really fun place!

– Find out about your area’s community center and/or park activities. Where I live, there’s a park less than 5 miles from my house that has a huge Christmas light display. You can drive through the entire park! (so you’re nice and warm while enjoying the beauty of the lights) A season pass only costs $5.

– Have a family slumber party. It is so much fun when the whole family takes blankets and pillows into the living room, and watches movies, eats popcorn and just spends time being silly together…..and the kids will think it’s so cool that they’re able to stay up late!

– Build a fort. (Use large appliance boxes outside, or pillows and sheets inside.)

– Get out the the family photo album. Show your kids photos of you and your spouse. Tell them about how your relationship grew. Show them baby pictures and tell them how much you love them and what makes them special!

– Play board games! My family loves to play apples to apples or the game of things. If your kids are older, you can play card games as well. The wii, xbox kinect, or playstation move are always a huge hit!

– Go on a family trip/historical excursion. This can be a week, week-end, or day trip to anywhere from a historical site to Disney to grandma’s house.

– Did it snow? Go sledding and make a snowman. You can even have a snowball fight or make an igloo together!

– Tell stories around a campfire. (Or in front of the fireplace). It’s even fun to tell a story in parts (one person starts and tells the story for a few minutes, then hands it off to the next person who continues the story and hands it off to another person…etc)

– Write letters to grandparents or a missionary. You could make home-made Christmas cards, or take photos to turn into a Christmas postcard.

– Attend community concerts or listen to a local band. There are some really exceptional concerts and plays during this time of year.

– Make Christmas cookies or other treats. You can deliver some to neighbors or friends!

– Go to a basketball or football game together.

– Organize a community clean-up.

– Visit the library. This was one of my favorites with my mom. We’d spend hours together at the city library looking at magazines, reading books, and sometimes even taking a class or two.

– Go ice skating. There are both indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks in most cities, and prices range depending on the city.

– Paint a picture, a mural, or a room.

– Join a family choir. You could even go caroling to different neighborhoods in your city!

– Start a family journal. My husband’s family and I did this when we were in Australia. We were there for five weeks, and though my mother-in-law wrote in the journal daily, we all made sure to write in the journal at least once a week to document our favorite activities, our struggles, and our new experiences.

– Go to a museum. Most cities have art, science, and history museums. Be sure to check into what things are on display before going. For example – a museum in my home city used to have an exhibit in the science museum once a year about the human body. It was made up of different real muscles, organs, bones, and other elements of the body. These were real body parts of people who had left their remains to science. It would be appropriate for a mature high school student, but not for a preschooler!

– Play cards. (Try phase 10, Canasta, crazy eights, Euchre, or scripture cards.)

– Start a family exercise group. You can do things like; run, aerobics, or zumba!

– Make Christmas ornaments or other crafts together.

– Have a culture night. Make a meal and learn about another culture. This would be great if you knew a family from another culture. I was fortunate enough to know two refugee families; Burmese and Congolese. It was great spending time learning different cultural recipes and games!

– Take photographs together and of each other.

– Go around the table after dinner and have everyone say what they love best about each other.

– Go dancing, have a family dance, or take a dance class together.

– Watch the sunset. Watch the sunrise. Figure out when the sun will rise and set in your location.

– Have a big party and celebrate a TV free week.

– Have a picnic. (If it’s too cold or bad weather, have a picnic in the family room on a blanket.)

– Visit an elderly person or someone shut in. You’ll be surprised how many awesome stories they’ll tell you!

– Learn home repairs for an activity. Make sure the girls learn too.

– Start a family collection. (Coins, rocks, stories, dress-up, clothes, treasures.)

– Watch an old movies together.

– Make a family goal chart.

– Make a grocery list, set a budget, divide items, go get pizza with the money you save.

– Make a family cook book. Try out the recipes!

– Have a family treasure hunt, or go Geo-caching.

There’s a huge list of things to do with your family! This is a great time of year to show them how much you love and care about them!

 

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But, praying out loud is weird…

After closing out one of our Wednesday night programs with one of the older groups of kids at our church, I was asking is any of the kids would say a prayer before we leave. They responded with silence. No raised hands, no excitement about prayer what so ever. So I thought, why is there such a weird vibe about praying out loud? And when I asked this question, the response that I got was, “well, praying out loud is weird….we never pray out loud at home.” At first, I thought this was sad, but my next thought was, no wonder grown ups and kids alike have a hard time praying out loud…they were never shown how to pray!

So, here it goes. A blog talking about how to pray, and how to teach others how to pray.First and most importantly…let me just say that prayer is simply one thing. Communicating with God. Talking to Him. Telling Him what’s going on in your life. And then listening to Him. But,more specifically here’s some ways we can pray, and how we can teach our kids to pray, too –

1. Pray as we were taught how to pray in the Bible! Matthew 6:9-13 says,”This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

2. Sentence Prayers – Take turns saying one sentence prayers. A specific idea or topic can be suggested or left open-ended. (Example – God, thank you for dinner and the hands that prepared it.)

3. Praying in a Circle – Stand in a circle holding hands. Go around the circle praying for the person on their right. (This could be really encouraging. It can be a prayer of thanks for that person or for something that person asks prayer for.)

4. One Word Prayers – Begin with a sentence allowing children to fill in at random and out loud with one word. Such as: “Jesus we thank you for…” or “Heavenly Father, help us this week to….” (This is great for pre-k aged kids.)

5. Prayer Requests – Allow a time of sharing needs, concerns and requests. After each request ask or assign a specific person to pray for each request.

6. Open Prayer Time – Tell everyone you are going to allow them to speak out if they would like to pray. Have everyone close eyes and pause. Wait for their responses and then close in a final prayer as leader. (This might not be the best for kids. They’ll most likely get confused or talk over each other.)

7. Hands on Prayers – If someone is having a specific struggle, serious illness, or situation have everyone gather around them, laying hands on them and praying out loud. (also not great for little ones. This could start being utilized once kids reach upper elementary ages. I once saw a kids group lay hands on a fourth grader who was diagnosed with cancer and pray over her.That’s a great time to implement this type of prayer.)

8. Partner Prayers or Small Group Prayers – If you have a large group of people, have them pair up or form small groups. Share requests and take turns praying for one another.

9. Silent Prayers – Introduce a specific need or prayer idea, give students a few moments of individual, silent prayer time before you or selected student closes with out loud prayer.

10. Written Prayers – Create a prayer wall or board. Provide everyone with cards or notes on which to write their prayers, prayer needs, or praises.

11. Modeling Prayer – Provide examples of prayers to your kids by praying for them. Be conscious to make your prayers conversational – using language and verbiage kids would be comfortable using. Make sure you include praise, thanks, reflection, and requests.

12. Listening Prayers – Help kids understand that prayer is not just talking to God but includes waiting and being still for Him to talk to us. Provide opportunities where kids are quiet and still before God, allowing Him to speak to them.

Well, there you have it. Twelve different examples of how to pray and to show your kids how to pray, based on different things that I’ve experienced or ways that I’ve seen creative prayer done.

How do you pray with your kids?

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December Materials

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

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

God Time Week 5

First Look (age 3- Kindergarten)

Parent Cue

Parent Cue Cards

Don’t forget our Schedule!

Our TrinityKids services:

9:00 Sunday morning eXplore!

  • Group 3s-kindergarten
  • 1st-4th grade groups based off of The Dig Curriculum
  • 5th-6th grade Grapple Group

10:30 Sunday morning eXclaim!

  • Small groups 3s-Kindergarten
  • Large group for 1st-4th grade
  • 5th-6th grade X-Crew

6:30-7:30 Wednesday night  eXplosion!

  • Game Based Lessons 3s-Kindergarten
  • Game Based Lessons 1st-4th Grade
  • eXtreme56! for 5th-6th Grade (Game Based Lessons with a Youth Group Atmosphere)

The Nursery is always up and running when we have programming!

Special Event this month!

Parent’s Night Out: Bring your children to Trinity for a night of fun while you go Christmas shopping and get you gifts wrapped for free by our helpers! Go to www.encountertrinity.com for more information!

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