Family Ministry – What Books Should I Read First?

The other day, someone asked me the following questions:

Which books would you recommend as a starting point for someone considering family ministry? And, what book(s) should follow next?

Have you ever wondered the same thing?  

A lot of times it can be hard to figure out where to start when you begin looking at approaching ministry in a way you’ve not experienced before. And this goes for parents as well as ministers in church. When our experience has always been one way and we start thinking about taking things another way, it can be hard to know where to get started.

These are the books and the order to read them that I shared with the person who messaged me. I picked the order based on the questions I most frequently get asked when I’m talking to people who are less familiar with the family ministry world and want to know what family ministry is and how it works. Below you’ll see my recommendations and the question each one answers.

First, What is Family Ministry?

perspectivesSince this question came from someone who is rather unfamiliar with the family ministry landscape, the first book I recommended was Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views edited by Timothy Paul Jones. Even though this book is a bit dated in terms of the statistics used in the beginning, it offers some terrific insights into the types of family ministries that exist and what kind of environments each type works best within.

Each perspective has an opportunity to share why they feel their approach is best and the others have a chance to challenge it and offer their thoughts. This is so helpful to the reader because many, many questions get answered in the exchange and the reader can evaluate what best suits the needs of the faith community and the families they serve. 

Ok, But Why Is It Important?

thinkorangeThe second book I recommended was Think Orange: Imagine the Impact when Church and Family Collide by Reggie Joiner. Now, when most ministry people hear “Orange” they immediately think of the Orange curriculum. But this book is much more than that.

It gives a very basic foundational premise for approaching family ministry through the lens of Scripture and influence and helps ministry leaders begin conversations with their church and families about a change in the approach to discipling children. It underlines the need for a cultural change within the church to take place as part of this approach and gives direction on how to begin affecting that change.

Parents, the chapter on the home and the insert on Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a section I go back to frequently and re-read as a reminder of my calling and privilege to share with the children “the heart of Christ.”

How Does It Work?shift

Next, I wanted to move from theological and foundational to more practical and hands-on by pointing him towards Shift: What it Takes to Finally Reach Families Today by Brian Haynes.   Brian introduces a milestone ministry model that helps churches connect parents to what is happening in the church world (baptism, communion, faith commitment) to what is happening in the home world (birth of baby, adolescence, graduation).

It’s family ministry with an intentional path for the church to journey on together as one in a community effort to disciple children in their faith. It not only puts the responsibility for discipleship in the hands of the parents, but also on the church to serve in a role of supporting, nurturing, and equipping.

What Are Some Practical Ways to Get Started?

Finally,teamup I ended with one of my personal favorites; Team Up: The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents.  I’ve linked this to my book review (which has a link to purchase the book) but here’s a bit on why I like this book so much and why I wanted to offer it as my last recommendation.

First, Phil reminds us, at the beginning of the book and throughout, that our primary family ministry is within our own homes, a fact that often gets overlooked and I can easily forget. Each following chapter of the book unfolds a cohesive and practical plan for implementing family ministry. He covers everything from creating a team, casting vision, resourcing and equipping parents, implementing a strategy and identifying a network of partners. It is an invaluable resource if you are looking to begin serving families this way within your church.

So that’s it.  Well, not really. There are many resources available for people who are interested in learning more about how to reach and partner with families in ministry. If you would like a longer list, check out the Books section listed under the Resources for Ministers tab at the top of the website.

And I’d love to know what some of your favorites are and why. What books have been helpful for you as you begin the process of finding ways to connect the church and the home?  Feel free to comment below with a link so we can all have the chance to grow together!


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About the author 

Family(40)

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com

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The Great Thanksgiving

In a few short hours, across the United States, citizens of this country will gather to celebrate as one country our national holiday of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as the Civil War was being fought upon our soil, a divided country, brought together on this day to pause, reflect, and give thanks. It wasn’t a picturesque scene. Our country was torn apart, literally brother against brother. The bloodiest battles raged. Mourning and sorrow were commonplace. The division in our country today didn’t even come close to the division being experienced at that time.

Into that moment, President Lincoln spoke these words:

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

America’s Great Thanksgiving – a call to leave behind the striving and the sorrow for a day – to gather as one and “look up” to God as a nation in gratitude and awe. To “fervently implore” Him to bring peace, harmony, tranquility and union to the land. 

But before America’s Great Thanksgiving, before the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, before the turkeys and football, before pumpkin pie and hot apple cider…before all of that, we, the Church, were invited to a different meal.

We were invited to engage in our own Great Thanksgiving.

Christ himself has extended the invitation. “On the night in which he gave himself up for us,he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: ‘Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: ‘Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'”

The liturgy that accompanies this meal of Communion is aptly named “The Great Thanksgiving”. It starts with this declaration and response:

The Lord be with you.communionbread
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
     We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
     It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

It IS right to give our thanks and praise.
It is good and it is joyful.
And not just on Thanksgiving Day, but always and everywhere.

In a few short days, across the entire world, citizens of our eternal home will gather to celebrate as one people our celebration of hope through communion.

The Great Thanksgiving was given to us by Jesus on the night before he was to be betrayed, beaten, and crucified for us. He brought us together at this table to pause, reflect, and give thanks. And no matter how bad life has been for the Church, each week, each time we come to the table, we remember the hope we have been given and the life we participate in.

He meets us there. He reminds us of who we are in Him.

This year, perhaps more than other years, we may find ourselves needing that reminder.

Perhaps this year, we need to gather our children close and remind them of this promise, this celebration, this Great Thanksgiving that we get to participate in. We can help them to understand that sometimes bread and wine is a greater feast than all the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie in the world.

Perhaps this year has been particularly hard for us personally and gathering to give thanks, to see family, to experience joy has left us numb, sad, and lonely. Then we of all people must remember the Great Thanksgiving ushers us to a place of eternity and grace and provides us with the eternal hope of life with God forever. We must remember that gratitude is more than saying “Thank you” but living a life of awe. We must join in the meal, hear the words of life, and now that one day we will “feast at his heavenly banquet.”

Wherever we find ourselves this year, may we know the richness of His grace and may this prayer lead us into even deeper lives of gratitude and love with one another.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ,
one with each other,
and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory
and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.

Excerpts of the liturgy taken from “A Service of Word and Table I,” Copyright © 1972, The Methodist Publishing House; Copyright © 1980, 1985, 1989, 1992 UMPH.


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About the author 

Family(40)

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com

A Simple Advent Journey for the Family

I am so excited to celebrate Advent this year with my family and my church. As part of our celebration, the families are participating in a “Reverse Advent” activity where each day of Advent they put something (food, toiletries, etc) into a box and after Christmas, donate it to the charity of their choice.

In order to make this time more meaningful, I collected a number of prayers, Scriptures, and activities for the family to experience together throughout the month. These brief readings and prayers do not take a lot of time (can easily be done at the dinner table) but they help to frame Advent and the celebration of Christ’s birth in the larger story, the metanarrative, of Scripture.

I hope that your family or your church family will be able to use them too and celebrate together the coming of our Prince of Peace!

banner-1050583_1920

Our Christmas “Advent”ure

This Advent Season, gather your family each day for a moment to read a Scripture, say a prayer, or do an activity below and add to your “Reverse Advent” basket.

November

Week 1

27 – Make a your First Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in purple and write the word “HOPE” on it. Creat a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your first Advent Candle. The theme for this week is HOPE.
28 – Read Luke: 1:26-38

29 – Pray this prayer together:

God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the center, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.

30 – Isaiah 7:10-14
 

December

1 – Read Matthew 1:18-24

2 – The Advent Theme for this week is Hope. What are some things your family hopes for?

3 – Read Isaiah 11:1-10

Week 2

4 – Make a your Second Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in purple and write the word “LOVE” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your second Advent Candle. The theme for this week is LOVE.

5. Read Micah 5:2
6. Read Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

7. Read Isaiah 2:1-5

8. Pray this prayer together:

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the paths of thine Only-begotten Son:
that we may worthily serve thee with hearts purified by His coming: Who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen

9. Read Matthew 3:1-6

10. God is Love. Our theme for this week reminds of His great love for us. How does our family show and experience God’s love?

Week 3

11. Make a your Third Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in pink and write the word “JOY” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your third Advent Candle. The theme for this week is JOY.

12. Sing “Joy to the World” together as a family. Sing it as quiet as you can. Now, sing it as loud as you can! How does our family share JOY with others?

13. Read Isaiah 9:6-7
14. Read John 1:19-34

15. Pray this prayer together

We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord,
and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds:
Thou who livest and reigns with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

16. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
17. Read Philippians 2:1-11

Week 4

18. Make a your Fourth Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in purple and write the word “PEACE” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your fourth and final Advent Candle. The theme for this week is PEACE.

19. Read Malachi 3:1-5
20. Read Romans 8:18-25
21. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. What are some ways we see God’s peace in our lives?22. Read Isaiah 52:7-10
23. Read Revelation 21:1-4

24. It’s Christmas Eve. Join us at church to celebrate Christ’s birth together. We talk about “passing the peace” which is extending to others the promise of peace we’ve been given. We say, “The peace of Christ be with you” and they reply “And also with you”. Try it tonight when you come to church and celebrate our Prince of Peace.

Christmas Day

25 –  Jesus has come!! Read Luke 2 as a family as you finish this season of Advent. Consider these prayers that have been shared through church history as a way to culminate our Advent celebration

God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth
has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh.
Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word
that we may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(From The Roman Missal)

Let the just rejoice, for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice, For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice, For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice, for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice, For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice, For Jesus Christ is born.
St. Augustine of Hippo


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About the author 

Family(40)

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com

I wasn’t going to say anything. Shame on me.

I wasn’t going to say anything.  I wasn’t going to use this space to make a statement. I told myself it was the right call. I gave myself a million reasons why I couldn’t write about these things here, in this space, dedicated to the home and to the church, to generational discipleship and faith formation. I told myself to let it go, to move on, just like so many others on social media have told me they are doing and I should do. Post pictures of dogs and dinner. Write blogs on Sunday School and Kids Church.

But this morning, the battle playing out all over social media, all over the news, all over our country made its way into the church, into the home.  This morning I read this:

A group of Hispanic/Latino young people attending the annual Pilgrimage youth event in the North Carolina Annual Conference were victims of repudiation and intimidation upon their arrival on Friday November 11…

“Since we arrived at the event last Friday, young people wearing hats with the ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan have carried out hostile actions on our young people. Actions continued on the second day and we are worried and disappointed by this situation…Upon their arrival on Friday November 11…the clothes pins we traditionally used at this event to share positive messages of Christian love and fellowship were used to convey messages like, ‘I Love Trump’ and ‘Build the Wall’. The pins were put on the clothes of some of our young people.”

So why is this different than all the other reports on social media and in the news?  Why was this the one that moved me to find my voice and speak out in this space at this time?

Because the headline for these atrocious acts read, “YOUNG LATINOS INTIMIDATED AT METHODIST EVENT” and I currently work at a Methodist church and that, my dear friends, hits a little too close to home. 

Samerican-flag-795307_1920ince the campaigns began, I have been pleading with adults to please, please, consider the words they are using and the actions they are choosing because the younger generation is watching them and learning from them and emulating them.

Throughout the campaigns, I was told repeatedly by supporters of Mr. Trump that I should “vote for the policy, not for the person.”

The thing is, that is impossible.

We don’t elect a policy to the position of president. We elect a person.

81% of evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, the person.

The silence of this group in regard to these atrocities that have been going on since the election is deafening.  The silence of president-elect Trump is twice as loud.*

See, the thing is, children and youth – they don’t understand the distinction of voting for someone because you agree with their “policies” but disagree with everything else about him unless they are expressly told that, early and often.

Children don’t hate, until it’s demonstrated for them. Children don’t understand immigration policy or the status of refugees. They need to have those things explained to them. By us. The adults. The ones they are imitating.

A quick perusal through the post-election hate crimes and racist actions will reveal that a a majority of the increase we are seeing is taking place in schools – schools!  Where the children are. Where the youth are. Where the young adults are. The bullying taking place, the graffiti being painted,the words being spoken are by and large coming from…children. 

We cannot close our eyes to this reality. We have taught them something, America. We have taught them something, Church. At this point, I don’t even care who we voted for. I care about what we are going to do now.

Are we going to tell our children that this. is. wrong?

The things Mr. Trump said during his campaign were wrong. The words he called human beings were wrong. The way he made fun of people was wrong. The manner in which he treated, talked about, and manhandled women was wrong. It was all very, very wrong.

90 youth, 6th-12th grade aged youth, were ostracized, terrorized, and threatened…at church. By church kids. Our kids.

And they learned it from us.

We were pretty loud in our support of policy, calling on the evangelical community to vote for the person.  If we are not equally as loud now in calling for the end to racism, sexism, and all the other -isms then we are continuing to teach our children that those things are okay.

In this space, dedicated to the home and to the church, to generational discipleship and faith formation, I cannot stay silent. Because this is in our homes. In our churches. It is how we are discipling our children. It is faith formation. It’s everything I write about. It is exactly why I started this blog. And I couldn’t remain silent about the biggest thing affecting our homes, our church, our children today.

It is my prayer that you won’t either. Talk about this with your children. Regardless of how you voted, remind them that every person, every child, every race, every gender, every human being is made in God’s image, loved and cherished, of great worth in His sight and we are called to love like Him. Disciple them.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

*I was just made aware that Donald Trump has asked those harassing minorities to “Stop It”. See article here


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook. 

About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.

A Life of Awe: Gratitude is More than Saying “Thank You

Each year in November, Americans celebrate a holiday aptly named Thanksgiving where we pause for a moment, take a deep breath, count our blessing, and express our gratitude. We spend time with family, eat delicious food, kick off the Christmas holiday season, watch football, and engage in any number of personal family traditions.

Perhaps this year, more than in others in recent memory, I am more cognizant of the need to give thanks. However, I think something we need to consider as we are leading the next generation of citizens, is that gratitude is not limited to a spoken “thank you” or a special day.

Gratitude is a way of life; a continual living into an awareness of the blessings we have and the grace we are given each and every moment of the day.

Simply put, gratitude is a life of awe. It’s a place where we are very aware of the incredible life we are given, from the air that we breathe to the food that we eat. It’s more than an attitude or a platitude – it’s a state of being.

thanksgiving-1680142_1920Often our children miss out on awe. Their lives are fast-paced and hurried. They shuffle from one activity to the next, one distraction to the next, one practice to the next and that sense of awe and wonder gets lost in the noise.  And let’s be frank, a constant lack of awe leads to a lack of gratitude and a growth of entitlement. When we aren’t aware of the greatness of our blessings, we assume that our blessings are our rights and we behave in ways that are more greedy than gracious, more demanding than grateful.

How can we help our kids live a life of awe?

We can STOP

For a moment, for a breath, we can stop. Stop the car. Stop the conversation. Stop the running. Stop for just a moment and look up, look out, and look around. My kids love to make fun of me because I will pull the car off on the side of the road to get a picture of the sky. They make fun of me, but they also look up a lot – at stars, at clouds, at sunrises and sunsets – and they are in awe of our Creator. And that leads to thanksgiving. So, let’s stop for a just a moment, when our kids are watching, and live into awe.

We can GO

One thing that hinders gratitude is an introspective life that is focused inward on self. A. W. Tozer once shared, “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it. Showing and offering gratitude leads us to look not to self, but to others.

When we are aware of our blessings, we want to extend those blessings to those around us. There is something amazingly precious about our children watching us serve others and joining us in that work. It leads to a distinct awareness of just how blessed we really are.

We can SPEAK

My favorite hashtag on social media is #speaklife. I love it because if you click on it, you will find all manner of uplifting and powerful messages of life-giving hope. We can speak life. Gratitude isn’t just about saying thank you, it’s about speaking life into situations where hopelessness and darkness encroach and try to steal, kill and destroy hearts and lives. It’s the antithesis of grumbling and complaining.

Gratitude says there is hope and if our children need to hear anything today, it’s that there is hope – unending, never failing hope. 

Maybe your church or family is doing a gratitude challenge this month?  Well, here’s my challenge for all of us. As we look around at the world around us and we see the things that hurt our hearts and weigh heavy on our spirit, let’s cultivate a new approach within ourselves – an approach that stops, goes, and speaks with heartfelt gratefulness and genuine thanksgiving – an approach that leads to a sense of awe and wonder.

Let’s…

  • Take pictures of the sky
  • Sing songs loudly in the car
  • Spin around until we fall down
  • Make a card for a friend
  • Pick a flower for a neighbor
  • Give a meal to someone who is hungry
  • Fill a envelope with notes of love and drop it in the mail
  • Hold hands and go for a walk
  • Stop the car and watch the sunset
  • Whisper a prayer as we walk along the way
  • Talk about our day as we sit at home
  • Bless our family as we rise and
  • Pray for them as we lie down

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook. 

About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.

It’s Monday, but Wednesday is Coming

It’s coming. The moment that has been talked about for the past forever it feels like. On Wednesday morning, America will wake up to a new President.

It’s going to happen.

About half of the country will be happy or at least satisfactorily resigned. About the half the country will be devastated or at best reluctantly resigned.

But regardless, it is going to happen.

So, we have the chance, right now, before it all starts or ends, depending on how you look at it, to make some important decisions.

How are we going to react?

Group of Friends SmilingThis is important because our reaction will speak volumes to the children who are looking to us for guidance and stability. Are we going to react with hopelessness and despair?  Are we going to react with fear and derision? Are we going to react with pride and self-righteousness?

Or are we going to, in the light of whatever happens, show our children a consistent dependence on Christ and the solid foundation of our hope in Him?  It’s a legitimate question we need to ask ourselves before we wake up on Wednesday morning.

How are we going to behave?

Our reactions often affect our behavior. The words we speak. The emotions we exhibit. The behavior we engage in. So we need to think, “How am I going to behave on Wednesday morning if this person or that person wins the election?”  Am I going to behave as someone whose citizenship in heaven, who is called to extend the love and mercy of God to all humanity, and who is confident in the sovereignty of God and therefore, act compassionately, graciously, and lovingly to those around me regardless of their reaction?

What are we going to post/tweet?

This one is so huge. It is so easy to hit that little button that says “Post” or “Tweet” and forget that actual people with real live hearts who are created in the image of God are on the other side of the screen reading what we wrote. So what are we going to post or tweet on Wednesday morning?  It’s worth deciding ahead of time, if not only for our own sake, for the sake of our children who will one day google us.

Each Sunday at our church during our Kids Worship time, our worship leader leads the
children through a little responsive questioning.  He asks three questions and receives three answers from the children; three question I think are very important for us to ponder as we move into this transformative week.

As you read the questions and responses, consider how they play out in our hearts, as kingdom-minded believers who are being watched closely by the next generation of Christians.

Who are You?
I am a Child of God.
Who are We Together?
We are the Body of Christ
Why are We Here?
We are here to learn more about God and His Covenant to us.

With that in mind…what will our reactions, behaviors, and words look like on Wednesday morning?

May God be with each of us as we seek to be children of God, the body of Christ, learning more about Him and His covenant of Love to us every day….even the day after Election Day.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James‬ ‭1:19‬ ‭


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook. 

About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.

The Cubbies Win!

“So there we were, bottom of the ninth, game is tied and…”

baseball-field-1563858_1920I mean seriously, how many times have we heard stories that begin like that in movies and on grandparents’ laps? To have lived it last night with the whole country (despite the rain delay straight from the goat) and to have woken up to a social media feed full of celebration and raw excitement was a pleasant and, dare I say, needed break from the wearying political rhetoric and constant supply of heartbreaking news that fills our eyes and airwaves.

And yet, while this momentary chance to catch our breath and collectively celebrate a long-awaited victory is a slight reprieve, the facts of political divide and devastating realities don’t disappear.

There is a tension in our world. A tension that we see played out all around us. The tension of good and evil, joy and sorrow, peace and fear.

So, how do we as parents and leaders of the next generation, teach our children to live in a healthy, life-giving way in the midst of the tension. How can we live fully into moments of joy without trivializing the real and tangible needs and hurts in our world?  The way we react in these moments teaches our children a lot about how to approach life both now and in the future.

Here’s some thoughts on how we can handle the “Cubbies Win” moments of life:

Live Fully in the Moment

In C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, a conversation takes place between two demons. The older is teaching the younger the best techniques and approaches to tripping up Christians in their walk of faith. At one point, the older shares, “The Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most temporal part of time–for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.”  He says the best thing that the younger can do is get Christians to live in the past or in the future but never be fully in the present, because Christ is in the present.

When our present offers us moments of joy, Christ is there. Live into it!  Embrace it! And when our present offers us moments of sorrow, Christ is there. Fall into Him! Let Him embrace you!  As Jim Elliot, missionary, said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

Do Not Worry

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms not to worry about tomorrow. Often when we are faced with the hard realities of this life, our tendency is to turn to worry and our kids see that. But Jesus offers us this actual reality – that our worry does nothing to change the reality of the situation and can only remove us from a place of trust in God. Jesus says, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Mt. 6:34, The Message).

Embrace the Tension

The fact is, what happens outside of us, in the world that surrounds us, is simply a larger expression of what happens inside of us all the time. Paul writes about this tension in Galations 5:17 when he says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” To pretend that the tension doesn’t exist does a disservice to our children. Teaching them to understand the roots of the tension (The Story – the metanarrative of Scripture) can be the best tool we can offer them

Reggie Joiner of Orange offers these thoughts on the tension that exists:

Tension doesn’t make a truth less TRUE, it makes it more REAL.. Some of us don’t like tension. We are threatened by tension. God is not threatened by tension. Tension is a good thing. The tension of doubt builds a stronger foundation for faith. Trust leads you to stronger faith AND doubt leads to stronger faith. Jesus had all the answers, yet He asked LOTS of question. He understood that that is how truth becomes real for us.

As believers, we live in the gap of “already” and “not yet.”  In other words, we already experience God’s grace and mercy in our lives but we are not yet in a place of fully experiencing a world without sin and sorrow. But we have Jesus with us in that gap and therefore we of all people can embrace the tension with unending hope.

Let’s be honest. The tension is difficult. That’s why we need Jesus.

But the moments of joy, of hope, of peace…those are little gifts we are given along the way. And Christ is in the present, so celebrate the moments. Or as they say in Chicago, Fly the W! (Congrats Cubs fans – that was a long time coming)


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About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.