May 17, 2019

What Do You Want Your Children to Say at Your Funeral?

I was reading Proverbs this week and a verse caught my attention.  It's this verse.

Proverbs 31:28 - “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."

I'm not trying to be morbid, but this verse reminds me that one day my children will be at my funeral.  What will they say about me?  What legacy will I leave for them?  What will those who know me best think about the life I lived?  

The children of the parent in Proverbs called her blessed.  Through her attitude and actions she made an indelible impression on her children and left a legacy that was praiseworthy.

What will your kids say about you?  That is up to you to live out and form now.  Here are a couple of things to remember.
An INHERITANCE is what you leave FOR your children.  A LEGACY is what you leave IN your children.
Here is another thing to consider. 
Your greatest accomplishment in life will not be something you do, but rather someone you raise.
Make a list of what you want your kids to say about you at your funeral.  Don't show them the list, but rather show them by your actions and attitude what is on the list.  And strive to live a life that will make your kids proud.  

 What will be on your list?

She lived a life of integrity?

He loved us unconditionally?

She was kind and helpful to those who needed it the most?

He walked in God's wisdom?

She loved Jesus and followed Him?

She was a person of prayer?

He was there for me when I went through a tough time?

She loved God's Word and spent time reading it each day?

He showed compassion and care for those in need?

She was a great parent? 

He was an awesome grandfather?

He put family before work?

She held me close and listened when I needed someone to be there for me?

He forgave those who hurt him?

She never turned her back on me?

He spoke words of encouragement into my life?

He served others rather than waiting for others to serve him?

She took me to church faithfully?

He gave me a hug when I needed it the most?

I heard someone say this...
Success is when those who know you best think the most of you.
Live today like you want to be remembered one day by your family.

May 16, 2019

Dragging Kids Away From God's Plan

The transgender agenda is accelerating across the country.  There is now an all out push by the LGBTQ forces to influence children toward transgenderism.  To drag them away from God's plan for people.

I have not only read about this, but have also ministered to families with transgender children and I can tell you the push is substantial. 

Here's an example. In Oregon, a school district is being sued after a teacher kept asking one of her 8-year-old students if he was a girl inside.  The teacher gave him videos on transgenderism to watch as well as instructional books.  The child's parents found out when their son brought home one of the books.  The teacher got the books from a friend who is transgender.

And in California, a complaint has been filed against a teacher who had multiple conversations with a boy in her class about his gender identity.  The parents were not informed about what was happening.  His mother said her son feels different now, he feels confused.  The California guidelines even encourage kindergartners to “think about whether they might identify with another gender."
And don't just roll your eyes and say, "That's just liberal California for you."  The transgender agenda will be coming to your school in the days ahead and Christ-followers must be prepared.

In British Columbia, a judge issued a gag order against the parents of a 14-year-old girl who identifies as a boy.  The judge did this because the child's parents were referring to her with female pronouns. And the child's father was found guilty of "family violence" for stopping the child from starting injecions of male hormones.  The judge even forbade the father from calling his daughter a girl. 

In Ohio last year, a judge awarded custody of a transgender student to her grandparents rather than her parents, because her parents didn't support her transition.

It gets worse.  20 states have now enacted "SOGI" laws.  "SOGI" laws make transgenderism protected like race or religion.  The ultimate agenda is to make disagreement with the transgender agenda a crime.

Recenty the Hasbro toy company in Brazil started advertising dolls for boys.  The "Baby Alive" dolls commercials show boys playing with the dolls.  On a side note, these dolls for boys are not the masculine "G.I. Joe" characters that many boys in previous generations played with.  Here's a short advertising video for it.

Closely tied to the transgender agenda is the drag scene.  Drag has historically been a part of subculture gay bars and nightclubs.  Something kids would not have been exposed to.

But that changed when VH1 aired a reality competition show called "RuPaul's Drag Race." The show features transgender people dressed in drag clothes.  The show has been awarded Emmy's and has over a million weekly viewers.  

Many of the children who now identify as transgender and indulge in transgender cross-dressing, were first exposed to the lifestyle through this television show. They were "dragged" away from the plans God has ordered for us.

A recent Instagram post showed a 10-year-old boy named "Lactatia" posing next to a naked man who was the most recent winner of "RuPaul's Drag Race."  It is to the point where children are being sexualized.  You might go as far as saying it is child pornography.

ABC's show "Good Morning America" even featured "Desmond is Amazing."  This 11-year-old transgender child is being used to help bring mainstream drag for children. Here is the interview on the ABC morning show.

Yes.  It is true.  Kids are being "dragged" away from God's plan for the next generation.
The innocence of children is being pulled away by deviant forces that seek to sexualize children. 
So what can we do as Christ-followers?

Balance truth with love.  If Jesus were here on the earth today, He would be in the same place He was so many years ago.  Right in the middle of people who needed Him.  He would be teaching the truth about transgenderism, but it would come from a heart full of compassion and concern.  Now is not the time stand in front of your school with a sign that condemns transgender people to hell.

Rather, now is the time to show the love of Christ and share the Gospel with those who support transgenderism.

Does this mean we shouldn't take a stand and work to pass legislation against this?  No, we must be the voice of truth in our society and work within our judicial systems to protect our children from transgenderism. But we must make sure our voice is filled with compassion rather than condemnation.

Equip parents to teach their children about God's plan for gender.  God created "male" and female." Not a mixture of the two.  Provide parents with resources that will help them guide their children according to the Word of God.

If you'd like to read more about this subject and how to respond, you can do so at these links. 

Gender X  

Transgender Toy for Kids

Transgender Children...A Christian Leader's Response

May 15, 2019

12 Safety and Security Measures You Should Tell Parents About

Safety and security has moved up to being one of the most important things a children's ministry must be about.  

We see and hear about shootings almost weekly.  They can happen anywhere and at any time.  Whereas years ago, no one would have dreamed there would be shootings and violent acts even at churches. 

In today's culture, if you want to see your children's ministry and church grow, then you must make safety and security a top priority.  Parents are very hesitant to place their children in an environment that doesn't look or feel safe. 

So let's play out a scenario.  A new family just walked through your doors.  They have a 3rd grader and a preschooler.  They are feeling a little jittery about leaving their children with strangers, even if it is a church.

As you greet them and start the check-in process, you can tell they are a little nervous about leaving their kids.  They obviously want to know they will be safe and secure in your care. 

So what should you say?  How are you going to reassure them their children are in safe hands?  Let's look at 12 things you can tell them.  

#1 -  We have a check-in and check-out system that keeps anyone else from picking up your children (I recommend using KidCheck for this).

#2 - Every volunteer has been through a background check, personal interview and training. 

#3 - No child is every alone with just one person.  There is always at least 2 people with them. 

#4 - We have a safety and security team that monitors the areas.

#5 - We have a police officer in our children's area to assist should anything arise. 

#6 - Only ladies change diapers. 

#7 - There are cameras in every area to help monitor what is happening. 

#8 - Once service starts, we lock down the children's areas. 

#9 - There is a window in each classroom so you can look inside at any time and see what is happening.

#10 - We have a lock down plan and evacuation plan.

#11 - Here is a pager.  We will page you if your child needs you. If your child starts crying, how long should we let him / her cry before we page you? 

#12 - Bathroom policy. If your child has to go to the bathroom, we will check the bathroom to make sure it is clear. We will then stand outside the door and wait for your child to finish.

When I say let new families know about these things, you obviously won't have the time to share in detail about all 12 safety measures.  Pick out 3-4 to share with new families as you are checking them in and walking them to the classroom  What should the 3-4 be?  That's something you and your team will have to figure out based on what your greatest needs are. 

Personally, I recommend sharing #1, #2, #3 and #8 for sure.  The remaining safety measures can be shared at your discretion.  Just remember if you verbally try to tell the family all 12 safety measures, they will only remember a few anyways.  One thing you can do is put them all in writing on a small card and place it with the guest's materials that you hand them or mail to them the following week.

Again, I want to emphasize how important it is to do this.  The safety of their children is one of the deciding factors that determines if a guest family returns. 

Remember, your goal is to make guests feel as comfortable as possible.  It's hard to focus on the message that is being shared if you are worrying about the safety of your child the entire time.  

Your turn, what else do you share about safety and security with guest families?  Did I leave anything out that you feel is important?  Share your thoughts, ideas and insight in the comment section below.

May 14, 2019

How to Transition Children from Elementary Ministry to Student Ministry

It's the time of year where lots of graduations take place. I was reminded of this last week when I was at my niece's graduation at Samford University in Birmingham.

On of the most critical graduations that happens in children's ministry is the transition from children's ministry into student ministry.

One reason it is so critical is because you can lose kids during this transition if you are not intentional in your approach.
Whether you transition at the beginning or ending of summer, I want to give you some tips on how to make the transition smooth and meaningful.

Start early.  By this, I mean start blending children's ministry and student ministry 3-4 months before the graduation day.  Here are some ideas for this.
  • Invite student ministry to teach and lead in children's ministry several times before the graduation. 
  • Invite student ministry to lead worship several times before graduation.
  • Have some open houses for student ministry so parents can come and see where their children will be taught, mentored, serve, ask questions, etc.
Partner with parents.  The transition into student ministry is one of the hardest on parents.  Their baby is growing up.  What parenting skills do they need for this new phase?  What can you do to show them everything will be just fine?  How can you come alongside parents during this transition? 

Involve student ministry.  Often children's ministry and student ministry operate in silos.  This cannot be one of those times.  As mentioned above, be very intentional about bringing student ministry leaders into the mix. Blend the two into a seamless passageway from children's ministry into student ministry.   

Have a graduation ceremony.  Part of having a strategic plan for the transition is having a graduation ceremony for the kids.  This should be a big, big deal.  The ceremony should be for the kids and their parents.  Some ideas for this that can make it extremely successful are...
  • Make it an event that all graduating children and their parents attend together.  This should not be a drop-off event. 
  • Have children and student ministry leaders co-teach/lead this ceremony.
  • Student ministry leaders can use this as a key time to talk about the ministry and how it helps kids continue to grow in their faith.
  • Have a certificate and small gift for each child who is transitioning into student ministry.
I have developed a kit for graduation transition that includes...
  • graduation ceremony templates
  • order of service for the graduation celebration
  • teaching outlines 
  • presentation slides
  • teaching activities and games that kids and parents experience together
  • music and much more.   

You can get this kit now as an instant download.  And you can see more about the Graduation Celebration at this link.  

Be ready for some tears during the celebration.  There are some key moments when parents bless and pray over their children.  Here are some real examples of this happening.  Kids and parents will never forget these. 

I can't emphasize enough how important this time is.  It is one of the few times when parents come to you and ask for help.  What a great opportunity you have to speak into their lives.  Don't miss this incredible opportunity to impact kids and their parents.

Have a student ministry reception.  Have an open house where you invite parents and kids to come and meet key student ministry leaders (student leaders and adult leaders).  Provide snacks and drinks for this.  Many churches will have this as part of the graduation celebration. 

Be patient with parents who are freaking out. This is one of the times parents who are hanging onto their child's elementary years will come to you with concerns, questions, etc.  Listen to them.  Hand them a tissue to wipe the tears away.  Assure them there are amazing leaders in your student ministry that are going to welcome and invest in their child.  Have some student leaders at the graduation celebration to meet the parents and spend some time talking with them and their children.

Keep them connected to children's ministry.  You will have graduating kids who want to stay connected to children's ministry in some way.  Have age-appropriate service opportunities for them.  This can be things like helping run sound and screen for kids' services.  It might be serving as an assistant in a classroom with an adult leader.  It might be greeting kids and families as they enter the children's areas.
Three key things about this.

#1 - They must be connected to student ministry before they can serve in children's ministry.  You will usually have a few kids who are having a hard time connecting to student ministry.  They will want to serve in children's ministry so they don't have to attend student ministry.  Don't allow this to happen.  Make it a requirement that students who serve in children's ministry must be connected to student ministry.  They must attend student ministry services, Bible studies, events, etc.

#2 - Match responsibility with maturity.  Students, especially middle school students, can still be immature and can cause more drama than they do serving help.  Students have different levels of maturity.  Let that guide how much responsibility you give them.

#3 - Provide them with clear expectations and specifics about what they will be doing.  Have this in writing and go over with them.  You can even take it to the next level by going over the guidelines and then have the student sign it.  And you can invite their parents to be present with you as well when you meet for this discussion.  This allows you to have more accountability with the student. 

What a privilege we have to invest in the lives of kids and their families during this time.  I pray God will use you and your team to help kids and families stay connected during this critical time in their life.