Archives for posts with tag: #pastor

Will You See Me Off?

“Is there anything else we can do to help Michael?” I asked.  The Dad of 2 small girls looked up at me sheepishly. “Well, there is something I would like to talk to someone about.” His eyes darted over to her wife who was standing hear her hospital bed. Michael is battling stage 4 cancer, and each  new report that comes back is more and more bleak.

“We can talk about anything. What is on your mind?” I asked.

“If I do not make it….”  His wife interrupted him here. “You will be fine.”

“But if I do not make it…” She interrupted him again, “Don’t talk like that. No negative talk.” With that, she kissed him on the forehead. “I’m gonna go get a cup of coffee. I’ll be right back babe.” She left the room giving me a warning look.

Michael looked at me urgently. “I know that my chances are not good. And Leila is in denial. She won’t talk to me about my will, my last wishes, my power of attorney- nothing! Can you understand that I NEED to know that my wife and kids are going to be cared for? That I am terrified of being kept alive on machines forever? She has no clue that I have 2 very large life insurance policies that would take care of her and the kids indefinitely. She won’t listen to where I keep the insurance info. I know she is trying to be only positive around me. But it is just making me feel more and more alone and out of control I need to talk through these decisions. I’m so anxious for my family.” The words just seemed to pour out of Michael, in a hurry.  “Will you help me write up my living will for the hospital staff and for my family? At least will you listen to what I have down and offer suggestions?”

“Of course I will listen! You know I’m a pastor and not a lawyer, but I will offer any help I can,” I offered. His face lit up with relief and hope.

Together we went over his final wishes calmly and thoroughly. Michael leaned forward and took a deep breath. “I feel so very relieved right now.  I can go on fighting. I just need to know that Leila and  the boys will be ok.”

When I left Michael’s hospital room, I found Leila curled up next to the vending machine weeping.  When we talked, she told me that he just could not face the thought of life without Michael. She also said thats he was determined to never ever be “negative” around Michael. To her, any talk of death was, “giving up.”

I am determined to learn all I can and try my best to be for and minister to this couple during this tough time. Some of the  important things I am learning include: A. death is such a crucial time in a person’s life, in the family member’s lives, B..sometimes the person just needs someone to be there, to listen  and perhaps to help them “set their house in order.”

I can honestly say that when I went to Bible College for Children’s Ministry, I had not imagined myself doing end of life visitations or performing funerals or ministering to families that were grieving. I should have.  Over and over again in my 17 years as a staff pastor, I have been called upon to minister to families walking through grief and loss. I am realizing however, that this whole area of “End of Life Care,” is a fast growing, yet terribly under resourced ministry in our churches. According to a report from the National Institute of Aging, Americans are living longer than ever. More and more Americans are dying at home now too, in hospice or palliative care programs.  Because Americans are living longer, and more of them are dying at home, what does that mean for the church? Well, our churches are aging more and more as well.  In fact, a recent study found that 1/4 of American church members are 65 or older. That means that more and more of our congregation members are going to be facing end of life illnesses and final decisions. And it seems like a tragedy for the church to be silent during one of the/if not THE most important time in a person’s life. To me, the most important part of a book or a movie is the ending.Even if someone was a coward or a villain in the film- they might just redeem themselves in the end before the credits! Shouldn’t more of our focus as THE Church be on FINISHING well?

The Bible actually has a lot to say on the subject of death. And it doesn’t talk much about AVOIDING death. What does Scripture tell us about death?

  1. We are ALL going to die (barring those going in the Rapture, according to my faith). (Heb. 9:27, 1 Thess. 4:17-18)
  2. Our lives are short, even if we live 100 years- it’s over in a flash. (James 4:14, Psalm 39: 5-6)
  3. Jesus went through death first, and conquered it. (Col. 1:18, 1 Cor. 15:57, Rom 6:8-10)
  4. Death is not the end.( Revelation 14:13, John 11: 25-26)
  5. We will see those we loved, who died in Christ. (1 Thess 4:13-18)

How did people in the Bible approach death? In the Old Testament, the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) would realize that they were going to die soon. Then they would gather all of their family around them and speak a blessing/prophesy over them. They were “setting their house in order” (setting their earthly and spiritual affairs in order) before they died, surrounded by their families (example Gen. 39).  In the New Testament, Christians are pictured as going to their deaths confidently (sometimes as martyrs), assured of eternal life in Christ. Paul famously said at the end of his life, right before being martyred, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. How amazing to be able to say that at the end of a life! So a comprehensive look at Scripture seems to teach that we should prepare for death, with confidence and faith in Christ, looking back on a life lived all out for Jesus, having all of our earthly and spiritual affairs in order, speaking blessings on our family as we go. “The day of death is better than the day of birth.” Eccl 7:1.

This beautiful picture of ending life well reminds me of stories my grandmother has told me. My grandmother who is now 86 was a pastor’s wife for 35+ years.  This is one story she told me. “Back then, we thought about death differently. People didn’t usually die at the hospital. They died at home. And when they were close, you called the pastor and all the family to pray together in the room until they were gone. One time, this elderly lady called your granddad and I to say she thought she was close. She loved Jesus and was battling the cancer for years. We called her son, and we raced over. We prayed with her as she rocked in her rocking chair. She said, ‘Lord, I’m ready to go.’  A few minutes later, we looked up from prayer and she was gone. It was a beautiful moment and we were glad to be there for it. Her son pulled up a few minutes later.”

I feel bad when I hear stories like this, because I do not feel that the church is as involved these days in the end of a person’s life.  If the church IS dropping the ball a bit in the realm of end of life ministry, I could pinpoint a few reasons for that.

  1. Our culture does not like to face the reality of death. The Victorians used to keep death in front of them at all times. Funerals were held in homes. With disease running rampant and little medical care, death was all around them. Victorians even coined the phrase, “Remember you will die.” Our culture seems to be the opposite. We pretend that we will never die. We keep bodies and dying people far away from the public. It helps us keep our happy illusion of immortality.
  2. Some denominations, including mine, pray for the person to recover. I totally agree with praying for a person to get better. But talking about death and final wishes CAN be perceived as a lack of faith. I disagree with death being caused by a lack of faith either on the part of the person or those praying for them. Everyone eventually dies. And death may be God’s way of fully healing that person.
  3. Our pastors and key volunteers are usually not trained well to deal with death, tragedy or grief. It is scary and sad to be present when someone is dying/has died. It reminds us of our own mortality. It may feel like an intrusion of the family’s time. So, fear may hold us back from ministering well when someone is leaving earth.

So, how could the church do a better job of ministering to individuals and families facing loss and grief? According to the funeral director here in my town, many families are totally unprepared when death strikes. They often made NO plans for the funeral (even for family members who were in their 90’s!). These families often need guidance in putting the service together and making 100’s of little decisions- and they have to make their decisions in a very short amount of time and while dealing with their own grief. What if the family has to make the awful decision of whether or not to keep a family member on life support? They badly need their church family through that. My church’s stance is of not doing anything to end life in any way (euthanasia). But I think more pastors and key leaders should be trained in dealing with crisis, in grief care and in ministry to those at the end of life.

When I recently  interviewed the nurses in my local hospital’s emergency department, they shared with me that they used to have a whole list of pastors who were willing to come to the hospital for emergencies. But now, over the years, they only have 2 pastors willing to stay on that list! The nurses said that often they cannot get a pastor willing to come if the person is not one of their parishioners. So they take turns sitting with the person, because they do not want them to die alone. This broke my heart. Where is the church? I hope to bring attention to the crucial mission field of those with one foot in eternity- and their families grieving the loss. My hope is that the church will step up to this mission field, white for harvest, and help more of our congregation members to FINISH WELL!

What do YOU think? What is the role of the church with those who are dying? With the families of those who lost someone? Love Trisha

hospice

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Recer, Paul. “Older Americans Living Longer, Study Says.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=118056.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2013/02/06/more-people-are-dying-at-home-and-in-hospice-but-they-are-also-getting-more-intense-hospital-care/#645203a75f99

 

“Aging Congregations May Be Churches’ Biggest Concern.” Insights into Religion, religioninsights.org/articles/aging-congregations-may-be-churches-biggest-concern.

 

“End of life End-of-Life care.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 July 2016, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/basics/endoflife-care/hlv-20049403.

 

Nichols, Hannah. “The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 23 Feb. 2017, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php.

 

https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/Medical-Euthanasia-and-Extraordinary-Support-to-Sustain-Life

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HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY!!!

“Yet when God entered time and became a man, he who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For more than three decades, his once limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm, his speed checked to the pace of human feet.
I wonder, was he ever tempted to regain his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did he ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When the rain chilled his bones, was he tempted to change the weather? When the heat parched his lips, did he give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?
If he ever entertained such thoughts, he never gave into them. Not once. Stop and think about this. Not once did Christ use his supernatural powers for personal comfort.
With one word, he could’ve transformed the hard earth into a soft bed, but he didn’t. With a wave of his hands, he could’ve boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces, but he didn’t. With an arch of his brow, he could’ve paralyzed the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns. But he didn’t.”
Max Lucado, He Chose the Nails
“Want to know the coolest thing about the coming? Not that the One who played marbles with the stars gave it up to play marbles with marbles. Or that the One who hung the galaxies gave it up to hang doorjambs to the displeasure of a cranky client who wanted everything yesterday but couldn’t pay until tomorrow.
Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for his tired feet, and, more than anything, needing somebody – anybody – who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity rather than where he would spend Friday’s paycheck.
Or that he resisted the urge to fry the two=bit, self-appointed hall monitors of holiness who dared suggest that he was doing the work of the devil.
Not that he kept his cool while the dozen best friends he ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that he gave no command to the angels who begged, “Just give us the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs.”
Not that he refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin of every slut and sailor since Adam. Or that he stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner’s night.
Not even that after three days in a dark hole he stepped into the Easter sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for lowly Lucifer – “Is that your best punch?”
That was cool, incredibly cool.
But want to know the coolest thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns?
He did it for you. Just for you.” – Max Lucado
Max Lucado, He Chose the Nails
resurrection

trumphillfinregcrown-tint

How you noticed that this is election has become all about personalities and not issues? I have heard it said that more than any other election in history, this vote is about who people are voting AGAINST, not what issues we are voting FOR.  I propose that every American should vote, not for or against a personality, but for the issues that matter the most for our faith, our families and our future.

Our future starts with educating ourselves on the issues at hand. And I do not mean just glancing at CNN once in awhile. Like it or not, one of these candidates will choose up to 5 Supreme Court justices, whose decisions on several pending cases WILL greatly affect churches, denominations, Christian schools and colleges. Yes, I believe God is Sovereign- but I also believe we need to stop jumping off of high places expecting angels to catch us before we hit the ground. We have to do our part, educate ourselves, and vote.

I have been researching the issues at stake for awhile now, and I do have to say, I am surprised at the conflicting information, or missing information out there in the media. It can be difficult to get a concise, side by side look at what each candidate really stands for. So, I am compiling one here for your convenience, and I will list my sources at the end for your own reading/research. Feel free to discuss, share as you wish. These are not in any order of importance.

1. School Choice. This one is very dear to my heart. School Choice means that the parent is allowed the right to choose the school that they consider to be best for their child. This includes public schools, private schools, charter schools, Christian schools, home schooling etc. Several states offer voucher programs in support of parent school choice.

Trump: He is very pro-school choice. He believes that no one school system works for every child, and that competition will help the schools improve (I do not know if I agree with that part. Anyone have any information on school competition and quality of schools?)

Clinton: She used to be pro school choice, but in order to get the endorsement of the teacher’s union this year, she had to agree to be anti school choice in all of its forms. Her current position is: “I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system – not outside of it.” She goes on to say that other forms of education may support “values that are not America.” So support for, and legal rights for anything outside of the public schools may be soon to fade away.

2. Death penalty- Surprisingly, both candidates are pro-death penalty.

3. Abortion-

Trump- He is not for abortion rights, and has states he would like to see Roe v Wade repealed. He is also for an end to late term abortions and partial birth abortions. He does say he supports abortion in the case of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Clinton- She used to be against abortion. In the past few years, her stance has changed to be very pro abortion in any form, and for any reason- late term, partial birth abortion etc.  “I have been proud to stand with Planned parenthood for a long time and, as president, I will always have your back,” Hillary said. “We need to protect Planned Parenthood from partisan attacks (defunding).” She was also on video recently stating, “The unborn person does not have Constitutional rights.”

4. Gun Rights-

Trump-He is for unlimited gun rights and opposes any new restrictions.

Clinton-She strongly opposes gun ownership rights. She claims guns are responsible for the wave of violence in our nation right now. In a recent speech, Hillary claimed that the 2nd Amendment was one of a “few” amendments, that needed to be “looked at again” in the light of modern cultural changes. Which ones? What exactly are we “rethinking”?

5. Lawsuits pending against churches, denominations, and Christian schools

Under Obama’s controversial Title IX law, there are currently a tidal wave of law suits “on hold” against religious organizations over transgender bathroom issues, refusals to marry gay couples or offer gay couples married housing etc. The Christian groups are claiming religious freedom/religious right to object. Whomever is appointed to the Supreme Court will decide the outcome of all these cases and the many to come.

Trump- He plans to appoint conservative judges who will lean towards protecting religious rights.

Clinton- She plans to appoint Progressive liberal judges who will vote that non-discrimination rites override religious objection. She says the first judge she plans to appoint is Barack Obama. This will be a radical left turn for our nation. “Open season” on churches and Christian schools to say the least. I do not think that some of our Christian colleges will be able to stay open. In response to those objecting to paying for abortions, citing their religious convictions, Clinton responded, “Deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to change.”

6.  National security/terrorism-

Our nation is facing an unprecedented wave of terrorism and violence. Every single day there is more death and tragedy.

Trump- Prides himself on being the “law and order” candidate. He promises to support police, spend more on our military, be “tougher” on violent crime. He has been endorsed by our largest national police society ‘The Fraternal Order of Police.” Every presedential candidate except Clinton has actively sought this endorsement.

Clinton- She believes that our police are biased, whether intentially or unintentionally, perpetuating systemic racism in our country. Her plan involved “reeducation” for police officers nation wide to be more tolerant. She has stated that she believes that crime nationally is better than it has been and is improving. Clinton believes that the violence in our nation is due to racism and guns, and that by reducing the number of guns across our country, we can reduce the violence.

7. Immigration-

Trump- He is against allowing illegal aliens to remain in the country (amnesty). He is against providing monetary benefits to illegal aliens. He has been VERY vocal about enforcing stronger borders (even a wall). Trump does NOT believe our nation is vetting immigrants very well. He has proposed limiting or excluding Muslim immigrants, either refugee or migrant, from “terror” nation, at the very least until we can come up with a safer vetting system. He has said that he would support a faster path to legal immigration and would continue taking in the same number of immigrants as in years before, but not from “terror” areas.

Clinton- She has been instrumental in helping Obama bring in the first 11,000 Syrian Muslim refugees. She has promised to continue Obama’s policy (even though it has been vigorously criticized by Congress). But she claims that Obama has not gone anywhere near far enough in bringing in Muslim migrants. She has promised to assist her friend Angela Merkel, in bringing over “at least” another 160,000 in the first year of her presidency. Her overall goal is bring in ONE MILLION Muslim migrants in her first term alone. She believes our current vetting process is working well. The cost of Clinton’s plan will be 400 BILLION for U.S. taxpayers to pay. Clinton proposes allowing illegal immigrants to stay, be given amnesty and full benefits.

8. Voting rights-

Trump- He wants stricter regulations on voting. He has expressed concerns on voter fraud. He is against allowing illegal immigrants or felons to vote.

Clinton- She is against stronger regulations on voting. She is for voting rights for felons, inmates and illegal immigrants.

9. Taxes-

Both candidates are for higher taxes on the rich.

Trump is for lower taxes on businesses (in an attempt to bring jobs back to the U.S.) He wants higher taxes on foreign businesses for the same reason.

Clinton’s tax plan will impact the rich, certainly, but taxes for everyone will have to go up some in order to pay for 100 million migrants. Taxes on the middle class will “ONLY” increase by “0.6 percent” is the plan.

10. Defeating Isis-

Both candidates are for partnering with Russia to attack Isis. Neither candidate wishes to send in a ground invasion of troops into Syria to defeat Isis.

Trump- He has been secretive as to his strategies. He has been critical of our current generals. What we know of Trump’s plan, is that he wants to send in Navy Seal and Special Forces teams to wipe out Isis.

Clinton-She has stated that she will continue to do what we have been doing under Obama. She will partner with other Muslim nations in the area, gather intelligence and continue drone strikes of the area. (Drone strikes have been very controversial lately, because the U.S. has repeatedly accidently killed innocent women and children- literally hundred to thousands in the last 4 years).

 

So these are the 10 key reasons I MUST vote in this crucial election seasons. I am not voting for a personality. I am not voting for a perfect person. I am voting based on my conscience, a lot of prayer, and a lot of research. These 10 keys are far to crucial to ever let slide by. What keys are driving YOU this election? Did I miss any of yours? Please check out my sources below for more information. Keep educating yourself, register and get out to vote!

SOURCES

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clintons-school-choice-1470000357

http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/07/14/clinton-resettle-one-million-muslim-migrants-first-term-alone/

Hillary’s Refugee Proposal Would Run Taxpayers $400 Billion

Hillary Clinton Tells Planned Parenthood: “As President I Will Always Have Your Back”

Hillary Says Americans Will Have to Change Their Personal and Religious Beliefs

https://www.myheritage.org/news/why-parents-should-be-able-to-choose-their-childrens-school/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/10/03/supreme-court-cautious-on-new-cases-as-term-begins-under-cloud-vacancy-politics.html#

http://ijr.com/2016/09/697757-hillary-blames-systemic-racism-for-tulsa-police-shooting-it-appears-something-else-was-in-his-system/

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-obama-administrations-drone-strike-dissembling/473541/

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/06/06/four-ways-president-hillary-clinton-will-work-to-end-gun-ownership.html

http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2016-03-16/clintons-position-on-schools-creates-barriers-not-opportunity

http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/compare/40-70/Hillary-Clinton-vs-Donald-Trum

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/04/03/hillary-clinton-unborn-person-doesnt-constitutional-rights/

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

 

WOW- So a newspaper reporter contacted me this week and asked to interview me about my first and second books! The article went live just now. What do you think? And yes, they keep referring to me as a “youth pastor” when I was kids and family, but that’s ok, lol. Isn’t this COOL!!!????

http://thesouthern.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/religion/minister-passionate-about-resurrecting-youth-ministries/article_787e92fe-9f58-5890-82e6-21ba9396acad.htmlbook 2

NO way around it, if you are in ministry you WILL be criticized. Someone will not like you, your ministry, your approach, your messages etc. How you HANDLE that negative feedback will either make or break your future in ministry.

First off, let me be clear on this: not all criticism or advice is sound or from God. As you mature in life, you must turn up the voices of those who are for you and believe in what God is doing through you. Your close friends will tell you the truth, but in love. Then you must carefully but firmly begin to turn down and even mute, remove the voices in your life that are destructive, not uplifting, not for you, distressing and distracting. As you move up in responsibility, your time becomes more limited, and who you choose to listen to will make ALL the difference. You do NOT have to give equal or any time to all the people who want to speak into (or dump into) your life.

I have heard it said that, “All criticism has a grain of truth in it.” However, many criticisms that were leveled at Jesus were not true: that He was a drunkard, that He was inciting a revolt, that He had a demon,  that He was trying to destroy the temple etc. Paul the Apostle had people in churches HE launched saying things like “Paul is weak” “Paul is unable to handle discipline” etc. So not all accusations have a basis in truth. Paul and Jesus both KEPT MINISTERING, They did not let their critics halt or even slow down their impact. They had a mission that God put them on, and they weren’t going to let an aggravated human derail it.

A better way to handle someone’s criticism is to ask yourself, “Is there ANY grain of truth I can gather from situation? What can I learn from it?” There were several times in my life that I finally had to admit, my critic had a good point- they were right, and I needed to work on that area of my approach etc. A big part of maturity in Christ is being able to take a good hard look at yourself, be willing to humble yourself and make changes. But there is a definite line between uplifting criticisms offered only to help you succeed and damaging verbal attacks used to hurt you, gain power or make you feel discouraged. Have you noticed that people’s negative words often ring in our ears long after those people are gone? Too often we give those dark words our attention, even over God’s Word. The enemy would like to see criticism, both legit and unfounded, totally destroy your ministry and your image as a child of God.

Is that you or someone you know right now who is the subject of some criticism? Perhaps it is mean spirited, jealous accusations? Is it unfair and unfounded? Please remember that it is God Who called you, and a human being (including yourself) cannot UN call you! God will perfect what He has started in you. You are in a great company of Biblical champions who survived criticism- Moses, Noah, David, Daniel etc etc. Even God takes His share of criticism. He understands. So don’t quit. Hang on to the One Who called you and Who will carry you through. And remember today to turn UP the positive voices in your life (including God’s) and turn DOWN or OFF the people who are just blaring noise. God Bless and much love, Trisha

Has criticism ever tempted YOU to quit? What would you say to someone who is considering quitting ministry or are very discouraged over criticisms?

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I am sharing with all of you, a journal I read for one of my Master’s Degree classes this past week. It is written by an African America woman preacher in 1849- BEFORE the Civil War. She talks a bit about the struggles she goes through to follow the call of God on her life, due to poverty, racism, sexism and more. Her story is so amazing, and inspiring. Her courage and obedience to God is convicting, and it challenges us to do all God has asked of us to do, no matter what the obstacles. I hope you are as inspired as I was. Here, in her own words, Jarena Lee:

http://www.umilta.net/jarena.html

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Jarena Lee Journal

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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

During height of the Azuza street revivals that launched many Pentecostal denominations including the Assemblies of God, a woman named “May Faye” attended faithfully and was deeply affected by the powerful moves of God’s Spirit. As she had no children of her own, she felt deeply impressed of God to pray daily for her nephew Jim John Barker. For a very long time she committed herself to intercede for Jim, whether or not she saw results right away or not.  Many other people had given up on Jim John- a man known for his ferocious temper.  To the public, Jim made his living selling his delicious hot tamales at his cart every day, but in reality he made his money in the dangerous bootleg trade of the 1920’s, smuggling homemade liquor during the prohibition. He had no interest in God, repentance or “revivals”.  But May had made a covenant with God to pray for Jim every single day until God “got ahold of him”.  And God blessed that persistant lady, her committed prayer life and her unshakable faith.  Jim John Barker had an earth-shattering “Saul into Paul” encounter at an altar one night; everyone who had ever known him swore he was NOT the same man- in a GOOD WAY.  Jim Barker devoted his life to the study of God’s Word, and to the ministry.  After becoming an ordained minister, Rev. Barker helped found several growing churches across the state of Texas during his lifetime.  I have heard stories about the long hours he spent in prayer; he never so much as drank a glass of water without stopping to thank God.  This was a man who truly WALKED with Jesus, every single day. And the story did not end there.  Rev. James and his aunt May Faye, then made a pact to pray every day for James’ son Jim Hollis Barker.  Jim H. was a navy gunner in World War II, a great dancer and (from what I hear) pretty popular with the girls.  Jim was smoking several packs a day.  But after he encountered God during a powerful church service, Jim left all of his cigarettes right there on the altar and never touched anything like them again.  Jim Hollis Barker became an ordained minister and started several churches across the state of Texas (and he literally built several of the church buildings in which he pastored!) As you may have guessed Jim Hollis is my grandfather and James Barker is my great-grandfather.  My parents, Rev. Mark and Bonnie Stevens have pastored now with the Assemblies of God for over 40 years. My sister Rev. Erika Goffin (AG ordained) and her husband are youth pastors in a growing youth group, often working with kids who have been abused, addicted, and/or neglected (while raising their own 2 beautiful boys and foster daughter).  My little brother Shawn Stevens is a police officer and an absolutely anointed worship pastor (and father to 4 children). My adopted sister Bethany Thompson has a successful military career, a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful boys, and she has such a passion and faith that is contagious! All together there are at least 7 pastors in my family. Which means a few things:

A. If you are in our family and you try to become a Buddhist, we WILL have all night prayer meetings frequently until you come on back. We love you. Resistance is futile. All will be assimilated. 🙂

B. Holidays take FOREVER when we all get together. Christmas will include a worship service, prayer meeting, testimonies- preaching…..by all 7 pastors, and others, until their spouses get them to allow present opening.  Healings definitely happen at holiday gatherings.  #blessed

C. Funerals will include a worship service, prayer meetings, testimonies- preaching.  Healings will probably happen at our funerals. And a salvation altar call.

D. I can ask my family day or night for help or prayer- and they will go to PRAYER.  Not a “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer, but what they would call “laying hold of the horns of the altar, praying through etc.”  And I couldn’t be more grateful.  I know I am here because of those prayers.

And all of this came down to one little Assemblies of God woman, who made a promise to God to pray for her angry nephew every day. She never went to Bible College, never preached to the masses, and I don’t even know what she looked like.But I know she wouldn’t give up. And she was faithful.  My own children both read their Bibles every day and want to keep serving in ministry using their gifts which makes me want to say:.

To May Faye: I just wanted to say “Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for never giving up. See you when I get home. love Trish”

Do you have a prodigal in your life? Don’t give up praying for them. Don’t have children of your own? Believe me, there are prodigals who need your prayers right now. And you have NO idea how God will use your prayers, persistance and compassion to change many generations to come.

 

 

Next week I am speaking for a kid’s camp, and this is part of a challenge booklet I am passing out. I just thought I would share it with ya, because I know there are a lot of children’s pastors and parents and teachers on here. I will be challenging these kids to revolutionize their spiritual lives in 21 days by doing 7 important things-

1. Cleaning out the sin

2. Reading the Bible for themselves daily

3. Journaling about what they find in Scripture

4. Praying daily

5. Listening to God in prayer

6. Serving in the church, home and community

7. Finding a Christian mentor/accountability partner and a Christian friend to take the journey with them

I am excited to see what God will do in these kids lives in just 21 days of focusing on Him! What do you think? Have you done something like this? I do not want what happens at camp to stay at camp. I want them to come home from camp and GROW. Feel free to use this and alter it as you like. It has fill in the blanks to do with the kids, but I added the answers I am using in parenthesis for you. God bless! Pastor Trisha

Getting “Fit” in Christ 21 Day Challenge

My ACTION Plan

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Did you know? That just like we have to train hard to get fit physically and mentally, we have to train hard to get fit spiritually? Take the 21 day challenge to know God better, and take your spiritual life to whole new levels! Here are the action steps; let’s get started…

1.The Bible tells us to “Throw aside every weight, and every ______(sin) that slows us down.” Hebrews 12:1 We throw aside these weights so we can pursue Jesus with our whole heart, soul, mind and _______ (Spirit). With God’s help, in the next 3 weeks, I am going to pray about getting rid of these things that may be slowing me down in my walk with Jesus: ________________________________________________________________

  1. I am learning this weekend that to really grow closer to God, I must read my Bible every day. “Your Word is a _____ to my feet and a _____ to my path.” Psalm 119:105. Have you ever tried to find the bathroom at night at the camp without a flashlight? We need God’s directions to grow! With God’s help I am going to read God’s Word every day for 3 weeks. I will check off the chart below:

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  1. It is important to _______(listen) to what God is trying to say to me through His Word. His Word is _______(living) and active right now in my life and can speak to my situation right now! These are some of the things that I believe God is _________(speaking) to me through my Bible reading.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. A huge part of growing in Christ in not just listening but also _________(talking) to Jesus. I will try to pray every single day. Prayer is talking to God. He ____(hears) us when we pray and He answers us. He will say _____(yes) , ______(no) or ________(wait). Here are my top three things I will be praying about in the next 3 three weeks _______________, ____________, _______________. I will pray every day for the next 21 days.

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  1. Here is what I believe God has been speaking to my heart during my prayer times during my 3 week time of growth ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. A huge part of growing spiritually is finding my place to _______(serve). I should not wait until I am older; I should find my place to serve in my church, my family and my __________ (community). Here are some ways that I am going to try to serve Jesus and others these next 21 days (VBS helper, cleaning at the church, camp helper, cleaning the house, visiting the sick or shut ins, using my gifts of singing, or playing an instrument, baking for someone or more!) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7.We all need a person to hold us _____ (accountable). A parent, a pastor, a Christian friend or teacher are good choices. You need to find a great ________ (adult) to help you grow and to keep you on _______( track). You should also have a friend your own age to do the challenge with. During my 21 day challenge, I found _________________ to be my accountability grownup and ________________ to be my challenge buddy!

 

                  DO YOUR BEST! GROW CLOSER TO JESUS! YOU CAN DO IT!bike