Equipping Families for purposeful routine for Your Church

As families are poised to launch into the school year with a new schedule and routine, the church at the same time is launching into a new season of ministry. Many new events launch in September around here. Our church really moves with the school calendar even for those without kids in school. As you are busily working to launch new ministries and programs in your church, I’d like to stop and think about how we can equip families to take advantage of this change in season to build in some routines that will help them grow closer to Jesus on purpose. I will speak for myself in the fact that I often get so busy during this season planning and preparing for all of the events that will be happening at the church that I often forget to think about what is going on in the homes. The Family Discipleship Path is all about the church and the families working together to guide children and youth toward adulthood with healthy relationships with God and their family.

Here are a few ideas that I’m working on:

Anchors: An anchor is something that you see or feel that reminds you of something that you learned. An anchor will help kids have something that will remind them of the lesson but not just to think about it but to do something in response to what they learned. Are there any anchors that you can send home?

Scripture Verses: I have had many families tell me that they want to read scripture with their kids and memorize verses as a family but they don’t know where to start. Can you send info to parents with some ideas of where to go in Scripture that will help to connect church and families together as they are focusing on the same truths?

Time: Families today are overscheduled!!! I know this is breaking news that you’re hearing for the first time…nope, just kidding. We know this, families are too busy. Family Discipleship is falling off of plates as we fill them up with everything else. Take a minute to make sure that you are not contributing to the over busyness of your families. Is there anything on the church calendar that could be replaced by times of Family Discipleship?

I’d love to hear some of your ideas. What are you doing in your church to equip families? What are some anchors you have used?portland2

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Taking Inventory for Your Church

rainforestA few years ago I attended a conference for Children’s Pastors. There was a concept that I had been taught before but really needed the reminder in that moment. As church leaders, we are not to add programming to our ministry areas just to add programming. We need to answer the questions, “Who is this for?” and “What’s the purpose?” Out of the answers to those questions would come the program. Many people start with the program and are disappointed when it’s not really reaching the people or the purpose that we feel we’re called to.

It was shortly after this conference that I took an inventory of our KIDS ministry. Along with a team of wise and passionate people we looked at everything we had to work with and everything we had to offer to the children in our church and our community. We determined for each area “who” it was reaching and “what” purpose it was fulfilling. From this inventory we discovered the areas that we needed to beef up and the areas we needed to pare down. From this inventory we discovered that the area of discipleship and growth needed some improvement and out of that discovery the Family Discipleship Path was birthed.

I would like to encourage you, as a church leader, to take an inventory of your resources in your church.

Who is it for?

  • Core Church Kids: Those who are here on Sunday morning most of the time. Their families are involved somewhere in the church in ministry or community.
  • Fringe Church Kids: Those who are here sometimes on Sunday mornings. Their families call your church their church home but they are not really involved.
  • Friends of Church Kids: Those who are here occasionally on Sunday mornings. They participate in annual events like VBS or Camps. Usually you don’t know their families because they are brought by a family in your church.
  • Not Yet Church Kids: Those in your community who do not yet know Jesus.

What is the Purpose?

At Risen King, our purpose statement is “to make more and better disciples of Jesus Christ and to advance His Kingdom.” The purpose of anything we do will reflect back to this main purpose. We have also defined disciple as a 3-C disciple. These are the 3-C’s that we use.

  • Centered on Jesus- Is the purpose to worship Jesus? To learn more about Jesus? To become more like Jesus?
  • Cooperating with the Mission: Is the purpose to be a part of advancing the Kingdom of God either deeper or wider? Is the purpose to give back? To use times, talents, or treasures to serve?
  • Connected to friends- We cannot do this life alone. We are meant to live our lives connected to others who are going after the same thing. Is the purpose to get to know people better? To build connections with others?

The small step that we are going to take this week is to look at your ministry areas and take an inventory of “who” and “why.” Are there areas you need to increase or decrease? For me, this was a small step that led me on a two year journey. What’s it going to be for you? Please share your thoughts, ideas, or encouragements to others.

 

Back to School = Back to Schedule

Oh, it’s Back to School season. This time of year for my family means so much more than just school starting again. It’s really a big change in our lives. We go from having lots of fun times, lots of down time, lots of family time and very little scheduled time into a rigorous schedule of school, sports, and meetings. It’s not only the beginning of school for the kids but also the beginning of several things for my husband and me. We launch small group and the start of a new Love and Logic class and a few other responsibilities that have been put on hold for the summer.

I love this time of year!!! I am craving a schedule, a rhythm, a routine. By the end of the school year last year, I was yearning to get out of my routine, to break our rhythm, and to have a more flexible schedule. It’s hard for me to fathompike place 2 how I love two opposite seasons. I believe what I desire is a change in season. When there’s a change in a season, there’s an opportunity to start afresh. There’s an opportunity to realign our priorities, a time to say “yes” and “no” on purpose.

There are a few actions that I want to put into my schedule on purpose in this new season. I am going to plan to be consistent. As we think about discipleship for our families, we must make a plan, we must make space, we must put it on the schedule, we must be purposeful…or family discipleship simply won’t happen.

Let’s look at some different ideas for the rhythm of our lives:

Daily

  • Morning:
    • On the drive to school- pray over our day
    • As you are getting ready for the day, pray on the armor of God—you can place strategic words or pictures in the bathroom for the kids (I’m working on some documents that I will post)
  • After School:
    • On the drive home from school, share what you were thankful for that happen in your day.
    • At dinner, speak encouraging words to each other.
      • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
    • Read the Bible as part of the daily reading for school.
  • Before Bed:
    • Spend some time praying with your kids.
    • Listen to worship music as you’re winding down and preparing to go to sleep.

Weekly

  • Have a weekly memory verse that you’re whole family learns together.
  • Spend some time one night per week discussing what you learned at church on Sunday. It’s great to follow up on what the kids learned; it’s also wonderful for adults to share what they learned and how the teaching has landed in their life.
  • Take time as a family to go outside and enjoy God’s creation. While you’re out in nature spend some quiet time of prayer with Jesus. This will look different for each age group. Toddlers and Preschoolers: Thank you Jesus for……, Elementary and Youth can take some time by themselves to read their Bibles and journal.

Now, in all honesty, I just paused my writing and groaned with feelings of failure on my own part in my own family. This summer has been a time of busy fun and very little structured, purposeful discipleship. However, I’m going to beat myself up for a few minutes and then take action. I am going to implement my own advice this morning by posting some things in the kids’ bathroom. What are you going to do? I’d love to hear your ideas and how it has worked in your family.

Taking Inventory for your Family

Our family, along with most other families, is getting ready to head Back to School. As we prepare to head portlandback to school, we need a slew of supplies. In past years, I have gone shopping for my kids and bought what it felt like we needed. However, I have often been frustrated to discover that I actually bought items that we didn’t need and I missed items that we desperately needed. So, this year I had my kids take an inventory. I’m still trying to decide if this was the most genius activity or the geekiest thing I’ve ever done. .. I’ll keep you posted.

I typed up and printed out a set of instructions and a list of clothing categories with a place for them to put a number. Their task was to go through their dresser and closet and get rid of anything that was too small, too worn, or just plain unwanted. Then, count what was left. I took their completed inventory and could easily see who needed what.

This practice revealed two important pieces of information:

  1. We discovered we actually had more than we thought we did.
  2. We discovered what we needed.

We have been discussing the Family Discipleship Path and looking at this journey that we’re on to guide the children in our lives to adulthood with a healthy relationship with God and their family. Let’s take a look at the tools we have packed away for this journey. Let’s take an inventory so that we know what we have and what we need.

First, go through all of your tools…books, blogs, magazines, Bibles, traditions, handouts, wise council, classes…..

  • Get rid of anything that your family has outgrown (at the same time, pack away and label items that are “too big”)
  • Get rid of anything that is worn out or stained- Are there traditions or practices that have been “overdone” and have lost their value?
  • Get rid of anything that is unwanted and simply doesn’t work for your family. There may be great ideas that work for your family that won’t work for mine. Great resources that worked for a season but just doesn’t make sense right now.

Next, evaluate what you have left. What area is a little sparse? Do you need to add some items to your tool kit that will prepare you for the journey? Are there some items in there that you forgot you even had or haven’t used in quite a while? Maybe it’s time to re-read that book, set up a lunch date with that person with wise council, or start up a practice that has been ignored.

Our small step for this week is to take a look at all of our resources. I believe you’ll discover that you are more prepared than you thought to guide these little people. May that give you encouragement and confidence. This will also give you a direction to “stock up” on some supplies that will be very useful in this next season.

Please share your discoveries!!

Establishing Identity in Christ for your Family

When my oldest started 7th grade, one of her assignments on the first day of school was to fill out a “Get to Know Me” type questionnaire. A couple of questions that caused me to think a bit were, “What am I known for around school?” and “What do I want to be known for?” This is really asking, where does your identity lie? We can look back at the Breakfast Club for some helpful hints as to what people are known for in school….the athlete, the geek, the trouble maker, the beauty queen, the weirdo. A huge part of raising kids and guiding kids as they grown into adults is to help them to establish their identity. We can do this as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, leaders, neighbors, or any person who has any amount of influence in a child or youth’s life. I want my kids to know that their identity lies in Christ. They are who they are in relation to how much Jesus loves them. When the world looks at my girls, the desire is that they will be known by whom they belong to and that is Jesus Christ.

Identity begins with how we see ourselves and what we believe to be true of ourselves. The way to lay a foundation of confidence in which we are in Christ is to speak truth and have your children speak the truth and this will become what they believe and that will influence how they behave.

You are what you HEAR: Speak encouraging words to the children in your life beginning at birth. Speak praise about them to other people at times when they hear you. Fill your home with sounds that will remind your children of their identity in Christ. This comes in teaching, your words, and worship music.

You are what you SAY: Encourage your children to speak positively about themselves. In the movie “The Help,” the main character was a black woman who was a maid in a white home. Her name was Aibileen and much of her job was caring for the 3 year old little girl. This little girl’s mama spoke nothing but criticism and frustration to and about the child. Aibileen begins a habit of telling the little girl, “You are smart, you are kind, you are important” and having her repeat it back to her. This habit of hearing it and saying it will lead her to really believe it.

You are what you DO: Act like a child of Christ. Walk in his power, grace, love, and freedom.

Here are some phrases based in Scripture that you can begin to speak over the children in your life and have them speak back to you. There are some that will be more relevant than others depending on the age, stage and circumstances of the children. I found this helpful list on Joyce Meyer’s website, http://www.joycemeyer.org.

I’d love to hear how your children respond to these truths and any creative ways you have tried to encourage your children to hear them, say them, and act upon them. Here are a few to start with: 301276_10200111740294894_1297924620_n

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17,18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues. I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17,18; Luke 10:17,19).

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9,10).

I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

Family Guide to Use in The Five Minutes’

Hello friends,

 

I have had several requests for the direct link for the Family Guide mentioned in recent post called “The Five Minutes'” http://familydiscipleshippath.com/2014/06/10/the-5-minutes-2/

 

Here is a link to the page where you can download the current Family Guide. I update this Family Guide each time we introduce a new series. The next one will be up in September.

 

http://risenking.org/Ministries/KIDS.html

 

Have a great day, Echo

The 5 minutes’

Boy, do I understand the busy life of a family: so many schedules to coordinate and so many tasks to accomplish. It really feels sometimes like trying to get everyone where they need to be, when they need to get there, and with the stuff they need to have with them takes extreme planning methods. I think these are the kinds of questions that need to be on SAT tests: You need to have Suzy on the West side with ballet equipment from 3:45-5:15, Joey on the South side for a baseball game from 5-7(and you’re on snack duty), and work on Sally’s science experiment in the same evening. How can you accomplish this? Oh, and make sure everyone is fed and clean!!!

So, I understand when we start talking about Family Discipleship that many already stretched families have the reaction that, “Yes, while we understand that it’s important—it feels nearly impossible to really make those kinds of changes in our family!” Does that feel familiar to you?

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your heart and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deut. 6:7-9

We hear that we need to share the things of God with our children. Okay, but “what” exactly do we need to share with them? At our church, Risen King Community Church in Northern California,  we send the kids home with a Family Guide (these are posted at http://risenking.org/Ministries/KIDS.html  if you missed it or feel free to use them if you don’t have access to a resource like this in yourMatthew and kids area) that has a story, a memory verse and an action point, or you can start with a weekly Scripture reading or devotional, or use what you are learning in church.

Once you figure out the “what”, the hard part is figuring out the “when.” Here are a few of my ideas as to how to put Deut. 6 into practice in the real world that we live in today.  Take advantage of the 5 minute chunks during your day. For the sake of these examples, I’m going to share how I would use a Family Guide in an average family.

Talk about them when you sit at home

  • Stick the Family Guide in your napkin holder and talk it through at the dinner table or while making dinner, cleaning the house or working on homework.
  • Crank up some worship music as you’re working on chores as a family.

And when you walk along the road

  • Walking or driving works!! Stick the family guide in your tennis shoes or in the visor in your car so that it’s available to pull out to start a conversation when you’re driving(of course, don’t read it while you’re driving–have a non driver reading–talk about it while you’re driving) or taking a walk.
  • Listen to worship music!

 When you lie down and when you get up.

  • Write the memory verse of the week on an index card- read it with your children when you’re tucking them up and/or in the morning when getting ready for the day.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

  • Use bracelets, necklaces, shoelaces, key chains or t-shirts to remember things we’ve learned about God.

Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

  • Write words or verses or truths on the bathroom mirror and the refrigerator!

Please share some ways that you have used the 5 minutes’ in your family!!