Dr. Mohler, Kids in Worship, and Three Things We Need to Know

Yesterday, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, posted a video from a recent chapel service where he addressed the topic of children in the worship service. While Dr. Mohler and I likely have some theological disagreements in other areas, this is one place where my heart and his resonate together. You can hear a portion of his sermon here, but I’ve included below a few pertinent quotes that lend specifically to the conversation of intergenerational worship.

“Christ’s people ought to be more welcoming than anyone else to children.

Our churches should not be places where the adults cannot wait to put the children away in order to get to the adult task of worship.

One of the scandals of so much evangelicalism is that we send people to their rooms as soon as we get to church…

You should see people sitting in pews whose feet cannot touch the floor…we should, in church, welcome the wiggling and the squirming “- Dr. Albert Mohler

In 12 hours, the video had generated over a thousand shares, over 2,000 reactions, and over 100 comments. So, it touched a nerve. Some people wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree with Dr. Mohler’s points. Some people vehemently opposed his approach.

This has been my experience since I began championing the ideas of intergenerational worship as part of a healthy church experience. Like Dr. Mohler, I take a both/and approach to this idea meaning I support age-appropriate ministry within church settings as long as it doesn’t disallow for intergenerational times of worship and ministry.  However, I find, like with some many things, the tendency is to turn this discussion into an either/or scenario – either we wholeheartedly agree with something or we vehemently oppose it.  And, like with so many other things, that does not allow for a way forward.

So what are some ways we can create a both/and discussion around this topic that is healthy, robust and cooperative, that is theologically sound, developmentally aware, and spiritually strong?

 

Know the Theology

It is so important before we begin advocating for something like incorporating all ages in corporate worship that we have at least a basic theological foundation for what we are doing; our “why” so to speak. When kids and youth began to be pulled from the larger congregation for age specific ministry beginning in the 1950s, the “why” that was given was fundamentally developmental in nature.  But as that was done, the theological and spiritual ramifications weren’t explored until later when we realized we were losing the gift of generational discipleship within our church walls because our generations never interacted.

If a church desires to bring back that intergenerational space is some form, it is vitally important to have a theological understanding of why it is choosing to do so.

The Bible is literally full of examples on the whole congregation being present, both in the Old and New Testaments. Christ’s life and ministry model the same for us. Know these verses and explore these Scriptures so that when questions come, there is a “why” behind what is being done that establishes a foundation for intergenerational faith communities.

Here is a great article from Fuller Youth Institute to get started with, but don’t stop there! Do your own study. Explore the Scriptures. Explore what theologians have written. Develop a “why” that fits with your church, its vision and mission, and its members.  I once had a mentor tell me that “Christ will meet me in the Scriptures.”  He has indeed and my “why” is firmly established in the Word. That’s so important if we are to champion this particular space in worship.

Know the Research

Because developmental research was so significant in the move from  a fully integrated church to a a fully siloed one, it is important that we are familiar with what the research is saying regarding intergenerational worship and relationships within the church.  That is why my heart is for a both/and approach to intergenerational ministry rather than an either/or. I’ve reach that point because of the research that has been done regarding children and youth and their relationship to faith.  boywithhymnal

As I’ve reviewed both developmental research and ongoing research into faith affiliation and church attendance, I’ve become convinced that both age-appropriate and intergenerational ministries are both strongly needed and should be fostered within a faith community.

How that plays out in each church will necessarily be specific to that church and its culture, but to do one to the exclusion of the other is a disservice to our rising generations.


Where to start?
 This article is a good spot to get started on looking the research that is coming out. I would also recommend the following books/studies:

Know the Community

Each faith community has an identity all its own. It’s been like that since the church started; just look at the names of the epistles in the New Testament and the specific way Paul speaks to each community (also, note that he speaks specifically to children so as these letters were read aloud, he expected the children to be there). It is so important to know the culture of each church and understand what it identifies with in terms of its vision and mission.

Cookie cutter intergenerational ministry does not work. It is not enough to simply steal a program from the church down the road and expect it to work in yours. While each program or project or idea for intergenerational ministry has merit, it is only an asset to your community if it fits within your church’s identity.

The best thing that we can do as we transition from a traditional, age-segregated model to a more intergenerational, age-inclusive model is to get to know our faith community and help them to do the same. Help the generations learn each others names. Find ways to plug children into places where they are already welcome to be involved. Strengthen the relationships that already exist and find ways to build new ones. Transitional ministry is crucial to introducing “new to you” things to any group of people, so go slow and put a lot of time, prayer and thought into getting to know the church.

Want a great way to start helping generations get to know each other?  Check out the Pray For Me campaign. It is a wonderful way to incorporate prayer into your church and connect the generations at the same time!

This discussion that is happening right now in the church world is a good one!! It might be a hard one in some spaces. We will likely disagree on some things. But the heart of the issues is this  – we love our children and youth and want what is best for them. It’s worth taking the time to have a good discussion about this; to know our theological “why”, to understand the research being done, and to embrace our faith communities. My prayer is that this discussion is one that results in more children and youth staying in the faith as they grow so that we, the whole church, can say we have answered the call to “impress these things upon our children.” (Dt. 6:8).


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 this Blog

EmbreeFam2017

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed

*The advertisements at the bottom of this page are chosen by WordPress, not by ReFocus Ministry, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of the author. 

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“I Wanna Go Home”: The Yearning of Lent

“I wanna go home.”

The other day my tired son mumbled these words and I started laughing. “You are home,” I told him as I tucked him into bed. We both kinda laughed but I also realized this this particular statement is one that he often makes especially when he is tired, uncomfortable or ready to relax. Home for him is a safe place where he can just be at peace, feel loved, and rest so sometimes, even when he is in our house, the words, “I wanna go home” slip out because they mean so much more.

I cannot think of a better phrase to describe the season of Lent than this one.

On the Christian calendar, Lent is the period of 40 days plus Sundays leading up to the celebration of Easter. Traditionally, it is a time of confession, reflection and contemplation. Unlike Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, it is not a time of joyful anticipation, but more a time of realization as we consider our need for a Savior and truly grasp what Jesus accomplished through his death.
prodigal

The yearning that this season creates in my heart is very much like the yearning my son expresses when he says, “I wanna go home.”  Much like the story of the Prodigal Son, it’s a yearning for refuge, a yearning for rest, a yearning for love. It’s almost a groaning in our souls as we consider how weary we can become apart of the life-giving grace found in resurrection. 

Reflection and contemplation don’t necessarily come easy for children and youth. The celebration of Advent is full of ways to engage the whole family in joyful anticipation through fun activities and meaningful practices. But Lent is a much more personal, much less “kid-friendly” season.

So what are some ways that we can help engage the next generation in a time of meaningful reflection that stirs their spirits to say, “I wanna go home!”

Seek Salvation (Easter Scavenger Hunt)

Who said that Lent has to be boring? Sometimes I think just because we talk about contemplation and reflection we think that means we have to sit around and just think about how sinful we are. But that’s not the only way to contemplate and reflect. We can actively reflect and contemplate too.

Here is a fun Easter Scavenger Hunt I put together a couple of years ago that gets the whole family involved in the story of Easter from birth to resurrection. Whether you do this as a church family or individual families, this activity will drive home the beauty of the journey of this season leading to resurrection.

Reframe Repentance

Part of what can make this season so solemn is the emphasis put on repentance. But repentance isn’t all sorrow and ashes.

Repentance isn’t the end of joy; repentance is the beginning. It’s the gateway to freedom. Confession isn’t the start of shame; it’s the resounding end of it!

What if we could re-frame that for our children? How much greater would their experience of confession and repentance be?  How much more eager would they be to move quickly from sorrow to joy?  If we can talk about repentance being a beginning of a journey to freedom just like Lent is a journey to Easter, that yearning to “go home” and experience the resurrection can be stirred up!

Time Together

Lent, while a very personal experience, is a communal activity. It brings the church together for a specific season and reason. It’s the perfect time to connect generations to one another through a common experience. Here are some ideas of things that can be done together, whether as a family or as a church.

If you are on Facebook, search for a community activity called ‪#‎picturelent‬ . This online program walks you through Lent with devotions, activities and prayers for the whole 40 days. For more information, check out LEC Family at http://lecfamily.org/lent/.

 If videos are more your style, check out these great though-provoking videos from the Skit Guys.

There are several online Lenten devotionals you could choose to do as a family. If you do a search online, you will find many from various faith traditions. Here is one that is a collaborative effort from a number of denominations and even comes with a free App so you can keep up on your devices.

Likewise there are many online resources for celebrating Lent together. Many of these are particular to a denomination, so an online search will provide you with lots of options.  This page has a huge list of resources including a devotional from Ann Voskamp, Lilly Lewin and multiple crafts and activities for kids and families.

Allow Space for Sorrow

Sometimes, it is our tendency to shield our children from sorrowful emotions, from the sadness and the heaviness of Lent and the crucifixion. But when we allow ourselves to remember the darkness of this season, the sadness of this moment, we create space for God to do a deeper work that our minds can understand.

During Lent, we may experience sadness. But only for a moment.  Because on Easter Sunday we will experience unspeakable joy.  No matter the depth of sorrow we feel during Lent, our rejoicing on Easter Sunday will far exceed those limits.  And if we want our children to truly know the JOY that is Easter, we must let them also experience the sorrow that is Lent and Good Friday.

It’s okay for them to feel.  Feel with them.  Cry with them.

BUT, cry with hope.  Feel with expectation.  And Sunday morning, before Easter eggs and bunnies and chocolate and flowers, before dinners and tulips and fancy dresses and suits and ties, before all of that… let them experience the OVERWHELMING, LIFE-CHANGING, HEART-POUNDING Joy of crying out, “He. Is. RISEN!!” 

Whatever your Lenten season looks like, I hope that your soul can cry out, “I wanna go home” as you look toward that place where our souls find rest – the resurrection and our hope for salvation.


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 this Blog

EmbreeFam2017

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed

*The advertisements at the bottom of this page are chosen by WordPress, not by ReFocus Ministry, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of the author. 

What do I remind you of?

Most nights before bed, I tuck in my son with a story. We started with the Jesus Storybook Bible, moved on to the I Am Bible (which he insisted we read at least three times through) and then…we got stuck. We started reading just regular books but honestly, both of us missed our time in the Bible.

So one day, on a whim, as I was putting him to bed I said, “Tonight, you remind me of…” and I picked a Bible character and told his story. The next night he asked me, “What do I remind you of tonight?” and thus, a nightly tradition was born….one that he will persistently remind me of every. single. night.  Which is truly sweet and great, except we got through the “main” characters of the Bible pretty fast so now I’m pulling out obscure ones like “the little boy whose lunch Jesus used to feed 5,000” and “the child Jesus placed in the midst of the crowd to explain the kingdom of heaven.”

Regardless, every night, without fail, he asks. And I wonder, “How does he not get bored of asking and doing the same thing over and over and over again?”

childhood-1884281_1920


One answer, I think, is simply this: Kids genuinely like doing the same thing over and over again. But I think it is more than that. I think that perhaps God enjoys the same thing on repeat and since we are created in God’s image, so do we, even if we don’t always see it as innocently as a child.  

G. K. Chesterton put it this way:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.

For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.

It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

This has always been a powerful statement to me, but I was especially reminded of it this week while listening to the speakers at the D6 Days conference.  Two in particular shared things that stuck with me.

The first was Dr. Timothy Paul Jones who spoke about how ministry to families has been changing over the last decade or so. In his conversation, he said, “The reason liturgy works is because it is a story that ties the generations together, that we share together, over and over and over.

For those of us who attend a church that utilizes liturgy, we know that every week, we say the same words when we recite a creed or before communion or as we pray together. Some people don’t like that but for many it is a powerful experience to say the same words each week that have been said for thousands of years in the church because, as Jones states, it becomes a story that connects us to those who come before us.

It makes us part of something bigger.

Even if your church doesn’t use a liturgical format, it’s likely you have your own liturgy of sorts – a predictable and familiar “way” of doing church that collectively you all flow in together (for example, Welcome, 3 songs, prayer, 2 songs, sermon, 1 song, Dismiss). That liturgy connects you together in a familiar rhythm that you’ve grown to love.

The second person to hit on this theme was Lydia Randall who talked about creating “We Always” moments in the home. She asked us to consider what are the moments that our children, when talking to someone outside of our family, would say, “In our family, we always…”  For the Embrees, it would be something like, “We always pray with each other before we leave the house for the day” or “We always eat Chinese food on the day we get our Christmas tree” (it’s true…not sure why… but we always do it).

These “We Always” moments are our own liturgy at home; our unique family rhythm that connects us together and makes us part of something bigger.  And those things, especially when Christ is welcomed into them, can be as formational to us as any worship service or prayer meeting we could ever attend.

The repeatable moments. The repetition of phrases and actions. The consistent grace, truth, and love expressed over time.

All of these things are things that God uses, over and over again, to draw us closer to one another and, ultimately, closer to to Him.

Timothy Paul Jones used the word “power” to describe the liturgy. Lydia Randall used the term “strength” to describe the family traditions. G. K. Chesterton used the word “strong” to describe the beautiful monotony of God.

So if we are looking to grow strong families, filled with strength and power, it would make sense then to begin to find ways to repeatedly connect us to a bigger story, both within our home and within our faith;

to find those “We Always” moments and intentionally welcome Christ into them;

to seek out a liturgy that reminds us that our faith is generations deep and centuries wide;

and to discover a God that says “Do it again” every morning to the sun because “He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Tonight my son will ask, “What do I remind of?” and I will struggle to come up with an applicable character (he has given me permission to compare him to women as well in order to make the task more doable) and I will smile because “We Always” do that…and we love it.


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 this Blog

EmbreeFam2017

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed

*The advertisements at the bottom of this page are chosen by WordPress, not by ReFocus Ministry, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of the author. 

Church, for Kids. Not Kids Church.

Imagine with me for a second what it would look like if you walked into church and the pews were filled with children and youth. In fact, imagine with me that it looked exactly like your church but switch the adults in your church to kids and the kids to adults. Imagine with me what that church would look like. What would it sound like? What would it feel like?

Well, you don’t have to imagine. You can actually visit this church.

Grace Kids Church is located in Louisville, Kentucky and they describe themselves as “a church devoted entirely to ministry for the unique spiritual, emotional, and practical needs of children and youth.” A quick trip to their website will reveal a schedule similar to most other churches; service on Sunday and Wednesday, Family Night on Friday, and even a pastoral staff. But what you will also find one consistent message:

We are here for children and youth and we are unabashed in our mission to reach the next generation.
CoreyandKids

Pastor Corey Nelson with some of the Grace Church congregants

I had the chance to talk to the pastor of Grace Kids, Corey Nelson, the other day and he
shared a bit about how Grace Kids came to be. When Corey was first asked to serve as pastor this a small United Methodist Church, just a couple of blocks away from the famous Churchill Downs race track, it was surrounded by a community who was not involved in any way with the church.

From the day he arrived, Corey was aware that while the church had a worship service the people in the community didn’t even know that the church even existed. He shared a story of meeting a group of kids in the parking lot one night and they shared that they really had nowhere else to go that was safe and drug-free. So on a whim, Corey told them to come back Friday and he would show a movie and serve popcorn and Koolaid. Thirty kids showed up. And they never stopped showing up.

No matter what the church did, the kids kept flooding the building. Corey was shocked at the number of children who had never truly heard the name of Jesus, having only experienced that name as a curse word. It became obvious to him what direction the church needed to go.   Currently Grace Kids Church has a roster of 200 kids, two pastors on staff, an administrative board to help them run rather like a non-profit and is a vibrant growing church. For most of the kids who attend, Corey can say with confidence he is likely the only positive male role model in their life.

 

I asked Corey what his advice would be to other churches regarding reaching the next generation. He shared the following:

We have done church the same way for so long that it can be hard to get older generations on board with the idea of intentionally investing in the youth. Consistent messaging is absolutely essential. Sometimes this move towards younger generations is not wanted. It takes strong leadership from the pulpit, a willingness to hurt some feelings, and a reminder that we are here to make disciples.

Many churches have come alongside to support Grace Kids through sending teams and supporting them financially. However, getting to this point has taken a great deal of time and long conversations. Corey hopes that people will begin to see the value in discipling kids and youth but recognizes that financial needs will always be a concern they will need to work around.

I was so inspired by my conversation with Corey. His obvious dedication to serving the next generation was compelling but even more was his description of their church.

He said that sometimes people think that church for kids means “adult church dumbed down for children.” But Corey says that is not at all what this church is. Their teaching is vibrant. Their worship is heartfelt. They are making disciples. They are just doing it in a way that reaches the rising generations.

Even if we aren’t ready to start a church for kids, perhaps we can learn from that one thing.

We don’t need to “dumb down” church for kids.

They are ready to know Christ. They are aching to be discipled. We can find ways to welcome them in, if we are willing to be a little uncomfortable and a little more open to their energy and excitement. I encourage you to head to the website, check out Grace Kids Church, and pray about how you can join Corey in his mission, both at his location and in yours.


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 this Blog

EmbreeFam2017

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed

*The advertisements at the bottom of this page are chosen by WordPress, not by ReFocus Ministry, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of the author. 

 

Practical Discipleship: Valentine’s Day

Valentines’ Day is just around the corner. For some, this is cause for rejoicing because the day brings love and lots of chocolate. For others, not so much. I remember as a single girl in college not liking Valentine’s Day a whole lot. Regardless of your personal feelings about it, each year it rolls around and each year we have the opportunity to ignore it or use it to grow our faith.

One year, a family who lived near us and had three daughters joined us and our two daughters and we celebrated Valentine’s Day by blessing our girls with their favorite foods and then taking time after the meal to talk to them about the greatest Love of all sent to us in Jesus. As parents, we washed their feet and spoke a blessing over each of them and demonstrated what Love really looks like so as they grew they would have something to compare all other “loves” to.

At church one year, I created take home communion kits for the families that attended that included juice, crackers, and a special Valentine’s Day liturgy. Parents and kids could celebrate communion in their home while celebrated the greatest Love that was even given in the gift of Jesus.

This year, I want to share what my friend Judy is doing with her kids. I love Judy’s heart for discipleship. She has embraced her calling as the primary faith former of her kids in ways that are both tangible and creative and I am so grateful to be able to share her Valentine’s Day discipleship here!

Tomorrow is February 1st and I’m prepping these cute little mailboxes like it’s ValenMailboxChristmas Eve! ❤️💜❤️ For the past five years these mailboxes have made an appearance for the first 2 weeks of February. Inside each box every morning is a TREAT & a TREASURE. The treat is usually some junky stocking stuffer that I got on clearance after Christmas. The treat is what the kids anticipate and get excited about but it leads to the treasure. The treasure is a little note about God’s love. Some days it gives them an assignment based on a scripture (I took a picture of our treasures for the first 3 days so you would get an idea of what I’m talking about).

I don’t know about you but I am sick & tired of the way our culture defines love. In our society, love is whatever feels right. If it makes you happy, then it must be right. “Follow your heart.” IT’S ALL LIES. 

The Bible tells us that love is not “self seeking.” In other words, it’s not about you!! It’s about being humble, kind, patient… it’s about putting another person before yourself.

Parents have a responsibility to teach their kids that love is not always about a feeling, it’s a decision…. a decision to show love even when you don’t feel like it. Learning to love the way Jesus did starts in your home. We don’t have this concept mastered AT ALL, so every year we take 2 weeks and purposefully focus on what God wants love to look like. ❤️💜❤️

It’s not too late for you to snag this idea. Just do it for 7 days the week before ValenLetterValentine’s Day. It will be a fun surprise for your kids. Go to Target and get a little tin mailbox out of the dollar bins (I’m sure other stores carry them). Buy a couple prizes or get a bag of Hershey Kisses. I think the prizes are important. Kids speak the language of fun. If you just put a note in their mailbox, they won’t care one bit about it. Make it FUN! Below are SEVEN comments with generic devotions that you can just copy and paste into a Word document. Add your own kid’s name or your own thoughts and you’ve got a FUN way of teaching God’s word.

Day 1: The Bible says, “Let all that you do be done in LOVE.” That means every single thing you do should be done out of love, not because someone is making you do it. Think about that today and this afternoon I want to hear about one thing that you did out of love for someone else today!

Day 2: The Bible describes love as PATIENT. Yikes, that’s hard to be patient especially with the people we love the most. Think about it… Who is the hardest person in your life to be patient with? I’ll bet it’s someone in our family. Tonight I want you to tell me one way that you showed patience to someone in our family. I’m going to work on this too! I’m sorry for the times when I haven’t been patient with you and I’m going to ask God to help me do better!

ValenLettersDay 3: Romans 8:38 says “YOU ARE LOVED FOREVER!!” How awesome is it that God loves you forever and ever, no matter what you do! You could never do something so terrible that God would stop loving you! That’s how Dad and I feel too! We love you forever and ever. We don’t love you because of your grades or because of how well you do in sports. We love you because God created you to be a perfect part of our family! It was God’s plan for you to belong to us and nothing you could ever do would change our love for you! We thank God for the gift of YOU!

Day 4: 1 John 3:18 “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions.” That means we shouldn’t just SAY that we loves someone…. You have to SHOW them that you love them. You can’t say you love your brother/sister and then argue constantly, refuse to share, tattle and do everything possible to annoy him/her. That’s not LOVE. Your actions should show that you love him/her.
Today’s challenge is to do one undercover act of kindness for someone in our family.

Day 5 (Younger Kid Version): Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loves at all times.” Did you get that?? It says at ALL TIMES, not just when they feel like it. Think about your friends. Who is a good friend ALL THE TIME, not just when you do what they want you to do?
Here’s a clue: If a friend says, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore” every time they get upset. Then they aren’t a good friend. If someone ever says to you, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore if you don’t _______.” They are not a true friend. Don’t ever say those things to a friend. Friends don’t always have to agree with you or do what you want. Love your friends when they’re grumpy and keep loving your friends even when they want to play with someone else.
Pray this scripture: “Jesus, help me to be a friend that loves at all times.”

Day 5 (Older Kid Version): Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loves at all times.” Did you get that?? It says at ALL TIMES, not just when they feel like it. Think about your friends. Who is a good friend ALL THE TIME, not just when you do what they want you to do?
A true friend doesn’t ditch you when a different “cooler” friend shows up. Whenever you are around groups of friends (at school, in the dugout, hanging out at the gym waiting for your basketball game to start, at youth group), take a second and check what’s going on around you. Who is being left out? Who is not being included in the conversation? Is everyone goofing around except one person? Selfish people only think about themselves and how they are feeling and whether or not they are being included. God wants you to be an includer and that is VERY VERY hard, but God can help you do it. Ask God to give you wisdom. Ask God to help you include others. Ask God to help you think less about yourself. Pray this scripture: “Jesus help me to be a friend that loves at all times.”

Day 6: 1 Corinthians tell us that true LOVE doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. That means, when you love someone you shouldn’t keep track of all the things that person has done to annoy you or get you in trouble. Think about one of your siblings or one of your friends who has really made you mad or hurt your feelings. Have you forgiven them? You don’t have to talk to them about it because it might have been something from a long time ago. You can talk to God about it.
Pray this prayer: “Dear Jesus, please help me to forgive __________. Help me to not be mad at them or have hurt feelings because of what they did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Day 7: Romans 5:8 tell us that God show his love for us, while we were still sinners. That means, God doesn’t love us because we do good things. Of course, he likes it when we make the right choice but God loved you from the moment you were created. He loved you before you ever asked Jesus into your heart. God loved you before you even knew about Him! Believe it or not, God even loves people who do really terrible things. He loves people who are in jail. He loves people who do drugs. He loves people who go to church and people who don’t go to church. One of the ways that you can show God you love HIM is by loving all different kinds of people. You should love people who are poor, people who have a different color of skin than you do, people who have a family that is different from yours, people who dress different from you and even people who get in trouble at school. God loves them and you show God’s love by showing them kindness and patience.

BONUS: I think it would be a good one for you to use if you can remember a time when your family has gone through something hard: My favorite verse in the whole Bible is Zephaniah 3:17. It says, “The Lord is in your midst. He is mighty to save….He will quiet you with his love.” Have you ever been really, really sad about something. I know that I was super sad about leaving Pennsylvania. I cried and cried and couldn’t even drive home after our last Sunday morning there. But this verse kept popping into my head. I think it was God reminding me that everything would be okay because he loved me so much. He was quieting me or comforting me with his love. Whenever you are super upset, all you have to do is start thinking about how BIG God’s love for you is and it will help you settle down. There have been times when I’ve been sad and crying and I actually feel like God gives me a hug when I start talking to Him.
Think about something that brings you comfort. It might be your favorite blanket, or snuggling up in your bed, or eating your favorite snack. God’s love can bring you comfort just like those things do.


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About this Blog

EmbreeFam2017

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, 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. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed

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