You’re Going to be Ok.

There are few things more difficult and few things more important than being with a family who recently lost someone they love. To be with someone who breathes their last is a trust and a responsibility we have with those we love. It’s a reminder that God how issues our first breath is with us when we breathe our last. I remember visiting a mother in the hospital who had recently received a terminal diagnosis and she struggling with fear. Because of the reality of the hope she had at that moment I reminded her that no matter the outcome God was with her: “Everything is going to be ok.” Her countenance changed and she died a few days later. Everything after was hard but it’s been ok she is free of pain and with her savior. Her family whose hearts are broken are trusting Jesus through the storm.

There is a phrase in Latin Memento Mori, which means in English, “Remember, you must die.” Talking about death, understanding death, and living with the knowledge you will die have all fallen on hard times. We live in a culture that idolizes youth and beauty and believes that money is how both those prizes can be achieved. The reality is that we do much of what we do in America because we are running from death. We struggle with anxiety and worry in this life because we have expunged death from every aspect of our daily life.

I go to and perform many funerals in a year. There was a season in my life I attended or performed a funeral nearly once a week. The thing that always struck me was there are no kids at funerals. There are very few teens and college-age kids at a funeral. Most people don’t go to their first funeral until late in life. This detachment and stigmatization of death have created a culture that fears death more than anything else.

This culture of positive confession and beautiful people has infiltrated the church. This detachment and paralytic fear of death that most Christians have has put us out of touch with some of the most critical and far-reaching themes of the Bible. Themes of salvation and forgiveness, sin and death, and suffering and victory.

If you have been to an older church, you would have had to walk through tombstones to come and celebrate the Lord’s day. Preachers used to have a skull they would put on their desk as a reminder that they were dying. They were preaching to people who were dying. And if you want to reach those who are dying, you do it by thinking A LOT about death, not by coming up with positive messages to avoid it.

At every funeral, I perform I read this text from Ecclesiastes 7:1-4.

Wisdom for Life
1 A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. 
And the day you die is better than the day you are born. 
2 Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. 
After all, everyone dies— 
so the living should take this to heart. 
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, 
for sadness has a refining influence on us. 
4 A wise person thinks a lot about death, 
while a fool thinks only about having a good time. 

Ecclesiastes 7:1–4.

Funerals serve a purpose in this life. They are to as the Psalmist says in Psalm 90 Cause us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. A wise person thinks A LOT about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time now.

The reason this is so foolish is that we have it backward. We don’t think about heaven because our hope isn’t in heaven; it’s in the things we can gain an acquire. We don’t long for heaven with the homesickness that we should because we are so focused on making this life our best life. We have bought into the lie that aspects of evangelicalism have been selling to the world. If you believe God enough, if you follow him, you will have everything this world has to offer. We want a BMW more than we want heaven. Because our hearts want happiness and we think things will give us that.

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)

snow_redeemer

 

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.

Free Curriculum for Easter: God to the Rescue

I’ve shared here and here about the how and why leading up to the creation of a free resource for the kidmin community by the kidmin community. We are really excited to be able to offer it for free on our blogs.

What we did was create a 5 week curriculum that unveils God’s rescue plan unveiled in the Old Testament and seen in action in the days leading up to Good friday and Easter. I love how the clear emphasis is on Christ and what he did and what we can do in response.

The format of the curriculum is pretty basic.

-Icebreaker – K-2nd Grad and 3rd – 5th Grade
Video Skit
– Bible Story
Video Skit
– Application Small groups – K-2nd Grad and 3rd – 5th Grade

Also included are Family connection pieces. The Art and video elements will be available very soon.

What I loved most about this project is that it was a team effort put together though collaboration with 4 very different churches with very similar passions. Elevate christ,communicate the gospel in a clear compelling way to kids, give the parents tools to reinforce and rehearse the gospel with their kids.

I respect the heck out of each of  the people involved. Love their passion and their heart. Each one of them will further break down what we did make sure you read their posts because in my opinion why we did what we did is really more important that what we did. At the end of each of our posts is a short form for you to fill out once you submit it you will receive a link for the content.

Jonathan Cliff – Small Groups – God to the Rescue Release Party

Gina McClain – Parent Take Homes -Engaging parents on the Journey

Dan Scott – Large Groups – Easter Curriculum: God to the Rescue

Looking for a Christ Centered Easter Curriculum?

(This is a Repost of a blogpost I did last year I am going to re-do the whole seises as people in #kidmin are starting to plan for Easter. Hope this helps!)

Well, I am really excited to let everyone in the Kidmin community that in a couple of weeks we are going to be making  available a Easter Curriculum that Dan Scott, Gina Mcclain, Jonathan Cliff and I worked on together for our churches.

A few months ago we came up with this idea to write our own curriculum for easter and to do it collaboratively so that no one church would have to do all the work, but we all could benefit from working together. Doing this project together was a wonderful experience. It is so amazing to me that you can get so many churches together to write a curriculum that does not focus on denominational differences but elevates Christ. I went into this project with huge amounts of respect for each leader and the church they represent. As we wind down that respect has only increased. I am so honored to work along side these brilliant kids people to help in a small way to build the kingdom of God together.

Not being someone who likes to go negative on my blog, when we all got together we had some general and some specific frustrations with the curriculum that is out there. Because of this we thought that instead of just saying what we don’t like about what exists what if we created something that is more along the lines of what we are looking for and then blog about why we did what we did.

Is the curriculum we did the best thing ever? Nope. Is it for every church. I hope so but don’t think so. We do want to begin unpacking why we did what we did on all of our blogs offering our own perspective on the parts of the project we worked on. In unpacking why we did what we did and then making what we did available to you for this Easter or for future Easters, our hope is that it mets a need you have in your church and in the lives of the families you minister to.

I do want to offer this disclaimer that there was not one specific curriculum that we are thinking of when we start tackling some of the Elephant in the room issues with curriculum. There is a systemic problem in my opinion and I believe the sooner we adress those issues the sooner Christ will be elevated and our kids will be better for it.

Lastly I am really looking forward to getting some feedback from you guys. So make sure you chime in our kids deserve it and Christ expectes it. Thanks so much for all you guys do to help extend the Kingdom of God where you are. You are amazing.