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video

Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

Miracles From Heaven – The Movie

Recently I was asked to review the upcoming movie Miracles from Heaven set to be released on March 18, 2016. The movie is based on the true story of a 12-year-old girl named Anna Beam living in Burleson, Texas. In the movie, Anna is suffering from a physical abnormality where her intestines are unable to digest food properly. Because of this, she relies on feeding tubes to keep her alive and active. Without giving away the full plot (see the trailer here), Anna falls into a large, hollowed out tree and has a near death experience. When she awakens she discovers that the fall has cured her from her disease. This is a story about faith in God and the many ways that He moves in the life of the Beam family as they live with the diagnosis that is given to Anna by her doctor.

The film stars some big names in the film industry including Jennifer Garner (Television series Alias and various movie roles), Kylie Rogers (The Whispers), Martin Henderson (Off the Map) and comedienne, Queen Latifah.

I must admit that as I began the movie I was doubtful about its direction (it begins with a church service that didn’t feel quite right. I think maybe it was the unrealistic congregation that responded in a way that was just a bit off). However, after the first 10 minutes the movie quickly gained momentum and I was thoroughly moved throughout the film by it’s touching, and often heartbreaking, story line. The film is directed by Patricia Riggen (Disney Channel’s original film Lemonade Mouth) who does a fantastic job keeping the emotions stirred by focusing on:

  • The faith struggle of Anna’s mom, Christy;
  • The strong belief by Anna that Jesus is with her throughout her struggles (especially in a very emotional scene between Anna and a cancer-ridden little girl in the hospital);
  • And the strong belief of Anna’s father, Kevin, who’s faith in God assures him that somehow, everything will work out.

In the last 15 minutes or so, the movie touches very briefly on Anna’s experience where she goes to Heaven and sees some of the wonders of what Heaven will be like. The primary focus of the movie, however, is on the emotional bonds shared between a God-fearing family (primarily between Anna’s mom Christy, and her) who deal with a real-life crisis that defies a worldly explanation as to its purpose.

I would highly recommend this movie. Miracles from Heaven provides a dignified, real world look at how Christians struggle with life’s difficulties and, in the process of these difficulties, see God move in miraculous ways. I left the movie feeling inspired with the hope of Heaven, assured of the goodness of God, and filled with a renewed passion for my faith. A faith that tells me that even though God moves in ways that I often do not understand, I can be assured His ways will ultimately bring glory to Himself and will bring light to a lost world.

Oh, and by the way, don’t go into the theater without a healthy supply of tissues. You’ll need them!

Elevate Uncategorized

Elevate Is Going Digital!

Treasure Quest Set

Digital, Downloadable Curriculum

Recently we started re-visiting some of our favorite Elevate series here at Fellowship Church, transforming them into a downloadable digital format and including a ton of new elements never before available in Elevate! I think you are going to be excited to see what we have done to make each series even more fun and exciting for the kids in your ministry. If you currently use Elevate this will freshen up each series when you perform them again. If you don’t use Elevate yet, please take a look at the elements below, then check out our website at ElevateAtChurch.com. You will see that we provide elements that no other curriculum on the market provides.

Here’s what we added:

MediaShout® and ProPresenter® Files – All you have to do is download the MediaShout® and ProPresenter®  file. All the audio and video elements for the lesson are already in the Media Shout or ProPresenter program, ready for your media person to hit the space bar to advance each individual element as the script calls for it. Simple!

Higher Resolution Video – Because these downloadable video elements don’t have to be compressed onto a DVD, the quality is much closer to HD.

Updated Teacher and Co-Teacher Scripts – We’ve gone back and tweaked the scripts to add even more application and fun! If you have used the series before, I think you will readily agree! Here is an example from our Elevate series, Treasure Quest: TQ_L2_Teacher_CoTeacher_Digital_Media_Script

Drumrolls and Winner Songs – We’ve added a competition element to the lesson and given you a fun way to let your kids celebrate when their team wins. Each team is given a song with motions to that song. Then, every time you announce a winner, the song of the winning team plays, preceded by a six second drumroll. Here is an example: https://youtu.be/MA_S2Yp7jpU

Countdown Video – A countdown video announces the hour is about to begin. https://youtu.be/rJIJd2PsKPQ

Environmental Music – You can play this music in your hallways in order to get families excited about the themed series you are in.

 

Video Training Tips – Specific training tips given by myself and the FC Kids team for the leaders of your children’s hour. https://youtu.be/po39A-qL9t4

New Opening Games – Fun alternatives to the great activities Elevate already offers. https://youtu.be/wxJDijNj-WY

Elevate Copyright – All print outs, posters and artwork will contain the Elevate Logo, rather than the Fellowship Church logo.

Teacher and Co-Teacher Training Video – This is the new element I am most excited about! Here’s why…

I have found that the very best way to train someone is not to tell them how to do something, nor to have them read what I want them to do. I have found the best way to train someone is to show them what to do! That is why Elevate, with its many weekly video training components, is so successful. However, looking back, I was always sad that our video training was missing the Teacher and Co-Teacher element of the program. This element, in the past, only had a script and therefore left A LOT open to interpretation. With this new format we have taken the time to film the Teacher and Co-Teacher element.

Now you, or your teachers, will know exactly what to do each week in front of the kids.

This has made such a huge difference for us at Fellowship, as our teachers now feel much more confident in their presentation, and they can learn their script in much less time. Here is an example of what the weekly Teacher and Co-Teacher Training Video looks like: https://youtu.be/NEYsuAhmDU4.

Digital Series Now Available

Having made these changes we have made Elevate even better than before and we are excited to be releasing each series as we complete them here at Fellowship Church. Here is the order of the next several series we will be doing:

THEY (Tough. Honest. Encouraging. Yielded) – Available NOW

Berry Blast Theme Park – Available NOW

Treasure Quest – Available NOW

Heroes Of Mega City – Available NOW

Adventures In Science – Available NOW

Winter Extreme – Available NOW

Allaso Ranch – Available Summer 2016

Professor Playtime’s Christmas Shop of Wonders – Available Fall 2016

Ten Hut – Available Winter 2016

All Elevate series are still available in the traditional DVD Base Pack format. Contact us to find out how you can upgrade to the digital Base Pack version if you have already purchased the series!

FC Kids Parenting Uncategorized

Does Your Child Dance To Music Videos?

One of the greatest things about Elevate’s Radio E music videos is getting to see your child sing and dance along. I enjoy watching my two girls dance along to the music videos while simultaneously learning leadership principles. They learn leadership principles such as being “All In” for God, or saying “I’m Sorry” to those who wrong them while having fun singing and dancing along to music videos!

All Radio E music videos can be viewed on LeadershipForKids.tv for your children to sing and dance to at home, in the car, and everywhere you go! When you sign up for LeadershipForKids.tv, you will have access to over 50 unique music videos that will help your child learn valuable leadership traits and enjoy singing and dancing!

Through LeadershipForKids.tv, you can access the Elevate Music Videos your child gets to watch and participate in every weekend, at home! Some of my favorite Radio E music videos are “Big, Big Love”, “Hosanna”, “John 3:16”, and “<a title="God Is Bigger Music Video" href="https://www This Site.leadershipforkids.tv/watch/kids/god-is-bigger-music-video.html” target=”_blank”>God Is Bigger”.

“It’s so easy to access the song videos on Leadershipforkids.tv! My kids will watch all of them if I let them!” – Holly Bennett

“My daughter Landon loves to go to LeadershipForKids.tv to sing and dance with the music videos at home. She likes to be able to show her mom and sisters all the fun songs at home that she gets to sing on the weekends at church.” – Jordan Day

“Can we watch that video again?!” – Lynley (age 5)

Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

Moms' Night Out – The Movie

Last night my wife, two daughters, and parents sat down and watched a pre-screening of the movie Moms’ Night Out. I’m not sure what is happening in Hollywood as of late, but three great Christian family films have hit the theaters recently. Heaven is for Real, God’s Not Dead, and coming Mother’s Day – Moms’ Night Out. To me the most exciting part is that, like Christian music, there are finally some high quality, faith-based films entering into the mainstream genre. And, with the success of Heaven is for Real debuting as the top new release this past weekend and number two movie overall, I hope that the trend will continue.

Here are my thoughts on Moms’ Night Out:

When I looked at the cast of the movie and saw that my favorite hobbit, Sean Astin, was going to be in it, I was immediately impressed. Add to this Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sarah Drew (Gray’s Anatomy), and Trace Adkins (Country Music star) and this had the making of a top-notch film. I have to admit however, that when I sat down to watch, I still had a lingering doubt…is this just going to be a Hallmark movie gone to the big screen? Is there a way that someone is still going to mess this up?

What I discovered from start to finish was a well thought through plot and a hilarious story line. The verbal and slapstick humor caused all of us in the room to laugh out loud more than most comedy movies we’ve seen (we just watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty a couple of nights earlier, and although we did laugh quite a bit throughout, it wasn’t near as much as we did during Moms’ Night Out.) Just for the fun factor alone this movie will be well worth the price of a movie ticket, both for you and all the members of your family. However the greater thing about the movie is that there is a deeper purpose to it than just making you laugh. The message is a heartwarming story of a discovery that we all should put aside our expectations of what we think a successful life looks like and just live the life that God has given to us, to the best of our ability, and look for the joy that can be found within it’s design.

In Moms’ Night Out the main character, Sarah Drew, feels like a failure, she has everything that she’s ever wanted in life and yet she still feels like she is not as happy as she thought she would be, or should be – her life is crazy. But, by the end of the movie, and a night of hilarious antics, she realizes that although her life will never be perfect, if she can keep the perspective that what she is doing is exactly what God wants her to be doing, she will find joy in whatever situation she find herself in.  That sounds like a message we all could learn from.

Moms' night out movie trailer

Take Home and Application:

1- Husbands take your wife, and your mom, to go see Moms’ Night Out, and then take a moment to affirm in them that they are very, very important.

2- Parents, take your kids to this movie and afterwards talk to them about the fact that our lives on this earth will never be perfect. Don’t set expectations on how you think your life should be, take your life as it is and do your very best to enjoy the many wonderful moments that come along with it. Teach your kids that if we only look at the negative things of life and the failures that come with them, our Christian life will fizzle. But, if we instead thank God for the life that we have, looking for and treasuring the positive things in it, our Christian life will be a sure success.

I highly recommend Moms’ Night Out. Go out and support it and let Hollywood know we want more of the same…the cool thing is, if that happens, it will only get better and better as it goes.

Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

Heaven is for Real – The Movie

A month or so ago a good friend of mine, David Almgren, asked me to do a preview screening for the upcoming movie “Heaven is for Real”.

I’m sure by now many of you have seen this movie trailer at the theater and when you saw it you probably said to yourself, “Hey that looks like a pretty good movie…I wonder if it’s done by Christians?”

Well no, not necessarily, and yes, that’s okay!

The movie, directed by Oscar-nominated Randall Wallace, is being released by Tri-Star Pictures and contains some pretty heavy hitting actors such as Greg Kinnear (also Oscar Nominated) and Kelly Reilly (of Sherlock Holmes fame). The movie has been given a hefty advertising budget which Sony has used wisely (unless you haven’t heard of it – then for you, not so much).

Heaven is for Real - Official Movie Trailer

For those of you who may be unaware, “Heaven is for Real” is about a little boy (Colton Burpo) who went to Heaven and came back to tell about it. Here is a brief rundown:

Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small-town Nebraska pastor who experienced Heaven during emergency surgery. This boy, Colton Burpo, talked about looking down to see the doctor operating on him and he also saw his dad who was praying in another room. The family didn’t know what to believe, but soon the evidence was clear.

In Heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one had ever told him about. He also met his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

Told by Colton’s father, often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is that Heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and to be ready because there is a coming last battle.

The book “Heaven is for Real” has sold over 8 million copies and has spent numerous weeks as #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Recently I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with Todd and Sonja Burpo and I came away thoroughly impressed with both of them (they’re Elevate users by the way!). Their genuine heart for getting this message out is very inspiring. After talking to them, I came away renewed and refreshed by their passion for Jesus that has survived amidst the negativity from some within the Christian body. I can honestly tell you that they are great people, with a great heart, and a great love for reaching others with the love of Christ. They are REAL people with a REAL story and I was honored to meet them both.

Now on to the movie itself – here is what I wrote as a review:

     “Heaven is for real is a gripping movie regarding human doubt and the ultimate reconciliation of belief with every day life. From the pulpit, Pastor Todd Burpo has preached on Heaven his whole career. However, when his son, Colton, makes a claim that he actually went to Heaven, there comes a gut wrenching reality check as to whether Todd believes in Heaven enough to make an alteration in the way that he lives. Once he does, he must then convince his congregation to do the same.

    I believe this movie will cause each person in the audience to think more about Heaven in his or her day-to-day life. I also believe that it will bring the viewer to a realization that everyone needs to have an eternal perspective on their life; to understand that there is life beyond the grave, found in Jesus Christ, and that our actions on this earth will ultimately affect our eternity.”

Movie Review – Mike Johnson

Would I recommend this movie? Absolutely! “Heaven is for Real” is a wholesome movie that will open up dialogue within your family about Heaven and the joys that await us when we get there. When you arrive at the theater don’t expect a Salvation Message, because you won’t find it. However, you will see Jesus Christ clearly presented as the Son of God.

As a parent I would use this movie as an opportunity to talk to your child about the glorious gift that Jesus gives to us when we accept Him as our Savior, and that gift is Heaven. Also, be sure to ask them questions about what they think Heaven will be like and what they want to do when they get there. Let their imaginations fly, and listen carefully, because after all, children in their innocence may know more about the Kingdom than any of us.

In closing, take a look at this clip of Colton singing (he’s got a great voice). I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Children’s Ministry Current Affairs FC Kids Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

They're not "JUST kids", they're future leaders

Recently, I had the opportunity to present a message at Fellowship Church entitled They’re Not “Just Kids”. In it I presented the fact that our children are our nation’s and world’s future leaders, and the qualities and values we invest in them now will determine their success in life, and the success of our future.

This message is one that EVERY PERSON who has a child in their life needs to hear! For those of you who work with children within a ministry, or for a living, I hope this encourages you and reminds you again of the importance of what you do. For everyone else, I promise you, it will forever change how you look at children!

Elevate Production Uncategorized

Using Stop Motion Animation in Elevate's music video

It is true that we have used stop motion animation several times before, but this video is the first time that we have used this type of animation in a music video!

Our children’s worship leader and Elevate music producer, Ryan McMackin, saw the Coldplay music video for their song “Strawberry Swing” and liked how the style of video opened up the door for so many creative ideas that couldn’t be done in a normal music video format.  He wanted to see what Elevate could do with this approach, and he decided it would be the best venue to tell a story in the next music video.

Ryan’s vision behind the new video came in a spurt of creativity: “At the time, I was working on Now & Forever, about how Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and how He’s our Savior both now and forever. When writing the song I was thinking about the journey that we go on as Christ-followers and all the amazing things God has for our lives. There are many unexpected, and sometimes fantastical, stops along the way. But no matter the circumstances, He always provides.”

Stop motion animation was the perfect choice to display a simple storyline with as many imaginative elements as possible. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do! To download the full music video for your kids, go to ElevateAtHome.com/music. To use the video at your church, you can order the series The Game Show: Big Questions now available on ElevateAtChurch.com!

Children’s Ministry Elevate Leadership Uncategorized

Elevate Webinar: The Next Generation in Your Church

This month Dr. Claude Thomas and C3Global, a church leadership network, hosted an Elevate webinar on “How to Elevate the Next Generation in Your Church.” During this webinar I gave an overview of how we create the curriculum, how you can use the curriculum, and some of the new things we started this year! Children’s pastors Jason Tilley and Joanna Barnes also joined us to share tips and perspectives on using Elevate in FCKids at Fellowship Church.
If you have any questions after watching this video, please contact the Elevate team at [email protected] or call 855-MY-ELEVATE.

Note: The 20% discount mentioned in this webinar is no longer active. For more information on C3Global, or their curriculum discount, please contact [email protected]