Look who’s sitting up

25 05 2015

imagejpeg_1 imagejpeg_0                       Hunter sat up today for the first time today with his cousin Britton  playing next to him. He will be 9 months old tomorrow and on track like a six month old should be. We are so proud of him! Happy Memorial day.

Missional Children’s Ministry

12 09 2011

The term “Missional” has become extremely popular in all circles these days.  But what does it mean?

It does means that we are on a mission from God, but it means a little more than that.  It means that we are living out our faith in all aspects of our life and approaching our role as believers in every way we can.  We approach our immediate community as missionaries approach new cultures.  We study it, we adapt to it, we minister to it.

It also means that it is a different way to do church.  We do not use an attractional model of church (come here and hear about Jesus), instead it is a missional model of church (we will go and be the church where you are and that is how you’ll hear about Jesus).  This is a reversal of ministry 30 years ago.

So how does that relate to children’s ministry?  It relates in two ways.  One way it relates is that we need to be students of child culture.

  1. We must study the culture.  We must know their culture before we attempt to minister to it.  If Christians are unwilling to study and learn what children are doing and engaging in, they are not being missional.
  2. We also need to adapt to it.  We must be willing to adapt what we are teaching to the children.  It needs to be adapted to them as they learn and develop spiritually.
  3. We need to minister to it.  We need to guide our kids in ministry and service and also we need to minister to them directly.  They are the present and future church and must be ministered to directly.  We also need to give them opportunities in ministry to minister to others.

Another way that this relates to children’s ministry is how we create programs.  Most of the programs we create are designed to attract kids to church.  We create big events or programs that will help children to come to hear about Jesus so that they can be changed kids.  A missional approach would reverse that.  This would be an approach to go to the children.  It would design programs that go where the children are (schools and neighborhoods) to take Jesus to them.  This would get rid of the minister that gathers Christian kids together and it replaces them with programs that take Jesus to the kids.

A missional approach would also empower parents to do the ministry with their kids in the home instead of disempowering them by having them drop the kids off at church.

Missional Children’s Ministry?  Is it the future?  I hope so.


31 08 2011

Every year, it is my responsibility at my church to prepare the lighting of the Advent candles.  I have enjoyed this responsibility because it is one of my opportunities to throw in a little liturgical church year into my very vanilla worship services.

I have already begun thinking about this but I am planning to do something more extreme this Advent season.

To begin, Advent is the 4 weeks prior to Christmas.  Each Sunday for four weeks a new purple candle is lit to represent more of Christ’s light coming into the darkness of winter (for northern hemisphere Christians) and it reminds us of another person or group of people who were involved in the Christmas story.

This year, I will be working with a team to create an experiential event for Advent.  I believe it will be called “Journey to the Nativity” and it will walk through the biblical story of Advent (which is quite limited truly) to help our worshipers experience the anticipation of Advent and the coming of the Christ child.  I get the privilege of working with a good, creative team to create the stations that worshipers will engage on Christ at a deeper level.
Needless to say…I’m excited about where this will lead.

We will offer this event for three or four nights in a row prior to Christmas Eve to prepare the hearts of our people for the coming Christ child.  Families will be able to worship together and as they walk in the footsteps of the shepherds and hear the angels announcing the coming of Christ.  Worshipers will be able to experience the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis as the songs sung by the ones who experienced this timechanging event.  They will smell the hay and fodder laid down for the creator of the universe.

We pray that this will be a powerful experience and I will update its progress and the event on this blog.

What kind of music have you been listening to recently?

31 08 2011

I saw this as a “topic starter” for WordPress and definitely believe it needs some blogging.

So what have I been listening to recently?  Chant.  Gregorian Chant to be a little more precise.

Why chant?

I have been listening to chant because it touches my soul on a deep level (even if I cannot understand the words).  The music sounds “holy.”  Ok, that sounds a little cheesy, but its true.  It is the type of music used in the background for movies that take place in cathedrals.  I immediately associate it with that which is highly liturgical and spiritual.  And for that reason, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I believe that chant presents a very authentic and ancient form of worship.  It touches my heart because it speaks to me on a soulful level.  This is an ancient form of worship that the Church developed out of liturgical and scriptural readings.  They used that as the basis of its worship.  The used it because it was repetitive and easy for simpletons to learn.

This is a form of worship all but ignored in the Protestant Church.  But, as Protestants explore the greater expanse of Christianity, they will discover that chanting is still a viable form of worship that is touching hearts and souls of millions of believers around the world (including this one).


31 08 2011

Many times people working in ministry dread meetings.  We do not want to engage in the minutia of a meeting but would rather be out on the front lines engaging in ministry.  Although ideal, that is not the case in 21st century professional ministry.  Meetings are a necessary.  But do they have to be a necessary evil.

A few years ago I read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.  He addresses the issue of bad meetings through a fable where he compares meetings to movies.  He asks the question why movies can be so engaging whereas movies can be so boring.  A good question to ask.  Unfortunately, I do not completely agree with his conclusions.  He concludes that a good movie is made of drama which he directly ties to a good meeting.  He believes that good meetings need drama.  I have been a part of meetings where this resulted in manufactured drama.

I actually enjoy meetings.  You could even say, I look forward to meetings.  But these are good meetings (which can be few and hard to find).  I like to lead meetings that are creative and discussion based.  I always believe that the discussion is more important than the decision.  Of course decisions are essential, but the journey to get there is more important for me.  I like to see meetings that allow for true discussion with everything laid on the table.  I like to see meetings where emotional ties to events or ministries are checked at the door and discussion concerning effectiveness is permitted.  This is the type of meeting that is not driven by worshiping sacred cows but instead slaughters them on the altar of forward thinking ministry.  I truly see the Spirit moving in these types of meetings.

I attended a meeting recently that was a couple hours long but I could not determine what the point was.  We talked about what we were doing in our own SILOS but we never engaged in any real life discussions.  We did not allow room for vision or dream.  Instead we pushed through the meeting to get done what was on the agenda.  But what was the point?  What was the driving moment behind the meeting to determine why we met?  Unfortunately, I could not answer that question at the end.

Instead of just being critical, I’d like to offer some suggestions concerning meetings.

  1. Have a reason to meet.  Nothing is worse than meeting for the meeting’s sake.  Now, that doesn’t mean cancel for weeks or months on end because you don’t have a reason to meet.  There probably are reasons to meet which you are just ignoring them.  But regardless, meet when you need to meet and be free to cancel if there are not needs that need to be discussed.
  2. Be open to discussion.  Usually the meeting that bears the most fruit is the one with the most discussion.  Be willing to lay ideas and emotions on the table (altar) so that true progress can happen.  If a program needs to be buried, bury it.  If something new needs to be birthed, birth it.  Allow for ample discussion so that all parties are heard.
  3. Provide time for creativity.  Nothing is worse than a boring, non-creative meeting.  Allow for fun.  Allow for creativity.  Creativity begets more creativity.  Discussions need to be opened ended with questions like “What if…” and all ideas need to be accepted and talked about (regardless how ridiculous).  Even though something appears ridiculous in a meeting, it can turn into something life-changing.
  4. Create a united front.  Even if everyone does not agree with the decision, the leadership must create a united front.  They must be able to stand together in agreement with the decision.  This does not mean that consensus has been achieved, but it does mean that leadership is in agreement.  One person is not making the decision.  Decisions are made as a team.

Journey to the Nativity

22 08 2011

So, I have completed Csino’s book and tried my best to reveal some of the areas I really appreciated.

I am transitioning to a new project which consists of an Advent experience event on par with Stations of the Cross.  I am currently reading two books (Stations of the Crib and Stations of the Nativity) to get ready.  I am very excited about this project and any input would be helpful.

Beyond one-size-fits-all

17 08 2011

We in North America stand at a crossroads, unsure of the direction that the mass of our congregations will take us.  Will we follow the path of words and reexamine how we can know and experience God through the illumination of the mind?  Perhaps we will traverse the road of action and take up the causes of the oppressed, downtrodden, and poor.  Maye we will walk along the symbol-centered trail, wondering together about the great mysteries of the almighty God.  Maybe we’ll maintain a focus on how God touches our innermost being through emotion.  Whatever direction the church takes, one thing is certain: without a balanced tension of the four spiritual styles, we risk falling into an aberration, or extreme form of one style and leaving behind those people who walk along different paths.  In order to avoid such a sad situation, churches must engage in practices that can nurture people — especially children — from each and every spiritual style.  We can transform our congregations into places of harmonious dissonance. (Csinos, 151)

This is the thesis of the book.  This is the moment of action called upon by Csinos.  What will the North American church do?  Will it change its structure for children’s ministry or will it progress as it always has done?

Clearly, Csinos calls for change.  He wants to see the church move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and into a well rounded structure of ministry.  This will take work.  This will take creativity.  This will call curriculum writers (whether in church or out of church) to revamp how they write curriculum to meet the different spiritual needs of children.

Only when an environment is created that nurtures and speaks to the inquisitiveness of a word-centered spirituality, the affective nature of an emotion-centered spirituality, the wonder and mystery of a symbol-centered spirituality, and the quest for justice of an an action-centered spirituality, can a church honestly say that it is including all children. (Csinos, 152)

We are a far cry from that point.  Csinos’ book is a wonderful first step into a larger, spiritual world of children.  I hope that this conversation can continue well into the 21st century as we see children as spiritual beings with spiritual needs that need to be met.

We tend to cater to one form of spiritual need.  It is time to move beyond and meet the needs of our kids spirituality.