Family Friday Links 6.16.17

Family

Greg Baird at Children's Ministry Leader Blog wrote a post about 4 Ways To Help Parents Want To Engage With Your Children’s Ministry. Greg writes, "Cast a clear and compelling vision. In other words, there needs to be a good reason to engage. Most parents are selective about what they invest their time in. If they view your Children’s Ministry more like childcare, forget about engaging them." Do you have a vision for your ministry? Is it compelling? 

Christianity Today shared a post by Alvin Reid about Reaching the Next Generation. Reid says that the Next Generation is starving for community. He states, "One of the primary reasons those in the next generation stay in church after their teens is because they develop meaningful relationships and develop a sense of community. They are twice as likely to be engaged in church if they have a close friendship with an adult in the church. And they are two and a half times as likely to be engaged if they have a mentor." Are you developing lasting relationships? 

If you haven't made a summer reading list Kristen Ivy at The Orange Leaders Blog wrote about the 17 Inspiring Books About Working With Kids and Teens. You should check it out and maybe add a couple for your summer reading list. Post in the comments some of your favorite books about working with kids or teens. 

As I am studying more about helping people connect with the church Carey Nieuwhof writes on How to Lose a Guest in the First 10 Minutes or Less. Carey writes, "Before they hear the first note of music, before they hear the first word of a sermon or before anyone stands up and says “welcome” in the service, most first-time guests have already made a conscious or subconscious decision about whether they’re coming back." Are you being intentional on creating a welcoming culture at your church? 

Declare Your Dependence

Throughout their journey to the Promised Land, God tested the people of Israel. In Exodus 17:8-16, they faced the first military test of their sojourn. A group of bedouin raiders, the Amalekites, came and attacked the Hebrews. When that attack came, rather than complaining and grumbling like they typically did, Moses and all Israel responded in faith.

At the end of the battle, Moses set up an altar as a memorial. It wasn't what we normally think about when we imagine an altar. I think of large stones built together to make a grill for burning sacrifices. Bible scholars believe this memorial was more like a tall obelisk or flag pole. There may have even been a flag flying at the top of it, because Moses called it, "The Lord is my Banner" (17:15).

As an American, that picture surprised me. When I think about flying a flag, I think about how we celebrate and declare our independence. This Bible story show us our need to do exactly the opposite. The banner memorial is a declaration of dependence on God and one another. The battle teaches us two key truths:

  • First, we can't win without God.  When the Amalekites attacked Israel, Moses spoke to his field general, Joshua, "Choose some men to go and fight the Amalekites" (17:8a) Then Moses said, "Tomorrow, I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands" (17:8b). Moses didn't hang back because he was an old man. He went to the top of the hill to intercede for the battle. By attacking Israel, the Amalekites had "lifted their hands against the throne of the Lord" (17:16). They had called into question God's plan to give the promise land to his people. Moses lifted up his hands as an appeal for the Lord to remember his promise and fight for his people. And, while Moses cried out in desperation on the hill top, Joshua, whose name means "God saves" fought in the valley.

    The scene is a picture of the gospel. Sin and Satan wage war against our souls. Sometimes we think we can fight in our own strength. If we know enough gospel truth or sin-fighting technique, we'll have victory. But we can't beat sin without God's intervention. Like Moses, we must cry out for help. God gives us the new Joshua, Jesus, to fight for us in the valley. Israel couldn't win without God, and we can't either. Like Moses, we're most victorious when we cry out in brokenness and appeal to his promises.
     
  • Second, we can't win without each other.  The Hebrews only experienced victory to the degree that Moses expressed his dependence. "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning" (17:11). But, lest Israel be tempted to place their faith in Moses, God used the battle to show the leader's weakness. Before the battle was over, the energy in his arms and the strength of his prayer ran out. Moses needed other men to support him. He needed  Aaron and Hur. "When Moses hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it" (17:12a). Then, "Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset" (17:12b) 

    The scene is a picture of the church. In the church, God has given us a band of brothers and sisters to hold up our arms. We strengthen one another. But, incredibly, strength and victory only come as our friends and fellow sojourners  help us to courageously declare our weakness.

After the battle, God gave Moses a final instruction. God said, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered." In other words, God said, the next generation needs to hear this message

So put a flag in the ground and ask yourself today...

  • Do my kids see me declaring my dependence on God or my own independence and freedom?
  • Do they see me embracing weakness or relentlessly projecting strength?
  • Do they see me leaning on the church for help when I'm attacked?
  • Would they describe me as someone who lives a life characterized by trust?

Michelle Anthony on Kids in Community

I’m reading Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today's Families by Michelle Anthony. Yesterday I finished chapter 5. It was all about kids in community. My heart is so full of joy and hope that I had to share these quotes:

Our kids desperately need the faith community because it is the one place were there are other people who worship the same God, believe the same things, and are dedicated to living the same life. Our children need to know they are not alone. (pg. 83)

When these two places, home and faith community, work together in harmony, they have lifelong influence. Neither home nor faith community can do it alone, but together they offer the best opportunity for faith to take root into the adult years. (pg. 87)

It’s imperative that we put our children in close proximity to the faith community, because the work is hostile toward their faith. (pg. 90)

The faith community is a place to be strengthened, to be known, to remember God, and to celebrate in worship. In order for the faith community to retain its vibrancy, however, it must continually be increasing in new life and authentic transformation. (pg. 96)

All quotes taken from Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today's Families by Michelle Anthony © 2010 and published by David C. Cook.

I love when people say things that I’ve been thinking. I (sort of) hate it when they say it better than I could. So, I settle on being thankful for these words. May we continue to find creative ways to include kids in faith communities. This post originally appeared at pataldridge.com

Punching Fear In The Face

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
— 1 John 4:4 ESV

God has blessed my family with people who share their lives on mission with us. We celebrate together, cry together, experience God together and play games together among other things. One of my favorite things for our family to do during the summer is go to Six Flags. We will invite people from our small group to join us. It is fun to watch my kids get excited to have our friends join us and want to ride with them and have fun with them throughout the day. Last year, Kristy joined us and was riding rides with my daughter Josie. On one of the rides, Josie, who is normally very bold when it comes to rides, was a little scared. Kristy was there to help encourage Josie and told her, "Yeah, I'm a little scared too, but we're gonna do this! We're gonna punch fear in the face!" This made Josie laugh and helped to encourage her to ride the ride.

The amazing thing for me as a parent is that I know I don't have to raise my kids alone. My kids respect and are known by the people in my small group. I know when my sons and daughter are teenagers there are going to be other adults who will be able to speak into their lives even if they do not want to listen to mom and dad. 

God is knitting together our small group to be more than a church group or more than a bible study. He is forming us together as part of His family. People in relationship with God and each other. As we are adopted by God we become brothers and sisters. I see this happening before my eyes. 

Being formed as a family on mission is God's calling for us.  We can see this throughout the narrative in scripture. Mike and Sally Breen in their book Family on Mission say it this way, "This is rooted in the two key themes of the Scriptures: covenant and kingdom. Covenant means that God has called us into a relationship with himself that leads us to become one with him. Covenant is two becoming one. That's the family part. Kingdom means that our Father who has called us into relationship with himself also happens to have the most important job you can think of--he's the king of the universe. And as the king he's not just looking for a relationship - he's also looking for representatives. That's the mission part - the same people who are in covenantal relationship with him also adopt his mission and learn to represent his kingship to the world."

The great thing about the relationships in my small group is they are mutual. It isn't the adults just teaching other adults or adults teaching kids, but it is also how my kids are challenging and encouraging the adults. Here is a story about how this two-way relationship has worked with my daughter. 

Fast forward to this spring. We spent a Sunday afternoon hiking with a number of people with our small group. During the hike we were on a ledge and Kristy was helping Josie climb down.  Josie said "I'm afraid of heights." Then without missing a beat Josie added, "we're punching fear in the face!"

Wow! Here is discipleship at work. We see a relationship being formed. That mentoring is occurring and now the student is instructing the teacher. What an encouragement as a parent to know that my kids have godly men and women in their life that they respect and have fun with to speak truth in their lives when they need it. 

Do you have relationships in your life that you are living a life on mission? 

Are there other godly relationships speaking into your life? Your kids lives? 

How is your church helping to build relationships to be on mission? Share your stories with us below.