Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bigger. Better? I wonder...

This is about tools. Now go to CLPC Kids and scroll down to VBS and Burgers.

I read them both within a couple of days and what struck me were the similarities in what they're saying: Sometimes more isn't better. Sometimes more does nothing to help you accomplish your goals.

Yes, we live in a culture where kids are bombarded with more and more and more and it takes more to keep their attention. But what does that mean? Do we jump on the train with them as it goes faster and faster and faster 'til you can't see out the window anymore? Do we slow it down and turn it in a different direction and slowly change their diet and slowly draw their attention to all the things around them that they're missing?

What are we going to do with the information we have about kids and kids in our culture? Does it apply to every single kid in your class, some of them, or none of them? How do we take that information and not keep feeding them the same thing? How do we take that information or the techno tools or any of the 21st century tools available to us and help them keep their small, but ever-growing eyes on the Living God? When do we do that, and when do we rachet back to the simplist, most basic tools that we can possibly use to make our point - confident (if and when) that these are the very best tools we can use to accomplish what we need to accomplish? I wonder...

Another blog 6/07

A post at Children's Ministry by Design from Kidology's Blog Watch. Another for your list.

Some of what he's talking about are developmental thinking differences that tie into values but it's not unlike our talking about children and "concrete" thinking.

You meet people where they are but you don't neccessarily leave them there. It's nice if you can leave them in a better place than where you found them, even if you only leave them one smile richer.

Help Build a Better Curriculum

If you'd like to make comments about curricula to some people working on a new one, check this out.Children's Ministry 1234

I think this lead came from Kidology.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yet another blog!

Ragsstudio.

What I particularly like ...check this out. "...[N]ot taking ourselves too seriously." Everyone needs someone who can make us smile when nothing is going right. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Discussion

If you're interested, "Age of Accountability" is generating some discussion at Kidology, a resource worth perusing. If you like debate and discussion, the forums are worth visiting. Not sure if you need a membership for that, or not.

The Communion Table at Subversive Influence generated some discussion a while back, too. More good discussions. Subversive Influence is a fun place to visit particularly if you like thinking outside the box.

I suppose if I'm going to ponder and blog about controversial issues, dissension is inevitable. I could just join kidology and jump into the debates there but I'm not a professional and I'm not a volunteer anymore either and I have to say my taste for heated debate has seriously waned over the years...so I guess you're stuck with this.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Age of Acountability?

Our kids didn't hit public school until 9th grade but I have to say that I met alot of families whose kids went through urban public grade school and middle school. Wonderful kids, very involved parents, alot of them from churches. Most of them were very good at loving people. That's the bigger reason we let them fly. It was just time. It was time to learn to make good choices when we weren't around before they went to college and we weren't around. It was also an opportunity to love people. 8th/9th grade isn't unlike the time of Bar and Bat Mitzvah - the age of accountability. "Now you are a man." "Now you are a woman."

There are a lot of discussions out there about an age of accountability for "accepting Christ" but what about an age of accountability for being responsible for making adult decisions in an adult world? I don't hear much about that. I know a couple churches who have chosen to attach more significance to that life step but very few. More significance meaning they are baptized at whatever age they understand putting their faith in Christ - a separate life step available at any age. What do you think about that? Do you think coming of age, rite of passage in the church would make it easier for young people to make the transition from childhood to adulthood?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

fun activities

I saw some very fun and clever activities on this program the other day Donna's Day. Here's the website but I don't know that the website does it justice. :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Salt and Salt Shakers 2

All this was in the context of "How do we test a child's faith?" I'd venture to say that it's not our job. How does God test our faith? Does He? What do we think we know about God testing our faith and what do the scriptures actually say about it? The scriptures do talk about testing. We want to make choices that will stand. But I don't know that it's our job to worry about it or I should rather say that knowing it's coming doesn't guarantee we'll pass. Look at Peter in the garden. We have a responsibility to make godly choices and to keep making Godly choices. But fearfully running away from life thinking that we have to play it safe, that our God is too small, is cowardice - a lack of faith. I'm not talking about testing God. I'm talking about walking where you have to walk to do what you have to do, keeping faith, making "good" choices - even when you have no choices or you don't think you do.

In the blog I read against choosing public school, there are references to Judges and Proverbs. But what of the story of Moses raised in Pharoah's court or Joseph sold and serving in Pharoah's court? What about the story of Daniel in the Babylonian court, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, the servant girl in Naaman's household? A lot of these stories weren't about adults in the world of work. They were about young people. We wouldn't deliberately choose most of those situations for our children. We can say, they didn't have control over their situations. But Life happened. Life still happens and God's stories are still there to teach us something about God. All these people held on to God and God held on to them. He was still walking with them, using them, and He used their situations for good.

The verses in Judges are true. The verses in Proverbs about not walking in the way of sinners or sitting in the seat of scoffers are all true. But so are the scriptures that tell us these other stories. These stories are there to teach us just like the stories in Judges and the words of Proverbs. So how do we learn? What do we learn when the stories conflict? Do we write them all off? Or do we say, they're all true and do the wrestling we have to do to believe God?

If I enter an arena hoping to give something I find myself standing in a different place than if I go expecting to get something for my choices. That applies to children, too. I don't believe children should become the casualties of our choices. But they are in many ways the products of our choices and they survive and they learn and they grow. They also make their own choices. We have a responsibility to protect them but also to show them how to face the challenges life throws at them and those challenges aren't the same for every child or every adult or every family. We don't always have the freedom or the resources to make some of the choices we'd like to make. Or maybe we have faith for one choice but not faith for another choice. Does it make one choice better than another? Does it make one choice more godly? I'd venture to say, "not always". All of our choices affect our children, even before they're born.If we believe that God will walk with us where we're walking and we're still walking in fellowship with other believers, may the Lord walk with us and lead us (and our children) through all the choices we make!

Right or Wrong? Interesting to think that apparently there was no knowledge-of-good-and-evil for man until he ate from the tree. But I'm guessing that when he walked with God in the cool of the day he didn't need to know right from wrong. He was growing a friendship with God.

Salt and Salt Shakers

Sigh...a long post...a very long post in two parts...

For a week or two now I've been pondering something I read on a blog. I keep thinking I've run out of things to blog about then something else comes up. As I was reading I was reminded of a book title years ago about believers being salt and how salt isn't intended to stay in a salt shaker. Believers being the salt, the church being the shaker. A home can be a salt shaker, too, or a school - any institution that lives unto itself. I don't remember the author or the title. I don't even know if I even read it, but the image of salt and shaker stuck.

I've blogged about public school before. I went through public country/small town schools with all their ups and downs. My husband went through Manhattan private schools. When we first had kids, public school wasn't even on our radar for all the cultural and Biblical reasons Christians still choose 26 years later. We home schooled - a separate story.

Next week my youngest of five graduates from an urban public high school as did her siblings before her. I can't say we've come out unscathed [just this week the staff had a really BAD day at school] but we've met some wonderful people and we gave a lot of time and our kids learned a lot about people and friendships and caring and working together with people who aren't like you - things I could never have taught them at home and things they didn't get at church.

There's a mixture of "good" and "bad" in the world but it's in the church, too. Being exposed to "ungodliness" 8 hours a day isn't ideal. But I don't think it's an accurate description of all that God does in the lives of people spending their days in the secular work place or in public schools. Yet children in school are in an educational environment - they're there to learn. It's the spirit of the place. Teachers impart more than cognitive skills and information. Children are shaped by their teachers. People learn in the work place but it's different. That's probably why we have to prayerfully think twice when we decide where to "educate" our children. We know that spiritual formation is just as important as all the other learning that takes place, maybe more so but so are the attitudes they grow towards people.

I'd been warned of all the "ungodly" issues in public education and I had my own experiences but we stepped out in faith. We happened to get a staff who respected parents. My experiences left me feeling like the Christian materials we'd been reading for ten years were a lot of propaganda. There's ALOT to fix in public education but there are also those moments when God does what only God can do or when He just breaks apart your stereotypes. ie. Even though we (a very diverse urban public school played suburban and parochial schools (well-known Catholic and Protestant private schools in our area), our sports teams won sportsmanship awards for a number of years running. Kids from our school went to Ivy League schools and earned an amazing number of scholarships (merit, not just need). The kids could participate in small special programs full of opportunities they never would have had in smaller religious schools, they were given opportunity to serve the greater community - different opportunities than they would have had in private school. We were involved parents and willing to be team players.

I think you'd be surprised at all the believers committed to teaching in public schools - teachers, administrators, other staff. There's a way we support them and what they're doing when we send our kids to their schools. They affect the environment, other staff members and the kids, even if they can't change the curriculum, even if they can't change the system. As my age I'm coming to think maybe it takes more faith to keep giving even if you know it will only affect/effect one person than it does to know you're changing the world. Did we want our kids to become casualties? Absolutely not. Did we bring some light with us? Hopefully.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Volunteering

You probably have lots of ways to thank your volunteers. If you want, leave a comment and tell us your favorite way to thank volunteers and your favorite way to be thanked when you've volunteered.

Maybe lots of organizations who use volunteers do this, I don't know. But a certain organization very dependent on volunteers (700 volunteers, 60 staff, 40,000 hours/year) logs in volunteer hours and they have a dinner and slide show once a year (or maybe 2x a year, I'll tell you at Christmastime). I don't know how many hours you have to have...

My first opportunity to go and I couldn't go but I wanted to go. Wanting to go to something like that is unprecedented for me. I wanted to go because I wanted to see the slide show. This is an organization with a lot going on. It's easy for the left hand not to know what the right hand is doing. If you work there at all you'd love to see a slide show about what everyone else is doing. And I would have really liked taking my better half to see the slide show, too, because it's something I do that he doesn't do.

Do churches do that? Did you ever have a special dinner for your volunteers as a "thank you" with a slide show to celebrate all the work they've done (and all that God has done)? Given the digital technology available these days taking pictures all year and putting them into a power point presentation isn't that hard, even for me. You could even utilize your less visible techo people and it could be pretty cool. Actually you could even let your teens take the pictures and put it together. Especially if the kids are better at it than the grown-ups. :)

Just a thought...

WWTK: Wondering

There were lots of people with Abram and Sarah, some from Haran, some from Egypt. Were they all Hebrews? Did they have to convert? Did the people know about the promise God made to Abraham? Were there children in this entorage before Ishmael and Isaac were born?

When I was little and people got married we waited expectantly for babies - a different culture, then. In ancient Israel, people probably got married and babies followed shortly, too. I wonder if kids looked forward to babies the same way we did? Or maybe it was just me.

Abram and Sarah were very old. The people Abram and Sarah's age were grandparents, great-grandparents... Did people talk? God was going to give them children...hmmm...When kids heard their parents talking did parents have to explain why they didn't think this could possibly happen? Or did they think it could?

Or did they just think, "Probably Lot. God probably meant Lot."

But Lot's men and Abram's men start fighting. Lot leaves with all his people. What will God do? Will Lot get the land that God promised? Lot ends up somewhere else. We can ask wonder questions about Lot's children, too, but again all this is speculation. I wonder if they were born in Sodom or if they had experienced both cultures. I wonder how protective Lot was or not. Did they know that the men who came to rescue them were angels?

Perhaps the children in Abram's camp were totally unaware of the promise to Abram and Sarah or perhaps they were listening when their grown-ups talked about it, if they talked about it. People probably talked. I wonder if the adults thought Abram was crazy.

Imagine being a child and wondering... we all belong to, or work for, or we're related to (LOL) a crazy man...a rich, successful crazy man. . . a man who is old and gray and still believes that God will give him children...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

a movie

If you have opportunity to see the movie, To End All Wars, or better yet to read the book by Ernest Gordon, it's a powerful story. It's not for children (maybe tweens and teens with parental discretion) and it's not pretty. But both are powerful show-not-tells.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

WWTK: the promise

Here's another situation where the children who weren't there are critical to God's story: Right in the beginning of Abram's journey God made a promise. But it wasn't exactly a promise to Abram. "'To your offspring I will give this land...'" (Gen. 12:7 NIV)

Abram built an alter to the God who appeared to him, the God who made a promise to his children - children yet to be born. The obvious: in order for God to keep his promise, Abram would have to have children. (This man is 75 years old.)

It's interesting that
-the promise (and the land) was for his children, not Abram.
-the promise was given before these children were even born.
-this land was located somewhere at the beginning of the journey - one of the places he first set foot but he didn't stay there.
-children were absolutely required for God to keep His promise, even though Abram and Sarai weren't able to have children on their own. This is before the days of technological "miracles". And apparently having a nephew wasn't enough.

Abram believed God but apparently, he also kept walking "Go to the land that I will show you". He didn't stay put and just sit around doing nothing until God kept His promise to his heirs. Maybe being willing to keep walking was as much faith as believing the promise.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Did I ever post this?

If I never posted the Artisan Website it is here.

To find kid stuff go to [Worship], go to [Archive: past messages], click on a Sunday (any Sunday). scroll down to [Family Workbook], enjoy!

Not sure if you'll find a message for kids in the podcast or not, you might!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ongoing discussions

Some interesting thoughts and comments at Joys Ruminations

Friday, June 01, 2007

Family and friends

This was posted in Toronto Dec. 2006. I think it's really well-said. Not all kids are into sports and large group activities and it's good when parents play a major role in a child's life. Yet I also think kids need both friends and family.

The need for group involvement is different for different kids and different adults. Parent involvement is different for different people. Different relationships contribute different elements to a person's maturing. Different churches have different needs. It's nice to have the freedom to address the needs you see.

Another resource

Another resource: Children's Ministry Online It's a resource that I think you'll find useful.