PLEASE STOP Paying Your Kids to Know Jesus

Over the last few months I’ve seen too many parents and children’s ministry leaders and directors who are skewing the Gospel of Jesus with well-intentions. For some reason in our we are compelled to feed the cultural idea that the end justifies the means.

I read (and often fight against) ministry program after program having kids earn Bible Bucks or Jesus Money at church. Play money is awarded when a child successfully memorizes a Bible verse, or the Books of the Bible, or completes their “homework.”  Stores are set up where kids can purchase meaningless prizes in exchange for knowing John 3:16. I even know of a KIDMIN teacher who paid her kids an actual ONE DOLLAR BILL for stopping for a few moments in class to listen to God.

Even parents have jumped on this bandwagon.  They are having their kids earn X-Boxes and extra dessert for reading their two chapters a day, and are doing so unashamed.

I can go on and on about how this is so unhealthy for your environment and community. I can explain how it sets certain children up to fail, because they can’t physically follow through with what you are asking of them. I could give you insight on how this is completely unfair to the child of divorce, or who have experienced trauma.  Instead I will slap you with this:

WHEN YOU PAY KIDS IN ANY WAY TO LEARN ABOUT JESUS YOU ARE PREACHING A PROSPERITY GOSPEL. 

A prosperity gospel preaches and teaches that in return for your faith, or works, or tithes God will return the favor and bless you with wealth and/or health. This is the dangerous ministry that is often taught by most televangelists and some majorly known pastors in the Christian community…and it just might be taught by you.

When I tell a child that knowing Jesus and learning to know the Bible is worthy of a paycheck we are completely tainting the truth that His grace is a free gift. We set our kids up to think that there is always instant gratification in our relationship with God. We teach them to focus on the prize of the world instead the prize of Christ.

Bible bucks

By paying kids to know Jesus, we are training them to think of Jesus as some sort of slot machine, who if you pull the right lever, read the chapters, memorize the verse, Jesus will spit out some sort of blessing in return.

Out of all the bribes we make our kids day in and day out…Knowing Jesus should NOT be one of those. How disappointed will they be when their faith doesn’t pay dividends in a way they expect? What’s going to happen when they do all the right things in life, and they don’t get that job they want?

Will this type of faith, that is dependent upon earning something, be foundational enough, or more importantly, relational enough?

Jesus is about relationship–and relationship is built on love, and trust and time and effort, not “what can you do for me?”

When we pay our kids to learn about Jesus as a “harmless incentive” we are missing out on the opportunity to share the real gospel –it’s about what Jesus did for us at the cross that matters, nothing else.  He doesn’t owe us, we owe Him.

Paying kids to know Jesus:

Cheapens the Gospel

Devalues the Bible

Stifles the Holy Spirit

And Sets Kids Up on a faith that is not rooted in authentic relationship but rather superficial temporal motivations.

I know we want our kids to read their Bible. I know it’s important for them to form habits.  I know that we want our kids to know the books and commandments. But is it worth teaching the absolute adulterated perspective of Christ and His sacrifice in order to get there?

We don’t need incentive programs, we need Holy Spirit revival.  We need to spend as much time on our knees praying for movement in their hearts instead of developing stores and money and payment programs.  As parents and ministry leaders, we first must believe that Jesus in and of himself is absolutely enough. We must have the faith that when a child tastes and sees how good the LORD is, he will be hooked. We must trust that God can come in and give that conviction to a child to know and be known by Jesus.

So, I beg you, please, in your ministries, in your homes, please, please, please, stop paying your kids to know Jesus. It’s just not helpful.

Comment and share!

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

No Mercy, Kids! No. Mercy.

Zac’s been home sick a few days. I was so over hearing “I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” “I don’t want to be sick anymore!”

I decided to be a great mom, like a super great mom. We turned on some National Geographic Show about polar bears brutally eating innocent little baby seal, ate pizza and played cards. When playing games with my kids, my rule is: No Mercy. (Well okay, maybe a little.) But the one thing I will NOT do is let my kids win.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it?

We were playing Skip Bo and Zac only had one card left in his pile, I had four. He was so arrogant, just knowing he was going to win. But then mom AND

Boom

 

But the thing is, Zac doesn’t lose well:

skip bo

 

He was so mad, he threw the cards everywhere and stomped his way upstairs.  I sat and patiently waited for him to come back down and pick them all up. It took a good 20 minutes or so before he worked through his tragic loss and picked up the cards.   I thanked him and we moved on.

I just don’t “get” the everyone deserves a trophy, where we don’t take score, and all kids are winners. Life doesn’t work that way. Life is way harsh and mean. Losing well is a necessity in life. We spend way more time on this earth losing, than winning. If our kids can lose well, even at a game, then they will be more prepared to deal with the real losses, the ones that actually matter.

What do you think? Do you let your kid win at games? Comment below.

Let’s Chat!!

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Ferguson, Garner and Cop Killings through the Eyes of a Bi-Racial Family

racism

 

I sat on the couch breathless as the Grand Jury results were released on CNN. There would be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the tragic death of Michael Brown.  Brown’s death was tragic because it was unnecessary, no matter where we place fault. And the tragedy continued as small business-owner’s had their life and livelihood burned down, stores were ravaged and an entire community was completely ruined.

I watched until I couldn’t watch anymore.

We talked about it, for days. We muddled through the events, the quick shift in the tide of the Nation and how our world needs, well let’s be real, it needs Jesus. But we didn’t just talk about it from a middle-class, churched, Suburban America perspective. We talked about it from the perspective of black, Hispanic, white, mixed and law enforcement—because our family is all of those things.

I am white.

My husband is black—his background is in law enforcement, he is currently a forensic investigator with a Masters in Criminal Justice.

My two (step)daughters are black.

My son and daughter are half Hispanic, half white.

My youngest son is half black and half white.

We are a blended, bi-racial family.

We have learned that the world is very jaded and racism is alive and breeding right here, down your street, in your family, at your church. It is based on ignorance, and lack of respect for the whole of humanity.

We have heard comments like:

“What is it like to have a black step dad?”

“Wow, your kids look really Mexican.”

“Your mom is white? That’s not your mom!”

“How is that your last name, you don’t even look Hispanic at all?”

When my husband and I started dating, I was on the receiving end of racism for the first time in my life. I married a black man, and the black community has not always welcomed me.

Recently my son texted me this photo found on the wall in his high school, where the demographic is predominately Hispanic:

 

taft racism

 

When we walk into a restaurant, we get glances and blatant stares. People don’t know what to make of us.  My kids have fun with it. I was at Walmart with all five of them, and they convinced everyone I was their adoptive mom, who rescued them from the foster system. I walked out of that store a saint that day.

 

But I am their mom, 3 of the 5 came out of my womb. My husband is their dad—biologically 3 of the 5. We don’t see our race, our color, or origin. We are family. I don’t think about my husband being black, and don’t look at my kids as Mexican or Hispanic. They are just my kids. We don’t have to “work hard” at not seeing the color of our eyes or skin or hair as a definition of who we are.

So when these things happen—these racially charged issues, these murders, these injustices—we are forced to reconcile who we are individually and as a whole—and re-examine our worldview.

My husband’s perspective is unique. He has been a patrol officer, in dangerous situations with all races. He is military combat trained, he is highly educated, and considering law for his future. But he is also black, and has been on the receiving end of profiling of police officers, where respect and courtesy only come to him AFTER the police officer finds out he too is in law enforcement. Being a former officer, and a current investigator he also has great respect for law, and the reality of consequences for our actions.

I grew up in a predominately white family, although my step-dad is Hispanic and my younger brother is white and Hispanic. I lived a somewhat sheltered life, and my grandparents, who were influential in raising me, grew up in segregated Texas. They were loving and accepting of all people, yet traces of their childhood remained.

My son and daughter are also mixed with Hispanic and white.  They are influenced by both races, and are exposed to their Hispanic culture, yet don’t see themselves as anything but simply, people.

My (step)daughters grew up in a predominately black community. They went to an all black private school, and attended an all black church. As they have grown up, they have embraced the diversity of our world, and love people just because they are people.

Then there is the youngest: Half black, half white, with 2 black sisters, and a Hispanic brother and sister. He gets lots of questions, and I’m grateful that he has yet to experience any overt racism.

But as we sit and watch CNN and read the tweets—and we hear of police officers being murdered, it all hits us, because we are all of those things. We aren’t just the white cop who was the shooter, or the black teenager who was shot—we are both. We aren’t just the people angry at the injustice of the world or just the police officer who got killed leaving his family behind, we are both.

We can’t pick a side, because there is no side to pick.

I remember dreading time on the playground during recess when teams got picked to play soccer. That was the worst feeling, not knowing if you were even going to get picked at all. But it didn’t really matter as long as you got to play.

Somehow, our society believes that we have to pick a team, but by picking a team, we are leaving out the most important thing—the privilege of humanity. We watch the racial divide growing, and are stunned at the growing fire of racism because we know it’s possible…It is possible to look beyond stereotypes.

It is possible to look at a person’s actions apart from their skin color.

It is possible to embrace humanity.

It is possible to take responsibility for who you are, without blame.

It is possible to co-exist.

It is possibly to live in harmony.

It is possible to simply love.

I don’t have any other solution but this:

We must learn to love, in an unconditional way, with deep humility and passionate servanthood. We must teach our kids, and every other kid we are in contact with, ever in our entire life, that people are human—not black or white or Hispanic or Asian or … We must push our kids out of their comfort zones—we must push them into situations where they are forced to see the world through a multi-colored lens. (I know too many kids who live in middle-class bubbles whose parents won’t make the effort to expand their perspective on the world. Not just from a race perspective, but from a socio-economic one as well). We must take responsibility for our own thoughts, ideas, and the conclusions we jump to because it’s the way we have always thought.

We must challenge ourselves to walk through Samaria, and talk to those we wouldn’t normally talk to, regardless of how they dress, or what type of education they have or what they have done in their past. We can’t change this generation, but we can change the next!

But we can’t do that alone.

Until we admit that we need help, until we humble ourselves, and admit that we need the power of Jesus to flow into us and then out of us, we will remain the same—living in the impossible.

It is only in Christ that all things are possible.

I’m grateful for my possible— for my bi-racial, blended family. I believe, even in our imperfections and failures, we are a picture of the power of the love of Christ!

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I NEED YOUR STORY

No reason for me being MIA on my blog, except for my laziness, and internal battles, and pizza eating. I’m working on something very cool, something God put on my heart to write years ago, but for some reason now is when it makes sense.

It’s Big.

So Big.

And so important.

And it is so much of not just my story, but of me.

But it wouldn’t be really me if it didn’t include YOU. People make me who I am. Your lives and struggles challenge me, encourage me and change me.

I want you to be a part of this project.

father daughter

Here is the deal:

If you

1. Grew up a majority of your life without your biological father,

2. would be willing to answer a few questions about your life

3. would be willing to possibly have part or all of your story published as told by me, but would remain completely anonymous —

then send me an email at tiffany@tiffanycrawford.org.

You will be contacted BEFORE using your story in anyway to give full permission.  If at anytime you wish to back out, then I will honor you completely. And any information will be kept completely confidential until we agree that your info can be used (anonymously).

I want to know your story.  I want your voice to be heard. I want the world to be impacted by YOU.

EMAIL ME TODAY. tiffanycrawford.org

and SHARE THIS SO THE WORD CAN GET OUT!

I’m so excited at what God is going to do!

Love God and His Peeps,

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