How To Build Relationship with Kids to Change the Faith of Families.

I live in a large, interconnected neighborhood. In order to save money on school bus service, schools tend to be plopped down right in the middle or our community. At the end of the day bell, the streets are flooded with kids. First elementary school, then half an hour later the middle-schoolers.

Tons of kids, even more families, just waiting for us–the church.

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That’s all I saw that day, a bunch of teenagers who needed Jesus. I wondered how many of them went to church. I wondered how many of these kids who went to church ever invited other kids. I thought of how Christians are pulling their kids out of schools, pulling Jesus out of schools, and I was saddened at the thought. (But that’s a post for another time.)

When  I lived in Florida, one day I drove into our gated community at the same time the bus was dropping kids off. I counted them. Fifteen. There were 15 kids, and I knew their stories. I could have invited them to church, but they wouldn’t have come. Instead, I brought church to them. The first week I ordered pizza, twelve kids showed up to eat the free food and hear about Jesus. The next week we grew, and the next and the next. There were nights I had 40 kids piled on top of each other in my living room, just dying to hear, dying for community, dying for connection.

I find that kids, including teens are willing to take responsibility for their own faith apart from their parents. We need to find ways to connect with kids even if parents aren’t willing to come to church. In fact, we can change the entire trajectory of faith in Jesus in families through kids and their faith. It isn’t going to happen with a single event, or with flyers on doorknobs. People need real connection, real relationship and that takes time.

Here are some ways to minister to families through kids:

1. SCHOOL INVOLVEMENT: whether you are in PTA, or just show up to a class party, getting to know kids and begin building friendship with them is a great start.

2. OUTSIDE TIME: When you see a group of kids outside, or you have a park near your house, get off your couch and go play some basketball.  One of the things I try and do as much as possible is walk to pick up my 4th grader. I talk to his classmates, give fist bumps and high fives. Sometimes I even end up with groups of kids around me as we walk and talk together. Not only am I getting to know them,  most of these kids are going home alone and I can offer a sense of security for their walk home.

3. GAMES: Go to local highschool or middle school games and get to know kids names and start conversations with parents.

4. BLOCK PARTY: throw a block party with hot dogs and juice boxes in your front yard. Have a few games out or a football. It’s a great way to get to know the kids in your hood.

And I wish I didn’t have to say this, but have some boundaries when hanging out with kids. Don’t friend them on Facebook, or ever be alone with any of them. As you begin to build friendships, make sure other kids and adults are around as you spend time with them.

The reality is, not every child or family will come to church with just an invite, but we can always bring Jesus to them, through our kindness and acts of love, and showing them how much we care.

What are some ways you have or you can start building relationships with kids in your neighborhood? Comment and  share your ideas. 

And LIKE my FACEBOOK PAGE somewhere over there —-> for daily updates, encouragement and crazy talk!

LG|LP

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Church Talk: How to Blow It With Volunteers

If you know me or follow me, you know that my journey to find a new church was a long one…a painful one…an insightful one. There are a few churches where we attended that I actually thought “Hey, we could stay here!” I have served in ministry for almost 15 years, and I’m not one to sit on the sidelines. I jump into the deep end with both feet. I don’t need anyone to say “Hey you’re so awesome! Hey you have experience, please stay here!”  I just want to serve.  I believe in the church, and know the power of God and have dedicated my life to serve Him, with or without a paycheck.  Although my preference is WITH  a paycheck, I don’t muddle around over details such as those.

With the few churches where I truly thought we had a future, I would sign up to volunteer, make meetings with Pastors, offer my services–consulting, teaching, training…whatever was needed.  Including rocking babies or shaking hands. I was an able and willing person ready to give back. Besides, when you are in a new church, serving is one of the absolute best ways to meet people and begin building relationships. With great expectation I filled out forms, signed up online, did whatever I was asked and the most amazing thing happened:

NO ONE EVER CONTACTED ME.

I’m not even kidding. And not just once…several times. So this is a pattern in churches, a dangerous, and ugly road we are building.

I’m a grace-extender. I understand overworked and underpaid. But if you want to completely blow it with volunteers, just never contact them. I know it sounds like a “duh”! But I write this to encourage you to re-prioritize your To Do List, your daily meetings, and even your values.

Ministry is about people, and not just the people you serve. We often think if we are in the ministry of children, kids are our target audience. That couldn’t be further from the truth. ALL people are your target audience regardless of your ministry area. To say we need to group people is a very corporate perspective. As a ministry leader in whichever “department” you lead, people are the most important…this includes volunteers.

Volunteers are the absolute heart of your ministry.

They will stand in the gap, and be raised to lead in their own way. They are the entire reason you exist. As I train or teach or consult one of the greatest struggles is finding and keeping “volunteers.” Volunteers are simply people who are searching for the same exact thing you are: God. And God is in our serving. No matter how busy your day, or how imperative other tasks seem to be, volunteers should always be your number one!

When you don’t contact people back they won’t contact you. And you build a reputation, one that I had once. I was horrible at calling volunteers back, because everything else needed to get done. But volunteers are the “be” part of our ministry not the “do” part of ministry. They are the part of our ministry that builds relationship and draws us all closer together and closer to Jesus!

Pick up the phone, give them a call.

LG|LP

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P.S. For regular ministry encouragement–LIKE my FB Page!!—-> over there some where

I Need Your Help

I want to start a movement.

I want you to help me.

It's simple, really. But at the same time it is so against what the world has, what the world offers.

It won't take much, just a little switch in thinking on our parts. A different window in which to gaze at the world.

I like the idea that we control our thoughts, and not the other way around. It's true, ya know?

All we have to do is believe in what we are called to do, and then act on our beliefs.

Jesus said to love God with everything.

Jesus said to love others.

So that's the movement I want us to start.

I want us to move God's love into the lives of anyone and everyone within our reach.

How? You ask.

By holding open doors.

By putting your phone away when you are checking out at the grocery store and talking to your cashier. Ask him how his day is going. Tell her that you like her earrings.

Smile at people.

Say thiank you.

Let people ahead of you in traffic, and wave a friendly hello.

Act with love.

Stop acting with impatience, selfishness and discontent.

Move God's love.

To anyone who crosses your path.

We are starting it. And we are starting it now. We are doing it together… and we are going to share our stories about how commiting to moving God's love makes a difference, not just in other's lives, but in ours.

Are you in? Comment and join the movement!

LG|LP

HOW NOT EATING CHANGED ME

At the beginning of May I entered into a 21 day fast. It was the second time I've done this crazy thing. But what I found even crazier is that there are people who have been Christians forever and ever and ever who have never ever fasted before.

Now I'm not super Christian who fasts all the time and does everything right and who is always obedient–in fact I'm quite the opposite. Just a few nights ago you could have found me fully clothed, sitting in an empty bathtub with the shower curtain closed screaming at God because he doesn't seem to be listening.

This was the very reason I began my 21-day fast because I needed God to listen, and more than that I needed Him to speak. I have been drowning in grief and confusion and every voice I heard was muffled and water logged, so I exhausted myself wondering if it was God speaking, or simply one of the echoes of my temper tantrums that daily emerged. I needed to empty myself…to empty my stomach…to remove distractions and caffeine and all the things I love so the sounds of my heart could maybe become audible.

This fast: no bread, no sugar, no meat and water only. Not quite as strict as my last one, but no less difficult–I love me some caffeine…I LOVE me some bread, I adore, absolutely addictively adore, sugar. I knew my soul needed Jesus more than my tastebuds needed anything. And so I embarked.

For twenty one days:

I prayed and prayed.

I read scripture.

I cried.

I yelled.

I discovered some really ugly…like really ugly parts of me.

And He answered.

Not every single thing in the way I hoped, or in the timing I wished for. In fact daily I'm still going before the throne and praying for a specific miracle. But I emerged with a new perspective, well..mostly.

With every fast comes the specific requests. Mine were personal and filled with hope.

Please lift depression from my daughter and give her vision for her life.

Please give me some sort of vision for my own life, because why do I wake up every morning?

Please please please break this financial bondage that we are in. Too many years, too much stress, too many curses.

Please just fill us. Empty our lives of us and fill us up with you.

God has answered my prayers for my daughter, given me a new hope in him, even though I hate it here still. He has filled us up, drawing us each nearer to him–however, we are still broke.

Fasting isn't realllllly about having Jesus wave his wand and bless you, answering all of your prayers because you so sacrificially deny yourself of something you love. What it's reallllly about is you becoming less like you and more like Him. He will answer prayer, but only if it's in your best interest. He will answer prayer but only if you have a heart change first. He will answer prayer but only if it transforms you–making you less and Him more.

Him more. In your mind…your heart….your thoughts…your requests.

I'm not hating because he didn't methodically check off my list of requests. I'm loving because I am free in a way I wasn't free on April 30th.

I'm a work in progress–and so are you

So plan on fasting with me.

For three days:

July 1

July 2

July 3

And the rest of this week I will convince you why …. I will show you how he worked in my daughter's life. I will envision you with the vision He gave me. I will explain the importance of obedience and fasting and obediently fasting. And we will do it together…Changing our hearts, and changing the World…solely for Him.

Are You In?

Comment and Share with me your emphatic or reluctant “YES!” And stick around the blog this week…

LG|LP Tiff

 

MY RESPONSE TO ‘SHOULD YOU MAKE YOUR CHILD SHARE’

Creating Unforgettable Adults is one of my main goals as a mom. To our family, an Unforgettable Adult is one who is a strong, Christ-follower who is rooted in an identity that is unshakeable and is willing to trail-blaze for Jesus.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Popsugar recently published an article that has gone viral in the parenting world. Why I Don’t Make My Son Share focuses on real life scenarios with pre-schoolers who struggle in a world of determining what is mine, what is yours and what is ours. Granted, preschoolers, and actually most children, are territorial in they find a sense of comfort and security in things. But is it so wrong to teach children to share?

In fact, there are many aspects of your child to take into consideration when teaching the “sharing lesson.” The first and foremost is the age of the child. Not all aged children can be taught the same lesson in the same way. Depending on the developmental age of the child will depend on how they respond. A toddler does not have the reasoning or abstract thinking skills of a 2nd grader, or even a preschool child. Teaching “sharing” is more difficult with a toddler because in their mind, everything in the entire world exists for them.

Regardless of age or anything else for that matter, I believe we should teach our children to share.

Here are a few comments from the article and my thoughts:

“I think it’s a great disservice to to teach him (the child) that he can have something that someone else has, simply because he wants it.”

I agree. We are a generation of parents who teach our kids to remain toddlers their entire lives by feeding the lie that the world exists simply for them. I think the concept of sharing has absolutely nothing to do with the idea found in the above statement. To me the concept of sharing isn’t about entitlement it’s about serving.

Sharing has less to do with the child who wants the toy than with the child who has the power to be kind. The hope of the lesson of sharing is ‘pay it forward’. If I share with you, then you share with her. Along with the problematic sense of entitlement in the Ygeneration is also the sense of selfishness and lack of ability to work as team or within a family. Sharing encourages working together. To me there is nothing wrong with that–actually our kids need to learn all the characteristics of teamwork such as negotiation, communication and fairnes.

In addition, by not teaching your child to share the sense of entitlement simply shifts from the child who wants the toy to the child who has the toy. All I can visualize are all the seagulls in Finding Nemo chirping, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

As a Christian parent one of the most important lesson we can teach our children can be found in these passages:

I Corinthians 10:26 “the earth and everything in it belongs to God.”

Translated by THIS mom: “Share-it’s not yours!”

Job 1:21 “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; praise the name of the Lord.”

Translated by THIS mom: “Share- or I’m taking it away.”

“…think about your own day-to-day adult life. You wouldn’t cut in front of someone in the grocery checkout line just because you didn’t feel like waiting.”

Hopefully as an adult, by now I would have been taught kindness and social graces, so no, in fact, I would not cut in line at the store. Even most small children know that when you go to the store you have to wait in line, because they’ve been taught.

Teaching the concept of sharing is basically the same. It takes time, trials and persistence. The ideology of sharing is transcendent. Teaching sharing is not just about toys or things. Sharing is a deeply rooted part of every aspect of life. We share our time with others. When we grow up, we share our lives and our toothpaste with our spouse. We share our emotions with one another. We share life. People who do not share life with one another are found to be miserable and lonely. Our entire lives center around the concept of sharing. My hope is that because I’ve taught my children to share, someday when they are grown they might just let someone cut in front of them in line at the grocery store, just to be nice!

“Let’s teach our kids how to cope with disappointment because it happens.”

Yes, disappointment is a horrible part of life. But each lesson in life needs to be taught in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time. I’m not sure disappointment should be the lesson taught along side the fundamental, and universal lesson of sharing. Disappointment is never intentionally taught by a person who loves you. Disappointment is the school of hard knocks. Life brings enough disappointment in itself. Perhaps better opportunities to teach a child to cope in disappointment are if your child doesn’t make the team at school, or your ice cream falls on the ground maybe even if a much anticipated spend-the-night just can’t happen, or sickness on field day. There are times and places….

In fact, Scripture teaches in Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

Translated by THIS mom: “We are playing with friends right now, so now is the time to SHARE.”

 

Teaching our kids to not share perpetuates the lie of the culture that I deserve and I have rights and it’s all about me. More importantly we rob our kids because there is joy in sharing. In fact there is so much joy in sharing because sharing is simply an expression of love–the love we see throughout the Scriptures and the very reason Jesus died for us. He died so that we may share in his inheritance, even though we are undeserving. I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad Jesus decided to share.

Jesus AND his bride are BIG fans of sharing. The entire church was built on the premise of sharing:

Acts 2:

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

Translated by THIS mom: “You need to share your bubblegum, you need to share your time with your friends when you are playing, you need to share your space and let your friend sit next to you. You need to share your ideas with the world, and your faith with the unbelieving. You need to share love and kindness and hope to a hopeless world. You need to share your uniqueness and amazing gifts God has given you to make this world a better place. You need to not worry about who wants what, because it’s the person you are sharing with that is more important–even sometimes more important than you. So stop being the selfish person the enemy so wants you to be and be the wonderful creation God intended you to be. And share your toys.”

What do you think…the new trend of teaching our kids that we don’t “have to” share—is this a good thing?

Comment and SHARE!