Weather Rollercoaster

It’s funny how much the weather can affect your mood.

In the last few weeks I’ve been to Denver, St. Louis and back to the suburbs of Chicago – and the weather was pretty nice all around…but now it seems we’re headed back into winter and it’s pretty depressing to need the heat turned on near the end of May.

If you were looking for an insightful article this week, sorry – just trying to stay on tasks has it’s own weight right now.

See ya soon!

The Problem Child

All churches have a child (or children) that can be difficult at times. Bullies, rebels, trouble makers, and all sorts of other labels have been applied to these children. And, sometimes those labels fit for a time.

Those can be times of frustration. Times when you wonder if you’ve missed your calling and times when your decisions are questioned. I was recently asked how it was that “that” child was still permitted to be in children’s church.

My hope is that my answer encourages you as a parent or a children’s leader:

Romans 5 teaches us that when we were at our worst, when we were enemies with God, his kindness shined brightest – He sent His son to die in our place. After you’ve been in church for a while, that becomes so common that we believe it, but we fail to remember what it means.

When we encounter an unruly child we often jump to what kind of discipline should we administer. Our response is often proportional and in line with what they are doing. Now, I’m not against discipline – at times it is needed – but often what an unruly child really needs is grace as well as truth.

Think about it in light of the Gospel. What changed us? Did our obedience cause God to delight in us or did God’s delight in us invite us into obedience? Yet, when we encounter children in disobedience our tendency is to withdrawal delight. We indirectly teach, “When you get your act together, I’ll love you.” And that is a direct contradiction to the Gospel.

So why is that child still part of our (or your) ministry?

Because he is redeemable.

Thanks for the fish

Don’t Panic.

This post isn’t about fish, it’s not about the number 42, and it isn’t about towels. Thought each of those are worthy in their own right. Instead, I want to share something that one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams wrote.

In an article titled How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, Adams points out how change works in our lives:

1. Birth - Everything that is in the world when we are born is just normal

2. Before 30 – Anything invented between birth and 30 is incredibly exciting and we hope we can make a career out of it

3. After 30 - Anything invented after 30 is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilization…

While he applied it to technology it can pretty well be said about all manner of things, including church programs.

The beginning of a church is often an exciting time. Everyone is aware of the mission and excited to see the church grow. New things can fail and it is okay because the mission lives on.

But, as time goes on people begin to get used to certain programs. Our outward focus wanes and we begin to focus on keeping the program alive or the people happy. At this point, the church is 30. Not literally (although it could be). To stop a program or start a new one can feel like it is against the natural order of things.

That is also a key indicator that your church is preparing to die. Once our focus turns inward, we’re in trouble.

I’m a fan of Awana, social justice, pot luck dinners, Sunday school, advocacy, and a number of other things that churches can do…however, these can never be central, only the Gospel holds that position. People can be Sparkies, well fed, clothed, well governed, and go to Sunday school and still wind up in hell. These program are tools to help the church share the Gospel with people – they are not ends into themselves.

When, in our desire to maintain, we object to the closing of programs or the starting of new church programs as if they are against the natural order of things, we would do well to ask the right questions:

Can church leaders explain how this will help us better reach people in our community (even if you disagree)?

If the answer is yes, then it’s probably a time of personal soul searching. Can you get behind the change? If you disagree, can you point to scripture as a resource or do you just “feel” that it is unnatural? Have you asked the right questions to the right people?

Change can be difficult. Remember, our culture changes and we change and sometimes that means that our church programs are going to need to change in order for the us to carry out the mission of the church: Faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel message.

A Journey from Skeptic to Family

A little more than a year ago, Pat Cimo and the children’s leadership at Willow Creek Community Church began a journey of investigation. They began evaluating how (or if) their children’s programming led to life long discipleship. Pat visited with some of the college students and young adults that went through their ministry and inquired about what made the most spiritual impact in their lives. She knew that children needed to know what to do when things went wrong, so what ministry helped these young adults most?

Of course, if you know about Willow Creek, you will know that she hoped their answer would be Promise Land – the Sunday ministry at Willow. But it wasn’t, the answer surprised her:

Awana

At first, the Willow Creek team was skeptical. Awana, in their mind was too ridged to work in their model.

Yet they continued to ask what they were missing. These same young adults helped Willow understand that they had 3 blind spots:
Willow’s Blind Spots »

You Tube Time Warp

A few weeks ago as my boys got ready for bed they heard me listening to some Weird Al videos on you tube as I did the dishes. Attracted by the music they welcomed the distraction from the bedtime ritual and joined me in the kitchen. We watched a few more, was joined by my wife and then headed upstairs to finish the routine.

But the videos continued.

We watched at least 30 minutes more, laughing along the way.

So often we talk about the negative affects of social media and spending too much time on line. While that may be true, there are also benefits – like when my son woke up and was smiling about the good time that we had the previous night.

I’m not saying that you should focus on spending more time on line with your children. But I am saying to look for natural times where you can laugh and play. It’ll improve your relationship with your children and make lasting memories.

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