Collaborate: Family + Church (A Synopsis of Chapters 10 – 18)

Over the last several days, I have posted a number of articles on the new book Collaborate: Family + Church. This represents the next entry in that series. Earlier entries include:

10. Gina McClain – “I Hate Homework!”

Summary: Gina McClain argues that our job in children’s ministry is to help parents develop a vision for their children.  If parents do not have a godly vision for their children, it will not matter how many tools and resources we give them to help them lead their children spiritually.  Without a vision, such tools and resources will often go unused.

Gina explains that when parents do not intentionally develop a vision for their kids, they will inevitably adopt the vision the culture holds for their kids.  She explains that the vision that today’s culture has for kids is what she calls the “well-rounded child.”  This can alternately be called the “self-focused” child.  This child believes that the world and everything in it exists for their personal benefit.  To combat this, parents must develop a God-sized vision for their kids that teaches them to focus on God rather than themselves.

Gina suggests Child Dedication as the appropriate time to begin helping parents to develop a vision for their kids.  What better time to instill a vision than the beginning.  She notes that the benefit of establishing this vision early is that it allows parents to “push through” those times in parenting where they hit the wall of parenting.   On a positive note, Gina points out that we do not need to convince parents that they need help, they already know they need help.  If we assist them in casting a God-sized vision for their families, then the resources we give them will be welcomed as a means of moving in the direction of that vision.

Quote: “I don’t believe the challenge confronting parents today is lack of right information – it’s a lack of right vision.”

“Parenting is a marathon not a sprint.  In ministry, it’s dangerous to assume parents understand this concept.”

Bio: Gina McClain currently serves as Children’s Ministry Director at Faithpromise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

11. Heather Wimsett – “Proverbs 16”

Summary: Heather Wimsett shares her story about the importance of answering God’s call to go to Romania and serving him by just showing up.  This article is a sobering reminder that sometimes God calls us just to be in a certain place and not to do anything spectacular.

Quote: “I realize that God didn’t call me because of my experience, my language skills, my success or my knowledge.  He called me for my obedience.”

Bio: Heather Wimsett was a missionary to Romania for seven years.  She is currently an Occupational Therapist and is the volunteer coordinator for Thru the Roof, the disability ministry of College Heights Christian Church.

12. Jason Houser – “Our Journey”

Summary: Jason Houser’s article provides a little insight and background into what Seeds Family Worship is (a group who sets scripture to catchy music) and why they were formed.  From there, he moves on to the importance of equipping parents to be the worship leader for their families.  As Mr. Houser points out, most parents don’t feel equipped to lead their families spiritually  because for the most part they have not seen that role modeled.

I believe that, as parents, modeling faith in Jesus Christ is the single most important thing we can for our kids.  No matter how many times we read them Bible stories, how many church activities they are involved in, or how much time we spend trying to look righteous, kids will learn what they see us living out.  It what they see is a life of active faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, that is what they will lean towards.

If you are not familiar with the work of Seeds Family Worship, I encourage you to check it out.  I have featured them several times here on Dad in the Middle.  They have successfully set numerous scriptures to music which is enjoyable to listen to for both parents and kids.  I know, in my own life, there are verses I cannot read without the tune of a Seeds Family Worship song running through my head.

Quote: “I have known for a long time that music is such an amazing gift from God, and we are wired to connect with it on a spiritual level.”

Bio: Jason Houser is the worship leader for the group Seed Family Worship at Harpeth Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee.

13. Jeremy Hall – “Connecting Youth Ministry With Families”

Summary: Bannock Baptist Church has established a series of “Breakthroughs” to guide parents in understanding where their kids should be spiritually at any given age.  Jeremy Hall writes from the perspective of the youth ministry which encompasses three of Bannock Baptist’s Breakthrough milestones.  Those include the “Purity Breakthrough,” “Ownership Breakthrough,” and “Conviction Breakthrough.”  The ultimate goal of the whole program is to help kids develop into to youth who eventually take ownership of their own faith.  Families are involved in each Breakthrough in through things as simple as e-mails, questions provided to parents and Breakthrough classes.

Quote: “As you can see, communicating with parents can be quite easy.  Simply take what you are already doing and dream up new ways to inform and involve parents.”

Bio: Jeremy Hall is Student Ministries Pastor at Bannockburn Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.

14. Jim Kast-Keat – “First Voice, Second Voice: Partnering With The Parents of Preteens”

Summary: Jim Kast-Keats writes about pre-teen ministry to 10, 11 and 12 year olds.  He notes that this is a time in their lives when they are going through major changes both physically and socially.  He notes that pre-teens need a unique ministry to grow and change with them as they work through this transitional period.  As with all age groups, Jim points out that the “First Voice” in kids’ lives during this period should be their parents which should be the most influential voice.  The role of pre-teen ministry is to be the “Second Voice” in the lives of these kids.  The role of “Second Voice” is held by anyone who spends time with the kids.  Jim suggests that one way to help the “Second Voice” to reinforce the “First Voice” is to ask parents of preteens what they would like said to their kids and holding parent forums to listen to parents.

Quote: “It is during this time that everything in a preteen’s life, world and worldview begins to change, leaving them ready for their next step or desperately scrambling for their last.  With only a decade of experience behind them, life now seems to have pulled its anchor, leaving a preteen floating aimlessly through a sea of change and transition.”

Bio: Jim Kast-Keat leads the fifth and sixth grade ministry at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

15. Jim Wideman – “The Missing Piece – Developing a Biblical World View In Your Children”

Summary: With all due respect to the other authors in this book, this chapter resonated with me more than any other, and I struggled to keep this synopsis a summary rather than a recapitulation of the entire chapter.  That said, there is a plan for a more detailed chapter-by-chapter review/study of this book, and have put in a request for this chapter.  I hope to expand on this synopsis at that point because I feel this article contains information can change families and help children on their spiritual paths.  Of all the great information in this book, I think I gained more from this chapter, and was more personally convicted by it, than any other chapter.

In this chapter, Jim chronicles his journey “to know God and love His Word and help sons and daughters to do the same.”  Jim starts this chapter with his story of how he was “called” to children’s ministry quite by accident despite his best efforts not to be.  He writes about how his view of children’s ministry changed when he began to look at children, and ministering to them, through the lens of the Bible.  He notes that many ministries and families today lack a biblical worldview, and both the church and the family need a biblically based vision for reaching children.

Jim explains that in raising their two daughters, he and his wife encouraged them to make choices by asking “What does the Bible say?”  He offers his top ten list of things to do as a parents or children’s ministry worker to instill a biblical worldview in kids.  They include:

  1. Be open and honest with your kids about everything.
  2. Model behavior for your kids.
  3. Teach principals rather than just facts.
  4. Teaching children that wisdom is more important than wealth or fame.
  5. Teach kids the difference between truth and what they see on TV.
  6. Teach them that the Bible is the Word of God and holds the answers for everything in life.
  7. Jesus is the only way.
  8. Point out wrong thinking wherever you note it.
  9. Let your kids see you reading the Bible and quote it to them.
  10. Instill in kids the importance of being at and participating in church.

Jim concludes this chapter with a challenge to us all: “Same actions bring same results.  What are you going to start doing differently?”

Quote: “I realized early in my ministry that children couldn’t live what they couldn’t remember, and they couldn’t remember what they didn’t understand.”

“God’s word is the filter through which we should view the world!”

“The No. 1 mistake in teaching the Bible to children is to fill them up with facts instead of instilling in them the principals of each story and teaching.”

Bio: Jim Wideman is an icon in the world of Children’s Ministry.  He is the Associate Pastor of Next Generation at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  He actively mentors younger children’s pastors and is a proficient author and speaker.

16. Jonathan Cliff – “How to Offer a Truly Family-Friendly Event”

Summary: In this chapter, Jonathan Cliff explores the idea of churches putting on family-friendly events for families with no “overt spiritual message.”  Jonathan argues that in today’s day and age of running from event to event where parents become spectators, real quality family time is lacking.  He offers three keys to putting on a family-friendly event.  These include encouraging it to be family-friendly, providing workers so that families can take advantage of the event and making it affordable.

One things that Jonathan hit on that I think is critical is finding workers to work these events who are not the “usual suspects.”  So often in children’s and youth ministry, there is a core group of people who lead the ministry and plan and run every event.  Where these people have families, it is important to find other people to work the event so that they can enjoy time with their families as well.

Quote: “What would it look like if the church could create events that had no spiritual implications beyond bringing dads and moms together with their kids?”

Bio: Jonathan Cliff is Children’s Ministry Pastor at Trinity Church in Lubbock, Texas.

17. Joyce Oglesby – “Family Nourishment”

Summary: In this article Joyce Oglesby offers practical examples of things she has done as a pastor’s wife to open her home to congregants and to mentor young women.  While this article was not particularly relevant to me (I am not a pastor’s wife J), I do appreciate Ms. Oglesby’s attempts to share her wisdom and experience with a younger generation of women.  Also, anyone can take away from this article the importance of showing hospitality.

Quote: “While you’re providing them with the mere rations for life, offer up God’s nourishing sustenance for eternity.”

Bio: Joyce Oglesby is the founder and president of Beyond This Point Ministries.

18. Justyn Smith – “PJ’s All Star Leadership Program”

Summary: Justyn Smith also tackles the issue of measuring the spiritual maturity of children at different stages of life.  Based on non-Christian organizations like karate schools and scouts, Justyn’s church developed a leadership program for children based on a ranking system.  The system known as PJ’s (Pastor Justyn’s) All Stars offers five levels of leadership to kids who demonstrate their progression along a spiritual journey.  Each level is marked by a color and a set of criteria to attain that level.  The levels are all built around five core values including Influence, Heart, Creativity, Wisdom and Servanthood.

Quote: “One of the biggest challenges for children’s pastors and leaders is gauging the spiritual development and maturation of children.”

Bio: Justyn Smith is Children’s and Internship Pastor at The Church at South Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada and was the coordinator of the well known Napkin Conference.

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