What Partnering With Parents Looks Like

I remember when I first heard the term “partnering with parents.” It was at a family ministry conference in 2009. It was revolutionary for me as I saw parents as what the Scripture had always described them as. Parents are the primary means God uses in the life of a child to come to an understanding the gospel in the context of relationship. Jump forward several years, and I am still personally wrestling with what does that look like for me as a dad and for the church I serve? It was just two weeks ago I had this conversation with several other kids pastors we were discussing how to make this commonly shared understanding a reality. The fact we could have that conversation about how to practically partner with parents only happened because we all assume it’s necessary.

Rather than me telling you are partnering with parents is necessary, because I assume that we both agree it is. Let me ask you a question.

What does Partnering with Parents mean to you? In your church what do you do to leverage the influence parents have in the lives of their kids?

For me partnering with parents used to mean tools and information. Today it means discipleship. The longer I serve in the same church, and the more I follow Christ what I become aware of more keenly is my need to follow and to lead others to do the same. To partner with parents isn’t about programs and tools although it uses those means from time to time. To help parents spiritual lead their kids and families, parents need to be disciples and know how to make disciples. We can lower the bar and hope for any sign of life. We must challenge parents to follow Jesus so they will be willing and able to lead their kids into a relationship with Christ. As kids and youth pastors, we need to take a collective step backward and figure out how we can equip, disciple and train parents so they understand and can use the tools we are so eager to hand out.

What does that mean for us?

Does the World Need Another Blog?

The beauty of the world wide web is there is so much good information out there the bad thing about the world wide web is there is so much bad information out there. The challenge now is not so much getting good information out there as much as it is curating information and filling in the information gaps that your particular nitch has. This is what led to the birth of gospelatcenter.com

Our goal at Gospel At Center is not to create another blog for kids pastors and youth pastors. There are lots of great blogs out there that deal with how to lead our focus is on why we lead. Our thrust won’t be how to help small group leaders lead. It will be how do we help our small group leaders become better followers. I started samluce.com nearly 11 years ago when there were only a handful of blogs addressing ministry to children. Gospel At Center is different because it a blog that is authored by several youth and children’s ministry leaders from around the United State from various different contexts. We all attend very different churches but what unites us in our different contexts is the same message. Our shared passion for the gospel is what unites us and drives us.

Who is Gospel At Center for?

Those who teach kids or train those who teach kids. Family Pastors, Youth Pastors, Kids Pastors, and Parents.

What is the heartbeat of Gospel At Center?

1. The centrality of the work of Christ
2. The ultimate authority of scripture in our lives
3. Our need for Grace and God’s provision of it in Christ.
4. Giving our kids a consistent Christ-focused, Biblically saturated, historically faithful vision of who God is.
5. To show our kids that the gospel is not a part of the story the timeline in which every story finds it’s grounding.
6. To relentlessly point our kids to Christ until he draws them to himself and he becomes their treasure and great reward.

How can you be involved?

1. Follow our Blog and comment. http://gospelatcenter.com
2. Join our Gospel At Center Facebook Group, ask questions and answer other questions.
3. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
4. Most importantly engage. In our community, in your church, and in your home because the gospel is true and Jesus is worth it!

So grateful for each of you let me know if I can serve you in any way.

Explaining the Trinity to Kids

Why it matters more than you think.

The biggest problem with explaining the Trinity to kids is the fact that it is a mystery. We can never fully understand it but we can and should grow in our understanding of it. It’s something that is core to our faith and therefore should not be brushed aside.

The problem with explaining something so complex to kids is we look for a solid object to explain such abstract truths. The go-to objects for explaining the Trinity to kids are water, apples, and eggs. How do I know this? Because I have been guilty of using them. When I address these misconceptions, it’s from a place of mutual understanding because I have used each of these in explaining this central doctrine to the Christian faith. I’ll try a blog post to be helpful to parents and kids workers alike. This post will by no means be comprehensive, but I hope that it is useful and accurate.

Submission Not Innovation

In seeking innovation are we missing what's better?

I have always thought of myself as an innovative person. Twenty years in kids ministry with many of those years having a very small budget to no budget at all, I had to learn to be innovative. The problem came for me when innovation became part of my identity. I identified as an innovative person. I liked finding new solutions to problems. I would find out new tricks and shortcuts that made my life easier and the lives of those around me easier. I was praised as an innovator. I thought innovation was always the answer. New ideas to new problems.

A Darwinian Dilemma

The problem was that I started to measure success in terms of progress. I saw all change as good. I thought in terms of trying to come up with solutions to new problems. This is what I call Darwins Dilemma. We don’t even fully realize how much Darwin’s theory of evolution and his idea of the survival of the fittest has infiltrated our thinking. The Greeks measured their thought in terms of geometry it was a mental puzzle to be solved (this isn’t perfect either).  After the release of The Origin of Species that rational geometric thought was exchanged for a more biological framework. We no longer look at problems in terms of logic but in terms of progress. Darwin has sewn into the fabric of the west this pernicious idea that all change is good that all progress is right. Innovation at all costs. We may not even believe in evolution but we have collectively bought into the faulty framework of ideas that new is better that progress is good.

This was the way I thought for years. What changed my viewpoint was reading old books. Books written before Darwin’s theory became the new gospel of our culture and a  functional reality in our churches. So many of the church planting ideas and strategies are Darwinian. Church growth is hard work coupled with deep trust with an attitude of gospel humility. The gospel of pragmatism, if it works do it and is based on Darwinian thinking.

Why Gospel Centered Curriculum Matters

Filtering everything we tell our kids though God's story.

The Bible is not a story about heroes we should emulate, but about a Savior we are to adore. JD Greer

Is the Gospel clearly articulated? – The big mistake we make here in our teaching, and our curriculum is we limit the gospel to an event. We very easily limit the gospel both actively and passively shrink the gospel to something that is a box to be checked rather than as sustaining truth that continues to shape, empower and sustain or lives.

Love how John Piper puts it.
Parents teach your kids the gospel is not just something that begins the Christian life but empowers it, shapes it and sustains it. Pray, love, correct and demonstrate the love of God to your kids until he draws them they respond and He becomes their treasure and their great reward. John Piper

For a curriculum to be life transforming it has be centered around the gospel. I remember In 1989 Rick Moranis entered into the vernacular of our culture the words “honey I shrunk the kids” Moranis portrays a wacky inventor who accidentally shrinks his kids and the neighbor kids with his shrink ray he invented. Moranis’ character is unaware that his kids were shrunk by the very invention he destroys because he thinks it doesn’t work. There were multiple spin-offs of the movie and “honey I shrunk the (fill in the blank with something witty)” became a staple of sitcoms and watercolors alike for most of the 90’s.

Growing up in the 80’s has created a passion in me for all things 80’s. I love 80’s music, and 80’s movies and like it or not 80’s fashion is coming back full force. Being a fan of the 80’s it’s only natural that the analogy I will use for how we at times treat the gospel was born out of a movie from the 1980’s.

One of the problems that are very real and very dangerous in the church today is the fact that we have simplified, truncated and have made the gospel powerless in our churches and in our homes. Honey we have shrunk the gospel.

What is the gospel? Terms matter and many people refer to the gospel, but I’m not sure that we are always talking about the same thing. The gospel is the good news. It’s the good news that we have been longing to hear since God created a perfect world that we messed up when we introduced sin to this perfect world. Because we have sinned and have broken God’s perfect world, He had to send His sinless son to live the life we could not live die a death we should have died. Jesus came back to life, ascended into heaven, and will come back to us to make right all the things that are wrong about our world. That is the good news in a nutshell. We don’t have to be good enough because Jesus is, was and continues to be our spotless sacrifice.

So how have we shrunk the gospel?