Posted in church, random thoughts on January 28, 2008 |
2 Comments »
I was in a conversation with a new friend last night about “doing church.” We were discussing how Christians need to take “church” to their places of influence, the 14th floor of the Bell South building, the workroom at their school, etc. How once we truly see those around us, living everyday life as ones who are lost, who need Christ as that, we can truly make an impact. This jived up with some truths I’ve found in scripture lately about how Jesus always went TO the people. Sure crowds gathered, but it wasn’t because Jesus was being attractional, at least not intentionally! Jesus was a missional servant. He looked for people to help. He went TO them, not expecting them to come to the templw or to seek Him out. He didn’t make flashy signs or create a show to bring people to a tent to hear Jesus preached, He spoke through a general love of meeting needs and serving others.
As we were discussing these ideas, (and forgive me Jay if I totally chopped those thoughts!) I was convicted that those who I see hurting daily, the families of the preschool children that our church serves, is my area of influence. I need to pray for a love for those families that they can see genuine, authentic love from me.
I was reading in 1 Corinthians this morning and a verse jumped out at me, 1 Cor. 8:1b “But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.” I know this probably has some other context than what I got from it, but from that I had my thoughts reinforced that people don’t care about your Bible knowledge, (Satan know scripture), people don’t care if you’re church is great at music, people truly want to know that you as a Christian care about THEM.
Who is your group of influence that you need to pray for a genuine love for? Who can you roll up your sleeves and serve? What do you need to do to look beyond yourself and your own family?
When these questions are answered and Christians start showing a real love for others, and I’m talking about others not like themselves, then we will see the kingdom of God grow.
Read Full Post »
Posted in random thoughts on January 20, 2008 |
Leave a Comment »
We had a women’s conference at church this morning that God used to deliver a message that I needed to hear. It’s always amazing to me (I don’t know why!) how the Holy Spirit speaks to us exactly what we need at a particular time to either encourage or convict us. Anyways, the message was centered around having “hope.”
A few things I got from it:
* we need to be in God’s word to know His covenants and promises that we are to have hope in
* Satan is a liar and tells us all sorts of thing in order to steal our hope away
* Breaking free, and having true freedom in Christ is what gives us ultimate hope.
* Our circumstances don’t steal our hope, it’s our turning away from God in those times that does
I didn’t hear a new message this morning delivered to me, but I heard a clear message that God used to speak into my heart. He brought me on my knees in worship of Him, graciously accepting the freedom and grace He brings for me each day. I am in awe of this God we serve.
Read Full Post »
I was having a parenting discussion with a friend today that led me to thinking (as most parenting discussions do!). As a society we value the attribue of independence in our lives and in the lives of others. From the time our children are born we are concerned with them sleeping through the night, when they can play on their own, when they can walk, as they can achieve benchmark A, B, or C, go to school, get a job, move out of the house, etc. As a parent we make these large issues that we choose to “fight battles” over. Some are large issues, although in the scope of everything in life, some are not.
Why is it so important for our children to achieve independence? Is independence biblical? I actually think it isn’t. We have been made to need each other -we desire companionship, close relationships. Actually I believe dependence is the Biblical model – first and foremost we are supposed to depend on God – ultimate surrender. There’s no room in our relationship with Christ for independence. God desires that dependence from us.
Society has made dependence a negative attribute to have. When we depend on another person we are perceived as a weak and a lesser person. But if God parents His children and desires dependence from them, shouldn’t we desire the same from our children? Is the value placed on creating independent children who only need a parent to “guide” them through life? I think children need parents who know their children are dependent on them and take care of all their children’s needs despite magical ages or moments in life. That’s not alwys easy, especially as your sleep is interrupted at night, or you are ready for empty nest. Children need parents who respect them as individuals and through that children will respect their parents. Respect begets respect. We need to start seeing dependence on each other as part of God’s model of parenting and see it as a stage of development rather than a weakness. And we need to step out and see where our own dependence is on others and on God. We need a healthy balance of dependent relationships in our life. God created us to need each other, community. God created our childrne to need us and depend on us 24/7.
Read Full Post »
As I sit here and minister to children week after week, preparing materials, gathering supplies, speaking, worshipping, etc. I am wondering inside if what I do truly makes a difference in a kid’s life. Not in a down sort of way, but in an honest freshness of realizing how few of hours I actually have influencing these kids. We teach. We equip. We pray for. We lead. But does it really do anything once they walk out those church doors? How can we measure this?
I am a big proponent of Family Ministry, yet haven’t fully transitioned over to it as a model. Supporters of Family Ministry recognize that parents can have influence on their kids’ spiritual development and maturity. Their job is to equip parents in the journey of raising spiritual champions. Together, everyone is working with the child in mind, maximizing the efforts. This seems like a great model – parents know their kids best, they spend the most time with them. Yet the cynical side of me is wondering if the parents actually use the tools the church gives them. Or with the demands of family, work, life, etc. do they set the child’s spiritual development on the back burner urging the church to still be the ones investing the most in their kids?
How can we truly make the most difference in the kids we minister to with lasting impact? Is Family Ministry the answer to this? And how do we measure their spiritual growth? Any thought?
Read Full Post »
With a new year starting, a familiar theme in most people’s lives is trying to get their lives in balance. In ministry this is a HUGE topic. How do you balance ministry and family? How do you balance your time? Your resources? Work for someone in the church doesn’t end when you go home at 5:00. Most people in ministry work way more than 40 hour work weeks (even if on paper it’s 40!). So how does one achieve balance with what God has called them to do — and specifically, how does one balance their family if they are a woman in ministry?
One thing for me is that my work situation is unique. The church I work for is incredibly generous in giving me time for our family. I am technically employed “part-time” as being 30 hours a week, not full time at 40. But we all know, the time is done when the work is done. From the beginning our church has understood that my first importance is my relationship with Christ, then our family. After that is work. Ministry gets done, limits are set, and we’re in balance most of the time. Of course there are those crazy camp weeks or right before a large event when you’re working overtime and sleeping and breathing church, but they are the abnormality.
So, how do I achieve balance as a mom in ministry? One thing is that I know my limits. I try to simplify the ministry we do, place importance on the things that yield the most return for what our church’s purpose is. Our church’s purpose is to “Discover God, Develop Relationships, and Demonstrate Love.” I try to weigh the things we do in the Children’s Ministry against whether or not it fits that purpose. Does our Sunday morning environment – large group/small groups fit into this? Yes. We use that as our main teaching time for children to Discover God and the small group portion is the time to Develop Relationships. These things should get priority of my time and resources. A children’s choir. Does that meet our purpose? Not currently, so therefore we don’t have one, it was eliminated recently. I’m not afraid to say no to doing events and activities. We want to do what we do well and not compromise the quality by being cluttered.
I think I also am able to balance things with ministry and our family because I am not afraid to delegate. It hasn’t always been this way. I am a Type A, like it done my way type of individual, but I realize now that with 2 young children that I need help. I can’t do everything on my own, I cheat others by not affording them the opportunity to use God given talents and gifts, and I’m not benefiting the ninistry overall. Things like scheduling, supply room organization, and snack purchases are handed off. When we do a large event I try to work with a team to pull it together. I have a great volunteer staff that has some workers that really go above and beyond.
The biggest thing that has helped is finding a schedule that fits the rhythm of our family and being committed to it. From the beginning of working I have been open with the church we’re at about what I can and cannot do. My office hours are set for times when I have child care for my kids. We did open a preschool program last year at our church that our children are involved in so that is wonderful. It brought more responsibility for my job position, but it was worth it for the child care aspect for our family. Some evenings I go up to church and do a bit of work when the kids are in bed at night or during naptimes on Saturdays. Gathering supplies and prep. work can be done at home. It doesn’t have to all be done in the office.
I hope these ministry thoughts can help someone who is in ministry struggling with little ones and trying to do what God has called them to do with excellence. It’s tough to balance everything and it isn’t always done well, but I think we’ve achieved a pretty good rhythm to our life. The biggest thing that overrides everything is to be open with your church leadership and your priorities. They are only little so long before they’re in school and the whole situation changes.
Read Full Post »
Posted in random thoughts on January 3, 2008 |
2 Comments »
This has been a phrase on my mind the past few days as we have entered into this new year. I’ve had a few conversations with my husband and with a few friends to try to wrap my mind around it. I’ll share some of my thoughts, but I apologize in advance if they don’t make sense.
Lately I have been questioning the way of “doing church.” I guess just trying to find answers on what Christ has called the church to be and how that looks. Do we focus on creating new disciples? Leading people to a relationship with Jesus Christ? What do we do with them them? How do we lead them deeper? I’ve thought lately about the phrases “deep” and “wide” in relation to how a healthy church should be. I guess from all this I came to the conclusion that there needs to be balance in what our purpose of a church is. We need to be leading people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, but we also need to be discipling Christians, holding them accountable, and equipping them to be sold out followers of Christ.
So within this struggle the past few months that I’ve had with the movement of churches, I have at the same time begun to read the book by David Kimmerman, “UnChristian.” If you haven’t read it — it’s great. It’s put out by the Barna Group and looks at research as to why people today, nonChristians, are repulsed by Christianity (I’ll do a post on it alone one day when I’m finished reading.) One of the first reasons they look at is the hypocrisy of Christians today.
Hypocrisy and Christianity are not new to each other. But through the research they did, one of the things they determined was that those that are Christians are not living lives that separate them from the nonChristians. For the most part, Christians participate in the same behaviors, at the same rate, and just go on living their lives. (But they still go to church on Sunday!)
I’ve witnessed it in my own church, with my own friends, with Christians I know. I’ve done it. How many people encounter a life changing salvation experience and then go on living as they always were? How many Christians are truly set apart by their behaviors and actions? How many are living sacrificially – whether that be by stretching yourself with your resources or by sacrificing behaviors that aren’t necessarily pleasing to God? I’ve been frustrated with those who call themselves Christians then “play church” on Sundays. Shouldn’t our lives as Christians show something more than what those of a non-Christian show? Can we do that and still have fun and lead lives that aren’t void of everything?
As a church though, what is our responsibility in this? Have we taken it so far to grow our churches “wide” that we have left out the “deep?” Are we too tolerant in not offending those we love within our church bodies? How do we raise leaders that are passionate about truth and lead with respect and spiritual maturity?
This year I am trying with all my might to develop a sense of who I am in Christ, and then to live differently. I want to be like the disciples He called and put down my things to follow Him. I want to feel the sacrifice because I know within that I am closer to Him and He is growing and stretching me. I want image to mean nothing and the realness of who Christ made me to be – imperfections and all to shine through – for His glory.
Read Full Post »
Posted in random thoughts on January 2, 2008 |
3 Comments »
So I’ve given a whole lot of thought lately to the New Year’s Resolution thing. To me it feels a bit like school supplies – I get all excited with the new school supplies purchased, ready for a new year to start to dedicate myself and start new. I was always the geek who had my folders labeled, notebooks ready, backpack arranged, and pencil box in order a week before school even started. Resolutions are similar. You get a laundry list ready of ways to improve yourself and your life. Maybe it is weight loss, spending more time in God’s Word, less eating out, etc. The year starts with a gusto and soon every day scenarios take over. We give up partway through the month of January and really don’t purpose ourselves to be any better or different than we were when we ended the year before.
I made a list of resolutions laying in bed the other night then turned over and told my husband that there were too many and I was not doing any of them! Anyone who knows me well though knows that is a joke, I am definitley Type A, make a list, check it off kind of person. I have the typical ones for this year: exercise more, feed the family healthier, keep up with the house, manage my time better, keep a better budget, etc. But as I was making these lists, I felt that there were two themes creeping into the themes I want developed in my life in 2008 — simplicity and authenticity. They are both things I have been thinking baout for months and what they mean to me in my life and as a follower of Jesus Christ. I will probably come back in a few moments and write a post on those things alone.
Anyways, what are your thoughts on the resolutions? Did you make any?
Read Full Post »