Month: August 2007

Resource: Where Faith & Culture Meet

Where Faith and Culture Meet  Where Faith & Culture Meet — a DVD-based missional resource

“Jesus is already present, working in every human culture.” 

That’s how Andy Crouch begins Zondervan‘s new missional study, Where Faith & Culture Meet.  I got hold of a preview copy — DVD and leader’s guide — and I like it so much, I’m going to use it for the next 6-weeks on Wednesday nights.

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4 elements of space design

chatham-1-board.jpgchatham-2-board.jpg Exterior and interior of our community center.

Construction on our community center is moving along.  If we were building a church building instead of a community center, I would use the same design criteria we developed.  Here’s what we wanted in a building:

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MTV survey says spiritual teens are happier

MTV and the Associated Press recently surveyed the happiness of young people ages 13-24.   Guess what they found?   Young people who consider spirituality the most important thing in their lives are happier than those who don’t.  That’s the good news.

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Check your church nursery for lead contamination

The news gets worse everyday — Mattel is now recalling millions of toys due to lead paint contamination.  Toys R Us is reporting that some baby bibs they carry also have lead contamination.  I worked with many Chinese factories when I was in business, and I guarantee you this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

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Running up the numbers has a great article on reporting church statistics — how we count members, attendance, baptisms, and so on.  Frank Page, president of the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention, is quoted as saying, “The FBI couldn’t find 5-million of our members.”  Pretty funny, but true.  I imagine that the SBC (my denom) isn’t the only denomination to cling to numbers that are, at best, inflated. 

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A Great Resource: “Second Guessing God”

Second Guessing God“The year before I graduated from seminary, I lost my faith in God.” 

That’s how Brian Jones begins his new book, Second Guessing God:  Hanging On When You Can’t See His Plan.  If you’re looking for a book that helps you deal with the unexpected, the tragic, the uncertainty of life, Brian has written a book for you. 

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5 Ways to Reinvent Your Children’s Ministry

A church about 50-miles away made the local TV news recently because they constructed a $3-million children’s indoor amusement center.  Kids play video games, shoot arcade basketball, fire laser guns, and climb the rockwall in the indoor playscape.  The children’s pastor proudly spoke about this state-of-the-art, high tech playground as necessary to effective children’s ministry.  Guess what?  He is dead wrong! 

If it takes imitating Disney to create meaningful church experiences for kids, then those of us in small churches might as well give up.  Fortunately, you don’t need a $3-million dollar amusement center or a baptistry built like a fire truck (I am not making this up) to do good stuff with kids.  Here are the 5 principles we’re following as we reinvent our children’s ministry:

  1. Keep it real.  Kids need real, hands-on, no-screens experiences.  Electronic razzle-dazzle has its place, but kids need the experience of making things with their own hands, fingerpainting, acting in their own drama, and visiting real people, like shut-ins.  A great book that makes this point is “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv.  This book is not geared to church, but the argument he makes for real kid experiences is compelling. 
  2. Make it intergenerational.  Our communities, and our churches, segregate generations too often.  Kids have few opportunities to hear stories from their grandparents, much less other older adults.  Three years ago we went to intergenerational VBS, and we involved more adults and kids than ever before. Plus, everybody had more fun!  It works…try it.
  3. Let kids create.  Debbie recently taught art to kids in our summer program.  Most of the kids were worried about doing art “right.”  Coloring pages and teacher-created crafts, where everybody makes the same thing, stifle creativity.  Give kids paint, brushes, easels and let them go!  Or get a box of costumes and let kids create their own stories.  Let them create, rather than copy.  You’ll be amazed at what they do.
  4. Knock down walls or move.  Most of us in small churches are afflicted with small classrooms that we inherited from 1950s church architecture.  If you can’t knock down walls, get out of there!  Move the kids to the fellowship hall where you have room to move, sing, act, and create. 
  5. Organize into bigger groups for more fun.  No kid wants to be stuck in a room with just the teacher.  If your children’s group is small, put everybody together for large group, then move into smaller activity groups based on skill levels.  Bigger kids help smaller kids, and everybody has a great time.

Lots of resources are available that embrace the principles I’ve mentioned above.  Zondervan, Group Publishing, and others have great materials that will help you and your church reinvent your children’s ministry.   If you have a great idea for children’s ministry that utilizes these or compatible ideas, let me know.  Better still, send photos.  I’ll put them up and share your successes!

How I spent my summer vacation

grandkids-aug2007-053.jpggrandkids-aug2007-079.jpgVivian, Maggie and Wesley at the pool

L to R:  Painting the backdrop; the cast on-stage for “Jumanji – The Play” complete with two neighborhood “lions”; at the pool on a hot day!

A Visit To Nana’s and Granddaddy’s 

If you’re wondering what happened to me lately, it’s summer!  Which means the annual visit of our three exceptionally intelligent and charming grandchildren — Wesley, 10; Vivian, 6; and Maggie, 3.  We made the rounds from Virginia to Tennessee to South Carolina and picked up everybody last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Tomorrow, we repeat this historic route in reverse to deliver everyone back home, safe and sound.

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