Aug 14, 2018

Why Fathers Have More Influence in a Daughter's Life


We know the biggest influence in a child's life is his or her parents.  And to truly influence kids, we must influence their parents.

Let's get more specific.  While there is a special bond between mothers and their daughters, recent studies show that fathers are the greatest influence in their daughter's lives.

Fathers who are emotionally involved and present in their daughter's life, are essential for proper emotional development. 

Daughters, who have great relationships with their fathers are....
  • At a lower risk of developing depression and anxiety. 
  • Become better at handling stress. 
  • Are more comfortable talking about their emotions.
Fathers also shape their daughter's view of values and self-image.  He helps her create a positive self-image and self-confidence.

Studies also show that fathers play a huge role in their daughter's physical and financial health.

Let's look at some ways we can help fathers leverage their influence in their daughter's life.

Connect with the men's ministry in your church.  Perhaps it's going to one of their events and sharing a short talk with them about the importance of fathers in the life of their daughters.

Ask your pastor to do a sermon about the influence fathers have.

Do a father/daughter event like a dance, banquet, etc.

Do something special for fathers and daughters on Father's Day. 

Celebrate the dads who are stepping into their role and making a difference.  Create a video to highlight a father who is doing this.

We often talk about the damage it does when a boy has no father figure in his life.  It's true, but I would say, it affects daughters just as much.

Let's encourage fathers to step up to the role God has from them in their daughter's life.

Your turn.  How are you helping fathers understand and live out the influence they have in their daughter's life?  What are some events or programs you use to help do this?  Share with us in the comment section below.

Aug 13, 2018

Do Kids Really Need to Go to Church?

Here's a common scenario.  Single young adults head off to college and drop out of church for various reasons. 

They meet someone, get married and have their first child. 

The weighty responsibility of having a baby causes them to go back to church.  They want their child to grow up to be a good person and taking the child to church is seen as a great way to help with this.

But there is also another scenario that is playing out more and more often.  And that's this - parents opt out of church and look for other ways to teach their children various life lessons.  

This is becoming more frequent.  Worldwide, the total number of people who are nones (claim no religion), is increasing.  The number of people who claim no religious affiliation is expected to rise from 1.17 billion to 1.20 billion by 2060.  In the U.S., about 25% of people are nones.  This is up from 16% in 2007.  

Though more and more people are claiming no religion, young couples are still drawn to church on behalf of their kids.  Even in cases where the parents are nones, deep inside they feel an obligation to take their young children to church.  Church is seen as a place that can help instill core teachings so their children can become productive members of society.

But do kids really need to go to church?  Does it really have a lasting effect on their lives?  The answer is YES.  A big, big YES.  Besides the obvious spiritual benefits, attending church has great benefits for kids as they grown up. 
  • less drug, alcohol and tobacco use
  • lower rates of depression and suicide
  • better sleep quality
  • greater hopefulness
  • better life satisfaction
But...there is a clause that parents must keep in mind.  Though many children are attending church, it is inconsistent and sporadic. Look at this.
Inconsistent religiousness seems to bring little to no benefit at all: religion is not especially helpful for the roughly 53% of US adolescents whose faith is sporadic or poorly integrated.”   -Annette Mahoney, professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University.
Sporadic...poorly integrated...sound familiar?  In recent years, we have seen families attending church less frequently.  In many cases, they show up once a month.  Twice a month is considered the new "faithful." 

This means a big percentage of children who attend church, are only establishing a weak, shallow faith due to infrequent attendance.  In other words, it's hard to build a solid spiritual foundation in kids' lives, when they are missing 50-75% of the lessons.

And yes, parents are the biggest influence in their child's spiritual life.  But a parent who is only bringing their child to church once or twice a month, is probably following that same pattern in disciplining their child at home.

Speaking of parents, let's dive a little deeper on that topic.  For young parents, parenting can be hard and exhausting.  The church becomes a place that can help them cope with this and get through the different phases of childhood. The church becomes a support network for them. 

That's one reason why I believe you shouldn't "require" parents to serve in children's ministry.  For a young mom with a preschooler, the last place she needs to be on Sunday morning is in a classroom full of preschoolers.  We must stop "guilting" or "requiring" parents to serve in their child's environment at church.  I'm not saying we shouldn't encourage parents to serve.  We should.  And for many of them, serving in their child's environment is a joy. 

But notice I said "joy."  If it's not a joy. then help them find somewhere else to serve that they can be passionate about.  You want people serving in your children's ministry to be called to that age group.  You want volunteers in your children's ministry who are excited about being there, not someone who is required to be there.  Jury duty and school are the only places people are required to be and I don't see many people jumping for joy when they have to participate.

I believe there are some big questions we must find answers to, if we are going to be effective in making disciples in the next generation as well as their parents.

Questions we must answer like...

How do we see families attend church more consistently?

How do we balance asking parents to serve in children's ministry?

How do we help parents see their role in disciplining their children? 

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  How are you engaging young families in your ministry?  What are your thoughts and answers to the questions above?  Share with us in the comment section below. 

Aug 10, 2018

Why Every Church Should Make Children's Ministry a Priority


For the past 10 years, broadcasts networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, have been doing the bare minimum of children's programming.

And they've been paying the price for this decision.  While they have been backing away from children's programming, other networks who see the value of it, are creating content.   

Hulu recently announced they are bringing back the "Animaniacs" in 2020.

Amazon is rolling out original children's content.  They recently had the premiere of "The Dangerous Book for Boys."

Netflix is also putting out original children's programming that includes originals such as "Julie's Greenroom" and "Beat Bugs" and "My Little Pony" and "The Cat in the Hat."

HBO just debuted “Esme and Roy,” a Sesame Workshop series and its first animated show in more than a decade.

Nickelodeon is debuting “Charlie’s Colorforms City, which is a reboot of Blues Clues.

PBS is focusing on low-income and high-need populations.  They want to make sure everyone has access to their programming.

While some networks are not putting out kid-friendly content, as you can see above, other networks are making children a priority.  They understand that when you make children and their parents a top priority, you will reap the benefits across the board.
“Streaming services are realizing for them to scale up their adoption they have to have a broad offering of services that appeal to everyone in the household.  There’s no ambiguity that if kids and family is not an audience you serve, there’s going to be a limit to how many subscribers you’re ever going to have.”  (Steve Youngwood - COO and president of media at Sesame Workshop.)
Steve also said their programming for kids will address a range of age groups and that it will be a great way to launch their partnership as they seek to engage kids and families.  The end goal is to impact kids in a positive way.

Producers are seeing that kids are loyal.  They know if they can get kids to start watching one streaming service and their parents trust and respect it, they will grow up with it.

It's time that we, as the church, see the importance of focusing on the next generation.  Just like some networks have moved away from making children's programming a priority, some churches have done the same thing.

That's why we have to champion children's ministry in our churches.  You may feel like you're the only one in your church that "gets it" when it comes to children's ministry.  You are not alone.  We are with you.  Be the voice for children's ministry in your church.  Be the person who champions children's ministry in your church.

I've seen churches who have the same mindset as some of the networks.  They just do the bare minimum for children's ministry.  A shoe string budget.  While the children's ministry has to beg for appropriate financing, other ministries are well taken care of.  No church-wide promotion of children's ministry.  Facilities that are sub-par.  No emphasis on volunteering in children's ministry.

And those ministries are struggling.  When you don't give support and priority to the most effective growth engine in your church, you will struggle.

Don't be discouraged.  Keep reaching kids and families.  Keep asking for what you need for the ministry to be effective.  Dream big.  Plan big.  Pray big prayers.  Cast a big vision.

You are reading this because you care about children's ministry.  I believe God wants to use you to elevate the importance of children's ministry in your church.

If you want help making children's ministry a priority in your church, then I recommend going through the seminar "Making Children's Ministry a Priority in Your Church."  You can download it or stream it.  It can also be used as a training session for you and your volunteers.  Over 2 hours of teaching. It's available at this link.

My prayer is that your children's ministry will be promoted, elevated and become a top priority in your church.

Aug 9, 2018

7 Steps for Effectively Dealing with a Rude Dude

When people come to church, they automatically leave all of their anger, rudeness and hostilities at the door.

Not.

When you interact with people, there will be times when someone is rude...even at church.  If a person is routinely rude outside the church, more than likely, they are going to be rude to you and other people at church as well.

Typing this, I am reminded of the time I had to break up a fight in the church parking lot.  Two cars had approached the same parking spot and neither wanted to let the other person have the spot.  When we got to them, it escalated to the point where they were both out of their cars and yelling at each other. 

So what should we do when we encounter a "rude dude" or a "rude dudette?"  Let's look at 7 steps for effectively dealing with rude people.  Incorporating these won't eliminate rude dudes from being rude at your church, but they will help you know how to be classy in your dealing with it.

Step 1 - Move away from the crowd and find a quieter place to dialogue.   
This can immediately help calm the person down and helps keep "damage control" to a minimum.  You don't want the conversation to happen in a busy hallway where other people will see it. 

Step 2 - Act, don't react. 
This step is a must.  If you don't get this one, you'll have a hard time helping rude people.  You want to remain calm.  Take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and take a deep breath.  If you strike back in anger, it may reverse the situation and cause you to be seen as the aggressor.  I know that's not easy, our natural tendency is strike back and "fight fire with fire."

But pausing to respond and taking a few deep breathes can help deescalate the situation.  And don't match their decibel level.  Take the volume down by answering in a quieter, more respectful way.

What if the attack happens by email or social media?  What then?  First, resist the temptation to strike back at them.  Take some deep breaths.  Go for a walk.  Calm down.  Gain some distance before you hit "send."

And then respond by stating the facts, staying calm and showing you would like to resolve the situation.  In most cases, it's better to answer by a phone call or even better yet, face-to-face.  Answering on social media is usually not productive.
  
Step 3 - Don't Take It Personally.
I know that's not always easy to do.  Especially when they are standing right in front of you.  Yelling because they didn't get what they needed.  They are usually angry at something that didn't even involve you.  But you are standing in front of them, so you are the target of their anger.  

Don't take it personally.  You just happened to be the person at the time that he or she could unload some frustration and anger on.  Emotionally remove yourself from being the reason for the anger to being the person who is a sounding board for the person's anger. 

Step 4 - Listen.  
Often the person just wants to vent to someone.  They want to be heard.  Show them you are actively listening by keeping eye contact, nodding and then asking follow up questions that show you were listening.  

Questions like...
  • So, it sounds like you're saying...
  • What I am hearing you say is...
  • How can I help you resolve this?  
  • What would you like to see happen?  
Step 5 - Be aware of what your body language is saying.
Keep your arms unfolded.  Maintain eye contact.  Your posture should be welcoming.  For your words to be effective, then they must match what you are saying through your body language. 

Step 6 - Apologize.  
Even when it's not your fault.  An apology is one of the quickest ways to slow down someone's rudeness. 

Step 7 - Solve the Problem. 
Ask the rude dude or dudette what a solution would be?  This will give you a definitive answer to solve.  

Then work to solve the issue as quickly as possible.  This will satisfy the rude dude while minimizing stress and hard feelings that can quickly rise in an emotional, volatile situation. 

It's easy to help a nice person.  Anyone can do that.  But it takes skill to connect with and help rude dudes.  Bring these 7 steps into a rude dude or dudette situation will help replace anger with civility.

Your turn.  How do you deal with rude dudes?  Share your comments and thoughts below.