Being from south Louisiana I’m wired for celebration. Serving in weekday preschool ministry for more than 15 years gave me many opportunities to set aside time and space for celebration: Red Day, Wacky Wednesday, Donuts with Dad, etc. Today is Farmer’s Day in my grandson’s preschool class. #flannelup
Families run smoothly in routine and ritual, so any time I can equip or add a sacred holiday into the memory bank, I’m ready to order confetti cannons in bulk.
Halloween and All Saints’ Day are connected. Celebrating Halloween is a personal, family preference. Becky Kiser in Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus reminds us that for many families, the season of Halloween is their jam. “The day is already set aside; it’s up to us to make it sacred – holy and set apart.” (p. 103). I’m not going to get into a quarrel to celebrate Halloween or not, but I will take advantage of the church’s celebration for All Saints Sunday.
Rev. Leanne Hadley offers a ritual of writing names on white hearts of those who now live in Heaven. I will extend that this All Saints Sunday with kids and families writing names on paper hearts.
Remembering those we love who now live with Jesus (names on white hearts of people, pets, whomever)
Convo starter: Who in our family is in Heaven? Share how he/she/they lived out their faith that resembles how mom/dad/grandparents model their own faith?
Remembering and being thankful for those who have taught us about Jesus when we were little kids (names on red hearts)
Convo starter: Tell about the people who have loved dad/mom/grandparents to Jesus before the kids were born and now.
Expressions of thankfulness for those who are teaching us about Jesus and helping us grow in our faith right now (names on green hearts)
Convo starter: Tell about who is teaching and loving your child to Jesus NOW.
RESPOND: Write a thank you note to someone mentioned in the conversations 2 and 3.
All Saints Day is a day we can celebrate those who have loved us and are loving us to Jesus well. Who are the saints in your life? Let’s respond with gratitude and tell some stories!
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” Psalm 107:2a
When I’m feeling pressed, oppressed, and compressed, I revert to my huge sense of curiosity and learn things. The learning curve for 2020 has taken a hard right turn. I’m learning new things every single day. Every. Single. Day. Yet in my role as the lead for ministry with children I must be learning things, sharpening my sword, in very specific areas; building on my skills and knowledge to equip not just me, but the saints who make up the church where God has called me to serve. I make it a matter of prayer and pray the Lord will lead me to keep learning….
to be a great teacher – Teaching in person is one thing. Teaching online is totally different. They both require skills to not just know the material. Only a great student can be a great teacher. I must learn how to present information which is engaging (music in the background is a distraction), sticky (sing it!), and transformational (keep the conversation and connections going in the relationships that matter most: kids/parents/grandparents/teachers). Show Them Jesus A Little Spot of…. series of books by Diane Alber| D6 Podcast Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast Lord, let me walk in a whole new level of effectiveness and be a great teacher.
to equip the saints – Once on staff, I can model processes and discipleship, but my ultimate daily goal is to equip the saints. I want to listen to how the Holy Spirit is speaking to, challenging, and convicting the saints of the church to live out their Jesus-following. My role is to resource (reading and learning how to be a Christian-empower-er), coach (provide processes for communication, implementation, measurement, and follow-up), and cheer them on to excellent experiences as they answer God’s call, challenge, and conviction; so much so that they want to do it again! Resilient by Valerie Bell Raising Boys and Girls Podcast The Lead Volunteers Podcast Lord, give me fresh traction under my feet to equip the saints who lead the littles.
Podcasts are helpful when I’m short on time to read a book from beginning to end. Podcasts are helpful to listen as I go throughout the day, on the drive, or walking the neighborhood. I listen at 1.50 speed. If I find an interview or conversation on a podcast particularly interesting, I then search that ‘teacher’ or ‘topic’ on YouTube. People are teaching on lots of platforms and it’s never been easier to search and learn from the best of the best.
How are you learning new things?
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.” 2 Timothy 3:14
Do you remember this fingerplay rhyme? This is the church. This is the steeple. Open the doors. And there’s all the people. Not anymore!
When Jesus invited the disciples to ‘follow me,’ He taught in the temple AND on the shore. Where are the people on the shore today? Google Insights reports that every month, more than 30,000 people search “church online.” (p. 12) This means that 30,000 people are searching for Christian connections online. The internet is not what people do, it’s where we live. And it lives in our hand.
I’d heard her several times on various podcasts and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a printed copy of her research, her suggestions, and her knowledge. I read this book in one day and it’s already so written in that I’m almost embarrassed to send it to my daughter in Oregon. We both have a heart and hunger to share Jesus with families wherever they are.
Mrs. Jones gives all the practical tips to move social media from being a billboard and Sunday-message-only to a place where discipleship and relationship grows. Though there are other social media platforms, Facebook is the best place with tools already in place to offer Christian education, Christian fellowship, and Christian pastoral care. Really!
Before you get all ‘There’s nothing good on Facebook’, “Right now three out of four Americans are on Facebook. If 75 percent of your community were located on one side of town, in one neighborhood, would you refuse to put a location there?” (p. 16) Relationships are the basis for discipleship. Our roles are to provide intentional opportunities for ‘building relationships and facilitating connections so discipleship can happen.’ (p. 25) Discipleship happens when a more mature, disciplined person walks alongside in robust learning and conversation with a less mature, less disciplined person to help them along their way based on Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 which begins, “Two are better than one….”
Online ministry to families is walking alongside the bigs with teaching and conversation so fully it overflows into their littles in everyday life. It overflows into their conversations, their prayers, their practices, their habits, their hopes, their dreams, and their laughter. Facebook groups offer the feedback loop that is crucial to sticky discipleship online. The author offers multiple suggestions to grow a church’s discipleship even within the livestream. Because I am ‘on’ during the livestream, I can’t do a thing about that, but I can do other things.
On a Saturday night I started a Facebook Group for grandparents to make sharing their faith a priority with their grandchildren. I have an event coming up, but decided to start the community beforehand. Tying it to our children’s ministry page, I invited a handful of folks I knew were grandparents. Following the tips provided within the book and multiple online conversations, that handful of grandparents had grown the group to 30 by Monday morning. I’ve never had a small group grow to 30 within two days of open registration. You? This is a new small group, they have begun the conversations, and the discipleship has begun. One week in and we are at a small group of an active 46.
More to think about… “People under age thirty-four make up 63% of Facebook users.” (p. 51) “Eight out of ten Americans actively use Facebook.” (p. 53) “People may leave other social platforms with new information, but not necessarily with new friendships.” (p. 57) “The Church is called to be more than a ‘house of content.’ We are called to be the light of the world.” (p. 55) “The reason so many pastors (and staff) limit their online churches to livestreaming is because we have forgotten what church is: people.” (p. 67) “Online church has the capacity to minister to people’s lives 168 hours per week. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year. Life transformation doesn’t happen by osmoses every Sunday, so why would we think it could happen that way online?” (p. 67) “Online church is real church because it’s filled with real people who need a real Savior.” Nona Jones, Social Media to Social Ministry, p. 33.
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19a
Another tropical storm system was traveling through. It was cold and wet and windy. Yet families came to Camp Chair Meetings. Two of the last three weekly outdoor gatherings were surrounded by rain and changing temperatures, yet families bundled their children and left their dry, warm homes to gather for thirty short minutes, in community, to read the word, toss some discussion questions in the air where children were full-on participants with the adults, prayed together and sang a benediction.
With the previous Sunday’s sermon as the jumping off point, families are gathering in small groups each Thursday evening to extend the message offered by our clergy team. Each Monday following the message, I am curating the sermon and other sensory elements onto a bitmoji classroom which we call the virtual parking lot for families to access on-demand. It sits on our social media pages and on the church website on the Children’s page.
Information to curate might include a Chuck Knows Church teaching on baptism if we had a baptism or John Wesley if the message is on Wesley’s Three Simple Rules. We’ll collect a couple of read-aloud children’s books related to the theme, a science experiment on the physical benefits of doing good, or a song with motions or the story of it’s making when our senior pastor ended a sermon singing I Have Decided To Follow Jesus. Linking all the references from YouTube videos already online to the virtual parking lot (bitmoji classroom) arranges the plethora of materials for what we find to be specifically relevant and developmentally appropriate for children of all ages and stages. Why children? Because I believe, “What’s good for kids is good for everybody.” (Mark Burrows)
The agenda or any text that is not available online is placed in a Google Sheet and linked within an image in the virtual parking lot for easy reference. In the agenda we place scripture reading, discussion questions, and any next steps we are offering for individuals or families to take the sermon message from the seat to their street.
With the sermon fresh on my mind on Monday, the Camp Chair Meeting virtual parking lot and agenda are prepared for Thursday, but published online on social media and the website for the in-person meeting on Monday afternoon, as well as available on-demand for anyone wanting to take it on the road, on vacation, or to the ball field to be shared at the tail-gate dinner before or after practice.
Two of the last three weeks we’ve been covered in rain and dipping temperatures, yet at least three families remain faithful to attend outdoors with their camp chairs under the entrance portico. Just found out that one family changed their Tae Kwon Do night to make Camp Chair Meetings a priority for their family for this season.
When I was a band mom, you would always find me in the stands every Friday night to support my son and his drum line. Rain, storm, freezing temps, melting heat or sunshine. The best part? There were plenty of others doing the very same thing! It’s what we did. It’s what we do. I will always do for even one what I would do for 100. It’s always about the ‘who’.
Each Thursday evening in September and October, families are gathering in small groups with camp chairs. Rain or shine. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” Psalm 139:2