Back-to-School Blessing for Volunteers, Parents, and Kids

In many places around the country, schools are gearing up to re-start sometime in the next month. For churches that often means a re-boot as well as they move from summer mode into fall programming and the start of a new academic year. With that can come a whole range of “new” things!  Kids promote to the next class, new volunteers come on to serve or they begin serving in a new capacity, and parents begin to navigate  new experiences with new teachers, new schools, and new grade levels for their kids.

education-908512_1920A few years ago, the church I worked at was able to hold a time of commissioning and blessing over these groups as the new school year kicked off and we began to embrace all of these “new” things.  The entire time of blessing takes about 5 minutes and can be a way for your whole church to come together and let the kids, parents, and volunteers know that they are being held up and prayer and sent out as God’s lights of love as the academic year begins.

Feel free to adapt this script to your own church’s service and needs, and blessings to all as we encounter all the “new” things!


An All-Church Blessing for Parents, Children and Volunteers

Purpose – To recognize kids who are promoting to new classes/small groups, to pray over kids, parents and volunteers at the start of a new academic year

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister – We are excited to be able to celebrate with you the growth of our kids and families this year and recognize them as they promote to new classes and small groups within this ministry and some to youth group. But before we bring up the kids, can I ask all of our ministry volunteers to please stand and make their way to the center aisle?

(as volunteers are moving)

It is a blessing to serve with this group of people. The love they show our kids and the grace with which they serve is a testimony of the love of Christ in their lives and to the children. So, I’d like to not only say thank you, but briefly pray for you as you serve this upcoming year! Church, will you join me?

(PRAYER – Lord be with and bless these who serve. In their service, give the strength and by your Spirit give them grace. May the love they give be retuned to them in greater numbers and may your joy fill their hearts)

Volunteers if you will please line each side of the center aisle and get your high five hands ready, we will bring in our kids!!

(If you have some fun music, you could use this here. This is based on our structure with small groups. It can be adapted to fit whatever age groups, classes, or sections a church has for their programs. It can also be done as one large group which will reduce the amount of time needed for this commissioning and blessing.)

Joining us for the very first time as they are just starting school, we give you our preschoolers!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Moving up into the elementary room, we are excited to recognize our new Kindergarten/First Grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Not too far ahead of them, we want to recognize our “middle kids” our 2nd/3rd grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

And finally, our oldest group, and probably the most excited, our 4th/5th grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Last, we’d like to recognize our 6th graders who will be moving up to join the youth group this year!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

AT THIS POINT, ALL THE KIDS WILL BE UP FRONT AND THE VOLUNTEERS WILL RETURN TO THEIR SEATS

Pastor or Worship Leader: Church, we are so blessed to have this group of children to welcome into worship and help their parents disciple in the faith. At baptism (or dedication, depending on the church), we commit to helping our kids grow in Christ and today we would like to re-affirm that commitment to them in their presence so that they can hear and know that we are here for them.

(At this time, we read our church’s Congregational Charge read at baptism. More than likely, each church has a similar reading for baptism or dedication. This is a great time to remind the congregation of the commitment they have made to walk with these families and children and a wonderful chance for the children to actually hear the words being said since they are too young to comprehend it the first time is said.)

Pastor – Lord, we thank you for the gift of these children and youth. May we be faithful to serve them and may they walk in your love. Be with this as they go into this new school year and give them the grace they need to learn and grow.

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister– If you are a parent/caregiver of one of the children here, will you please stand where you are? Kids, these people love you more than you could possibly know and they want you to grow in faith and in love. Will you help me to pray for them like we did for you?

DISMISS KIDS TO PARENTS

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister (as kids are going) – Parents we know that the work you do is difficult and while the days are long, the years are short. Please hear this blessing as a prayer for you as you serve God as the faith formers in your home.

“May you love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. May His commandments always be upon your hearts, so that you can impress them on your children. May God give you grace to talk about these things continually, when you’re at home, or on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. When your strength fails, may you walk in His. When you are weary, may His arms carry you. And when the day is done, may you hear His voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

This post was originally shared on ReFocus Ministry 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 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. 

It’s Time to Go Back (to School, that is)

We are starting back to school tomorrow and we are not alone!  In many places around the country, schools are gearing up to re-start sometime in the next month. For churches that often means a re-boot as well as they move from summer mode into fall programming and the start of a new academic year. With that can come a whole range of “new” things!  Kids promote to the next class, new volunteers come on to serve or they begin serving in a new capacity, and parents begin to navigate  new experiences with new teachers, new schools, and new grade levels for their kids.

education-908512_1920At the church I last served in, I was able to put together a time of commissioning and blessing over these groups as the new school year kicked off.  The entire time of blessing takes about 5 minutes and can be a way for your whole church to come together and let the kids, parents, and volunteers know that they are being held up and prayer and sent out as God’s lights of love as the academic year begins.

Feel free to adapt this script to your own church’s service and needs, and blessings to all as we encounter all the “new” things!


An All-Church Blessing for Parents, Children and Volunteers

Purpose – To recognize kids who are promoting to new classes/small groups, to pray over kids, parents and volunteers at the start of a new academic year

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister – We are excited to be able to celebrate with you the growth of our kids and families this year and recognize them as they promote to new classes and small groups within this ministry and some to youth group. But before we bring up the kids, can I ask all of our ministry volunteers to please stand and make their way to the center aisle?

(as volunteers are moving)

It is a blessing to serve with this group of people. The love they show our kids and the grace with which they serve is a testimony of the love of Christ in their lives and to the children. So, I’d like to not only say thank you, but briefly pray for you as you serve this upcoming year! Church, will you join me?

(PRAYER – Lord be with and bless these who serve. In their service, give the strength and by your Spirit give them grace. May the love they give be retuned to them in greater numbers and may your joy fill their hearts)

Volunteers if you will please line each side of the center aisle and get your high five hands ready, we will bring in our kids!!

(If you have some fun music, you could use this here. This is based on our structure with small groups. It can be adapted to fit whatever age groups, classes, or sections a church has for their programs. It can also be done as one large group which will reduce the amount of time needed for this commissioning and blessing.)

Joining us for the very first time as they are just starting school, we give you our preschoolers!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Moving up into the elementary room, we are excited to recognize our new Kindergarten/First Grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Not too far ahead of them, we want to recognize our “middle kids” our 2nd/3rd grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

And finally, our oldest group, and probably the most excited, our 4th/5th grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Last, we’d like to recognize our 6th graders who will be moving up to join the youth group this year!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

AT THIS POINT, ALL THE KIDS WILL BE UP FRONT AND THE VOLUNTEERS WILL RETURN TO THEIR SEATS

Pastor or Worship Leader: Church, we are so blessed to have this group of children to welcome into worship and help their parents disciple in the faith. At baptism (or dedication, depending on the church), we commit to helping our kids grow in Christ and today we would like to re-affirm that commitment to them in their presence so that they can hear and know that we are here for them.

(At this time, we read our church’s Congregational Charge read at baptism. More than likely, each church has a similar reading for baptism or dedication. This is a great time to remind the congregation of the commitment they have made to walk with these families and children and a wonderful chance for the children to actually hear the words being said since they are too young to comprehend it the first time is said.)

Pastor – Lord, we thank you for the gift of these children and youth. May we be faithful to serve them and may they walk in your love. Be with this as they go into this new school year and give them the grace they need to learn and grow.

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister– If you are a parent/caregiver of one of the children here, will you please stand where you are? Kids, these people love you more than you could possibly know and they want you to grow in faith and in love. Will you help me to pray for them like we did for you?

DISMISS KIDS TO PARENTS

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister (as kids are going) – Parents we know that the work you do is difficult and while the days are long, the years are short. Please hear this blessing as a prayer for you as you serve God as the faith formers in your home.

“May you love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. May His commandments always be upon your hearts, so that you can impress them on your children. May God give you grace to talk about these things continually, when you’re at home, or on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. When your strength fails, may you walk in His. When you are weary, may His arms carry you. And when the day is done, may you hear His voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


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

family

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 and  Seedbed

Let’s Make 2017 Mean Something

Our country is starving for kindness.

We are desperate for joy.

We are longing for peace.

This year a video of a woman putting on a Chewbacca mask and laughing hysterically went viral on social media within moments of being posted. All she was doing was laughing. We are desperate for Joy. 

This year, every major news outlet shared the story of a woman who accidentally texted a lonely teenager about Thanksgiving dinner and ended up inviting him into their home to share that holiday. We are starving for kindness.

This year, a video of a black man and a white police officer embracing and praying for peace together was viewed 1.5 million times within the first 24 hours and was shared across the world in that same time. We are longing for peace.

Our children are being raised in a time where feeding someone dinner is worthy of a national headline. Where two people praying together gets worldwide attention. Where a woman genuinely laughing is a novelty so unusual it leads to a global conversation.

 
As we come upon this new year, many of us are making resolutions, setting goals, and planning for the future. I have plenty of those I could make. We all do.

But what are all those things without kindness, joy, and peace?  If we reach every goal, but don’t experience joy, what legacy are we leaving?  If we achieve every resolution, but don’t know what it is to have peace, what have we really achieved?  And if things actually go as planned (which we all know is a rare exception) but kindness is a afterthought, what has really been gained?

What if we gain the whole world…but lose our soul? (Mark 8:36)

sunrise-1756274_1920

Our kids need us to make these things; kindness, joy and peace, a priority.

Our resolutions need to be to show them the things that are missing in this world. 

Resolve to show kindness.

Actually plan for it. Find a tangible way to be kind. Write it in our planners. Put in on our calendars. Show that kindness is a normal practice in the lives of a believer.

Celebrate with great Joy!

Not just on holidays, but in the everyday. Take the opportunity to laugh if it is offered. Stop for a second and look for joy around you. Capture it with your children and celebrate it together. Resolve to look up and out more often for the things that bring joy and share that with those around you, especially the children.

Pursue Peace.

Go after it with intensity. Seek reconciliation. “Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14). There is so much hurt in our country and in our world. There are so many opportunity we have to pursue peace. Perhaps it is reaching out to a disenfranchised people group. Perhaps it is bringing cookies to your neighbor. Whatever it is, pursue it. And invite your children into it with you.

These things; kindness, joy, peace, they all have something in common. They are listed among the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

So, ultimately, our goal for 2017 is really to bear more fruit. And the only way to do that is to abide in Christ (John 15:5). We can’t abide in politics or legislation or social justice and bear more of this fruit. We cannot abide in sports or clubs or hobbies and bear more of this fruit. We can’t even abide in church or ministry or parenting and bear this fruit. We can be fully present in all these places but we should be abiding in Christ.

We can offer our children, our world, the things that make their hearts feel again. The things that go viral. The things we are desperately longing for, starving for.

I want to try. This year I want to resolve to show kindness, to celebrate with great joy, and to seek peace and pursue it. I want to leave a legacy for my kids that is full of hope, anticipation, and expectation for the future. Don’t we all want that?

Abide. Bear fruit. Be kind. Be joyful. Pursue peace. 

Five resolutions that could literally change the world.

Happy New Year, friends. Let’s make 2017 mean something.


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

family

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. 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 and  Seedbed

Christmas Love Letters from God: Journey Through Advent to Ephiphany

Around this time of year, parents begin asking me for thoughts on what they can do for Advent with their kids. In the past, I’ve shared ideas for some fun things such as the Christmas Song Scavenger Hunt (We love to do this at a mall during the holiday season and challenge another family to see if they can beat us at finding all the items) and some discipleship-focused things such as celebrating Jesus at Christmas in the everyday.

christmas-love-letters-coverThis year I’m excited to suggest a great book, written by Glenys Nellist, called Christmas Love Letters from God as a way that your family could journey through Advent and into Epiphany together.

You may recall that a while back I reviewed Glenys’ book Little Love Letters from God. I love her books because they do something many children’s Bible stories fail to do – they put children right in the middle of The Story. For those who have read my blog before, you know I really believe that the stories of the Bible find their greatest impact when they are told in the context of the larger story, the metanarrative of Scripture (read more about that here).

Why? Because understanding that these moments and events don’t stand alone but are part of a bigger picture gives them meaning and let’s us know that our story has a place in that bigger picture too.

In Christmas Love Letters from God, Glenys has done the same thing again by taking the familiar and beloved stories from Christmas and including at the end of each one, a personalized “love letter” to your child(ren) from God.

They get to read things like, “I’m so glad Joseph said yes to me…Never be afraid to say yes to me. When you hear those quiet whispers in your heart….remember that just like I helped Joseph, I will help you too” and “I gave my Son, Jesus, to Mary and it made me feel wonderful…because…Jesus wasn’t just for her. Jesus was my gift to the whole world and that includes you.”  And the letters always end with “With Love, God.”

My son loves reading these books and hearing God’s letters that are written to him. And he loves entering into the story in a very real and tangible way.

But what I love the best about this particular book is that the chapters line up perfectly with the Sundays of Advent and take us right up through Epiphany.

If you were to take one chapter each Sunday of Advent, Christmas Day, the two following Sundays which gets you to Epiphany, you will have journeyed together with love letters from God through this very special time of year.

  • Sunday, November 27 – Start with Isaiah’s Good News and hear about the Light that is coming into the world.
  • Sunday, December 4 – Join Mary’s Song of thanksgiving and think of how we sing Christmas carols of joy today.
  • Sunday, December 11 – Read about Joseph’s Dream and the plan God had for Joseph to be Jesus’ daddy and the plans He has for us.
  • Sunday, December 18 – As Mary and Joseph travel  Bethlehem’s Road, remember together it was God who was leading them all the way.
  • Sunday, December 25 – Celebrate together on Christmas morning the Jesus Joy of our Savior’s birth, the perfect gift, our very best present.
  • Sunday, January 1 – Consider that the story doesn’t end but invite your children to join the Shepherd’s Surprise that God had chosen to tell them great things, just like He does for us.
  • Sunday, January 8 – As you finish the season, with the story of the Wise Men’s Wonder, you’ll get to remind your children that the greatest gift they can give to Jesus is their heart. What a wonderful way to start the new year together!

Not only is this book engaging and grounded in Scriptures, it is also beautifully illustrated – one you will bring out every Christmas even once your children are grown. I am so excited to start reading this with my own family (Caleb has already had a sneak peek or two…He’s pretty excited) throughout the entire Advent and Epiphany Season.

Interested in getting a copy for yourself or your church?

author-photoThe author, Glenys, and Zonderkidz are offering a free copy of Christmas Love Letters from God. To be eligible to enter, you must live in the US and have a street address (no PO boxes).  To be entered in our drawing, follow this link and scroll to the form at the bottom of the page. In the comment section please write “Little Love Letters” and make sure we have a way to contact you for mailing information.

Winner will be chosen on Sunday, November 13, 2016.

The book is also available for purchase through Zondervan or Amazon (as well as a number other retailers). To hear more about the book, check out these videos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjKR8EQZIMo and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E-W_cxXzlI


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.

Back-to-School Blessing for Volunteers, Parents, and Kids

In many places around the country, schools are gearing up to re-start sometime in the next month. For churches that often means a re-boot as well as they move from summer mode into fall programming and the start of a new academic year. With that can come a whole range of “new” things!  Kids promote to the next class, new volunteers come on to serve or they begin serving in a new capacity, and parents begin to navigate  new experiences with new teachers, new schools, and new grade levels for their kids.

education-908512_1920Last year, our church was able to hold a time of commissioning and blessing over these groups as the new school year kicked off and we began to embrace all of these “new” things.  The entire time of blessing takes about 5 minutes and can be a way for your whole church to come together and let the kids, parents, and volunteers know that they are being held up and prayer and sent out as God’s lights of love as the academic year begins.

Feel free to adapt this script to your own church’s service and needs, and blessings to all as we encounter all the “new” things!


An All-Church Blessing for Parents, Children and Volunteers

Purpose – To recognize kids who are promoting to new classes/small groups, to pray over kids, parents and volunteers at the start of a new academic year

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister – We are excited to be able to celebrate with you the growth of our kids and families this year and recognize them as they promote to new classes and small groups within this ministry and some to youth group. But before we bring up the kids, can I ask all of our ministry volunteers to please stand and make their way to the center aisle?

(as volunteers are moving)

It is a blessing to serve with this group of people. The love they show our kids and the grace with which they serve is a testimony of the love of Christ in their lives and to the children. So, I’d like to not only say thank you, but briefly pray for you as you serve this upcoming year! Church, will you join me?

(PRAYER – Lord be with and bless these who serve. In their service, give the strength and by your Spirit give them grace. May the love they give be retuned to them in greater numbers and may your joy fill their hearts)

Volunteers if you will please line each side of the center aisle and get your high five hands ready, we will bring in our kids!!

(If you have some fun music, you could use this here. This is based on our structure with small groups. It can be adapted to fit whatever age groups, classes, or sections a church has for their programs. It can also be done as one large group which will reduce the amount of time needed for this commissioning and blessing.)

Joining us for the very first time as they are just starting school, we give you our preschoolers!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Moving up into the elementary room, we are excited to recognize our new Kindergarten/First Grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Not too far ahead of them, we want to recognize our “middle kids” our 2nd/3rd grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

And finally, our oldest group, and probably the most excited, our 4th/5th grade small group!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

Last, we’d like to recognize our 6th graders who will be moving up to join the youth group this year!

(children will “run” through the volunteers to the front)

AT THIS POINT, ALL THE KIDS WILL BE UP FRONT AND THE VOLUNTEERS WILL RETURN TO THEIR SEATS

Pastor or Worship Leader: Church, we are so blessed to have this group of children to welcome into worship and help their parents disciple in the faith. At baptism (or dedication, depending on the church), we commit to helping our kids grow in Christ and today we would like to re-affirm that commitment to them in their presence so that they can hear and know that we are here for them.

(At this time, we read our church’s Congregational Charge read at baptism. More than likely, each church has a similar reading for baptism or dedication. This is a great time to remind the congregation of the commitment they have made to walk with these families and children and a wonderful chance for the children to actually hear the words being said since they are too young to comprehend it the first time is said.)

Pastor – Lord, we thank you for the gift of these children and youth. May we be faithful to serve them and may they walk in your love. Be with this as they go into this new school year and give them the grace they need to learn and grow.

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister– If you are a parent/caregiver of one of the children here, will you please stand where you are? Kids, these people love you more than you could possibly know and they want you to grow in faith and in love. Will you help me to pray for them like we did for you?

DISMISS KIDS TO PARENTS

Children’s Pastor/Family Minister (as kids are going) – Parents we know that the work you do is difficult and while the days are long, the years are short. Please hear this blessing as a prayer for you as you serve God as the faith formers in your home.

“May you love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. May His commandments always be upon your hearts, so that you can impress them on your children. May God give you grace to talk about these things continually, when you’re at home, or on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. When your strength fails, may you walk in His. When you are weary, may His arms carry you. And when the day is done, may you hear His voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


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

5 Ministry Areas for Growth in 2015

icerinkImagine that the floor in your house is an ice rink.  The furniture is held in place because it is frozen into the ice.  You’ve had some friends tell you that your life would be more efficient and more functional if you moved a few pieces around but it takes a lot of work to move things, even a little bit.  But then you hear of a warming trend headed your way.  For a few brief moments, the ice will melt and even though it will be messy, it will allow for you to move things to new places much more easily than before.  However, you know you have a short window before things start to freeze again so you strategically plan your moves, make the most of the opportunity, and wade through the mess to bring about change.

This is not my story or my analogy.  I “borrowed” it from Dr. Marilyn Elliot, Vice President of Community Formation for Asbury Theological Seminary.  She shared this story with a group of incoming students and families that I happened to be a part of in what is famously known on campus as the “transition talk.”  She compared times of transition to the experience above saying that even though things are messy, transition provides us the opportunity to make changes to our life and our routine that are often hard to change in “normal” life.

With the dawning of the New Year, the ground in our lives is a little less “frozen.”  The atmosphere of celebrating new beginnings, reevaluating present actions, and leaving behind past mistakes allows us to move things around a bit in our own lives, our families and our ministries.

Below are 5 family ministry areas that can be encouraged as we look at how to grow our homes and ministries throughout the next year.

1.  Intentional Modeling – All the good intentions in the world cannot take the place of real-life action. We need to seek to see God in the everyday and talk about it with our kids, our volunteers, our church families, and our community so that they too will have the opportunity to do the same.  If we are encouraging someone to do something with their kids or spouse or ministry,we want to make sure we are actively doing the same, with intention and purpose.mustard-seed

2. Faith Focus – I’ve always been amazed how God will take our mustard seed of faith and grow it to one that can move mountains when we place our trust in Him.  We can walk in that kind of faith as we approach growing our family ministry at church and discipling kids at home; faith that says, “I’m not sure how this is going to work God, but I’m putting my trust in You and moving forward.”

3. Failing Forward – I hate failing. It bothers me; I don’t like it.  But I know that I do it and when I do, I have the choice to let it drag me down or push me forward.  This year we can let our failures be springboards forward, lessons we learn that lead us closer to God and His call on our lives rather than weights that pull us down.  And we can celebrate with others when they do the same by extending grace and mercy and cheering them on as they learn.

4. Baby Steps – Lots of times the reason I fail is because I try to run before I walk.  Transition and change are not things that can be rushed.  Praying and planning are important parts of the process.  Whether it be the weekend away with Mom I’m planning with my oldest daughter or the parent seminars I’m starting at church; each change needs to be approached with care and prayer and baby steps of change.

5. Sincere Celebration – Over the past year, I have become acutely aware of the power of celebration in our lives.  The joy in the eyes of others when you stop to celebrate their good grade, their act of kindness, their new tooth, their achieved goal is surprising. I believe we need celebration just like we need love. Studies show that living a life of celebration and gratitude leads to longer lives, better sleep, greater health and stronger relationships.  We need to stop in the middle of our busy lives and recognize the goodness around us.  God is in the good, in the light, in the joy and we need more of it!

What about you?

What needs moved around in your life or your family or your ministry?  Is this the year you start moving towards more intentional discipleship focus at home?  Perhaps you’ve been toying around with the idea of small groups or wanting to start a kids bible study?  Maybe intergenerational worship is your heart or parent ministry or family devotions?  Whatever it is that God has been showing you might need to “move” around, the New Year might provide just the right thaw to get things going.

I’d love to hear where God is taking you in 2015 and look forward to journeying with you.

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What’s Your Resolution Flavor?

resolutionsResolution.  Popular word at this time of year.  People are resolving all kinds of things.  To eat healthier, lose weight, and exercise more.  To spend more time with family, less time on social media, and more time outside.  To talk to faraway friends, visit faraway lands, and meet faraway goals.  To get closer to God, be more intentional in parenting, and more involved at church.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions.  I’m all for setting goals but let’s be honest, whenever anyone declares a New Year’s resolution, don’t we almost tongue-in-cheek assume that within a short amount of time, they are going to “break it?”  We joke about how soon the diet will be left behind, the exercise reduced to minimal effort, and the time with family stolen by “other things.”  There’s almost an assumption that these resolutions can and will be broken at some point and it’s expected that failure is the norm.. and it’s okay.

So, yeah, not a huge fan of teaching that ideal to our kids and supporting that in each other.

But resolution has many more flavors than just resolving to do something.

 For instance, one definition of resolution is “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem”  We have some problems in the American church.  We are losing generations.  We are divided by race and denomination.  We are divided within our churches by age and worship preferences.

What if this year our resolution looked a little different?  What if it was breaking down of some walls and reaching across boundaries to create solutions and finding answers?  How can we “seek peace and pursue it” within our own walls with our family, our church body, and our community?

But resolution has more flavors that that.  Another definition (and honestly my favorite one) is “the ability to show an image windingroadclearly and with a lot of detail.”  As life takes it down its curvy road, it can be easy for us to lose clarity.  Things cloud our vision.  Hurts, worries, distractions, confusion – all of these things can blur our view and distort truth.  We need clarity.  We need resolution.

Perhaps as you look at your life you can see places where you just don’t know which direction to go, which path to walk, which road to travel.  You know that changes need to happen but you are so far from making a real New Year’s resolution because before you can resolve you need resolution in the form of clarity, vision, and purpose.

One of my favorite Scriptures is found in James where he writes, “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.”  Then later on James tells us about that wisdom is “first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Resolution – clarity, wisdom, the end of conflict, the sowing of peace, the harvest of righteousness.  And the final definition, resolution; the answer or solution to something.

If you are a minister helping to transition your church to a family-focused ministry, you will need resolution to meet the various needs you will find as you move forward.  Establishing a ministry that equips and resources parents for discipleship in the home will require answers and solutions and therefore resolution.  If you are a parent looking to be more intentional at faith formation within your home, you will find that often you will need resolution to questions asked by your children and dumped in your lap by life.

But this kind of resolution, the kind that answers questions and solves problems, the kind that provides clarity and is dependent on wisdom from above, the kind that ends conflict and pursues peace, is not easily broken.  This kind of resolution has long-lasting, far-reaching effects that changes landscapes, environments and communities for generations.  It changes hearts and homes for eternity.

So if New Year’s resolutions are something that you do, why not choose one of the kinds that can’t be broken by January 31.  As for me and my house, we resolve to serve the Lord… in His wisdom, with clarity and peace by His grace.  Happy New Year!