Archives for posts with tag: children’s ministry

Whether or not to celebrate Mother’s Day, and if so to what extent, has been the subject of more than one “intense” discussion for our staff in the past. People can have VERY strong feelings on the subject. Here was my standpoint in those staff meetings:

Yes. I still believe the church should acknowledge Mother’s Day. Yes. From the pulpit.

Now before anyone starts sending hate mail, just hear me out. My husband and I DID struggle with infertility. As a children’s pastor, it was MISERY to be in church every single year on Mother’s Day, handing out flowers to Mothers, when I so desperately just wanted to BE a Mother. Oh, and let’s not forget all the baby dedications, and nursery renovations, and children’s productions when the desire for a child of my own was so overwhelming I thought it was going to crush me/kill me. I am ashamed to say that when one family announced that “oh oops, I guess we are expecting number 8!” I went home and bawled my eyes out. More than once at Walmart, I would pass a 14 year old pregnant girl headed outside to smoke and want to claw her eyes out and rip out all her hair. Not my finest hour. But even during those difficult times I knew that being a Mom was a special full time job, a calling that I wanted in on.

Skip ahead several years, and our church had grown. a lot. And in a very large church, you have to take a lot of things into consideration when planning your services ahead. For awhile we decided to cut our tradition of the kids singing on Mother’s Day in our Sunday morning service, because non-Mother’s might be hurt by it. And we debated mentioning Mother’s day AT ALL because non-Mother’s might not come to church. This line of thinking spread into cutting most of our Father’s Day activities because a lot of children do not have fathers. And then our Veterans Day cards giveaway was on the chopping block because some of our soldiers did not come home (they were killed in the line of duty). Next came came cutting our children singing/performing near Christmas time, because some families do not have children and may feel left out, or they come from divorced homes and cannot participate. During all of this debate and planning on our staff, I was asked whether or not we should have special services at all or if we should mention things like Mother’s Day. After some prayer and thought this is what I said:

Yes. We need to mention the importance of mothers and fathers and family because God does and Scripture does. Not just on one or two days but throughout the year. Furthermore, our American culture does not highly value the role of “mother”. In fact, in an era when young women are encouraged almost EVERYWHERE they turn to be thin, beautiful, sensual, sexually appealing, young, immature and irresponsible- raising a child does not fit into that mind set at ALL. Young women are taught from the get go to be selfish, to focus on what THEY want, when THEY want it. Choosing to raise a child and put the child’s needs ahead of your own is considered old fashioned and ignorant and even a waste of your life. The “secular” world does not usually see a “stay at home mom” as a full time job, though it most certainly is!

I do not believe that our young ladies (or young men) are getting the tools they need to be parents, because the role of a parent is not valued in our society.

So if the role of a parent is not valued or encouraged in our self focused, self driven life style- then where can a parent be valued, encouraged and equipped? That should be, and is supposed to be in the church. God created the family and places a very high value on parents- including Mothers. Mothers are important to God. What they do is valued and blessed by Him. It is a good thing for the church to go counter culture on Mother’s Day and affirm and thank moms for following a calling laid out in Scripture.

Then, what should our approach be as a church, as a congregation- when some of your congregation are parents and some are not? When some are mothers and some are desperately trying and some are mothers who are grieving? And what about divorced families and families with only one parent and foster families and blended families?

One of our major problems as a body of Christ is our tendency to swing to extremes. We tend to swing violently to one end of the pendulum or the other. Either we have every Mom stand up in the church service with their flower bouquet while the band and the children sing, and every other woman gets nothing OR we skip the whole day for fear of offending anyone. Part of our Christian walk is learning to live together in love and balance. We can learn to lovingly thank and affirm our mothers without singling people out. We can remember that people in our congregations are suffering, waiting for a child or grieving the loss of one and be sensitive to that. At the same time, we can make a stand as to the value of God’s design for the family- and weave that into our programming and the way we “do church” year round. Can we do special day well, with balance, effectiveness and grace? Oh definitely. I don’t want to cut so much that we are not offending anyone, because we are saying nothing at all.

Should we acknowledge Mother’s Day from the pulpit? Yes. We should affirm God’s design and approval for motherhood, but with grace, compassion and balance. So go love that crazy messed up outta wack beautiful thing we call the church this Sunday (the Body of Christ) and Happy Mother’s Day. Love Trisha

Ephesians 4:13-15American Standard Version (ASV)

13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;

15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

Here is a pic of me, my mother Bonnie Stevens and my daughter. I love you Mom! Thank you for always pointing us to Jesus. Your prayers have carried us countless times. Love you!!

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Yes, reaching out to children in Jesus’ Name is a high calling and a great adventure, but children’s and family ministry does have some unique challenges. Here are just a few:

 

  1. “Different orbit” Children’s ministry is one of the few church ministries that takes place at the same time as the main service, and in a different room. The danger here is that the children’s ministry can be cut off from the vision and life of the church as a whole. The children’s leader must work harder than some of the other staff to communicate to “earth” (the parents, adults, lead pastor and other staff) about what is going on on the “moon” (the children’s ministry) and vice versa. The children’s leader has to intentionally work to make sure their ministry reflects the values and mission of the church as a whole, and that the children are a part of the church and its activities.

 

  1. “High Volunteer Need” Arguably, no other area of the church has a higher need for volunteer leaders than the children’s ministry department, due to the need to keep to ratios (6 kids per 1 adult for example). Also, you cannot put just ANYONE in with children. Each potential volunteer must be thoroughly vetted and background checked before being considered. If they pass, they need to be trained, discipled and placed in an area that flows with their skill set. These precious leaders are not babysitters; they are co-laborers and fellow children’s ministers. A growing kid’s ministry doesn’t need one children’s pastor; it needs a team of children’s ministers, ready to reach all children regardless of background, learning style or situation. We should never apologize for asking others to partner with us in this amazing journey of ministry to kids!

 

  1. “Babysitting Syndrome” Too many churches are following an old European custom instead of Scripture. By this, I mean, they look at children as unimportant, and put them off in another room to be babysat while the important adults have church. This thinking also leads to placing the most “expendable” people in kid’s ministry to “babysit”. Most children’s ministry leaders will run into this cultural belief at one time or another. It is up to us to lovingly vision cast a more Biblical view of children’s and family ministry- one that places great importance on children. I often tell parents, “We will not babysit your children. We pray that they are changed by learning about and meeting with God. We invite you to be a part of this experience.” We also fight the babysitting paradigm by actively and publically seeking out the best, most talented and qualified people to work with our kids. Not just any warm body will do. Another problem that arises is when the church expects the children’s leader to  babysit, or find babysitters for every single church event. I think this is a terrible idea and a legal liability. Also, it tears down the credibility of the children’s ministry program.  This “babysitting” mentality does not disappear in a day, but with love and prayer we can change the way the whole church views ministry to children.

 

  1. “Universal Leader” Never before has the children’s leader had to be such a jack of all trades. A lot of churches are looking for a person who can speak up front to children, communicate with the parents, train and disciple the leaders, recruit effectively for multiple open spots at all times, manage the scheduling for leaders and services, head up several outreaches a year and more. Whew. That is a huge job!

  

  1. “Teeny Tiny Time Frame” We have so little time to make an impact. We only have these kids an average of 1 hour per week, only 32 days a year. These statistics should scare us and challenge us. We must be incredibly intentional about our programming to do everything we can, to equip these kids in every way possible. And part of that equipping process must include partnering with the parents to make sure that these kids are getting what they need spiritually at home first, where they spend the MOST time. Parents+church+dedicated Christian friends make a dynamic support structure for optimal change and growth.

 

 

  1. “Poverty” Even in a nation as wealthy as the United States, too many families are struggling with the reality of poverty. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, “About 15 millionchildren in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, a measurement that has been shown to underestimate the needs of families. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses.”[1] As children’s ministry leaders, we may be asking kids to come up with money for several events a year- camp, winter retreat, fundraiser etc. There are children in our ministries who honestly cannot afford to pay for these things. Does that mean that they cannot participate in camp, for example? What ways can we work to include more kids instead of excluding them with fees? I struggle with this with our AWANA program. The suggested fees would never work in our area, and even the $20 we did end up charging for books and uniform proved to be too much for several of our children. The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening in our culture. But at church we are not supposed to give preferential treatment to the rich. How can churches better minister to families struggling with lingering poverty? A book I read recently, “What Helping Hurts,” was a great read, full of great ideas for building up instead of sustaining a spiraling situation.

 

  1. “Too Many Activities” One of the biggest challenges facing children’s leaders today is that we are competing with so many other activities. Soccer games were never on Sundays when I was a child. Today, parents are routinely taking their children to sports rehearsals 3 or 4 nights a week with games almost every weekend- even on Sundays. In addition they usually have music lessons, 4H, Boy Scouts, etc etc. I think those of us in ministry need to be much more careful about not scheduling a whole lot of extra events. Instead, we should be working to make our weekends (and midweeks if applicable)more effective. Many churches respond to the challenge of “family ministry” by putting on dozens more programs and activities. We need to understand the busyness of our families, do fewer programs, and do those fewer programs with more quality.

 

  1. “Native Technology Speakers”- I have learned in our classes that this generation of children are native speakers of everything technology related. Perhaps as a result of all this time in front of screens, children have a VERY short attention span (3-5 minutes average), are drawn to videos and can be more inclined to be visual learners. I learned a lot about the different learning styles. Children’s leaders must craft a diverse kids’ service that will minister to different learning styles and proficiencies. Most children’s leaders are also NOT “native technology” speakers, meaning we did not grow up with computers, laptops etc. But the modern ministry leader must commit to learning the language of children and the language of this culture if they plan to be in any way effective. On a side note: I also discovered in my own church, our kid’s ministry programs have been neglecting the “imaginative” learning style. This generation, especially the imaginative learners, need time to “verbally process” what they are hearing. They need an opportunity to share their thoughts and personal experiences. I realized that I needed to add this important time to the curriculum that we write.

 

  1. “Biblical Illiteracy”- We can no longer assume that the children we minister to, even within the church, all “know” the Bible stories. Biblical literacy is not what it used to be. We have to make an intentional plan to teach children the basic Bible stories both at home and at church.

 

  1. “Rise of Special Needs”- For unknown reasons, the incidences of autism and other special needs in children has skyrocketed[2]. It may be safe to say that all children’s leaders will have children with special needs in their ministry. And for every one that IS there at church, I imagine that there may be 10 special needs children who stay home, because they or their parents do not feel like they can go to church? Right along with physical special needs-autism, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome etc. is a whole host of mental and behavioral special needs- ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and more. I believe that children’s leaders must educate themselves and others about special needs in children. It is important to do trainings with our leaders and work to be more inclusive to children and families with special needs.

 

[1] “Child Poverty.” NCCP | Child Poverty. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.

[2] “”1 in 68:What Do Autism’s Rising Numbers Mean For Our Families?”.” Autism Speaks. N.p., 24 July 2012. Web. 01 May 2017.

So what are the biggest challenges for you and YOUR ministry? Do you agree with this list? Why or why not?

Whatever challenges you may be facing in your ministry, I pray God helps you meet each and every one with courage, strength and humor. God bless- Trisha

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Yes I’m a woman in ministry, ordained in 2006. And I’ve done weddings, funerals, baptisms, visitation….you name it. I am totally ok with working on a large staff of mostly males. But I have noticed a few challenges that I think female leaders in a church, may face more often than their male counterparts. What do you think? Am I right? Here’s my top ten things only female ministers will understand:

1. Oh no. I wore a dress today. Wearing that lapel Mic is going to be rough.

2. I am going to have to take these gorgeous shoes off if this prayer line gets any longer…and not because of a burning Bush.

3. Too many crying infants in this sanctuary. I’m going to have to go feed my own infant during worship and before my message, just to be safe.

4. After being up most of the night with a sick toddler, teething infant, I’m here on time for work, prayer service (a miracle) and no, I’m not feeling overly sympathetic that you, dear young intern, are too tired for these early mornings.

5. If it says, “all staff should attend”/be copied,  YES that should include me too.

6. After a church tragedy/death, yes I will need extra time to meet with my all female staff, because one will start crying and then they all will. Then they will need to start verbally processing their thoughts, emotions, and talking it out, encouraging each other-hugging. But together we will pull through and get it all done.

7. Another envelope came in the mail for “Reverend Scott and spouse”. He’s an I.T. Guy. But he thinks it’s really funny.

8. In college, people actually told me, “Oh honey, you’re a Children’s Pastoral major? Don’t be upset. You’ll meet someone.” When I first started dating Scott, a psych major, I heard, “I thought you said you felt called into ministry? Why would you throw that all away?” Lol

9. I am stressing so bad about the upcoming pastoral staff retreat. I have to coordinate the kid’s schedules, write out instructions for the sitter , make sure all the kid’s laundry is done, Scott’s lunches packed, dinner meals frozen, schools notified, dog meds laid out etc etc etc

10. Why oh why didn’t I remember to wear waterproof!!!! I always cry when I’m baptizing. And I’m in the tank today! Oh Lord, please help me wrestle that really big dude back up out of the water…..

How about you? Are you a woman in ministry? What are your pet peeves, funny or tender stories? God bless, and thank you all, men and women, for the ministry you do!

Love Trisha

I am currently in a Master’s Degree program at Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN, in Children’s and Family Ministries.  This December’s graduation will be an exciting time, and its coming up so fast (we walk the line next May).  Our cohort has been privileged to read so many amazing books along this journey, some of which are now favorites of mine. As an author myself, what books do I most enjoy reading? To make this list, I have to want to reread these books and recommend this to others. Some are older and some are new- but I believe the really great book stand the test of time 🙂 So here are my top 10 favorites, NOT counting Scripture (which is always #1), in no certain order:

10. The Book of God, by Walter Wagerin Jr. This is definitely not a book for kids. But Wagarin’s version of the “Bible as novel” is painted with such vivid word pictures, it makes the story real in a whole new way. Also, you can see the common thread of God’s story woven throughout Scripture instead of random stories pulled out to stand alone. I was and am deeply touched by the telling of the salvation story in the Book of God. I usually reread it every year around Easter.

9. Well Intentioned Dragons, by Marshall Shelley. I read this book for my undergrad. I think all ministry leaders should read it. Church conflict is a main reason why pastors quit. This book does a good job and trying to prepare leaders for the pain, loss and infighting that sometimes (always) comes with working in a church.

8. The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School, by Aaron Reynolds,  I loved this book! Reinvention is packed with creative ideas and inspiration for kid’s church as well as a lot of encouragement for those of us every weekend in the trenches for Jesus and His kids. I especially love the layout of the book- it is so fun and creative! Many of us kid’s pastors are quite visually oriented and easily distracted (ADHD), so I loved the illustrations and just plain fun on each page.

7. An Hour on Sunday, Creating Moments of Transformation and Wonder, by Nancy Beach- This is one the best books I have ever read. It is not a “kid’s ministry book” per se. But it IS an amazing, creative book from Willow Creek’s own Nancy Beach, who spent many years as the creative director for their weekend services. What she tells us about excellence, teamwork and innovation are definitely applicable in kid’s and family ministry. She makes a great case for giving it our best in every one of those precious 60 minutes each Sunday. I also love the artistic layout of this book.

6. Me, Myself and Bob, by Phil Vischer- I cried all the way through the last 4 chapters of this book. If you can make it through the first few chapters (all the details of the launch of Big Idea and Veggietales), Phil Vischer gets VERY personal on his painful journey at the end of the Big Idea company.  What do you do when God does not “save you” from falling down.  What can God show you at the bottom of it all, about His love and His plan? Oh, now I’m gonna get all choked up again….

5. Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer- Great book about listening to God’s Spirit, life experiences and others in your life to discern “the voice of vocation.” What were you really created to do with your life? How has God spoken to you through your failures as to what you are NOT called to do? (Way closing). How do we hear the voice of God, guiding us to our calling? What about when Christians are depressed, trying to find themselves?

4.  He Walks Among Us, by Richard Stearns. I cried through quite a few of these stories too. These are powerful stories from all over the world about what God is doing in kids and family’s lives- from Africa to Palestine to Equador etc. How is God “showing up” walking alongside these kids and families, some of them in horrific situations/conditions? What can we do to be a part of what God is doing globally? This book is great for a family or church devotional, with daily chapters that are small enough for a short story time.

3. Too Small to Ignore, Why the Least of These Matters Most, by Wess Stafford.  Yup, this one was a tear fest as well. I LOVED this book. What a heart rending story of loss, redemption, forgiveness, restoration. Wess, the founder of Compassion International, is a great storyteller. You will be fired up for missions, for Jesus and for child protection after experiencing this book.

2. Dreaming of more for the Next Generation, Dr. Michelle Anthony. Wanting more ideas for family ministry? This is your book. This was an easy, quick read, full of humor and creative ideas. I found myself nodding my head a lot in agreement. Dr. Anthony elevates the importance of what we do as kid’s leaders, and what God is doing in young lives.

1. I Blew It and Talk Now and Later- Brian Dollar- I love both of these books, for these raw honesty and humor.  Children’s leaders can be encouraged that God can use them even when they make mistakes, even though they are human. I laughed, I cried, I was inspired to try and try again.

So did any of these books make YOUR list? What books would you pick if you could only pick 10 ministry books? And these books are, of course, in addition to your daily Bible reading/study. What books would you reread, recommend, can’t do without? Love and Happy Reading!

Trisha Peach, Author of “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” and “Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics”.

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We all have those special moments in life that stand out in our memory. This week I was delighted and honored to present 4 breakout at CMCONNECT Conference, a conference for children’s and family ministers and volunteers. I had a wonderful time connecting with dear friends in kid’s ministry as well as getting acquainted with new leaders as well. Here are a few of my favorite moments (things said by different leaders) at this year’s CMConnect Conference:

KidMin Charlie: “Everything I have was given to me by my Father. When I am done with my bus or a puppet, I give it away. My Father provided it, why should I charge for it? How many times does My Father need to pay for that puppet? My Father provided that resource and I will pass it along.”

Lori Bertram:

“Faithfully serve an audience of One. You are uniquely situated by God Himself to impact your corner of the globe. Lead from a genuine place.”

“I learned from David to have a heart similar to God, and to trust God’s timing. God gave David promises that were a long time coming. God has perfect timing and HE elevates us, not our own actions. Even during the times it doesn’t make sense, a leader like David waits on God. David went through 8 years of exile. God SCULPTS us in exile. David teaches us to honor people, honor friendships. He teaches us to have a repentant heart. We should repent of sin quickly and worship with abandon.”

“Moses taught me the importance of obedience. To lead, you must completely obey. God sculpted Moses in exile. You cannot lead in human strength; there must be humility. The more God elevates you and your ministry, the lonelier leadership gets. You do not get as many kudos and pats on the back as your leadership grows. Moses had a very tough last year of his life, last year of his ministry. During that year his sister died, there was no water for the people again, Moses lost his temper and angered God when Moses hit the rock and took credit, and then his brother Aaron died too. Obedience is really honoring God. Moses did not obey, he did not honor God in that instance. Did Moses desire human affirmation and feel the people deserved more of a reprimand? We need to know God’s voice. Sacrifice anything else in your life, but never sacrifice your devotional life. There is a specific mantle for YOUR life only. Your receive that mantle in prayer. Be patient with people. Moses teaches us to use a teach approach- EX 34:9-10. God wants to covenant with us, because He loves us so much.”

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I was honored and privileged to get a preview of Mark Harper’s brand new book  (just released on New Year’s Day, Jan 1, 2017) “The Red Book: the Life Blood of Children’s Ministry” all about the things that really matter the most in kid’s ministry- the “life blood” if you will. I so wish there had been a book like this when I was first getting into children’s ministry. Mark Harper of course, is the founder/author of the Super Church, known and used world wide.

I did not find any negatives as I read through it. It hooks you from Chapter One, and before you know it, you are half way through! But then you want to go back and reread several things. Mark Harper brings to bear his many decades of children’s ministry experience; and we get to benefit. The chapters are short enough to use as practical devotionals with your team. I love the fact that Mark pulls no punches and dives right into the tough topics we children’s leaders face, with several practical “how-to’s”. But the best part of the book, is that he brings it back around to “why we do, what we do.” He answers the question, “What is children’s ministry REALLY all about, underneath it ALL?” And his answer is “It’s about the gospel- It’s about the blood of Jesus.”

This is a must read for veterans and newcomers to children’s ministry alike. I think we all will find fresh inspiration to fuel our ministry to children, when we come back to the beauty and power of the Good News, and the Hope found only in the Jesus we know.

“The Red Book” by Mark Harper is available on Amazon, christianbook.com and more.

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On another note- I hope to see several of you at CPC Orlando this coming week. I am so excited for what God will do, re-energizing ministries, hearts and lives! I’ll be tweeting live when I can. Can’t wait!! Love Trisha

 

Each November, our family does something a little different for the whole month before Thanksgiving.

 I don’t know about you, but this year was a roller coaster at times of highs and bitter lows. Many people are expressing worry or trepidation about 2017. And it can become easy, to focus on the negative, or to take all the good in our lives for granted- to not realize the beauty in our lives until it’s gone.  Our American culture at times pushes us to be entitled, without even realizing it. We’ve all met children (and adults!) who are completely ungrateful and clueless as to what they already have.

So this November, I announced to our family, that we were going to cover a wall in our living room with butcher paper, and every single day before bed, we would write at least one thing we are thankful for. No repeats! So every day the four of us wrote at least one thing we were grateful for.  I got a box of brightly colored markers and we set up the large wall of paper.  At first I got a few lame excuses, “Oh mom, I don’t know what to write…..this is so different.”  But after the first night, everyone has been having fun with it. And the best part? We all have to walk past that wall so many times a day, and just seeing it, reminds us all how amazing God is. And I love seeing my kids stop to read everything on the wall before we thank God at the end of the night. That visible reminder of God’s goodness changes your view of everything else that day…..God tells us in His Word to be thankful, and grateful, no matter the circumstances. We are to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” in our homes, and we as parents lead the way. What has God done for you and your family this year? This is the perfect week to stop, remember and say, “Thank You Lord”.

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For many Americans the earth starting spinning in the other direction early this past Wednesday morning. Many woke up feeling that their whole world had changed over night. I have lived through 5 elections now, but I have NEVER seen or even heard of one quite like this past election. It is safe to say that our nation has not been this divided since the Civil War. For a year now, our TV screens, tablets, social media, radio etc etc have been bombarded by an avalanche of name calling, ugly ads, uncovered corruption, “secret emails” and “secret tapes.” The anger has boiled over in the ballot boxes and into the streets of our nation. I looked at five major newspaper headlines today, each asking the question, “What do we say to our kids about this election?” Many parents and children’s leaders are mulling that question over. Here are a few thoughts I have, as a parent of 2 children and a children’s pastor, teacher. After this election, Christian adults ARE:

1. Safe people for a child to ask questions, even tough ones. Unless your child is VERY VERY young, you will probably not be able to shield your child from hearing about the election. Both of my children came home from school talking about the lunch discussions with their friends. They saw several ads on youtube channels as well. I do not want my children to hear about it from everyone BUT me. I am deliberately initiating the tough conversations with my children, because I want them to know that I am a safe place to ask those questions. I do not want political questions to be off limits with my kids. With all that has gone on, and is still going on, they will have questions. In fact, we talked about the voting process, their rights and responsibilities as an American citizen. I even took them with me to the polling station so they could see how voting works.

2. Good citizens of whatever nation we live in (Mark 12). We are in the world, not of it, meaning we SHOULD be salt and light in American politics, without letting our culture of greed, anger, corruption taint us. This includes following laws, paying taxes, doing our due service and praying for those in authority.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. …Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:1-3

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” (1 Peter 2:13)

“We are also to pray for, and see the peace of the place God has us serving: “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

Jesus tells us to pay our taxes, and to help out if pressed into service (Mark 12). However, Jesus DID speak up with the governing authorities were mistreating others and abusing power (John 2:13-22, Luke 13:32, Luke 13:1. The Apostle Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship when he was about to be beaten/interrogated illegally (Acts 16:37)

3. Are accountable to GOD first. We are CHRISTIAN Americans, not American Christians. That means that if we must choose between what God has said and what our culture says, we will choose to do what God said. What is legal is not always right and vice versa. For example, slavery used to be legal, but it was still horribly wrong. It used to be legal to beat to your wife, trade your child for a horse etc. etc. The Bible teaches over and over again that we are accountable to God first. The early disciples said it best when they were threatening by the rulers and ordered to stop preaching Christ: “But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Acts 5:29. The Apostle Peter states, “”Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among outsiders that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

4. Can be afraid, but choose to put their trust in God. I advise parents to be honest with their children when they are facing someone of great importance. It is a powerful thing for a child to hear their parent say, “Hey, I am scared in this situation too. But I know what the Bible says. And I chose to trust God.”A Good friend of mine put it this way: No matter who is President, God is on the throne. Nothing can change God’s plan as laid out in Revelation. He knows what He is doing. He is loving, and He cares about us so very much.

5. Leads by example. What do the children in my life see in my attitude and actions? Am I showing fear, rage? Am I showing trust, compassion? Our children often grow up to do as we do, not as we say. They may follow our actions right now. How will they react to this election? They are watching you for cues.

6. Prays for our government and for our leaders. EVEN IF THEY WEREN’T the ONES WE WANTED. This is especially hard for us as Americans. But the Bible is clear, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers,intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men 2for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.…” 1 Timothy 2:1. It is very hard to hate someone that you are praying for. I told my children, “I did not pray for our last President as much as I could have. But I am going to pray for whoever our new president is every single day.” And I am going to. And I want my kids to hear me pray. If I spent as much time praying as I have complaining, this nation would be a much better place for my kids.

7. Does not resort to ugly tactics when hurt, angry, confused. Remember, our kids are watching us, learning from us how to react to success and to hurt and to defeat. Are we taunting and teasing? Are we yelling? I believe our kids need to know that hurting others, threatening people, destroying things, demeaning others is never a way to handle emotions. We as parents and teachers have to show our kids a better way. We need to teach our kids to be change agents in this world, and there are right ways and wrong ways to go about effecting change.

That has been my strategy in these tough times- modeling prayer for our government, participation, a (hopefully) better attitude, and a heart willing to seek God’s will and do it.

I am not perfect, and I know I will stumble, but that can be a good lesson too. God using each of us, in our brokenness, to work His will here on earth.

So, have you had “the talk” with your kids about the election? How did it go? What strategies do you recommend?

Praying for God’s peace, compassion and healing in tough times, Trisha

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I was delighted to meet Becky Fischer last year at CPC (Children’s Pastor’s Conference) in front of her booth in the resource hall.  She was literally surrounded by dozens and dozens of curriculums and other literary works she has written. This woman has been BUSY. Here are some of the things she has been up to according to her ministry website http://kidsinministry.org/about/becky-fischer/  :

“Ms. Fischer spent twenty-three years in business before answering the call to full-time ministry, serving first as a children’s pastor for ten years. She later joined Tasch Ministries International, which had taken over 700 boys and girls on mission trips. She was later employed as the children’s pastor and as a graphic artist by MorningStar Publications and Ministries, Inc. in Wilkesboro, NC. Becky Fischer founded of Kids in Ministry International (KIMI) in 2001. KIMI is a multifaceted ministry that trains children and adults to walk in the supernatural power of God.

Becky Fischer has trained thousands of children, teens, parents, and children’s workers. This was done through conferences, Bible schools, mission trips, churches and resource materials. She is the author of the book Redefining Children’s Ministry in the 21st Century, Jesus Camp My Story, and three children’s books. She has also authored/co-authored eight unique and dynamic children’s church curriculums.”

Her latest Kid’s in Ministry International (KIMI) curriculum-Kingdom of Light- is coming soon, and I’m honored that I was able to get an opportunity to preview it and review it.What is “Kingdom of Light” all about? Well here’s what it says on her site:

“Kids in Ministry International curriculums, designed for children’s church

encompassing kids from ages 6 to 12, are very unique in content. Not only do

they cover the foundational truths and doctrines of the Bible not readily available

in other curriculums, but even familiar topics are taught in very distinctive ways.

Our materials are written specifically for Spirit empowered churches who believe

in the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, hearing God’s voice,

healing, that the gifts of the Spirit are for today, and who believe in walking in

the supernatural lifestyle of God found in Scripture.”

After checking out this upcoming curriculum, I have a few thoughts on it. Here are a few of bright points, the “Shining Stars” of Kingdom of Light, if you will:

  1. Great Potential for Truly Engaging Your Current and Even New Children-The bright colors are great. I am a visual person, and the first thing that grabs me about KOL are the vivid colors. It looks modern and FUN.The themes of light and royalty are usually big hits with kids. I think the fun activities would also generate a lot of excitement, willingness to bring friends and an anticipation of what’s to come next!
  2. Diversity- If churches are not careful, they can make the mistake of featuring curriculum with all white kids, a white Jesus, white disciples and so forth. I believe it is important to VISUALLY let all kids know, “We want you in church here this morning. Jesus wants you here. You belong here.” KOL is packed with pictures of children from all over the globe. The settings are very diverse. This is probably because Ms. Fischer travels extensively all over the world, and has always had such a passion for reaching children of every language, economic and racial background.
  3. Holy Spirit Emphasis- This curriculum is ideal for Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. I know from experience (I’m ordained through the Assemblies of God) that it can be tough to find quality curriculum that speaks to our Pentecostal distinctives and heritage. In the past, my teams have just found the best curriculum we could and then added our own Holy Spirit emphasis on- or written our own. This curriculum is unabashedly Spirit-filled from the get go.
  4.  Great Tie-Ins- The theme of “LIGHT” lends itself easily to some great events. I would do a black light night to kick it off or as an end point rally. I also think that with Halloween coming up, many churches try to do a Halloween alternative. I think a night with an emphasis on breaking free from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light would work well in a lot of our settings. This curriculum would be an effective tool in talking about tough topics this fall season.
  5. Built-in Teacher Training Tools- I like the fact that Ms. Fischer puts great emphasis on giving your leaders the training they need. In fact, from the beginning of the series, she starts with training. Volunteers often complain, “I didn’t get the training I thought I would/should.” This curriculum seems to come with the training ideas built right in. Correct and thorough training for volunteer leaders can make all the difference!
  6. Parent-Home Ministry Component- Not all curriculums include any connection between the church and the home. But wise churches know the powerful impact that parents have on their child’s spiritual journey; and SOMETIMES those children will minister powerfully to their parents! So Ms. Fischer has included a section on each lesson that goes home for family ministry. I get excited at the thought of the light shining out from our homes all week long!
  7. Kinesthetic Learning- This is not a “I speak and you sit and listen” kind of curriculum. These are “Kid’s Church Services” and they are EXPERIENCE as well as knowledge based. They do not just learn ABOUT prayer, they then participate in prayer. They talk about the power of God, and then begin to engage with a living God. There are costume characters, object lessons, movement…This curriculum would appeal to many different learning styles.

Potential Drawbacks of Using “Kingdom of Light” Curriculum:

  1. KOL would not be a good fit for churches opposed to prayer for the sick, praying for miracles or church who do not believe in the supernatural.
  2. You and your team would need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions and do ministry to non-Christian parents of children who attend your services. Yes, you probably will atract some new kids who are not from Christian families (which is so great that they are coming!) No kidding, we have had several occasions of parents wanting to meet with us, asking, “Why is my child wanting to pray every night?” “You aren’t actually telling my child that Jesus ACTUALLY rose from the dead??” The best thing to do is to expect and be ready for those interactions. They are actually potential God moments- ministry openings! So do not be defensive. For us, many many of these curious parents ended up joining our church and becoming just as committed as their kids! This is extra work, but it’s so worth it. It’s why we are here!

If you are interested in seeing more on Becky Fischer’s work and ministry, check out her website mentioned earlier in this post.

To see titles and sample lessons visit

http://kidsinministry.org/childrens-ministry-curriculum

After you check out samples for yourself, please let us know what YOU thought in the comments below.

Love Trisha Peach

Author of Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch and Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics, now available on Amazon.com

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“So I was so excited, to see these middle schoolers walk right up to our youth center at our church  on a Tuesday. For months I had been trying several outreach approaches, friend nights and more and praying that God would bring new kids in. Growth was definitely a major goal for us. It was clear that these kids wanted to ask me something. And I was certainly flattered that they had their phones out to take a picture of me and our youth facilities. And it wasn’t even a Sunday or Wednesday night! Then to my shock, one of them said, ‘You have a Jigglypuff on your head,” and then ‘This is where Trey got his Venonat. Oh hey I see it!’ And then the boys ran around to the church’s back parking lot. Talk about an ego killer.” –B.T. Youth Pastor

Have you been noticing a few more kids, youth and grown adults roaming around your church parking lot lately with their phones out? Well they are PROBABLY not trying to plan a robbery or their next visit to your church. Chances are high that these people are playing the hottest new game right now- Pokemon Go. And chances are also high that there are Pokemon that they want to catch AT YOUR CHURCH. “Wait a minute!” you may be saying. “Our church did not authorize that. We never signed up for that.” Well, you do not get a say in whether or not your church is a part of the game. And the fact is:

CHURCHES ARE A MAJOR PLACE TO FIND POKEMON IN THE GAME. churches are also what is known as “Pokemon gyms.” Once you reach level 5 in the game, you then pick a “team”- red (valor), blue (mystic), yellow (instinct) and more. If you see a gym (often a church) “owned” by another team, you can battle it for YOUR team. Do you even know which Pokemon team has claimed your church yet? You are already in the game like it or not! What is this game anyway? Well Wikipedia defines Pokemon Go as:

“Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company as part of the Pokémon franchise. It was released worldwide in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices.” This means that kids will be actually WALKING OUTSIDE with their phones to play the game. It looks like a GPS with google maps to actual locations to find “Pokemon.”

The benefits of the game include: 1. For the first time in too long, children are going OUTSIDE and WALKING. They are still looking at a screen. But they are walking outside. This is a big deal for some families. I did hear of a few kids immediately uninstalling the game when they found out they would have to walk outside lol. 2. Many families are choosing to play the game together. This is a family friendly game that gets people doing something in community. Full disclosure, my husband and son have been going out every evening having a blast  playing this. 3. Many kids would never otherwise go these locations- museums, post offices, churches, fire stations. They are exploring the world around them, where they actually live.

The drawbacks to the game include: 1. There have been reports already of pedophiles using the game to lure children to a desolate area ie, “Come to this abandoned building. You will find a very rare ___________ there.” 2. Like any other game, Pokemon Go can become addictive and very time consuming. Kids can spend hours and hours and days and days in this immersive virtual reality. 3. I have already seen more than one near car accident caused by individuals playing Pokemon GO while driving! It seems many adults who do not want to walk around, are collecting their Pokemon while driving. YIKES!

I would like to caution churches and pastors- if we are truly saying “God, please send us kids and families!” and God send them on the “wrong” day (Thursday afternoon etc.) we shouldn’t be responding with, “get off my lawn you kids!” either with our words or actions. You will have families coming to your church now at all weird hours. I remember Jesus going where He knew the people would be. And Jesus spoke in a lot of “stories”, parables, in which He used the common pictures of the day to reach people with eternal truths- sheep, coins, farmers, soldiers etc. What if Pokemon Go is the common story of our culture at this moment. How can we use a popular game to speak eternal truth? Regardless of the reasons or your feelings about the game, what you are going to do with this opportunity just handed into your lap??

Here are a few ideas that I have seen recently, that churches are doing to reach the kids and families who are coming in for Pokemon Go:

  1. One church had coolers outside with a sign saying, “Welcome Pokemon Go players! Take a free water and a map (map has service times and upcoming events on it).
  2. Another church had a very large sign saying, “Come on in Pokemon Go players! Cool off inside and get water and snacks!” The people that came inside were greeted warmly with smiles, snacks and an invite to some back for services.
  3. A youth pastor organized a very successful youth rally, a YOUTH GO night. The whole student ministries team went out together through the city playing the game and connecting with people. Then they had a big rally at the end at the church.

What about YOU? I want to hear what your church is doing or is planning to do in response to the popularity of the game. What benefits, drawbacks do you see? What ideas do you have for reaching children and families through the Pokemon Go phenomena?

Love Trisha