Can Partnering with Parents Become a Reality?

FIRST STEPS CARD Bible Front

One of the things I am learning nearly 20 years into family ministry is that we often give parents good information at the wrong time. We have more tools at our disposal and bigger budgets than ever before, but we seem to be missing it. We have better looking take home papers than we did 20 years ago and amazing apps to help parents but most things I’ve tried haven’t really hit home. Our problem is that we give them amazing resources but at the wrong time.

If we really want to partner with families and most people I have talked to do want to partner with families, we have to think not in terms of what do I have to offer but more in terms of what questions do the families in my church need answers or resources to. Partnering with parents primarily requires a church that sees the value of families and provides resources and programming that make that value an experienced reality.

How the gospel keeps wonder alive.

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In all my years of kids ministry, I have always been so amazed at the wonder kids have. I have been equally amazed at how uncomfortable I can be and many adults can be with the idea of wonder itself. Here is the problem with wonder. You can’t explain it. You can’t reason with it. It is what it is.

I try my best to keep wonder alive in my kids. My three year old loves the color pink. I ask her every time she says she loves pink and it’s her favorite color “Baby, who made the color pink?” She says “Daddy, God did” I say “That’s right He did because He loves you so much”

I want my kids to grow up with no box to put Jesus in. We start off as kids thinking Jesus can do anything because he can. We then spend our entire life trying to fit Jesus into our carry-on luggage. Something we successfully do with every pat answer we are given and we give others. I love what C.S. Lewis says in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe “He is not a safe lion but he’s good” I can think of no quote that sums up how we must always view Christ to maintain that heart of wonder. A few years ago I begin a journey that I believe has lead to the greatest tool in keeping wonder alive.  In rediscovering the gospel much of my striving turned to grace-filled wonder. I moved from trying to earn my father’s love to grace-filled gratitude for his love he demonstrated to me in Christ Jesus.

How does the gospel keep wonder alive?

1. The gospel address our sinfulness and His sufficiency. It makes no attempt to solve every mystery. The gospel is good news. It’s a declaration, not a doctrinal dissertation. Should we search things out? Yes. Does Theology matter. Absolutely. But if we think have an answer to every question of the human heart will help us we are mistaken. The surest way to kill wonder is to believe you have an answer to every question.

2. Bring everything back to Jesus. – There are few things that I have found that have brought me to a place of wonder more than the meditation on scripture. When you start to think and speak of the greatness of the majesty of who Jesus is and the power of what He has done you are overcome with wonder because the grace of God is truly wondrously amazing.

3. Wonder springs from the a place of passion – I believe law kills wonder because you are so worried about do what is right, about being good enough, about trying harder. When you really believe that there is a God who loved you enough to send his one and only son into the world because He thought you and I were worth saving. It creates wonder. It instills passion.

4. When you start to understand the power of the gospel you see the sovereignty of God at work. The more aware I because of the sovereign work of God in my life and in lives of others I am filled with worship and wonder because I am constantly reminded He is God and I am not.

As we celebrate Easter let your mind drift to the wonder of His grace.

Why You Should Always Skip Your Kids’ Baseball Games

The danger of helicopter parenting in turbulent times

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Baseball season is starting up and if you know me at all you know that I love the game of baseball. I came across an article on PBS’s blog talking about how as a parent you should be less involved in your kids life. I have to admit they got me with the title. We live in a day where the definition of good parenting is over-involvement in your kids lives until they are well into their 2o’s. So the combination of baseball and the encouragement of parents to be less involved I found too tempting to pass up.
 
The article was well worth the read. While I’d disagree with him on a few of his points and probably with how he applies them to make a point, the overall idea is something I agree with completely. In our desire to give a better life for our kids than we have, we remove any obstacles or opportunity for pain that helped us become who we are today. Ironically we protect them from the very things that will make them stronger adults. We solve their problems rather than give them the tools to learn to solve them for themselves.
 
Daniel Pink the well-known author of controversial books such as Drive, and A Whole New Mind. Pink has this to say about the dangers of parental over-involvement specifically in sports like baseball:
 

What few of us well-meaning parents realize, but that any professional athlete will tell you, is that when kids look to us on the sidelines for approval or consolation or even orange slices, part of them is distracted from what really counts, the mastery of something difficult, the obligations to teammates, the game itself.
 – Daniel Pink –

How to make an Easter egg hunt a family event.

Before I start this blog post let me be clear about a couple of things.
1. I am insanely jealous of Bible Belt weather this time of year.
2. I am not a big fan of children killing each other in the craziness we call egg hunts.

Why am I jealous of the Bible Belt this time of the year? Well, most often when it’s time to do an Easter egg hunt this is what it looks like outside our church. (No exaggeration as this photo was taken Easter 3 years ago)

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We were looking for a way to do an Easter egg alternative and one of the women on our team Lori Buck came up with a brilliant idea. Do an Easter egg hunt indoors. I have to admit my chaos meter was going crazy. She began to explain her idea and it was brilliant.

Here is what it looks like.

1. Buy foam eggs online or at Hobby Lobby
2. Use “Blue Painters Tape” to tape said eggs to the wall.
3. Hide them in a specific room or all over your kids environment.
(Here is what it looked like taped to the wall)

easter egg hunt

4. Create a starting point and supply maps of the locations you want the kids to search for the eggs.
5. Provide the maps and pens
6. Do not allow kids to do this on their own – by forcing parents to help you create a shared experience with parent and child.

egg hunt map

7. Have the parents and kids search for the eggs stuck to the walls once the egg is located circle the part on the map where the egg is located.
8. Once finished return the map for a prize. (We did a 3 tiered prize system based on how many eggs the kids found.) All the kids walked away with candy.

easter egg hunt candy

Here is what I loved about it.

1. It was FAR CALMER than any egg hunt I have ever been to.
2. Parents and kids did it together. Families were working together to find these eggs hidden all over the walls. Kids loved it and parents loved as much or more than their kids.
3. It was different, fun, orderly and just enough crazy to be fun.
4. Because we leveraged the parents we needed only a couple of volunteers.

uptown egg hunt

We have done this event for 4 years now. Here are some of my thoughts. I love how it gives the parents the keys to the event. It’s not something the bring their kids to. It’s an event they all participate in. We do it on Palm Sunday to maximize attendance for two weeks, not just one. We invite everyone back for Easter services the following week. If the weather was better we may do the helicopter drop, but our poor weather forced us to create an event that pushes the family to do something fun together. This might be late for this year but try it out next year you might like it.

What to do When You Feel Stress

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Everyone reading this post feels stressed out. We live in a fast pace culture. We wear stress as a badge of courage. If we are not busy or stressed we are not significant or important. I am no exception. I remember a good friend of mine once told me that your ability to handle stress will determine how far you go in life and how much money you will make. I agree. So how do we get better at handling stress? I believe you have to 1. Recognize it’s source 2. Embrace the solution.

What is the source of stress? We live in a fast paced world with lots of things going on it’s very easy for us to point at things that our outside of us as the source of our stress. I have found that in me and those I know well stress is an internal problem with exterior consequences. Stress most often is a result of me wanting something to much. I want to have it all. I want to be thought of as a good worker, I want to be seen as a good father, I want to feel like a good husband. Stress is most often the byproduct of my striving to be what I feel that I need to be so that I will be significant. If we all are honest it is often times the by product of me getting good things the wrong way. It’s me trying to earn what I feel that I deserve. Stress is the byproduct of our idolatrous hearts.