Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where Does it Hurt?

This post from Sacred Scarred has definate implications for people working with children. He's quoting someone else but take a look. Think about how knowing the things that hurt other people helps us love them better. That tiny bit of information definately affects the way we interact with children and the people who love them.

Potential fuel for a much longer post...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Whatever Life Stage, Whatever Generation

Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalm 9:10 NIV)

Monday, November 26, 2007

That New Life Stage Again

I found this article about Emerging Adulthood posted on a number of Emerging Church blogs. You may have already seen it. It's similar to the NY Times article . Do we ignore it? Reality says "It's happening. Let's pay attention." Is this about the Post-Modern generation or is it the next generation?

Will this new stage affect the children of these young adults when they become parents and if so, how? Do we have to wait to find out? Or can we make informed predictions? Look at both positive and negative, by the way.

How does it affect you? Your family? Your congregation? The children in your congregation whose parents have passed through this stage?

Will these parents be different from parents in other generations? How? What will make them different? Will their children be different from children in other generations? How? What will make them different?

Does this affect the church community? Does it affect worship? spiritual formation? service? faith? relationships? How? Change "this" to "they". How do these young adults affect the church community differently than people their age did in other generations? I wonder...

Example: They're still poor college students and have no money, and maybe it doesn't matter to them. Maybe they have more time to serve, maybe they have less. Maybe they're more connected to family. Maybe less. Maybe they spend more time around children before they get married. Maybe they're never around children. You get the idea. Are they problem-solvers and independent thinkers? More mature? More confident? More self-sufficient and independent? More faith-filled?

Or less?

Maybe it doesn't change anything at all but as always, I'm curious and as you know I like to ask questions. . .

What do you think?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Puppies and Childlike Faith

I tend to read multiple books at a time. One of my favorites right now is Bones Would Rain from the Sky. Yes, it's about dogs. Don't laugh. If you have a dog and you're interested, here is Suzanne Clothier's website.

I love the stories she tells about being a child. (Most of chapter 1) You may meet little children like the child she shares. Her story about bringing a stray to Sunday School and her observations (from a child's point of view) when the ordeal was over I thought profound. She writes about dogs but she writes about learning to see and listen and about communication. It's a wonderful book!

This is from a chapter about honesty. ( pg 130) The author's niece who is 9 years old has her first dog, a nine year old lab. This little girl's love for her new pet is a love that causes her to want to see and understand. She tells her mother, "I know what he's saying, Mom, I really do. I'm knowing this dog!" Her aunt, of course, is thrilled! But here's the quote that I think is applicable for us:

"Hannah's joy and curiosity, her complete willingness to study Ben with careful, loving eyes and to trust what Ben told her- without rationalizing or intellectualizing- is what made "knowing this dog" possible. To hear what our dogs say, we need to listen with a child's heart, knowing past our minds, knowing with our hearts. But for many adults, this is a struggle; we have to learn how to climb down out of our minds and listen." (p. 130)

I just thought it was a good description of child-like faith, too: "listen with a child's heart," "climb down out of our minds and listen." It means keeping our child-like curiosity, our inquisitive mind as opposed to the rational, over-analytical mind of an adult. It means seeing what is: dogs speaking dog, not human. Children speaking child. There are things to see and learn about our invisible God through what His hands have made, if we take the time and have the eyes in our hearts (and minds) to see and ears to listen and hear.

*Photo: My "puppies"- now 2 1/2 years. I call this picture "Puppy Heaven." (We live in the city) We've found an outside place where they can be safe off-leash, even with a less-than-perfect recall. (A perfect recall being a come- sit- stay- in front of Mom- recall.) A less than perfect recall is not an Ellison-Park- Hi! Bye! running by recall. It's a "Here we are, Mom! [Pause.] Can we stay? [pause] Great! See ya!" not-recall. But you can't miss their huge smiles! They are off-leash, outside, together, with us, able to run and explore and swim (which Ellie loves!) What's not to love?

*puppies as in 2 1/2 year old dogs...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Challenge: New or Old

I was looking at Jaded CM's Oct. 7, 2007 post today.

"Christian" isn't a noun. It's not a label we carry.

Noun, verb, or adjective: it's how we live our faith. It's about the choices we make. It's how we represent God no matter where we are, or who we're with , or what's happening ... how do we bring that to children?

That may be the challenge for this generation.

Maybe it's been the challenge for every generation.

Happy Thanks-Giving!

Hide and Seek

Maybe I was an unusual kid. I loved finding things that people had forgotten or didn't know they had. You probably didn't want me getting into your forgotten places because I probably left your forgotten stuff in a mess. But it was so much fun!

Maybe that's another element of post-modern faith. Post-moderns know how to go looking. Do you realize all the blogs that are out there to find about kids and faith - and from so many different perspectives? Hidden, of course! You have to go looking. Do you realize all the conversations people are having about faith that you may never have in your own church with people you know - people running after God with the same questions you have? And now we can find them! How cool is that? [Yes, there's a lot of garbage out there and down right awful stuff, too. Not the topic.]

It might feel like making use of so much unscreened information must mean we're throwing discernment to the wind. But maybe it requires a whole different level of discernment - the ability to sift through all the chaff looking for the gold, scriptural realities (truth, if you'd rather), more of the Living God of the scriptures in lives of many different people, in many different situations without filtering it through your leadership. Ok. There is a time and a place for that, too. Or maybe it's more like sitting and talking with a new friend, without proximity, without body language. Don't lose the ability to read body language or your control of safety and proximity.

As you read what all these people write, don't compare yourself. Just find encouragement to keep going after all that God made you to be. Ok, sometimes He asks you to be or do things that don't fall under that banner, either ... again, different topic.

If you like seeking, here are some more blogs to investigate: a Children's Ministry website in Oregon and her blog

Emerging Desert - a very neat descriptive name for a Christ-loving/Christ-seeking community. I don't know anything except they are an Emerging community. And I've never been to the southwest, just California. It's nice, a great place to visit, just different from upstate NY. Yet another topic.

This kind of seeking isn't neccessarily the same as "seeking the Lord with all your heart" you say. Ok. But it may not be far off, either. It keeps you looking for fellowship, though it be virtual, with real believers. If He happens to be hiding on you in communities of believers who don't live in your back yard...we used to say, "Move there!" It won't be virtual anymore. Instead you'll learn the tough realities of real life community and/but you'll also discover more of Jesus.

But with all this networking, maybe there's something to be said for staying put and giving to a community where you feel out of place and drawing strength and encouragement to do that from your virtual network. I wonder if Jesus felt like that... Such possibilities! We're a Body of diverse parts that are, somehow, supposed to fit together.

Ok. Some of us find it really hard to look at something from only one angle. Some of us find it absolutely impossible! Annoying? Yes!

But we like looking and finding! I think God does too. And, ok, He likes looking for and finding people but I bet He's really good with ideas, too!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Looking for conversation?

Did you find this conversation about emerging churches and children's ministry when you visited Subversive Influence? It's almost a year old now, but take a look! Conversation about kids in Emerging churches is a really hard conversation to find...or it used to be. Maybe it's like cream - finally rising to the surface?

I think that one reason that the conversation is so hard to find is this generation's desire to include children and not separate them, the desire to make them full-fledged members of multi-generational communities. Church leaders and members are asking different questions than the questions we're used to. It may be that parents want to take more responsibility for nurturing their children's faith so they don't care so much about the programs and activities that mainline/evangelical churches are looking for. Churches who want to focus more of their energy interacting with people on the "outside" with the hopes of loosing the label all together would also be less apt to plan activities to draw a crowd ... Spinning the milk to mix in the cream is good but there is some floating to the top. And there are times and places when you just need cream.

If you're looking for conversation there's conversation to be found...


Another interesting find: It's A Dance: Moving with the Holy Spirit by Patrick Oden and related links. I haven't read it yet but it definately sounds like the beginning of an interesting conversation. Although not directly tied to children, books that grown-ups get excited about are tied to children because they will affect how communities live and walk with God over the next generation plus and that affects children. Grown ups act as translators. Or maybe it's the kids who ultimately do the translating.

... But this is about dancing ... maybe they'll just dance . Maybe no one will be translating. Maybe everyone will be dancing...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

If you can't find it...

I'm all in favor of letting people wrestle and search until they find what they're looking for but as you peruse the Subversive Influence post don't miss Hamo's Post...

Friday, November 16, 2007


More to read about kids from Brother Maynard (9/14/07) at Subversive Influence.

He ends with these words: "For me, I have two things on the brain: Moses crossed Sinai with the children (see the Lawrence of Arabia quote noted above). When we left our CLB and the concern about removing the kids came up, I reasoned simply: if it isn’t good enough for me, how could it be good enough for my kids?"

(Note: he has Easter and Advent ideas in there, too...)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mine and Ours

Over the last five years I've switched from long personal prayers to praying the Lord's prayer and just talking to God. Just another new season? Maybe. When Jesus' followers asked Him to teach them to pray, He taught them what we know as the Lord's Prayer. There are probably books and seminars that focus on a multitude of ways to make the Lord's prayer and other prayers work like some kind of magic. That's not where I'm going with this.

I noticed the other day (I'm a little slow) that when Jesus taught His disciples to pray He didn't teach them to pray using the pronouns "I" or "me" or "mine". He taught them to pray using "our" and "us," "Thy" and "Thine."

I wasn't going to blog about that but I picked up the next chapter in Children Matter (Chapter 7 - Children in the Faith Community). In the second section the authors draw our attention to Genesis 1:26. "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness." (CHMT, p 128). They point out that God not only didn't leave man alone, but our triune God was a community of three to start with. We are created in the image of this triune God. Community is part of the image in which God made us. It would be an interesting study: where God uses "Me" or "mine" and where He uses "we" or "our".

The focus in Chapter 7 is on community with a terrific beginning about a church where a pastor made relationships important by his example and his focus. . . (CHMT, p. 126-128) It's worth reading.

At the end of a list of six qualities present in this particular congregation - all focusing on caring for, relating to, and empowering people whatever their age- the authors end their list with this: "Because children were present in every part of church life, they were formed by the faith of the members of the congregation." (CHMT, p. 128) Simple? Too simple?

We are not only an independent-minded people (I'm guilty) but the presence of extended family in one location is rare these days. An extended family that's interdependent on each other (assume the healthy version) may be a common occurrance in many cultures but not ours. For post-moderns, community and ministering to the whole person are important values - Biblical values. Maybe post-modern parents are the children of the remnant of the '60's and '70's - health foods, hippies, peer community taking the place of broken families. Ok. That doesn't apply to everyone. After all, the establishment prevailed didn't it for better or for worse, or we think it did. Maybe we should wonder. Maybe it didn't. Maybe God started something. And maybe He's not done.

It's interesting to see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the beginning of community. It's interesting to see an example of a thriving faith community where each individual feels loved, where each individual is important and yet each individual sees others as more important than him or herself. As this community extends hospitality to one another, they don't exclude children. They include them. That statement in itself isn't a very good picture of what the authors were saying. Their picture of a multi-generational funeral celebration to remember an elderly brother in Christ says something much stronger. (CHMT, p 127)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sites You May Already Know About

Did you know that there's a children's, children's, and children's (I googled "Children's Ministry" this morning). Here are some sites you might enjoy, if you haven't already seen them:

Non-denominational International Children's Ministry including a blog. Sometimes it's interesting to see people doing what you do but in a different context.

Child Ministry International Page.

This one is from the UK.

And great article by Jim Wideman about team work.

More resources at Kid's Sunday School Place.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Children Matter: Context

The authors of Children Matter have an interesting chapter on context - interesting for families and children's ministers. I'm still impressed by their insights and sensitivities.

"Our task is to translate and demonstrate messages of faith to children for their particular time and place. The tension is to respect the truth and timelessness of the scriptural message while at the same time being sensitive to the diversity of children's circumstances." (CHMT p. 116)

I'm understanding context as the relevance of a child's surroundings to the child and his/her faith. The emphasis here being relevance to the child.

Sometimes context is obvious. Sometimes recognizing context takes highly tuned observational skills and sensitivity. Respectful dialogue and open conversation between adults and children can help us understand ways that the context in which a child lives might affect him or her. Sometimes the things that affect adults also affect children - sometimes in the same way, sometimes in different ways. Sometimes children are more sensitive. Sometimes children are sensitive to different things in different ways than we are.

Here are some of the things they mentioned that can affect a child's growing faith:
-the family environment shaping the child
-ways that this particular child shapes his/her family and their environment

Sometimes the affect is positive, sometimes negative.

Context can be all or any combination of the following:
cultural heritage
day care
a parent's work world

interconnected relationships between all these different spheres

Don't forget the affects of

the media
books, computers, radio, TV, videos, movies, advertising

the country they live in or the country of origin
world, national, and community events

Family customs, values, traditions

I don't remember if they mentioned this but I imagine leadership styles at home and
in all the other spheres in a child's life will affect him or her, especially if they're in conflict with one another. They touched that a little - the conflicts that can occur between the different influences in a child's life.

I was especially impressed by the authors' sensitivity to the historic context of the faith community to which a child belongs. They encourage not only the exchange of personal stories, community stories, stories about the role of this particular faith community in the larger community, but hunting for stories about the children's ministry there. Whether you love history or hate it, those who come before us affect our lives and our work today. It's worth taking the time to understand the "how."

They noticed that Moses couldn't help but be affected by bi-cultural influences. I'm guessing there are probably examples in scripture of most any situation we can think of if we're willing to take the time to go looking.

I liked their attention and sensitivity to the visual images and symbols that we use to communicate faith to children.

It's an interesting chapter. Context is always part of our lives but not necessarily something we think about.

How 'bout you? How did context affect your faith, as a child? How does it affect the children around you, now?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Weddings and Bridges

I understand why they're not invited but I love seeing children at weddings.

Yesterday, my daughter's friends got married. They had big attendants and 5 little (very little) attendants. One was 1 1/2 years, three were just 3 years, and one was about 3 1/2. The adults had their hands full during the rehearsal, or so I'm told, but the kids were very good for the wedding. I was told that the 3 1/2 year old thought he was going to be a ring bear (as opposed to a ring bearer). He had his heart set on wearing a bear costume not a tux. They gave him a little stuffed bear to tie to the ring pillow instead. That explains what was dangling from the upside down pillow. It didn't look like a ring.

The wedding was at a Missionary Alliance church. Lots of international flags and maps and things from other countries. But the display that caught my eye had a picture of a bridge with toy trucks and dirt in it. I looked because I thought it was a Sunday school project. But it wasn't. It was a small group project about connecting and building bridges between small groups and local community organizations. Don't you think a 3-D bridge project diorama would make a cool project for elementary kids in Sunday School? Wasn't Jesus into building bridges?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Children in Church - a Pastor's Love

From Emerging Parents. Special because it tells about a pastor loving the children in his congregation. More special because it was written by his daughter.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Interesting discussion blogs

Jeff shared some interesting blogs at D-train Oct. 25, 2007.

Fun ideas from Houston

CLPCKids Oct 26, 2007. I thought it was a fun idea last year. This year, there's more...