This Week’s Favorite Online Reads & Podcasts

Here’s a sampling of some of the online reads and podcasts I enjoyed this week:

{MINISTRY/LEADERSHIP}

4 Ways to Help Your Team Surge Forward by John Maxwell

Why? by Kenny Conley

Cookie Cutter Church by Randall Coy

{PODCASTS}

How to Get Volunteers to Own Your Mission Like Staff Do – An Inteview with Elevation Church’s Frank Bealer by Carey Niewhof

{WRITING}

The Writer’s Cabin is a Myth by Jon Acuff

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I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I did.

Did you read something this week that inspired or encouraged you? Share it with me so I might check it out, too!

Photo Credit: Central Presbyterian Church

Photo Credit: Central Presbyterian Church

This month, our church has encouraged families with elementary, middle, and high school students to worship together in lieu of their regular Sunday morning programming.  It was an idea that surfaced at the end of last summer and again this past April at a staff meeting.  It wasn’t really a hard decision for us to make because of two observations: (1) last summer it was almost impossible to recruit volunteers to serve because of August travel schedules and (2) summer is a good time to try something different.  We had also been asked by several families to promote this type of initiative.

After a number of collaborative brainstorming sessions between Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Worship Arts, invested parents and Senior Leadership, we decided to go for it.  But we wanted to be strategic about our approach.

We wanted to give advance notice to our congregation, so we began announcing this change a few weeks out.  Our first announcement fell on our VBS Celebration Sunday (when there were many families – regular attenders and visitors – were in attendance.) Our Family Pastor even gave the children a bit of a teaser by announcing that a special ticket book might show up at their house. *See below for more info about this.

In addition, a number of promotional material was prepared.  We contracted a designer to create a Worship Together logo that was used on promotional material through the Sunday bulletin, our weekly e-newsletter, a letter that was mailed home to parents, our website and video.  Our promo videos included a rising 6th grader being ‘interviewed’ by one of our preachers; a skit by members of our Family Ministry team and one by me (gasp)!

We acknowledged that some parents & families might be a little apprehensive about worshiping with their younger elementary-aged children.  We wanted to ease their fears a bit and supplied a “Worship Together Resource” handout for parents to download from our website.  You can take a peek at that here. (I will also place a pdf copy under the “Parent Resources/Downloads” tab on this blog.)

Being very intentional about including children and students in the service is something we also desired.  This included a special blessing that parents could over children and students on Communion Sunday; creatively telling the Bible story through skits (involving children & students); and using examples that kids could relate to.  Our contracted designer also designed a pew card that explained the elements of the service and why we do them.

Supplying children’s worship bags was also a way for us to be intentional about including younger children in the service.  Each bag (a small, bright yellow plastic bag that I had on hand from a previous event) was filled with crayons, a pencil and that week’s specially designed children’s bulletin.  Our children’s bulletin was a one-page bi-fold which included a cover page; a place for older children to take notes (write down the scripture, who was preaching & what they learned); a place for children to circle corresponding pictures every time they sang a song, prayed, gave an offering, took Communion and read their Bible; and 2 activity pages (we varied the activities each week and chose crosswords, coloring pages, decoder puzzles, mazes, etc.)  Remembering that we were catering to children in grades 2-5, we wanted to offer a balance of activities to suit the wide age span.

Earlier I mentioned a special ticket book for families.  We mailed a ticket book to families with elementary-aged children so that the children could redeem tickets each week for a special small treat.  We chose some items that corresponded with the scripture text as well as general items like pencils and bookmarks.

I am hearing pretty good feedback from parents and other adults about how much they’ve enjoyed worshiping together and seeing the children in worship.  Our prayer is that Worship Together would become a regular practice among families at our church.

You may also be interested in reading:

Dear Parents of Young Children in Church by Sharon Harding

What about you?  Does your church encourage families to worship together?

For the past several months, our Family Ministry staff team has met to brainstorm and process what Family Ministry could look like at our church.  Two key elements that remain at the center of our discussions are (1) we believe that parents should be the primary influence in their children’s lives and (2) our role as a church is to come alongside families and equip them to be that primary spiritual influence through intentional programming and resources.

Be Kids logo

I recently took a look at materials from Be:Kids, a fairly new organization that provides free family devotions to use throughout the week to encourage parents to be involved in discipleship within the home.  Be:Kids co-founder Meredith Chapuis asked me to take a look at the free resources that they provide for this purpose.

According to their website, Be:Kids’ mission is to partner with the collective church to raise up the future generation of leaders in our community and around the world by cultivating character and confidence in Christ. To teach children to walk in the light of the truth, be rooted deeply in love, encourage each other, embrace their individuality, and to seek God’s will above all else.  Their three goals are:

  • Equip and Empower Parents To Live On Mission;
  • Invade Communities With Love; and
  • Make A Generational Change In Society

There are a few facets to their ministry that I love:

Be: Inspired (Blog)

Their blog encourages parents with scripture, reminders about what’s important and prayers.  They also feature real families who share their stories of discipling their children.

Be: Intentional (Devotions)

Each week, a new family devotional plan is published.  Included are:

  • The week’s ‘focus’
  • A memory verse
  • Lunch box notes
  • Conversation starters
  • An application activity
  • Scripture passages, brief devotional and prayer

What I love is the action plan that comes with the weekly devotional.  Sometimes parents who desire to lead a devotional time with their children don’t always know how to do it.  And the printable lunch box notes look amazing!

#Be Box

BE-BOX-AD

 

Click the #Be Box image above to take a peek at what was included in January’s box.

Check out the resources for yourself & tell them Kathie sent ya!  You can also connect with Be:Kids to stay informed of new resources when they become available.

Website:  http://bekidsmobile.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BEKIDSMOBILE

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BEKIDSMOBILE

Instagram: http://instagram.com/bekidsmobile