Connecting with God in His Creation

It’s been great to see a couple of breaks in the weather. The sun is peeking out every now and again.  Let’s take advantage of the nice days to meet with Jesus in his creation. Risen King Community Church, here in Redding, CA(6100 Oasis Rd. if you’re local) has an amazing Prayer Path. It’s a great place to explore this time of year. A little path set apart to spend time with God. This path has 10 stations marked out on it. There are several prayer guides at  kiosks at the beginning of the path with some direction for a focus for each station. I have written a few guides that are specifically for families. There are a few different ones for you to pick the one that works for your age group–if you have teenagers, use the adult guides.

If you don’t live in Redding or you can’t get to the prayer path for some reason, you can use the following prayer guide anywhere you would like. Maybe use an exercise path and each time you see an exercise station, stop to pray. You can make a game of your time and decide ahead of time when you are going to stop and make your own station using ‘things you see’ like every time we see a lizard or every time we see a yellow flower or every time we see a stump.

Our small step to guiding our kids to know and love Jesus this week is to use His beautiful creation to make space to spend time with God.  Please share some of your ideas in the comments. What have you done? What are you going to  do?

Here’s one of the prayer guides:

From the Inside Out

 

Station 1 – Me . . .

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Psalm 139: 13-14 NLT

Thank God for the special way that he made you. Ask God to show you how he made you special.

 

Station 2 – My family . . .

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7 NLT

Thank God for your family and the love that you have for one another. Ask God to help you to love your family more and for creative ways to share that love.

Station 3 – My friends . . .

“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 NIV

Thank God for your friends. Ask God to help you to use your words to be a good friend and “build others up.”

 

Station 4 – My house . . .

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

Thank God for providing all that I need…my house, my food, my clothes….. Ask God to show you ways to share with others.

 

Station 5 – My school . . .

“Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.”

Proverbs 18:15 NLT

Thank God for your school and your teachers and for giving you the opportunity to learn. Ask God to bless your school and your teachers and to help you in any area of school that you may have struggles.

 

Station 6 – My town . . .

“But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15b NLT

Thank God for placing you in your community. What are some ways you and your family ways that you can serve Him in your town?

 

Station 7 – My state . . .

“The Lord made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding he stretched out the heavens.” Jeremiah 51:15 NLT

Thank God for the beautiful parts of our state he has made…the mountains, lakes, waterfalls, oceans…etc. What are some ways that you can see God’s character through His creation?

 

Station 8 – My country . . .
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority,” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV

Thank God for the leaders of our country and for those who have served so that we can have the freedoms that we have. Ask God to bless our country and our leaders.

 

Station 9 – My world . . .

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem (your home town), throughout Judea, in Samaria (the areas near where you live), and to the ends of the earth (the whole world).” Acts 1:8 NLT

Thank God for his power. Ask Him to continue to guide you and give you courage as you share Jesus with people who live near you and for those who live far away. Pick a country and pray as a family for the people of that country to hear about Jesus and come to know Him.

Station 10 – My God…

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8 NLT

Thank God for his kindness and grace and for giving us freedom and forgiveness from our sins. Thank God for giving us wisdom and understanding. Tell God how much you love him.

Posted in For Your Family | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Listening Prayer for Littles

Isn’t it crazy how a parent can understand the incoherent babble of a toddler or preschooler when no one else can? Why is that? Because they spend a lot of time listening, they have practiced, and because they really want to understand the child. We can become better at hearing the voice of God by spending a lot of time listening, practicing, and desiring to hear his voice. Can children and youth hear God’s voice? YES! Like anyone, they need to be taught and practice to get better and better at it. Here are some simple steps that can be adapted to use with preschool through high school students. This is from a tool that a good friend of mine gave me many yearrainforests ago. Please share your experiences.

1) Begin by teaching them to sit still before Jesus. In words they can understand, teach them that we have to become quiet on the inside just as we become quiet on the outside.

“Be still and know…..”
Psalm 46:10

“I will still and quiet myself….”
Psalm 131:2

2) Teach them that talking to God is only part of prayer, the other part is listening! Sometimes He will want to tell us things for ourselves and sometimes He will want to tell us things to help others.

3) Explain the ways they might “hear” from Jesus:

• A spontaneous thought or impression may come to mind, or they may see a word or phrase.
• A verse or Scripture reference may come to mind.
• A spiritual song may come to mind.
• They may see a picture, or “vision”.
• They may get a pain they didn’t have before, or see a body part.

4) Go to prayer, expecting, asking, the Holy Spirit to speak. Tell Him you are ready to listen.

“Here I am, Lord, speak, and I will listen.” I Samuel 10:3

5) Teach them that when they think they’ve “gotten” something, to ask the Lord what they should do. Remind them that the Lord will never:

• Tell them to do something wrong.
• Say something that disagrees with His Word.
• Instruct them to do something unloving.

“….do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Matthew 10:19-20

6) Encourage them to share what they think they heard. Decide together if this could have been something from Jesus.
7) They need to know it’s okay if they don’t get something every time. Encourage them, though, that God desires to speak to His children, and He will speak to them, too. If no one gets anything, try again!

“I am the Good Shepherd… and my sheep know my voice.”
John 10

8) Sometimes, they will come up with really off-the-wall things! Pray for discernment—sometimes it really will be from the Lord—and proceed accordingly. Always be encouraging and appreciative of whatever effort they make.

9) Teach them that it’s okay to make a mistake. Whether we are right or not with the word, we have caused no harm if we say it with LOVE!

Posted in For Your Family | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How do I talk to children about baptism?

Caleb's baptismBaptism is an important step to take in our discipleship path. Baptism is a symbolic action and often symbolism is tough to explain to kids. Here is how I teach it to children.

Who can be baptized? Everyone who has decided to follow Jesus!! When you invite Jesus into your life you are joining God’s family. You should wait to be baptized until you have accepted Jesus into your heart.

There is not an age limit on who can be baptized. It is important that a child be able to express and tell the story of when they decided to give their life to Jesus. Before we baptize a child (or an adult) at Risen King a pastor or leader asks the child to tell them about when they asked Jesus into their life. There have been many occasions when I have asked a child this question and they answer, “I’ve always been a Christian” or something to that effect. I don’t ask for specific dates and details but if a child cannot tell me about a time when they made the decision and prayed to ask Jesus into their life I ask if they would like to make that decision and pray today.

Why get baptized?
– To tell others that you have joined God’s family or to show on the outside the decision that you made on the inside. The decision to follow Jesus is a personal decision and often is private. The act of baptism is done in front of your friends and family to share this private decision publicly. ____________.
– To do what Jesus did. Matthew 3:13-15
– To do what the Bible tells us to do. Acts 2:38
– To symbolize the act of dying to our old selves and being born again into God’s family and the act of being washed clean of all of our sins when God forgives us of our sins. Romans 6:4
o Symbolism is a tough concept for younger children. I use more common examples like a wedding ring. My wedding ring doesn’t make me married but it is a symbol that shows others that I am married. Or the McDonald’s arches. The yellow arches don’t taste good or fill you up but they represent food.
I will ask each child why they want to get baptized. I want to hear in their own words that they understand and have internalized the explanation and landed on their own motivation.

How is a person baptized? People get baptized in water. BAPTIZE means “put in the water”. Acts 8:38 People are also baptized in public or in front of their friends and family.
– Sometimes young children are afraid or nervous about the act of baptism. I always explain exactly how it happens. For example: I will be right there with you and on the other side will be another pastor. We will pray for you and then we will say, “By the confession of your faith(which just means because you have said that you believe) we baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We will make sure you are ready. You can even plug your nose and then we will dip you back under the water and then right back up again. I will often “demonstrate” outside of the water with one child to show how little time they will be under the water and how I will hold onto them the whole time. This eases their mind about the specifics so that they can concentrate on meaning of baptism.

Celebrate!! Baptism is a big deal. It is an exciting day and a time that needs to be remembered and celebrated. You can find some ideas here: http://familydiscipleshippath.com/2012/09/07/celebrate-with-your-family/

I’d love to hear your baptism stories or questions. Share your comments.

*** Churches and denominations vary in how they understand and live out the act of baptism. I am a pastor at Risen King Community Church which is part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Here’s a document from the C&MA on baptism http://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/perspectives/baptism

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Turning a Big Ship: For Your Church

I am not a sailor. I’ve never driven a big ship. Do paddle boats or kayaks count? I’ve heard the analogy for making a change in an organization compares to turning a big ship around. We need to figure out the right speed that will accomplish a complete turnaround without throwing people overboard as you turn. It takes a while to turn a big ship (or so I’ve heard) the bigger the ship and the bigger the shift the slower it happens.
As you are making a shift in your church to a Family Discipleship paradigm, it can get frustrating by how slowly it seems to be happening. It’s important to keep in mind the reason we’re going slow is so that we don’t throw families overboard as we transition.
We began this shift at Risen King nearly five years ago in October of 2010. We began making small changes in programming and big changes in priority. We are now seeing the changes that we have made trickling down to the families that we serve. The shift began in my heart and then moved to my ministry. The vision of what it could look like to empower people to disciple their families began with the leadership and seeped out toward those in our church.
There have been times when the concept of the Family Discipleship Path was clear to me and not clear to everyone else. This is when I have to be reminded to turn the ship slowly. This is the basis behind taking small steps in the path to move toward a church full of families who have been empowered, encouraged, and equipped to disciple their kids. And, as a result, a church full of kids and youth who have been empowered, encouraged, and equipped to reach out and lead the lost in their communities.
The shift from being a children’s or youth ministry that maintains a first priority of discipleship of kids and youth to a ministry with the first priority to empower, equip and encourage families to disciple kids and youth is a slow and steady shift. I have relied on the same three principles that I shared with families regarding times when they were frustrated about not seeing the desired results. See http://familydiscipleshippath.com/2015/12/29/what-do-you-celebrate-in-your-family/
To keep your perspective clear and focused:
• Celebrate movement! Are you closer to Family Discipleship than you were last year?
• Be realistic! Are your goals SMART? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Recorded, and Time bound.
• Stop Comparing! Are you comparing your ministry to other ministries? Or are you comparing your ministry now to what it was last year or to what you believe God has called you to be?
What are some of the frustrations or stressors that you have encountered as you have led your church in this shift? What are some perspective shifts that help you maintain focus and celebrate movement? Another thought that I have with the big ship analogy—is that there are factors that make a turn more smooth and quick. When the weather and the tide are right, you can make a big turn quickly and smoothly. When the weather and the tide are against you it is impossible to be both quick and smooth. Please share your ideas of what are some factors in a church that would yield the circumstances for a quick and smooth transition….or at least ‘more quick’ and ‘more smooth’—I’m not sure that completely quick and smooth is an attainable goal. What do you think?

Posted in For Your Church | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you celebrate in your family?

Frustration. Anxiety. Stress. Failure. Incompetence. These are all emotions that I visit as a parent more often than I would like to admit. I have big dreams and desires and ideas about what Family Discipleship should look like in my own family. There is a passion for families to disciple their children that wells up inside of me and it begins with me and my own children. I often set expectations upon myself and my family that are so far out of reach that the only thing that I do reach is a sense of failure. Every post in this blog comes out of a personal place for me. But this one is a bit more personal than others. I admit that I fall short of what I think “the perfect Family Discipleship” family should look like. I believe that if I am feeling this, than others may be also. I am so grateful for the wise council of others that has been given to me over the years. Here are some pieces of council that I have received that helps me in times of despair. The answer isn’t to lower your expectations or give up or try harder. The answer comes in determining what we celebrate!
Celebrate movement! Rather than asking yourself the question, “Is my family where I want it to be?” Ask yourself the question “Is my family looking more like Jesus than last week, last month or last year?” Rather than asking yourself, “Are my kids living an exemplary Christian life?” Ask yourself, “Are my kids one step closer to Jesus?” Replace the celebration of reaching a destination with the celebration of movement toward Jesus. “Life’s a journey” is not just a great little slogan to put on bumper stickers. Celebrate the journey.
Stop Comparing! One of the reasons that I can visit the world of frustration, anxiety and stress is because I am often comparing myself to others. Compared to that mom, I really blew it. I really want to have it all together like that mom, and I don’t. If only I had the time and money and resources that that family has….then I would be where I desire to be. This is a dangerously slippery slope!!! Compare yourself only to you. Are you growing closer to Jesus? Are you living the life that Jesus has called you to? Are you one step closer to Jesus?
Be Realistic! I am a goal oriented person. I’m also overly optimistic. The way this plays out in life is that often my goals are not realistic, maybe even impossible. I believe it’s important to set goals for yourself, for your kids, and for your family. Without a goal, the likelihood of movement is limited. Without a clear direction, ending up where you desire is unlikely. As our culture is setting “resolutions” for the New Year, this is a great time to not just set a new  resolution but make some real goals for your family. Let’s start with the purpose  of a Family Discipleship Path. Family Discipleship is based on the idea of moving purposefully toward adulthood with strong relationships with God and family. Without that goal, who knows where our path may lead. However, if you continually set unrealistic goals for yourself or your family, you will continually find yourself struggling with a sense of failure or incompetency. Use the acronym to ensure that it is a SMART goal. Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Recorded, Time bound.
Please share some wise council that you have been given that helps you stay in a healthy place in your family. What are some emotions that you struggle with as you walk the Family Discipleship Path? What helps you maintain a healthy perspective? What are your goals for your family this year?cropped-at-redwoods.jpg

Posted in For Your Family | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing your Family to Celebrate Christmas

Advent is the season leading up to the birth of Jesus. It’s meant to be
a time of preparation, as we get ready to celebrate Jesus’ coming to our
world, and welcome Him again to our hearts. There are a variety of advent traditions…lighting advent candles, advent calendars, Elf on the Shelf, and so on. Our family has taken a traditional advent calendar with little doors for each day in December and put candy and a Bible verse in each day. Each evening we take turns reading the Scripture verse and passing out the chocolates. This is a fun tradition that has developed over the years to include tossing the candy toward each family member and lots of giggles and many questions and contemplative thoughts as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ. I am a firm believer in having fun with kids as much as possible. We have fun with school work, fun with chores, and fun as we learn about Jesus. My encouragement to you is to develop a family advent tradition that balances truth and silliness!! Take a look at your current tradition. Is it really fun but not focused on Jesus? Keep the fun, add a focus on Christ. Is your current tradition focused on Jesus but not very fun? Add a little bit of fun as you prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
Here are some sections of Scripture that would work great for a weekly devotional. Read through the Bible verses. Ask some questions to ensure understanding. Reflect on what it means to each family member.

1. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
2. Matthew 1:18-24
3. Luke 1:26-33
4. Luke 2:1-14
5. Matthew 2:1-12
Below are our daily verses for our advent calendar. Feel free to copy and past into a word document and use for your own traditions if you’re looking for ideas.
Please share your ideas for advent traditions in your family.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 December 1
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Luke 1:26-27 December 2
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
Luke 1:28-29 December 3
28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
Luke 1:30-33 December 4
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:34-37 December 5
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
Luke 1:38 December 6
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Matthew 1:18-19 December 7
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Matthew 1:20-21 December 8
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:22-23 December 9
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew 1:24-25 December 10
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Luke 2:1-3 December 11
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
Luke 2:4-5 December 12
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Luke 2:6-7 December 13
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:8-9 December 14
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:10-12 December 15
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:13-14 December 16
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:15-16 December 17
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Luke 2:17-18 December 18
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:19-21 December 19
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Matthew 2:1-2 December 20
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:3-6 December 21
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Matthew 2:7-8 December 22
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Matthew 2:9-10 December 23
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Matthew 2:11-12 December 24
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Posted in For Your Family | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SPORTS FIELD = MISSION FIELD

steph and owenAs I head out the door I leave some instructions. “Make sure your rooms are clean.” “Play nicely with each other.” “Do not use the stove.” As my kids step out of the car on the school campus I have some instructions. “Don’t forget how much I love you.” “Be a good friend.” Remember who you are and who you belong to.” “Watch out for that mud puddle.” These are some great commissions. When Jesus left the earth he left The Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 states, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As we take this great commission and live it out in real life, it takes on a variety of forms. Let’s not get stuck on the word “go” and assume that we need to take a big trip or go far away in order to fulfill this instruction. Surely, international missions are a part of this. However, “all nations” includes the one you live in!! The way I am called to live my life and lead my kids to live is to fully embrace the fact that where we live our life is our mission field. Where do I live my life? Well, I am a mom to 3 kids and I am a pastor at a church. My role at the church is in the area of Family Ministries. Therefore, families are my mission field. My role with my kids places me at two different schools as they are currently in 5th, 7th and 9th grades. My mission field includes public schools, sport fields, grocery stores, an orthodontist office and my own home as I have kids and families continually revolving through our doors. Where is your mission field? Remember, your mission field is where you live your life, where you spend most of your time.
The mission field that I would like to look at today is the soccer field. When I say soccer field, translate that to foot ball, cheer leading, baseball, dance studios, swimming pools or wherever it happens that you spend a lot of time. A little less than a year ago I wrote a post entitled “Sports vs. Church.” http://familydiscipleshippath.com/2013/11/22/sports-vs-church/. I had been writing my little blog for a couple of years and had an audience of about 30 people. Sometimes I would get likes and comments on articles, honestly mostly from my mom and my best friends. This particular post hit a nerve! It has been read by over 750,000 people and received over 1,000 comments. These comments ranged from people who completely agree with my position that we need to protect our kids’ commitment to the church community and prioritize worship over a sports commitment to people who vehemently disagreed that church had any value whatsoever.
One point that was made in the comments repeatedly was that we could have “church” on the soccer field. This would be a great opportunity to reach out to those who don’t yet know Jesus by being a part of a sport community. While I stand my ground that being a part of a church community in a consistent manner is important for the growth of disciples(followers of Jesus) of any age and vitally important for the development of kids and youth, I also completely embrace the notion that we should “be the church” in the sports world. You can do both. You can prioritize connecting with your church family once or twice a week and still have the rest of the week to connect with those who may not now Jesus yet through youth sports. Here’s a post that speaks to the importance of connecting to your church family while fulfilling the great commission: http://familydiscipleshippath.com/2014/02/14/332/.
What I have seen works the very best to lead others to Jesus, both in the Bible and in my life, is something called “relational evangelism.” This is the opposite of what many think of when they think about evangelism. When I hear the word evangelism, I instantly think of strangers telling other strangers about Jesus. This works for some people. What works for me is to build relationships with those who don’t know Jesus yet and live my life with them as friends. Through that friendship they can see the example of the way that God has worked and moved in my life and there are opportunities to share, invite and pray with your friends that will come up naturally as you go about normal life. Relational evangelism is slow and often hard to see progress…kind of like planting a garden. These friendships do not solely revolve around sharing Jesus. They are real friendships that involve fun, conversations and shared activities. Your life reflects Jesus naturally if your life is centered on the things of God. I do not go out on a hunt for friends who need Jesus. I put myself in environments where there are people who don’t know Jesus and allow time and space for relationships to naturally develop. That is how I “go” into all the nations.
Okay, so as for how to be missional on the sport field that you find yourself on. I have a few ideas that we have tried over the years. I’d love to hear some things that have worked for you.
SIT: Position your chair near people you don’t know and be open to starting a conversation. You may need to put down your phone or book so that you are available.
COACH: Volunteer to coach a team. You will get to know the families and kids on a whole different level. Full disclosure: My husband and I have never coached a team. We are not athletic people. To be honest, I don’t really know how to kick, throw, catch or hit a ball. I grew up doing gymnastics…no balls involved! While this is not a fit for all, it is an idea for some who may be wired or skilled to coach.
INVITE: Invite kids from the sport team to birthday parties, barbecues, or church events. Invite families to grab some ice cream after the game. Invite families to carpool or ride together to distant games. Relationships can be birthed on the field, but will develop in other environments.
LISTEN: Listen to your new friends to meet them where they are. Listen to God for promptings as to when to speak up and when to just listen.
There are some of my thoughts on how the sport field can be a mission field. What are your ideas?

Posted in For Your Family | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments