I have been absent from the blogsphere for a while now. Our family has had some big decisions to make the past few months, that will overall effect my ministry to children and families. My husband has been the youth pastor at our church, Dutch Fork Christian Church, for the past 7 years – where I have currently served as Children’s Minister. We are going to enter a new season in our life as he has accepted a position with North Point Community Church to plant a Strategic Partner location here in Columbia, SC. His last day at our home church was actually today and as of tomorrow he is full-time lead pastor of Columbia Church. We are first and foremost humbled by what God is doing in our loves. NEVER did we think we would be leading a church, let alone one with the name “North Point” connected to it. We are excited about what God is going to do in our city and through us. This means that I will be stepping down from my current position at Dutch Fork as Children’s Minister prior to launch. We’re looking to launch Sept. 2009 and I will resign effective June. At the same time as this we are adding a new blessing to our family, baby Richards #3, who is due the beginning of June.
So as we step into this new season of our life we are excited and full of anticipation and faith with what God is going to do. I will no longer be posting on this blog as I will be eventually leaving the ministry world to simply serve my husband and the church God has called us to and to minister to our growing family. If you’re still interested in following our journey as a family, this wild adventure we’re starting on, and my personal ramblings, you can follow my other blog: Mommy Needs Coffee. (http://www.mommyneedscoffee.wordpress.com)
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church planter’s wife.
That’s right, as of January 11th, I will be a full-time church planter’s wife. JD announced his resignation to our church today as we open this new chapter in our lives.
So that also anserws a bit as to why I haven’t been blogging the past few months. God has been moving us in this direction, starting this past February. When there’s something so BIG and heavy, and God-ordained, yet you cannot speak of it outside certain circles, it became difficult to blog. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll share some more information regarding what’s going on, what we’re doing, what this means for my children’s ministry, info on the pregnancy, and just an update to our lives.
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I recently read a wonderful book, “The Creative Family” by Amanda Blake Soule that challenged me to look at creativity daily in new ways and to make living it intentional. Whether it is within my family, personally, or professionally there are many ways in day to day living to foster creativity.
Creativity is authored by God. Just look at creation! From the species of plants and animals to the differences in humans – God was creative. Creativity isn’t just being artistic or being crafty, but finding the beauty and ability to observe and explore in anything. Creating art is part of it, but so is nature. Celebrations, special days, rituals, etc. all create a climate of creativity.
Its funny how in ministry to children we get “crafty” yet how often do we incorporate nature into learning? We read Bible passages or stories, but how often do children interact with the characters and live through the scenes? We sing worship songs, but how often do children experience worship.
Thinking creatively may be a stretch for some – so start small. Find something personally that you enjoy and be creative. Explore artwork, different genres of music, go hiking, observe a child… When I intentionally observe my children I realize the creative world in which they live – from making up games, to creative play, to creating artwork.
Children are creative beings. They need this in order to learn and in order to grow and mature. God is a creative God. I believe that teaching his word to children (and adults!) should be as He would – and that would be with a boost of thinking out of the box, unordinary learning!
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Cade, my 4 year old, wanted to color a picture. That’s cool, kids love to color right? So I got him a piece of construction paper and some markers and away he went. A basic task like coloring should be predictable, right? Paper, markers, and a 4 year old = scribbled mess and mommy’s masterpiece, right? That is what I expected, but Cade soon diverted from the plan.
Cade got a hold of a post-it note pad with stars printed on it and thought to decorate his paper with the post-it notes. After precisely applying every note he wanted to display his art in his room. He asked for some tape and Igave him the scotch tape. The pictures below are what resulted.
I really was inspired to think. What I had expected was not at all what Cade produced. It was awesome! He secured his portrait to the wall beside his bed with an entire roll of tape.
As a church leader we need to be inspired to step outside the confines of what is expected, and lead creatively. Too many churches are exactly the same as they were 20 or even 50 years ago. How are you creatively doing and being the church?
Second, always over do it. Over plan, over execute, over communicate, always over do it. In church world there is a tendency to do just enough instead of our very best. Maybe we would see God move if we actually planned for it instead of simply complaining when we didn’t see it. This is especially true when a church or organization wants to create momentum. If you don’t anticipate and plan for the unseen growth you will never see it. If you don’t plan for and create space for people that are not a part of your church you will never see them, and if you do, they won’t be back next week.
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I realized something last night about myself — I tend to not follow through with large tasks or changes because underneath it all I am intimidated by their unfamiliarity. For example — we are considering homeschooling our children. I feel almost like I haven’t taken the decision seriously, researched it much, or even have my mind solidly decided on what to do. The reason why is because I am overwhelmed by the decision – the information – the challenge. The decision is huge and I don’t even know where to start, to I procrastinate, not doing anything, and pushing the thoughts further back.
After realizing this last night, I was able to see other areas in my life where I have done the same thing – ministry included. I have set aside the new programming I know I should do because it is the best thing because I am overwhelmed with recruiting workers or rearranging/rethinking what I do. I have let go of a great outreach event because I am intimidated by the work at hand in order to get it done or because it is unfamiliar to me. The list goes on.
I need to remember that I serve a God who sees this. One, He calls me to excellence. He does not want me to sell myself short for this. Secondly, I have the God who created the universe cheering me on. I can put my trust in Him to show me the way, give me boldness in my steps, and make it seem as familiar as I’ve been doing it all along.
Are there areas in your life that you set aside and don’t follow through with due to intimidation of the task or unfamiliarity?
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On of my biggest pet peeves is to listen to pastors or teachers who speak in “christianese.” The language that Christians use. We need to understand our audience, whether children, teens, or adults and make sure we’re not using our elite country club language in explaining spiritual truths to them. Make sure the terms you use aren’t unique to the church or Christianity. Remember the adage – KISS – “keep it simple stupid.” Assume that someone in the group you’re speaking to is a non-Christian and you are probably confusing them with terms like “consecration” and ”living body.”
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It’s that time of year again, kids are getting out of school, being promoted grades, and everything at church changes. At least at ours it does!
This week will mark the new classes for kids in the Children’s Ministry. We don’t do any hoopla for “promotion” – personally, I think that’s silly. But we are having to redivide all our preschool classes due to growth and lack of facility space. We are simply at capacity in most of our preschool classes.
Change like moving kids, starting new classes, recruiting new teachers, implementing curriculum with new ages, moving fixtures and materials, etc. drives me to do what I do. I love the energy, work, and time that go into making things better for everyone. Sure it’s a lot of work this week and next, but in a few weeks we’ll be able to step back and see what the implication of the change bring. I’m excited about what God does when there is change happening.
Why is it that so many run from change rather than embracing it? In times of change we are stretched and we grow. God moves.
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So as a church leader, when you attend a conference or something at another church, if you are not a mega-giga, huge church. you have the potential to walk away feeling discouraged and deflated. Often you think, “Well, I can’t do that! We’re only __(fill in the blank)__ people!” I’ve felt that way many times. But I can’t use it as an excuse anymore, and that’s what it is.
We attended a church this evening that was about half the size of our current church, Ridge Church in Charlotte. However, being there and seeing the excellence they used to execute a worship experience it could have been a church of thousands. From the moment we pulled in the parking lot, we noticed the climate in which they crafted everything they did from music in the parking lots to themed decor in the lobby for their message series. Their staff was available, informative, and friendly – both volunteer and paid. Their children’s environments were the best that I have seen done in a church, and in a church of many many more. Not to mention the quality of the adult worship experience and everything that goes into that.
It was evident that bringing people far from God, close to God is the heartbeat of Ridge Church. If a family walks in on a Sunday and feels uneasy about leaving their child in the preschool class, they may totally miss the message God has opened their heart and mind to hear. Or it could be something that serves as a distraction. It was so very refreshing seeing a church that is smaller (they are only 6 months old!) doing things wayyyyy better than most larger churches do them. Money wasn’t the factor. Resources weren’t the factor. Just a climate of excellence and detail.
So the next time you think you can’t do something in your ministry because the size of your church or ministry, I urge you to think again. Evaluate places that can be done better. Think about what the non-Christian or first time visitor sees and feels. If you can – take a trip to Charlotte. Be a learner from other churches of all sizes. They keep us fresh, they keep us on our toes and something can be learned from a church of any size. Don’t make more excuses.
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Some thoughts spoken by Louie Giglio ar the Orange Conference have been on my mind for a week now. He was talking in our last main session that the church has made relevancy the idol of the contemporary church. That we need to focus on cultural transcendence rather than cultural relevancy. The bottom line was that He IS. If we focus on He Is and bring Jesus into everything we do, we will always be relevant. Once we look to culture for relevancy in the church, we are already out of step. It was an interesting challenge, especially coming from a church leader that I would say has followed the course of relevancy in his ministry.
After thinking about it this past week though, I see the truth in it. How many days go by without hearing with word “relevant” in your church? When we describe our message or worship, we describe it with this term. As leaders in the church, we sometimes think that if what we do is just relevant with non-Christians, then they’ll relate and see Jesus in a new way. BUT….they won’t be able to see Jesus in a new way if we’re leaving Jesus out of it.
I believe that we need to find new and creative ways to relate to individuals. We need to tie what culture gives us into our teaching. Psychology has a term for this – “creating schemas.” Much like an index card system we have in our minds of past experiences, as we approach something new, we try to assimiliate it into what we’ve already experienced. This maximizes learning. In the church, presenting things in a relevant manner acts in such the same way. It draws connections from what is familiar and known to what is being taught. Not to mention, how people spend their time. If we’re going to “compete” for people’s time and attention, then we’d better “bring it” and a message worth hearing.
However, if in the name of cultural relevancy we leave Jesus out of it, they won’t see Him anyways. They’ll see the church being just like everything else they encounter day to day. What sets you apart in the name of cultural relevancy?
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Day 3 of Orange was awesome. We wrapped up with hearing from Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio. Some thoughts:
- Don’t think in terms of evangelism – think in terms of people. Christians and non-christians have more in common than we think.
- A small group leader has more potential to assist a Christian in their spiritual development than any other position in the church – pastor, worship leader, teacher, etc.
- Some concern regarding bring critical of other church models. Just do what God has called YOU to DO.
- If you’re not teachable, you have to learn everything the hard way.
- Many new models leave out evangelism
- Common ground for all churches and believers must be “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” – make sure this doesn’t get lost in the message of social justice, relevancy, compassion, etc.
- Our goal is to BE the church of Jesus Christ, rather than DO
- We are the presence of God in the neighborhood – the church is
- We need to be “culturally transcendent” rather than “culturally relevant”
- As soon as we think we are being relevant, relevancy has changed and we are behind and out of it.
- Cultural infatutaion is the “golden calf of the contemporary church”
- The church today is the greatest consumers of worship without understanding what it means to be a sacrifice to Him.
- Jesus needs to be our culture.
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