Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

Dads are important

Fathers parent differently.

It’s crazy that, while planning for weekend services and parents’ resources for their kids, we always seem to have mom in mind. The moms at our church tend to be the ones that will make sure they get their parent cue, God Time Cards, and other weekly resources for our kids. They’re most likely to like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, and read our blog. Honestly, this can get frustrating to me sometimes. I actually thought last week; “why don’t our dads seem more involved?” And then it hit me. Just because our dads don’t do everything that our moms do in terms of following our social media or making sure they grab their tangible teaching resource for the week, doesn’t mean that they’re not involved or that they’re not being great dads. (in most cases that is) So, I thought I’d write this blog, with the help of our focus on the family resource to show the great things that dads do for their kids!

Dads have a distinct style of communication and interaction with children. By eight weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother’s and father’s interaction with them.This diversity provides kids with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children. This understanding is critical for their development.

Fathers play differently.

Dads play catch, run around the yard, tickle more, they wrestle, and they throw their children in the air. Fathers chase their children, sometimes as playful, scary “monsters.”

Fathering expert John Snarey explains that children who roughhouse with their fathers learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable. They learn self-control by being told when “enough is enough” and when to settle down. Girls and boys both learn a healthy balance between timidity and aggression. (So moms, all that rough-housing isn’t Always a bad thing!)

Fathers build confidence.

Go to any playground and listen to the parents. Who is encouraging kids to swing or climb just a little higher, ride their bike just a little faster, throw just a little harder? Dads. They push their kids a little farther and encourage them to try just a little harder.

Now, this could be unhealthy…it can tend toward encouraging risk without consideration of consequences. But, as long as dads are making sure kids know not to act or react beyond their limit, and remind kids to be careful, sometimes as well…this is a huge benefit to kids.

Fathers communicate differently.

“A major study showed that when speaking to children, mothers and fathers are different. Mothers will simplify their words and speak on the child’s level. Men are not as inclined to modify their language for the child. The mother’s way facilitates immediate communication; the father’s way challenges the child to expand her vocabulary and linguistic skills — an important building block of academic success.” I remember my dad always asking me to speak like a person, not like an animal or a baby. He always praised me when others took notice of how “grown-up” or respectful I acted. I think this is a huge thing! If your kids aren’t praised for their appropriate behavior and language (and disciplined for their inappropriate behavior and actions) they won’t respond to authority or be able to act properly in a situation that they would be expected to do such. (an important dinner, during holiday celebrations, or in public places)

Fathers discipline differently.

“Educational psychologist Carol Gilligan tells us that fathers stress justice, fairness and duty (based on rules), while mothers stress sympathy, care and help (based on relationships). Fathers tend to observe and enforce rules systematically and sternly, teaching children the consequences of right and wrong. Mothers tend toward grace and sympathy, providing a sense of hopefulness. Again, either of these disciplinary approaches by themselves is not good, but together, they create a healthy, proper balance.” Discipline is SO important! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids who come from really good families, but they don’t respect authority. Then I notice parents constantly warning kids and never following through with disciple, or telling kids that hat they’re doing is wrong and not explaining how their behavior affects others.

Fathers prepare kids for the real world.

Involved dads help their children see that attitudes and behaviors have consequences. For instance, telling their children that if they are not nice to others, kids will not want to play with them. Or, if they don’t do well in school, they will not get into a good college or secure a desirable job. Fathers help children prepare for the reality and harshness of the world.

Fathers provide a look at the world of men.

Men and women are different. They eat differently. They dress differently. They cope with life differently.

Girls with involved fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women. They know which behaviors are inappropriate.

Boys who grow up with dads are less likely to be violent. They have their masculinity affirmed and learn from their fathers how to channel their masculinity and strength in positive ways.  “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers — especially biological fathers — bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”

Now, obviously everything that a dad can do should be done in balance, just like moms should balance their parenting skills. Dads who are too harsh can ruin their child’s self-confidence and dads that push too hard will make their kids hate them. Obviously, use your judgement. And if you’re scared to become involved in your child’s life or are unsure how to, consult a family counselor and be open with your kids. Always let them know you love them and support them. Don’t ever feel like you’re a second-rate parent or that you need to take a back seat role to your wife. You play such a vital role in your kids’ lives! Be there for them and help train them up to be strong and Godly adults!

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Private schools, public schools…or homeschooling?

After talking to some of the parents in our family ministry, it occurred to me how much of a struggle some families have in choosing how to educate their children. So, I did some research and I dug up some facts on options other than public schooling, thanks to our friends at Focus on the Family… Here is goes:

School Choice in the United States

School choice, or the right to decide where and how to educate your children, has always existed for parents who could afford to send their children to a private school or to move to a better school district. Today, however, many states are implementing policies and programs that make available an unprecedented array of education options for families of varying levels.  As of 2011, families in at least 18 states had some form of school choice, and legislators in 41 states introduced or passed school choice bills.

While there are many different types of “school choice” programs, they can be generally categorized into two basic forms: public school choice and private school choice.

Private School Choice

Private school choice refers to publicly funded scholarship programs that redirect the flow of education funding to individual families rather than to government schools. In other words, the money now follows the child rather than a bureaucracy. Under these programs, parents can apply for scholarships that allow them to send their child to a private school of their choice, including religious ones.

Without school choice scholarships, parents who want their kids to go to a private school would have to, in essence, double pay. In other words, they would pay for a private education while also paying taxes that go toward public education. That means private schools are out of the question for many middle class and underprivileged families. School choice is designed to solve this problem. It would level the playing field for families of different incomes by allowing parents to redirect their tax dollars toward schools of their choice.

More than 150,000 children benefit from private school choice programs across the country.2

These programs can be categorized into three main types:

  1. Opportunity Scholarship Programs. The purest form of school choice, opportunity scholarship programs offer parents the opportunity to apply for scholarships that they can allocate toward tuition for their children at a private school, including a faith-based institution.
  2. Special Needs and Foster-Child Scholarships. Even in states where there is significant opposition to more widespread school choice, incremental programs that seek to benefit the neediest children have been successful – especially scholarships designed to assist children with disabilities and those within the foster-care system.
  3. Tax Credit Scholarship Programs. These programs allow corporations who donate to school choice scholarships to receive tax credits for their contributions.
  4. Education Savings Accounts: ESAs allow parents or guardians to have the state deposit a percentage of their child’s per pupil funding into a savings account, which they can then use for various educational options, including private school tuition, online education, tutoring costs, or even college courses.

Public School Choice

Despite the spread of private school choice programs, the majority of students – an estimated 56 million – remain in government-funded public schools, and too many of those schools are under performing or failing. We spend nearly 500 billion on public schools, and yet graduation rates are as low as 52 to 56 percent for minority students. Clearly, efforts to increase choice and competition for families inside the public school system remain essential.

This being said, the school systems in the area surrounding our church in particular are some of the best in the country, with a huge turn-over rate to colleges and successful careers. My hometown public schools was amazing as well. Ranking extremely high in test scores and career success. I was also able to learn how to deal with the real world before becoming an adult, which I believe matured me more as a person, and strengthened rather than hindered my strong faith.

But, if you feel that your local public schools are doing poorly and not giving kids the best possible education, you have more public school choices.

  1. Charter Schools.Charter schools represent the most popular form of public school choice and have seen tremendous growth in the last few years. Charter schools are publicly funded institutions that have more autonomy and freedom from bureaucratic control than standard public schools. This autonomy is provided in exchange for agreed upon measures of accountability described in the school’s charter. Charter schools can be started by parents, private companies, religious organizations or even universities. Parents often work together to start charter schools in their neighborhood that offer unique programs tailored to the needs of community children. Many charter schools are designed to assist disadvantaged students or those who have not been able to thrive in traditional public schools.
  2. Other Forms of Choice. Another example of public school choice worth mentioning is a key provision in the No Child Left Behind education law. This provision allows children in consistently failing schools to transfer to a better performing public school.
  3. There is also a significant growth of “virtual schools,” which allow students to participate in online public education in the privacy of their home.

Home Schools

Outside both private and public choice, home schooling is an important option that provides parents complete freedom to choose and direct their child’s educational curriculum. Today there are an estimated 2 million students receiving their education at home. I would not, however, recommend this option if you don’t feel that teaching is a part of your gifting.

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How do I bring my child to Christ?…and help keep them there

We recently had some exciting news in our Family Ministry this week. Another child made the decision to follow Christ! He was at home and just started talking to his mom out of the blue, making what will be one of the most important decisions of his life! After talking with his mom, she was saying she really wanted some help as to how to lead her kids in prayer in accepting Jesus in their hearts. So, here’s the easiest way to lead your kids in prayer – the ABCs. (and while I believe there’s no exact formula to this…no “magic words”, this will help kids understand the decision they’re making and know what following Jesus is all about.)

A- ADMIT you are a sinner & ASK for forgiveness!

*Romans 3:23- “For all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.”
*1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

B- BELIEVE in Jesus as your Savior & BECOME a child of God by receiving Him!

*John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that He gave His one & only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
*John 1:12- “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

C- CONFESS that Jesus is Lord & CHOOSE to follow Him daily!

*Romans 10:9- “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
*Luke 9:23- [Jesus said,] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Now we all know that saying this prayer isn’t the “be all, end all.” We need to live a changed and transformed life where we continue growing closer to God and become more and more like Him. Sadly, 80% of people fall away from God and the Church at some point in their lives. I’m not talking about struggle or wrestling with Biblical Truths. I mean falling away. Completely. How can we help our kids on their Christian walk to the best of our ability, so they don’t have to walk down the path that so many take? How can we Raise a Kid with Strong Faith?

To Raise a Child to Have Strong Faith, the Parent must be Secure in Their Emotional Attachment to God

Zechariah 2:7-8 teaches that to God, His faithful people are the apple of His eye. Christian parents must first and foremost be secure in the fact that God not only knows them by name, but that He honestly cares about them on an emotional level. Too many have hardened their hearts – in spite of copious church attendance and Bible study – against this kind of intimate love relationship with God.

An intellectual faith that fails to move into the heart is insufficient in the dark hours to preserve our own faith. How much less is it likely that we can pass it on to the next generation as something to be secure and comfortable in?

To Raise a Kid with a Strong Faith, Christian Parents Must Have Perspective on Their Relationship with God

Zechariah 3:2 reveals that those who have been saved are much like a stick that was snatched from a fire. Smoldering a bit around the edges, we are now free to live a full life and a life everlasting.

At the same time, this very fact needs to drive home the point that being saved is not something the Christian parent somehow accomplished by themselves; instead, it is an act of God that was undertaken in spite of the way we lived our lives prior to truly knowing him. Having the perspective that the relationship with God is not one of equals is a powerful reminder that — while we are the apples of God’s eyes — we were in need of saving.

To Raise a Child with a Faith that can Move Mountains, Christian Parents Must Model Such a Life

1 Peter 4:7b-11 shows a glimpse of righteous living. It speaks of having a clear resolve of right and wrong and controlling the urges that might lead into overdoing things. Love is a staple Christianity, but it isn’t meant just for Christians. Christian parents need to demonstrate what having a relationship is all about. There are opportunities for a Christian – parent or not – to demonstrate gratitude and love to God by acts of service within the church, the community, the family, and elsewhere. This can be done through evangelism and service, and doing everything as if the people you are interacting with are Jesus Himself. (Yes, this even includes music that you may not prefer at Church, or your boss who you don’t particularly like!) While it’s very possible to preach about having a faith that will move mountains without actually living it, the odds of a child absorbing this principle and then living out their faith without having seen this faith in action are slim at best. Instead, there is a good chance that the child will learn hypocrisy of Christianity, instead.

Children are hands on learners; give them something to see, touch, follow, imitate, and learn in your own everyday walk with God, and you will be raising a child with the firm conviction that in time they, themselves, will possess a faith that can move mountains.

 

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the WHY to Small Group Leaders

After looking through our Orange Blog for this week, I thought it would be beneficial to share it with all of you:

When we create large and small group materials for you, I’m always putting it through what I call the  “Cale test”.  You see, I’m not just a content editor and a  developer, I’ve been a teacher and a children’s director and maybe most of all, I’m a mom of elementary-aged kids.

I wanted to share this story so you can see why I believe so strongly in recruiting and empowering small group leaders in our children’s ministries.  It’s personal.

Just last week, Cale came home from church with a big grin stretched across his face.  “Guess what, Mom? Today, Mr. Norm gave me my nickname!”

Cale’s one of the lucky ones.

He’s had Mr. Norm as a small group leader for more than 5 years now.

This man is a steady fixture in his life.

And I’m glad for many reasons.  One of the main ones is that Cale is quiet and for the most part well-behaved.  That means that at school and at church, it’s very easy for him to blend in to the background and feel invisible.

But that’s one of the blessings of smaller numbers of kids and one consistent leader.  Mr. Norm has learned each kid’s different bents and quirks over the years—he knows when to push and when to pull.

Education researchers call this “theory of mind”—when a teacher or mentor can watch closely enough to see if they get something or are confused, to figure out what motivates and interests them to keep them growing.

Getting a nickname is just another way of saying “I see YOU! I notice what makes you TICK and I love it!  You belong HERE.”

So even if the nickname is Stretch- as my long and lean son proudly told me—you claim it with pride because it was given with much affection!

We have a sweet picture that not only lives in Cale’s room, but in my mind.  It’s a shot of Mr. Norm with his hand over his heart, baptizing my son in front of many others, including family and friends.

Norm had confided just minutes before that he thought he was more nervous than Cale about the important milestone.

Cale may not say as much as other more out-going kids, but he didn’t hesitate when we asked him who he first wanted to tell about his decision to trust Jesus and follow Him the rest of His life.  “Mr. Norm.”

And later, “Who do you want to baptize you?”  Without missing a beat—“Mr. Norm.”

Years ago, Mr. Norm was a favorite four year old teacher.  In fact, many of the older kids being baptized the same day as Cale had passed through Mr. Norm’s class years before.  He still remembered their names and greeted them with a smile.

But something big happened when Mr. Norm was invited to move up with his then four year old class and continue with them through the elementary years, branching off with the boys’ later on.  At first, he hesitated– he really liked the PreK age group.  But when he heard about what a difference this consistency could make and that he could go deeper with just a few, Mr. Norm decided he’d give it a try.

And my family is so grateful he did.  What Cale will remember is someone that cared enough to show up week after week for years to laugh with him and the other kids, to tell him about Jesus and what the Bible has to do with his everyday, outside of church life.

He’ll remember that on the night before his baptism, Mr. Norm paid a special driver to get him to another airport and just barely made an international flight home, because he didn’t want to miss out on the honor (his words) of baptizing Cale and welcoming him into our church family.  He thinks Cale is worth it.

As parents, we’re expected to love our kids and to be there for them.  It’s practically part of our job description.  But when others do too…. it stands out.  It marks them.

I wish people realized how little is required for such a huge and priceless pay off.  Committing to one group of kids—someone else’s sons and daughters—for at least one year, but hopefully more, can make a world of difference.  It did for us.

What stories could you add to make a case for WHY consistent small group leaders are so crucial in our children’s ministries?  How do you vision cast this need and role?

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January Materials

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

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

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!

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