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A Parent’s And Childrens Pastor's Response To The Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

gay marriage

Yesterday my good friend, and fellow children’s pastor, Brian Dollar wrote up a fantastic article on how we as parents, and children’s pastors, can respond to questions our kids may pose to us about same-sex marriage. I was thinking of writing an article like this myself, but, to be honest, I couldn’t have done a better job, so I asked Brian for his permission to re-post it here. You can check out the link to his blog at the bottom of the article for more great stuff.

Hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

How do I talk to my kids about this?

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that marriage between homosexual couples would be legally recognized in all fifty states. No doubt, our kids are hearing all about this topic both on the TV and, many times, on the playground.  It’s hard for any parent to control the context in which their child may have conversations regarding this important topic.

Many Christian parents have struggled with the question, “How do I talk to my kids about this?” Likewise, many Children’s Pastors have struggled with the question, “What is my responsibility in this? Should I discuss ‘Gay Marriage’ with the children in my Kids Church?”

Some thoughts for Children’s Pastors:

I think you have to be careful what issues you are addressing in Children’s Church “as a group.”  So many children are at different points in the journey regarding both mental and emotional maturity.  When you address something as weighty and serious as homosexuality and gay marriage to a large group of kids, it is very difficult to do so in a way that is appropriate for EVERY child.

In addition, many parents (as they should) want to be THE ones to discuss topics such as this with their kids.  I understand, many parents DON’T ever discuss it with their kids.  That’s unfortunate.  However, you don’t want to undercut parents by addressing it publicly in a large group of kids.  This should be something that parents include in their general talks about “Biblical Sexuality” with their kids.

Of course, if a child asks you a direct question about it – treat that just like you do any other question about sex or sexuality.  Answer with, “I would be happy to share my thoughts with you about this subject.  Let’s talk to Mom or Dad when they come to pick you up.  Perhaps together, we can answer your questions in a healthy way.”  Then, follow the cues of the parent.  If they do not wish to discuss it right then and there, follow their lead.  Allow them to do so on their own terms and in their own timing.

An alternative to discussing this with the large group is to offer a special class or “discussion” in which you allow parents to sign their kids up to attend.  Encourage parents to attend with their children.  Rather than coming at the topic in a negative manner (i.e. “We are AGAINST gay marriage”, etc.), discuss the topic within the overall umbrella of God’s plan for our sexuality (“God created male and female to complement one another.  Marriage is the life-long commitment between one man and one woman.”).

The topic of “gay marriage” and “homosexuality” is a difficult one for kids.  Yes, it is becoming much more commonplace and a topic that they are hearing more and more about, but it is also very polarizing.  While we don’t ever shy away from the Truth, we also must be wise and careful when dealing with the youngest among us.  We want clarity, not confusion.

Some thoughts for Christian Parents:

Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not be aware of the Supreme Court decision. They may or may not be aware of the subject of “Gay Marriage” at all.  Don’t feel pressure to bring the topic up to your child simply because it is in the news, all over Social Media, etc.  Your child may be too young to even consider the conversation.

If your child asks you a question about it, address it. However, if your child is in the 4th Grade or above – they are GOING to hear about it. Kids love to talk about things that seem “taboo,” so it is better for you to be the FIRST one to speak with your children about this issue. It’s a lot harder to deal with when you are having to UNDO the misinformation your child may have already received from friends or the media.

As you have this conversation, remember:

  • Don’t freak out! – Don’t overreact and freak out! I see too many parents flip out over things like this. Don’t go on a diatribe about the “liberal agenda” and the “LGBT Conspiracy.” Just calmly share with them how, although some people choose to live their lives in contradiction to what God planned and the Bible teaches – our goal should be to pray for them, show them God’s love, and display God’s character in everything we do. Don’t flip out! Children take their emotional cues from you, the parent. Although there is reason to be concerned about our nation and community regarding this issue, God is STILL on the throne. There is no need to panic!
  • Don’t only give PART of the story! – Don’t simply say, “We believe that Homosexuality is a sin.” Explain to them what “sin” really is – “CHOOSING to live outside of God’s plan and purpose for your life.” Sin is the willful choice to disobey God’s commands. Revisit the story of Adam and Eve and how sin and temptation has been a problem for human beings since the beginning of time. Remind them that, although people make choices that are the opposite of what God has commanded, Jesus came to die on the cross so that ALL sin can be forgiven. All we must do is admit our sin, receive forgiveness, and CHOOSE to follow Jesus every day!
  • Don’t focus on the DON’T! – More important than the fact that “We DON’T believe that ‘Gay Marriage’ is right,” children need to hear what we DO believe. They need to hear that God has a plan for marriage. He created male and female and desires that they come together for a life-long partnership with God as the Head. God wants to bless the family unit with His presence on a daily basis. It is a sacred institution, and no law, decree, or court can change what God has planned since the Creation of the human race.

A reminder for us all:

Children are watching you during this critical time. In fact, THE WORLD is watching Christians during this time.  If they see you addressing this issue with anger, bitterness, or (God forbid) hatred in your words or tone of voice, that will send a confusing message to them.  After all, God is Love.  He created EVERY man, woman, boy, and girl.  He loves them ALL!

Remember that Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT) states, “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

That is our mandate as the Church….to speak God’s truth with love.  Just because the truth of God’s word is different from the beliefs of others or the ruling of a court doesn’t mean we should join with others who choose to resort to name-calling, picketing, belittling and hate. As children of God, we need to be careful that our speech, tweets and posts are speaking the truth in love. We need to T.H.I.N.K. before we tweet.

The Church should respond in the same way that God instructed the children of Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We can’t force others to be humble – but we can be humble.

We can’t make people pray and seek His face – but we can.

We can’t force people to turn from their wicked ways, but we can and should clean up our ownlives.

When we do, God promises, He will hear from Heaven and heal our land.

The answer to this world’s problems and America’s problems is Jesus. Share Jesus. Share His love. Share the difference He has made in your life. Trust that when people encounter His grace – they, too, will be changed!

For more great parenting or children’s ministry posts check out Brian Dollar’s Blog!

Uncategorized Volunteers

The Most Important Part: Recruiting Volunteers Part 2

Last week I said “God has called me to not only involve those who want to volunteer, but to involve those who don’t want to volunteer as well. And you know what? God has given you that calling too!” Now I know that that is a bold statement, so before you hyperventilate, let me explain why I believe the Bible tells us so.

What’s Most Important?

The Bible speaks of a time when a Pharisee came to Jesus to ask Him which commandment of the Law was most important (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV). Now personally, I say that’s a great question (even if the motives of this Pharisee weren’t the purest). After all, my inquiring mind tells me that if there is one thing that God wants me to be doing above all else, I want to know what it is so I can make sure that I am doing it! Well, believe it or not, Jesus gave the Pharisee an answer. He told him that there were not one, but two commands. The first and greatest was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second one, which was like it, was to love your neighbor as yourself.

There you have it. The Top Two. The Twin Towers of power. The Two Beacons of light that will guide us in our deepening walk with God. Jesus said, and I paraphrase, “So you want to be obedient? OK, then love God in your actions, in your words, in your thoughts and in your worship; and love others as much as you love yourself.”

Simple right?

Yeah…not so much. Especially that “love your neighbor as yourself” statement. That’s a tough command for all of us, and it’s one we usually try to sweep under the rug and casually act like it’s not there. The problem, however, is that we can’t do that, because without obeying this second command we will not grow spiritually.

Grow in Love

To show you what I mean let’s turn to the book of Ephesians, chapter four (Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV). Here Paul says that all baby believers should desire to grow and become mature under the head of Christ. In real life babies are cute and cuddly…for a while. Soon however we expect those babies to grow up, assume responsibility for themselves and become fully functioning members of the family. This is true for us spiritually as well. Paul says we must grow and mature as a member of God’s family (His body) so that we can assume responsibility for ourselves and become functioning members of that family.

To make this happen Paul says that we must grow and build ourselves up in love. Love for who? Why the very ones Jesus commanded us to love of course!  Love for God and love and others!

Interesting huh? If we merge the divinely inspired words of Paul with the words of Jesus we discover that in order to mature, each of us must grow and build ourselves up in our love for God, AND each of us must grow and build ourselves up in our love for others.

But we’re still not done yet, we have one more question. How do we grow and build ourselves up in this love? Paul gives us the answer. We grow and build ourselves up in love as we WORK. And that my friends is the hard part. We must work at loving God (through Bible study, prayer, obedience, church attendance, etc) and we must work at loving others (through acts of kindness and service). If we do this God promises us that we will grow and become a mature part of the body of Christ that He will use to do His work.

OK, so you might be asking “what does this have to do with recruiting volunteers?”. My answer…Everything! If we can fully understand the process involved in becoming a mature believer it will completely change the way we recruit volunteers. Let me explain. Our job as Children’s Leaders is two fold. To bring children into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and to bring to maturity the leaders who serve alongside us in completing this task. In God’s eyes, one is not more important than the other…they are equal. Someday I believe we will all stand before God and be accountable for the children He placed in our care. But I also believe we will be held accountable for the adults He put in our church that He wanted us to help grow and become mature by getting them involved in serving others. What a privilege it is to be a children’s leader! God has chosen you to have the greatest opportunity to help people mature in their walk because you have been afforded the place with the greatest need for people to be serving in the church, the ministry to children! We need to keep this in mind when recruiting volunteers. There is no other area in the church that has as many service opportunities (opportunities that will cause a person to grow and mature) as what the Preschool and Children’s ministries have to offer. We should rejoice in the fact that God has given us this privilege of being so involved in the maturation of others (and the rewards in Heaven for doing so)!

So here it is in a nutshell. If I truly believe that people only grow and mature when they are loving God and loving others, then it is my responsibility to help them to accomplish both. My job is not to do the work of the ministry all by myself, my job is to give the ministry over to God’s people so they can become mature as they serve. In a very real sense I am more of an administer than I am a minister. My job is to organize and provide opportunities where people can can work at loving God and work at loving others! This is a great task!

volunteer to grow
How to Ask

When I ask a volunteer to serve, I shouldn’t go to them with hat in hand asking them to do me a favor by serving in the Children’s Ministry. Instead I should go to them boldly telling them that I want to do them a favor by getting them involved. If I have this attitude, I will now see recruiting volunteers in a whole new light. When I ask someone to volunteer, I will not feel guilty about putting them out, or about bothering them. Instead I will see their life as my responsibility, given to me by God, to grow and mature through service. I will say “I love you enough to keep asking you over and over and over because I know that if you don’t serve, you won’t grow. And I love you too much to let that happen.”

I hope you can now see that if a volunteer is to ever reach their full potential, they need to lead a balanced spiritual life. If a person’s only focus in life is to love God by feeding on His Word, then that person will become spiritually obese. However, if a person only focuses on serving others, that person will burn out due to a lack of spiritual nutrition. Everyone in the church needs to be doing both; loving God AND loving others. When they do, the Bible promises us that they will become a mature part of the body of Christ, ready to do even more of His work. When that happens, we will have all the volunteers we will need.

So challenge yourself this week to personally ask at least two people to come volunteer in your ministry. And remember – it’s not, “Do me a favor,” it’s “Let me do you a favor – come volunteer”!

Next week I’ll be talking about the top three ways to recruit volunteers. And it’s all about fishing.

Children’s Ministry Parenting Uncategorized

What Can Kids Learn From Biblical Judges?

Biblical Judges

Gideon, Samuel, and Samson are familiar names to those of us who grew up going to church as kids, but what about Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Eli or Abimelech? Who were they and why do they matter today? Why does it matter what a couple of people over 3,000 years ago did? More importantly, why is it relevant today for kids to learn from the Biblical judges?

Looking back through the Old Testament, the time of the judges was a turbulent time – a time when “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25b NLT). Sound similar to today’s world? Just looking at the news each night makes us reflect back and think, maybe this is relevant because similar things are going on in the world around me. For our Goodman’s Global Games series we take some Bible Lessons from these judges and make sure they are age appropriate so kids can learn that doing things God’s way is better than doing things the way we think is right.

What can children learn from the judges in 1-2 Samuel and Judges? They learn leadership traits such as:

  • How to live life God’s way
  • How to be a leader through actions instead of words
  • How to help others
  • How to be brave when they are scared
  • How to obey God
  • How to choose good friends

The judges of the Bible were leaders who lived a life that is an example to us. Your children can watch these Bible Lesson videos on LeadershipForKids.org or churches can use these lessons from Elevate’s Goodman’s Global Games series. There are no wasted lessons taught in the Bible. Many valuable leadership traits can be gained from each person in the Bible, including from each of the judges.

Parenting Uncategorized

Pro-Active Parenting

Recently my wife Karry and I taught a three-week course based on parenting children three years old through fifth grade. The overarching theme of this course was to help parents understand what they need to do in order to help their child be successful.

During this parenting course, one of the key points my wife and I talked about was the importance of pro-active parenting when teaching your child. Pro-active teaching is when you teach your child what is right and wrong before your child is placed in a position where he or she has to make a decision regarding which direction to go next.

Another key point we talked about is the importance of being re-active when teaching your child. Re-active teaching happens when your child does something that God does not want him or her to do and you use that opportunity as a teachable moment to help him or her see why it was wrong and how to handle the situation better in the future.

These areas of teaching are vital in raising successful children, yet they are two areas that we as parents often fail in. That is why we are so passionate about the streaming website called LeadershipForKids.tv. For less than the price of one cup of coffee per month, you as a parent can have a team of professionals ready to help at a moments notice.

Here is how you as a parent can utilize LeadershipForKids.tv to assist you as you use pro-active and re-active teaching with your child:

·      For pro-active teaching, LeadershipForKids.tv will instill morals and values into your child’s moral warehouse, their heart. Then, when a situation arises where a particular moral or value is needed, it will be available and ready to be acted upon.

·      For re-active teaching, LeadershipForKids.tv will come alongside you to help give appropriate insight during those critical teachable moments after your child has done an action of disobedience. In a moments notice, you can find a video on your smart device that deals with the exact issue your child is struggling with. You will be able to use this video as backup to enhance your own teaching, or, if you don’t know what to say, the video can speak for you.

As parents, we have been given an incredible task: to raise our child to know and love Christ and to live a life that is pleasing to Him. By taking advantage of LeadershipForKids.tv, you can be assured that you will have the tools necessary to make the task of raising your child a successful one.

FC Kids Leadership Uncategorized

Speak the Truth

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

Elijah vs Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 17-18)

“The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.” Psalm 37:30 (NLT)

Other than cats, probably the most popular videos on the internet are fail videos. These are usually humorous, sometimes scary videos where someone is usually trying to do something either dangerous, stupid, or both, and it often goes predictably and horribly wrong. As we watch the video, many times we see and realize what is about to happen and we either laugh or cringe, knowing that there is nothing we can do to change the outcome. But in real life, instead of watching a fail happen and being glad it wasn’t us, we need to realize that we have the chance to step in and stop it from happening.

As Christians we understand that God’s Word gives us guidelines that will help us avoid many things in life that will cause us to fail. We also understand that we have an opportunity to share those guidelines with others. But unfortunately, many times we don’t speak up and warn our friends when we see them about to fail. Then, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, we watch their lives fall apart.

It is increasingly difficult to stand up for the truth that is in God’s Word without being called a radical, a bigot, or troublemaker. It happened to Elijah and it most certainly will happen to us. In today’s story, the king was angry with Elijah for being a messenger of God’s word. Ahab called Elijah a troublemaker. But Elijah didn’t back down. He continued to speak the truth even though many of the people didn’t listen. It’s not our job to convince people, but it is our responsibility to speak out. Leave the convincing to God’s Holy Spirit. Just speak the truth simply and lovingly and challenge people to try it God’s way. When you do, you might just save a friend from a life-changing fail.

Leadership Uncategorized

Are You Ready For God’s Great Plans For You?

David and Goliath - Elevate's Epic Kids series

The story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 (NLT)

Have you had conversations like these?

“Are you ready to go?”
“Yes.”
“Good. Let’s go.”
“First I have to find my shoes and go to the bathroom.”

Or…

“Are you ready for dinner?”
“Yes.”
“Let’s eat.”
“Okay, but let me go and get something out of the car first.”

If you recognize yourself in any of these lines, you and/or someone close to you does not know the definition of the word, “ready.” When you are ready, there is nothing left that needs to be done “first” because you have already done all of those things ahead of time. But the question for today is: “How can we be ready for things that we don’t know are coming?” I have found that there is really only one way to prepare for the unknown. You prepare for the unknown by making sure you are doing all of the basics with intensity and focus. For example, a team preparing for a playoff game when the opponent has not yet been determined will not slack off in practice, instead it will focus with intensity on the basics of the game.

In our Christian life we need to buckle down on the basics. One of the most “basic” of the basics is church attendance. You need to commit to be at church. Don’t miss. But, you also need to focus on the basics outside of church as well. You need to study the Bible at home, pray, read the Bible with your children or family, and share what you have learned with others.

We get ready for what God has for us in the future by doing what God has for us now. In the Bible, David worked and excelled at what God had for him when he was younger. He worked at the basics of being a shepherd. He may have dreamed about one day doing something else, but he didn’t use that dream for the future as an excuse for slacking off in the present.  He stuck to the basics and those basics one day helped him defeat Goliath.

When you do the basics of the faith with intensity, you will be ready for anything that God asks you to do, which, is a very good thing.

After all, when God says it’s time to go and do something great, you don’t want to have to be looking for your shoes…

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Slaves to a Schedule

slaves to a schedule

“You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” 2 Kings 17:39 (NLT)

The Exodus is such an inspiring story that it is known across the entire world, even by those who have no connection to the Christian or Jewish faith. What is interesting, is that many of the details of the story could apply to us in our modern culture. Here is one such example. The Israelites were enslaved by the nation of Egypt. They were laborers, and their sweat and toil was nearly unbearable. Moses came and requested that they would be able to leave and worship God, but Pharaoh responded by impossibly increasing their work schedule and cutting their supplies. It is possible that Pharaoh believed the Israelites would abandon their thoughts of worship with the crushing demands of a new schedule.

This should sound familiar. Think about it. We too are weighed down with impossible schedules and dwindling supplies of time and energy. When we attempt to set aside time for worship, the world looks at us as time wasters, telling us that we are missing out on the important things of life. In response, we become our own taskmasters. We fill our schedules and calendars with every extracurricular activity, every club, every sport, every trip, every concert, every outing. However, we must realize that this type of schedule does not make us free. It makes us slaves. Many believers have allowed their families to become slaves to a schedule that keeps them from making God and His Church the center of their lives as it should be.

One thing that you need to do is set yourself free from the tyrannical forces that want you to give up the ONE day that God asks you to worship each week. Walk away from anyone or anything that pushes you to constantly give up worshiping God at church. If you do, God will walk with you, and I promise that walking with God and worshiping Him will lead you to a new kind of life – just like it did for the people of Israel.

Leadership Uncategorized

People Of Integrity

Proverbs 10:9 “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” (NLT)

Read 1 Samuel 17.

Opportunities to be dishonest occur every day, and dishonesty isn’t always about verbally telling lies. Dishonesty can be taking credit for work you didn’t do, not following through on a promise you made, or even something as simple as not completely obeying traffic signs while driving. Choosing to be honest with your words and your actions is a struggle you will have every day and even multiple times a day. But living your life with that kind of honesty is what sets you apart as a person of integrity and a follower of God. And that’s what set David apart in this Bible Story. David saw a problem and presented his solution. He said he would fight Goliath. And even though there were ample opportunities to back out or run away from the fight, David was a man of his word. He fought Goliath and won. It was qualities like integrity which caused God to see David as more than a simple shepherd boy. God saw David as the next king of Israel!

Read Proverbs 10:9. Spend time this week paying close attention to your words and your actions. Are you speaking and acting honestly? Do people know you to be a person of integrity? Pray that God will show you how you can improve.

Note: This devotional is taken from the Elevate series, Dojo Kids.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Uncategorized

Respect For Everyone

1 Peter 2:17a “Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters.” (NLT)

Read 2 Kings 2:19-25.

When is a joke not a joke? How far is too far? When does saying, “I’m just kidding,” become an excuse for saying whatever we want?
It comes down to respect. What happened to Elisha was not a simple case of name-calling. Read 2 Kings 2:25 again. There were at least forty-two boys in this gang, maybe more! Can you imagine being stalked and yelled at by more than forty people? This was a threatening situation that had everything to do with respect. These boys were not just showing disrespect for a balding man, they were showing disrespect for the representative of God. The SAME God that had used this man to save their city from a poisonous water supply!
These boys were showing disrespect to God when they showed disrespect to Elisha and we do the same thing when we disrespect others. In 1 Peter 2:17 we are commanded to respect everyone. Our family. Our friends. Our church leaders. Our employers. Even politicians whom we disagree with. Yes, even the one you are thinking of right now! Everyone.

So regardless of who someone is, what they have done, or if we agree with them, as followers of Christ we should treat all people with respect. Don’t cause God to call out a bear out on you!

Note: This devotional is taken from the Elevate series, Dojo Kids.