Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

How do you say Goodbye?

It was announced to our church body this morning that my husband and I are moving on. The Lord has blessed us with another opportunity for ministry. We are excited for our new opportunity, but are so very sad to be leaving the place we’ve called “home” for the last year and a half. I’ll miss all the kids’ smiling faces and the love and encouragement from the families here. But, this made me think….what’s the best way to say goodbye?

Saying Goodbye

Once the congregation knows of your resignation, be prepared to answer questions. Most people will fall somewhere in the grief process:

  • denial — “no way”;
  • anger — “whose fault is this?”;
  • bargaining — “maybe if we ‘fix’ things, you’ll stay”; and
  • acceptance — “God is in control.”

Allow these people to move through the grief process at their own pace.

Anticipate and prepare for the hard questions ahead of time by agreeing with those you previously reported to as to what’s a mutually acceptable response to questions. Be as specific as possible without wounding the church on your way out. If your reason is too nebulous such as, “It’s in the best interest of our family,” people may wonder if someone in your family has cancer or if your marriage is breaking up. In any case, request that everyone who knows the details share only what’s been agreed upon. I can assure you that the phone calls and visits will come.

Take care of your family during the transition. Even though your family members were involved in the decision-making process, they too are in a process of change and recovery just as you are. When children are involved, it might be good for someone from outside the church — a denominational representative, a counselor, or possibly a mature friend who relates well to children — to visit with them, share the promises of God’s faithfulness from Scripture, and talk about any personal stories of experiencing God’s faithfulness in change.

As you work through the change and begin to explore new possibilities, keep talking as a family. When I left a staff position in one of the churches I served, my 6-year-old daughter’s greatest fear was that we would become homeless. We talked about this issue and I constantly assured her that God, our relatives, and good friends would never allow that to happen.

Also, keep praying individually, as a couple, and as a family. Give God the glory for his faithfulness and lean on him for the future. You may not actually feel this while you’re in the process of saying goodbye to a church that you’ve invested your life with, but it is true: God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good (Psalm 100:5).

 

I love and will miss you all!

 

Thanks to Children’s Ministry Magazine for resources

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But that’s not the movie I want to watch!

As I was sitting on my couch on Monday night, watching the NCAA championship basketball game (so sad Michigan lost by the way) I was thinking, this really isn’t what I would choose to watch. This happens all the time in my home – especially when there are sports on tv. My husband enjoys watching baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf….and of course the countless hours of sports center on ESPN.

I, however would choose to watch shows on HGTV. And while my husband is really great most of the time when there’s Love it or List it or Property Brothers on, and I will watch a U of M game, Bills or Sabres game (Let’s go Buffalo!)….we have issues in choosing  the entertainment that we watch sometimes. And we don’t even have kids yet! This most definitely gets more difficult as a family expands. (and we need to filter our entertainment even more than we do already!)

After reading an article on the Focus on the Family website, this is what I’ve gathered:

Obviously, when we have disputes over what to watch we know that we need to make a plan. Something that worked for my husband’s family growing up was making a tv schedule: each person can watch 1 hour of tv a day, with their choice of what to watch. So, say you have 4 kids; Alan, Dan, Leah, and Morgan. You would schedule each kid for an hour a day, and they would rotate times. (This doesn’t have to be the way you do it….some families like more informal rules. It doesn’t matter.)

But, when it comes to content, that when things can get messy. Say it’s Friday night. The long-awaited, box-office-smash starts playing every 30 minutes at the local theater. Your oldest is begging to go because “all” his friends will be there. Your daughter’s been invited to a slumber party where some romantic comedy is the big draw. Your youngest is raving about a hot new band his buddies like. You just want to kick back with your spouse, pop some popcorn, and watch a new pay-per-view movie.

How do you and your family make decisions about these entertainment opportunities and know in your heart you’ve made the right ones? Is there a straightforward guideline all of you can agree to follow?

While there are factors like age appropriateness, spiritual maturity, and the possibility of being a “stumbling block” to a brother (Romans 14:13). Basically, as corny as it may sound…we need to ask ourselves What Would Jesus Do?! I actually prefer an expanded version of the question, something like this: If Jesus were walking the planet today with His 12 disciples, how would He respond if Peter, John, or Matthew asked, “Can we go see or listen to [fill in the blank here]?” Or “How about if we play this video game?”

These are questions we should always ask before choosing entertainment. And they’re questions we need to train our kids to ask as well.

Help your son or daughter understand that Christ’s answer to these questions would be based entirely upon His love for His disciples, not on a desire to squelch their fun. None of us knows what Jesus would do or say in every situation, but it’s our job to train our kids to prayerfully seek what He likely would do based on His holiness and character.

Here’s an easy place to start. Go to http://www.pluggedin.com or http://www.kids-in-mind.com and search the movie or music your kids want to see/listen to. Go through the list with your kids. Explain the violence, sexual content, and language that may be inappropriate for them. Explain what elements we believe Jesus wouldn’t want us to view or hear. Do this every time your kids ask to see or hear something. Even when it gets tiring and annoying. As your kids get older, you can have them review the material for themselves and see if they make the decision you chose for them. Once they reach driving age, have them read the material and make the decisions on their own. This is a practice that my husband and I have done for every show and music we’ve wanted to be entertained by. IT really helps to keep you on the right path!

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Did your kids understand Easter?

Here’s an article that I read on Focus on the Family’s website, and I thought it was written really well. It’s something I wanted to share with all of you:

Many parents would agree that children should wait until they are older to see the acclaimed movie The Passion of the Christ, which graphically depicts the horrible violence that Jesus Christ endured before giving His life on the cross.

For the most part, children in our culture are privileged enough to be insulated from the reality and “scariness” of death.

Death and life, however, are at the core of the Christian message exemplified by Good Friday and Easter and remembered each Sunday. How much does your child understand that message?

Children need to know that dying was Jesus Christ’s reason for living on earth. They also need to know about Jesus’ resurrection three days later. As a parent, you can have the wonderful privilege of talking with your child about these important truths. The Easter season (which only begins with Easter Sunday) is great time to do this.

The following mini-lessons are designed for you to download, print out, review with a Bible in hand and then read with your child. These lessons will help you give your child a greater appreciation and understanding of the purpose of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

Ultimately, these five mini-lessons will encourage your child to join God’s family.

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He is Risen!

He is risen, He is risen indeed! It’s Easter. Time to celebrate that triumphant morning when our Savior rose victorious from the grave!

According to the New Testament, during the Jewish Passover season, Christ was tried for treason by Pilate, the Roman appointed governor, and then by Herod, King of Judea, and again by Pilate, before being sentenced to death on a cross. Though declared innocent by the authorities, Christ was crucified and laid in a sealed and guarded tomb. But on the third day He rose from the dead, with the power to save mankind from their sins. This event is commemorated every year in the spring as a holy day for Christians around the world.

But, did you know Easter was never intended to be just one day? For most families, including Christians, God gets an hour on Sunday, and we get the rest of the day to hunt eggs, think of cut little bunnies and lambs…and eat lots and lots of chocolate. Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with traditional Easter celebrations; it’s just thatwe can’t focus all of our attention on those things.

“The shame isn’t that we are celebrating Easter Day; it is that we are missing Easter Season. It’s like scraping off the icing without realizing you could have had cake too. That may be hard for most of us to comprehend in our culture that prizes a hurry-up and move-on attitude. But God, who specifically called his people to times of annual celebration and festival, did so because seasons of celebration accomplish significant things in the lives of His followers.” (Kim Wier)

How about your family? Ready for some cake? Try these faith-filled activities that go beyond Sunday morning as you usher in this Easter season.

Ages 0-3

Help your little ones stuff hollow plastic eggs with one chocolate heart, because Jesus came to give us a new heart toward God. Then allow your little one to hand them out to friends, neighbors, or people you meet during the day. You might include a note inside with the passage from John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” – Jesus

Ages 4-7

Hold a neighborhood egg hunt, but award the large basket filled with candy for whoever finds the one empty egg, representing the empty tomb. When the child finds the empty egg he or she must call out, “He is not here he has risen, just as he said.” Be sure to conclude the hunt with an Easter story on the lawn. I’d recommend The Very First Easter, by Paul L. Maier. (If you go to my church, I can lend you a copy 🙂

Ages 8-12

Sometimes the greatest joy is in the giving. Visit a nearby hospital or retirement home and greet one of the residents with a fresh Easter lily. You may want to attach a card with some encouraging words about the hope we have in our risen Lord.

Age 13-18

Children this age might enjoy a surprise field trip for a sunrise service at the park or a nearby lake. Be sure to bring a Bible, hymnbook or maybe even a guitar for a worshipful early morning celebration.

All Ages

Since there are many new visitors attending church for the Easter service, make a point to greet and invite someone to lunch afterwards. Then remember to make plans to sit together next Sunday at church.

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Is it spring yet?!

A lot of the kids in our church have the week of Easter off, making it their spring break. Parents can get bogged down and overwhelmed with having the kids running around the house all day (because a lot of our parents take that week off, too)…and that just doesn’t help anyone! So, I thought I’d give you a list of 10 fun things that you can do with your family over spring break. Be adventurous, and do a different one every day! (thanks to all pro dads)

  1. Hit the beach!
    For many people Spring Break = The Beach. For good reason. Winter has been cold and gray. Work and school have been rough. No place on earth relaxes the spirit like the coast. Bright sun, crashing waves and feet in the sand. Your family will have nothing but smiles. (If it gets warm enough during spring break 🙂
  2. The big parks
    The Grand Canyon. Yosemite. The Great Smoky Mountains. America is full of natural wonders and beauty. Somewhere within driving distance lies a national park offering endless opportunities of fun and exploration. Get out there and show your family the world is more than strip malls and endless concrete.
  3. Baseball
    Starting in March, America’s great pastime begins another season. The states of Florida and Arizona host teams from all over the nation. Spring training offers fans a much more intimate experience with the sport. Small stadiums. Access to the players and coaches. Great weather. Smiling faces. Hot dogs. What could be more fun? And, you don’t have to travel to Florida or Arizona to get the same thrill.  Minor league baseball has teams all over the country offering the same thrills!
  4. The big rig
    How many times have you been on the road with your family and you all see that big motor home next to you and wish you were in it? Make it happen. RV dealers rent those big rigs for surprisingly reasonable fees. There are special resorts all over the country that cater to big motor homes. Research an itinerary that works for your family and get out on the road!
  5. Backyard fun
    Traveling is not the only way to have a great time with the family on vacation. Turn your backyard into your very own resort destination. You can play all types of different sports such as ultimate Frisbee or volleyball. Maybe you will put down an old fashioned slip n’ slide. Even a sprinkler can keep young kids entertained for hours on end. Think outside the box and come up with your own unique backyard fun.
  6. Grill Master
    A skill your child should have as an adult is the ability to cook good food.  The popularity of outdoor grilling is bigger than ever. Get in on the fun. Spend the week with your kids challenging and expanding your abilities. Become a grill master. As a family, research and find recipes of food you have never attempted. Try a new one each day. Have your kids involved every step along the way. Not only will you all have fun and eat well, you will be giving them a gift that will last a lifetime.
  7. The outdoor project
    Yard work on vacation? Sure! It’s the perfect time to add beauty and function to your home. Take this time to add that long talked about gazebo. That fountain. Maybe your wife wants a garden. Get the whole family involved with the vision and planning. Then get out there with your family and make it happen!
  8. Volunteer
    Spring break is a perfect time to give of yourself. Spring is the time of new life and renewed hope. Your family can join in giving nature a hand. Clean up litter in your neighborhood. Pick up trash around ponds and creeks that harm wildlife. Help an elderly neighbor with yard work or house maintenance. Let your family choose the cause and then be the solution.
  9. Wacky destinations
    America has millions of strange and odd attractions. Most times they are free or very low-cost. The “Blowing Rock” in North Carolina. Dinosaur World in Florida. These types of places are all over. So much fun and so very silly. They offer a balance to the massive and very expensive theme parks. Yet strangely, they give the same thrills and smiles. Don’t forget your camera. That picture of your daughter standing next to the 40 foot tall Paul Bunyan will be a timeless keepsake. A great source for this type of experience is:www.roadsideamerica.com.
  10. The food tour
    We all love to eat. What is your passion? Seafood? BBQ? Southern cooking? Plan a road trip hitting some of the very best of the foods you love. Maybe you will drive all over Texas sampling the best of their unique beef BBQ. Or it could be a trip up the New England coast for classic seafood. How about sitting in New Orleans eating jambalaya in an open-air café? Nothing brings a family together better than food.
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Let’s Get Messy to Make Peace!

I was reading through some KidMin (Children’s Ministry) Blogs the other night, and really liked this one – put out by our Orange Curriculum. It talks about some creative ways to help kids remember what the virtue and the lessons are for each week. Here’s a great idea that I found and thought I would share with everyone. It’s something really easy that a church, or even a parent could organize for kids!

From 252Blog:

Sometimes making peace can be messy, and getting messy can be lots of fun!

As we’ve focused on “Peace – choosing you care more about each other than winning an argument,” we’ve seen monumental growth in our kids!

We talked about how it’s not always easy to make peace. We knew that if our kids were going to understand this difficult concept, we had to do something drastic that would capture their hearts and their imagination. So when our creative team met last month, we planned a “Get Messy to Make Peace” event, as a finale to our month-long study.

We knew three things going into the planning for this day:

We wanted the kids to remember it

We wanted them to get messy,

We wanted them to bring their friends.

With that end in mind, we took our inspiration from the nation-wide phenomenon known as “The Color Run.” This new, relevant 5K running fad was the perfect way for us to show that getting messy to make peace was worth it! We contacted “The Color Run” and found out what we needed to put on a very similar event at our church to wrap up “Peace”. On February 24th we did just that.

We challenged our kids to make peace with those in their lives and asked them to make a commitment to do so. When they stood to show their commitment, the fun began. Their Small Group Leaders “colored” the kids, making each of them not only extremely messy but also brightly colored!

The church that did this is in a downtown, urban setting. We held the event outside and saw people from neighboring hi-rises standing on their balconies watching. It was a moment I won’t soon forget.

All of our kids left in a heap of color, with smiles on their faces. They understood what making peace meant. Not because I told them to, but because God called us to.

Get Messy!

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It’s one BIG story

The Bible isn’t just a book of random stories; it’s 66 books written by 40 authors over 1,600 years, and it all comes together to tell One Story. One incredible overarching narrative about God’s loving pursuit of us, His children.

That’s pretty remarkable.

It’s why I believe that we have a  unique calling as Christian parents and leaders —to do everything we can to tell the best story ever told in a way that connects with the minds and hearts of the next generation. We are not simply trying to get a generation to love the story of God, but to fall in love with the God of the story—the One Big Story.

Why do we tell our kids stories like Jonah, David and Goliath, and Jesus walking on water without helping them to connect the dots? Why do we assume that kids will figure things out on their own, or that they’re not capable enough to know the “Big Picture?” The Bible says, ” Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6. It doesn’t say – Let’s tell our kids a few stories from the Bible, and they’ll figure out how to piece everything together!

There are many Christians and Non-Christians out there that simply don’t understand what being a Christian is all about. And you know what? I blame the teachers. And the parents. We’re called to help the younger generations know and love God – and we need to do a better job of it!

We’ve been using Orange, Andy Stanley’s curriculum for kids – and every month and with every series, we weave the Big Story into our age-specific groups—First Look and 252 Basics. But there are times, seasons when we feel like it’s important to take a step back and be reminded of the big picture.

So – what are some ways that we can help tell our kids the Big Picture story of God; the “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)  to the “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:21) story? How do you connect the dots for your kids?

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Let’s Hear a Good Story

There’s one thing that most of us know will grab and hold a kid’s  interest like no other.

A story. And it’s even better if it’s real.

They love them. And if you capture their imagination, tickle their funny bone or surprise them by your actions, they will ask to hear it over and over or beg for another. It’s like you’ve given them a tiny window into another world and they just can’t get enough.

Especially if you share stories about things that happened to you when you were their age. It practically blows their mind as they try to picture it.

My go-to story involves the time my family came home from an overnight stay at my grandma’s house. There had been a blizzard (I grew up in Buffalo, NY) and we were trying to get home. I tell of harrowing experience of my family having to roll down the windows to stick our heads out and see as much of the road as possible. Then, we when go home the back door was open and we thought an intruder had gotten into our house. But that’s not their favorite part—they love hearing how our pipes were frozen and how my parents had to literally shovel out our kitchen!

You probably already know the power of story. But did you know, across several different studies of interviews with kids who say they have a relationship with Jesus, that they just plain run out of words?

They really struggle to explain what it means to love God beyond the very basics. I know we always tell them, “Love God and love others.” But…what does that really mean?

And it gets even harder if they’re asked about how their parents or other important people in their lives came to faith—what they believe. They just don’t know!

I think it comes down to this—we assume that kids can connect the dots for themselves. That they will understand why it’s important to go to church, or give back some of the money we earn or to help others in need. That we don’t need to spell it out for them.

Maybe we feel strange or unsure about how to explain it or when is really the best time, so we just hope they’ll catch on. Or someone else will unpack it for them later.

These findings—that Christian kids lack the language to really express their faith—is one of the main reasons that we do a couple of things in our curriculum.

Every week, in the Small Group activities there is a “Personalize” prompt for leaders to share something age appropriate and relevant with the kids from their own faith journeys—how a biblical truth or idea played out in their lives in a real way.

Many times in the Large Group scripts, we encourage the Host or the Storyteller to also share something from their own life and learning with their captive audience.

Some say it this way—instead of being a Sage on the Stage—with it all figured out, like you’ve arrived, but it’s a real mystery to the kids on how you got there, we want to be a Guide on the Side—walking in the same direction as the kids you lead, with a similar goal (despite your age differences) of becoming more like Jesus every day.

And there’s a real side benefit for us as adults when we get in the habit of not only sharing biblical stories, but how God is personally active in our lives today—we are more aware and thankful of all that He’s done and is still doing. Of His love.

So, as you are either editing your curriculum each month or teaching your kids at home, keep an eye out and leave in those teachable and timely moments to give kids a glimpse into the faith journeys of the adults all around them. Maybe even add in a few more!

(Credit to Orange)

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March Materials

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

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

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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How to make the Bible fun for kids through age 3

How many times have you tried to read Bible stories to your little ones and thought – they have no idea what I’m saying! Or, they fall asleep before the story is over. Why don’t we make the Bible more realistic for kids? Why don’t we make the Bible fun?!

Here’s a story I found from a mom on focus on the family; “It was Bible Time, which meant my children were curled up on the couch with their blankies, ready for naptime. I read to them the story about Noah, and when I came to the part about loading up the animals, I paused. “Don’t you wonder what it would be like to float in a boat with all those animals?” I asked. My sleepyheads shrugged. Grinning, I pulled the cushions off the couch and shouted “Let’s go get all of our stuffed animals and find out!” Cheers followed my suggestion and before we knew it, we were floating in our living room with creatures great and small.”

Here’s three things that you can do to bring some creativity and fun into your Bible time with your kids:

Play

Toddlers love to play, so incorporating imagination and excitement into your Bible time helps little ones with learning. You’ll first want to purchase an age-appropriate Bible, beginning with a toddler version and progressing toward a children’s study Bible. Be sure to add a full dose of fun into your Bible reading. This might mean using action figures to reenact the story of David and Goliath, or clanging homemade musical instruments to one of the Psalms.

Learn

Although parents might wonder how much understanding occurs at this age, a new study at has discovered that children may comprehend words sooner than previously suspected. Cognitive science experts have reported that kids ages 12-14 months may be using a technique labeled “data mining” to acquire language. This is where “the human brain accumulates large amounts of data minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and handles this data processing automatically.” It then sorts “through massive amounts of raw data to find relationships, correlations, and ultimately useful information.” This “system” approach to language learning would explain the ease with which 2- and 3-year-olds can learn one word at a time. We have some 2 and 3 year olds that are amazing at Bible Verse Memorization! Sometimes, they’ll memorize a verse quicker than my fourth graders!

Do

Teaching your child the Bible also involves what you do outside the home with your little ones.  Here are some ideas:

  • Rock your child to sleep at night singing praise songs and hymns.
  • Dress up as Bible characters.
  • Invite other children over for a Bible story time with treats afterwards.
  • Turn up the music and dance to specially recorded toddler songs like Psalty’s Songs for Li’l Praisers or Bob and Larry Sing the 70’s.
  • Deliver handmade cards to nursing home residents.
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