Just wanted everyone to know my site has moved to www.growingkidsministry.com! Stop on in!
Today in Children’s Church, we talked about the Last Supper and how Jesus was a servant to his disciples as he humbly washed their feet. Of course, the application question to the kids was “How can we be a servant to others?” The kids were full of great answers as usual — “share your candy”, “be 4th in line”, “be nice to someone”. However, the lesson wasn’t really about servant-like actions, it was about having a servant’s heart. Now, how do we get from actions to a heart-state? Should the application question have been “How do we develop a heart like Jesus?” Is that too much for kids? How do we change the hearts (or set the stage for the Holy Spirit to change hearts) in the kids we minister to? I know as a very churched child growing up a Christian home that I knew all the right answers and actions, but my heart was not right. Do we set kids up for this pharisitical lifestyle by asking questions about actions? Or is that the only avenue we really have with children? Hard to say…
This chapter focused on Family. It begins with a warning against living just to make your kids happy. Of course, parents don’t start out that way. We want what is best for our kids. We want them to grow to be healthy and responsible. However, sometimes the line is crossed. We’re so busy with possessions and experiences that sometimes important slips from view. How do we preven this in our families? Author Reggie Joiner gives a few suggestions, but first he addresses church leaders. He states, “I’m going to suggest something to you now that I hope you will never forget. If you’re a church leader, your purpose is not to equip parents to have exceptional parenting skills. If you set unrealistic expectations, you may create an atmosphere in which parents become discouraged and children get disillusioned…Unreasonable standards or ideals that are too lofty may be the reason that moms and dads who attend church get discouraged and give up and then frustrated leaders trying to motivate parents opt to bypass the family”
Now, onto rethinking family values (there is a quite a bit of “rethinking” in this book!).
Family Value #1 Imagine the End
Ultimately, our goal as parents should be for our kids to love God above all else. When Moses was giving his farewell speech to the Israelites, he reminded them again and again of what God had done and exhorted them not to walk away from the one true God. Sometimes as parents we’re so muddled down by feeding the kids, picking up their stuff, carting them here and there and trying to keep their grades up that we forget the crucial question “Who do I really want them to become?”. Fast forward twenty years and think about what kind of characteristics you want your children to be demonstrating. Chances are, they are godly characteristics. If so, what are we doing today to cultivate that? (Check out the Farrel’s book below to help with this!)
Family Value #2 Fight for the Heart
As Moses is addressing the Hebrew people he says something a little different: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sould and with all your strength”. Reggie explains, “The only thing that seperates a living faith from a ritualistic orthodoxy is one word, one idea, one compelling force: Love” (p57). If we want to pass on a legacy to our children, it has to be done in the context of relationship. Rules and practices outside this framework of love for God end up becoming empty and often offensive religion. Even explaining the reasons behind rules is not enough — reasons can be debated, but a trusted relationship cannot. Reggie explains, “The most important way you fight for the heart is to build a relationship that is trustworthy” (p59).
(to be continued…)
This chapter helps to highlight the essential task the church has been designed to do. Reggie paints a beautiful picture of the nature of the church, drawing examples from the Old Testament tabernacle and temple and the letters to the churches in Revelation. No matter where it is discussed, the Bible makes it clear that the church is to function as a lampstand, a light which points to Christ. The author explains that in the Old Testament tabernacle, the lampstand was located in a strategic place. It was directly next to the table which held the “shewbread”, the loaves meant to represent God’s provision and later would symbolize Jesus’ own body. In the book of Revelation, John addresses the seven churches as the seven lampstands. As you read through John’s challenges to these churches, everything makes so much more sense in the light of the lampstand’s original purpose. “God was concerned about the church losing its influence and impact” in order to shine a light on Christ.
Reggie challenges us as churches to makes sure the we are illuminated the right things. In order to be most effective for kingdom, we have to make sure the lampstand is illuminating the bread, Christ. Jesus himself said that when he is lifted up, he will draw men to himself. It’s not our job to draw people in — it’s our job to illuminate the only one who can. All our clever programming and fun activities will become pointless if they are not showcasing the Son of God.
The author warns against several tendencies in the church including using the lampstand to fight personal battles, make political statements, and make our church look better. All Bible-believing churches are serving the same God — and sometimes we “begin believing our mission is to get people to buy into our version of church”. So instead of getting caught up in the minor issues and things that distract us from our true calling, let’s make it a priority to keep Jesus in the spotlight, so to speak. Let’s be intentional about keeping the lampstand in it’s proper place.
I’ve been thinking about praying a lot about this “Think Orange” book. I’ve often tried to include parents in the ministry, but only if they came to the church already. Sure if guest parents showed up for a special function I would make my way over (often with high anxiety) to say hi and thank them for coming. However, I never really sought them out in any other way. We’re starting an Appleseeds program (mentoring group for preteen girls) and one church member encouraged me to call the parents of one of the girls. She comes regularly to our Wednesday night program, but her parents have never attended. I called and talked with her dad about the program and said we’d love to have her. It was a very pleasant conversation, leaving me to wonder why I had been putting it off so long. What is it about “outside” parents that leaves me shaking in my shoes? Why have I become so accustumed to taking the easy way out? Where is my heart for outreach, for SEEKING and saving the lost. I’d rather just wait for the lost to wander into the church first, and then I’d be happy to help save them! Somehow, I just don’t think that’s what Christ had in mind. I hope this book will help change my perspective, my motivation, and cause me not to be content to wait around for the lost to find me.
I recently started reading the book "Think Orange" by Reggie Joiner. It talked about the power of combining church (yellow) and family (red) to produce a more powerful force (orange) than either could be alone. After a funny and offbeat introduction, Reggie begins his dicussions with some "Orange-ology". He explains that "The premise of this book is simple: As long as churches do only what they are doing, they will get only results they are presently getting." The same goes for the family. There are failures in both homes and churches -- churches are losing influence and families are disintegrating -- so what is the solution? Step up the force on both sides? Or how about combining forces for a whole new way of thinking? This is Thinking Orange. This is not another "family based ministry" approach. This is a way of thinking that could lead to radical and controversial changes. Many churches and families are already working on the same thing -- trying to raise good and Christ-centered kids. But, as Reggie explains "working on the same thing at the same time is not as effective as working on the same thing at the same time with the same strategy" (p26). Join me as I continue to work through this book, review my current methods, hopefully make some more effective changes and see kids come to Christ!