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Resources, Tips and Content for Children's Ministry and Family Life Leaders

You Never Know…

I recently met a man who was asking if he could take pictures during our worship service. He wanted something to remember the church by.

A few years ago his son moved to Southern California and got a job working for one of our church members. The boss invited him to attend Cornerstone and it changed his life. Later that year when his parents came out to visit, he encouraged them to attend church with him and the family was intrigued. When the parents returned home they found a local church by the same name and decided to give it a try. The family, unfamiliar with the church experience, had been living quietly in their community for more than ten years without friends and the ability to make a difference.

It’s been six years now and the parents are visiting again, but this time to help their son and his family move back to South Carolina. Dad now serves weekly on the parking team and as a photographer; mom helps in the nursery. They cannot imagine life without Cornerstone Church in Orangeburg, SC. Today they are growing Christians with friends, an extended family and a place they call Home.

It doesn’t really take much to ask someone to join you for a weekend service, but the impact that one invitation can make, may change eternity for a whole family!

Who do you know who needs Jesus?

The Family Life of the Church

It’s said that you don’t become a “real adult” until you lose both of your parents. At 55 years of age, I’ve become a real adult, and I’m just beginning to understand the depth of that statement. It doesn’t matter that I’ve lived away from home for 35 years and have been married for 32 of those. It doesn’t matter that I’ve raised two adult children of my own. It doesn’t matter that my husband and I have been responsible for our own finances, health insurance, housing, food and education.

It matters relationally.

The two people who brought me into this world, loved me, cared for me, taught me how to walk, talk and move forward are gone. They are no longer there for a brief conversation, a history lesson, an additional perspective or a nurturing word. Their journey has ended and no one else can replace their constancy in my life, nor the personal investment that has been uniquely theirs to give.

I believe this is one of the reasons why God gave us the church. It’s a highly relational, generational asset to any sojourner who wishes to engage. Through Bible teaching, the church helps us understand our place in history. It provides us with new perspectives and inspires us to move forward. When we step closer and join serving groups and ministry opportunities, it offers us generational relationships and provides nurturing friendships. It’s an extended family, with broader experience that helps us travel every season of life.

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Fear

Sometimes it keeps me from doing the things I dream about most.

Why—because as long as the thing is a dream, it’s a possibility for me. It’s a part of myself that I believe I am capable of.

But the moment I decide to put effort toward that dream, to make it a reality, that’s when I come face-to-face with the obstacles and hard work required. That’s the season when I must confront my own limitations and fears.

Working toward a dream will eventually define a significant part of my life. It will prove the kind of person I really am.

Am I diligent enough to push through the hardships and fear so that I might realize the dream? Or am I the kind of person who will give in, accept the excuses, settle for what is safe and become just another ordinary individual?

I don’t believe God intended me to be ordinary. In fact, I think He expects each one of us to live an extraordinary life; a life capable of working through the fear and unexpected seasons of hardship. His Word encourages us to apply perseverance, wisdom and faith.

Lately, I’ve been letting myself get tossed to and fro. I have given in to the waves crashing around me. I have yielded to fear and its repetitive beatings and have allowed myself to be washed ashore. I have doubted God’s purpose in my life. I have misunderstood the nature of His gifts and what success should look like. It is not about the end game, but about the process and His work in my life.

The Bible instructs me in this very season.

James 1:2-6
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

I have been fearful; not remembering that my life is not my own and has never been mine. I forgot that my days were numbered long ago and that it’s my job to live each one of them to its fullest; not worrying about tomorrow; not caught up in the chaos or drama, but remaining steadfast, confident and full of hope. I have a job to do and the work is mine and mine alone. I must press forward for that is what I was created to do. For me to do anything less will be a disappointment. After alI, I want to become all I was created to be, and living life is the becoming.

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.

So today I will not let fear rule. I will move forward toward the dreams God has given me. I will expect obstacles, hardships and limitations, but I will place my hope and confidence in the Lord and push through the resistance. I will work with perseverance and seek God’s counsel. I will expect God to meet me, and I will fight to stay the course once again.

 

5 Key Ingredients To A Successful Children’s Program

Children will be walking through your doors again this weekend. They will have parents in tow that are counting on you to keep them safe, happy and busy. In addition, it is their hope that you will move their child toward Christ; that your church will be a place where children can know God, discover how to have a personal relationship with Jesus and learn how to live. Have you prepared a program that will do just that?

Below are 5 Key Ingredients that can help you move forward in providing a successful program for the children God has entrusted to you.

Ingredient #1     Organization of Age/Grade Levels

Notice how kids are divided up in your program? Have you lumped all children into one or two rooms for childcare or are you thinking about each child’s church experience and their unique ability to learn about God at each age and grade level? Do children perceive that church is for them or is it a holding tank while parents learn?

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Caught In A Squeeze Play!

squueze playsepia

Ever felt like you were in a Squeeze Play? Someone bunted at the plate and you needed to do your part and run home, but you weren’t quite sure if you would make it? And if you didn’t, you knew you’d find yourself in a Pickle—caught between two bases with little hope of winning at either.

The past few months have felt like a Squeeze Play. Someone has needed me at home and as I’ve left the safety of my basic routine, I’ve often found myself caught in a Pickle regarding time and energy. I’ve spent many days of the last few months between two places wondering if I was going to make much of a difference at either. And yet now that the Squeeze has lost some of its compression, I realize that what’s most important of all has been accomplished.

God knew a Squeeze Play was coming. He knew I’d be caught up in the needs of others. He knew my desire for excellence would be reduced to good enough. And He knew I would struggle with the reprioritization of time and dreams.

So what’s the purpose of a Squeeze Play? To show my allegiance? To let go and let God? To realign my priorities?

It’s in these times that I find myself saying, “Okay God, You’re in charge. Whatever You want me to do, I will. Wherever You want me to spend my time, I’ll go. I’ll trust You with everything and I won’t let myself look back with regret of what I didn’t get done.”

And it’s after these conversations that I remember that’s exactly how He has asked me to live my life—His will, His way, in His time. And it’s really who I want to be as a Christ-follower, as a family member, a leader, an employee and a friend.

Maybe it’s not about the Squeeze Play at all, but about the attitude of my heart as I run back and forth in the Pickle.

Don’t Leave Volunteers Out In The Cold!

It was a wintery 52º yesterday morning and this sissy-la-la Southern Californian couldn’t handle the heater blowing only cold air inside the offices at work. My mind wouldn’t settle and my fingers wouldn’t function. It didn’t take long for me to pack up my laptop and head over to the nearest Starbucks to get heat to my hands, access to the free wifi, and order up a toffee nut steamer (my favorite hot beverage) to warm up my insides.

While there, I wrote plans for an upcoming volunteer team gathering. It’s the result of two months of getting to know people, understanding the existing jobs and evaluating the weekly experience from a volunteer’s point of view.

While sitting there, it occurred to me that I’m not the only person who doesn’t work well in the cold. It’s a hard place to concentrate; you find yourself working against the elements and you’re just a little bit miserable. So the thought for today is…

Don’t leave your volunteers out in the cold!

Provide a warm atmosphere, give them the tools they need and add something extra that will flavor their experience and warm them from the inside out!

 

10 Things We Need To Remember About Volunteers…

Sometimes as leaders we become so desperate to fill ministry holes that we begin to look at volunteers as simply warm bodies or names on a list. We forget that they are individuals, each on their own spiritual journey with God, worthy of relationship, inspiration, investment, encouragement, opportunity, vision and celebration.

Below is a list of 10 things we need to remember…

1. They  just said, “YES” to God when they signed up to serve.

2. They are hopeful that God will use them.

3. They are willing to give their time.

4. They each come with a unique set of gifts and talents.

5. They want to be needed.

Continue reading “10 Things We Need To Remember About Volunteers…” »

Need Volunteers?

Most people volunteer because…

Their child is a participant.

They believe in the cause.

They feel good about doing something.

They find it’s a great place to make friends.

They feel coerced by others.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if volunteers joined your ministry because they knew…

Their unique giftedness would be valued and given an opportunity to grow.

Their contribution would make a difference.

Their investment would impact eternity.

Their involvement would give them belonging and purpose.

  Continue reading “Need Volunteers?” »

Capture the Boys!

It’s almost impossible to capture and hold the attention of a room full of children whose ages span the grades and whose energy levels and behaviors are as unpredictable as cats!

But every weekend that is exactly what YOU are asked to do.

In fact, it’s what you feel called to do because you believe in the truth of God’s Word, the power of His Holy Spirit and the breadth of His amazing love for children and youth.

You do it because… what you make of the weekend experience is what they will remember about God.

The rule of thumb has always been to target the oldest boy in the room.

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3 Things You Need To Know Before Saying, “Yes!”

(part 3 of 3)

Let’s assume that by now…

You are familiar with the organizational chart and all initial efforts of your pre-hire discovery have been successful.

You have thought through the impact of this job upon your personal life (i.e.: location, salary, relationships and work hours) and you have completed the checklist below.

Job Checklist

You have come to realize that you are being offered a position that matches your areas of passion and giftedness, with goals that you can support and feel supported by in a workable environment.

Before you say, “Yes,” consider one more thing…

Personal Influence. 

Continue reading “3 Things You Need To Know Before Saying, “Yes!”” »