Share Your Faith Story With Your Kids

As Easter approaches, many churches and families look for ways to prepare for and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  Some people give up something as a way to focus on the significance on the season. One person I follow on social media is fasting from his personal social media feeds “to focus more on my faith, family and friends.”

Others choose to add something to their schedule like devotional readings, times of prayer or specific periods of reflection.

Here’s a great idea for parents to use this Easter season:  share your faith story with your kids.

Do your children know how you came into your relationship with Jesus?

As I was reading The Jesus Gap the author gave several suggestions to youth workers and parents to help point our students to a Biblical picture of Jesus.  One was a pretty simple idea – to have families share their faith stories.

In the book the author referred to research done by the College Transition Project.  The author wrote this:  “Don’t assume family members already know each other’s faith stories.  Most don’t, even though the College Transition Project showed us that parents sharing about their own faith is vital to the process of a child growing into his or her own.”

If your family has been going to church your whole life, do your children know why?

Do they know the when/why/how that lead you to become a follower of Jesus?

Our “conversion stories” don’t have to be dramatic or even long-winded.  Taking some time to share the people and events that lead you as a mom or dad into a relationship with Jesus  can be a great story for your children to hear.

Without being too morbid, isn’t amazing what we learn about people after they are gone?  Over the years I have been involved in a number of funeral services, both as a minister and having lost family members. During the visitation hours and the meal times, you get to hear stories about the life of your friend or loved one.  Many times you learn something about that person because someone shares an experience that is new to you.  It gives you a different perspective on that person’s life.

As Easter approaches, why not take a few minutes, maybe at the dinner to table, to share your faith story?  Perhaps your children have heard it before.  But, maybe they haven’t.  Perhaps we assume our children already know it.  It could be they don’t.  Take some time to share how you came to follow Jesus and even why you still follow Him today.  It could lead to some great conversations.

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Anticipation Over Production

sat-feb-18-2017-19-48-59-gmt-0500Earlier in February we took our junior high students to the CIY BELIEVE event near Cincinnati. It is an annual trip we take because the programming is excellent, our students love it and it’s a great 30 hours to spend with our junior high students.

One of the main elements at BELIEVE is the singing. There is always a top-notch worship band that does a great job engaging the students and inviting them to sing. At one point during the weekend, nearly all the people in the arena (approx. 3,500) were lifting their hands as we sang Great Are You Lord. It was a cool moment and felt very genuine.

It turned out, without really planning it, a week later we sang the same song in our church service. I referenced our experience at BELIEVE and even showed the picture at the top of this post after we sang the exact same words, Great are You Lord.

A couple of people made a similar comment that went something like this: isn’t it hard to sing here (meaning church) after you have been there (meaning BELIEVE)?

That’s a question that usually surfaces after coming back from a great event. How do you generate that same energy and engagement back at home once you’ve experienced it a camp, conference or convention?

As I mulled that thought over in mind, two words came to mind.

The first is Production. BELIEVE is a production. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. In fact, it is one reason we continue to attend and BELIEVE continues to grow. It is an excellent program.

But, it is a production. A team works for a number of months to put together a quality event that they duplicate in venues all over the country. They gather the best speakers, the best worship bands, great light rigs and sound systems, cool graphics and videos, along with quality entertainers (artists, comedians) that all work together to engage the hearts and minds of junior high students. While it is genuine and has the purpose of pointing teens to be followers of Jesus, it is a production. And it is done very well.

One reason I love taking students to BELIEVE is that they can do what I cannot do.

There is another word that came to mind as I considered the weekend. That word is Anticipation.

One reason I think students engage so strongly in BELIEVE is that they are excited to be there. For students who have attended in the past, they can’t wait to go back. 6th graders are excited to experience for the first time. When they become 8th graders, they are sad they cannot go to BELIEVE anymore.

There is a strong sense of Anticipation. Students want to be there. They pay to be there (well…their parents pay for them to be there). Youth leaders promote the weekend and there is a strong sense of anticipation.

So, imagine if we had that same anticipation when we arrived on a Sunday morning?

Take away the light show (we don’t have that). Remove the awesome worship band (honestly, we just aren’t as good as what we see on stage). Don’t count on the cool graphics and videos that serve as a backdrop to the sessions.

Do we still have the anticipation of raising our voices (or even our hands) to sing Great are You Lord?

Now, our worship teams are good. And they work hard to lead our church family in singing and worship each week. And we have some pretty talented people. But the more I think about it, Anticipation can be as powerful as Production.

As those who lead, we want to do the best we can to engage people to respond to God (Production).

For those who are coming each week, perhaps we should consider our level of excitement and engagement as we participate on a Sunday (Anticipation).

Anticipation over Production. Something to think about as we look to next Sunday.

Losing Sleep Over Social Media

You know that feeling, don’t you?  You post a picture on Instagram or share something on Facebook or even write something meaningful (or at least you think so) on your blog and then you wait.  Will anyone see it?  Will they like it? Perhaps even share it or retweet the wisdom you just shared?

Following yesterday’s post regarding the number of selfies we see filling social media comes this article about teens that lose sleep over social media.

According to the research one-fifth of teens wake up during the night to check their social media feed.

The research comes from outside of the US, but I have to believe this is true in our country as well.  I remember hearing about teens who put plastic over their phones so they could have them while they showered because they were afraid they would miss something while separated from their device.

There have been other studies that have looked at teens texting at night.

While this information is neither new or surprising, it does shine a light on how connected we can become as people to social media and technology.

Youth speaker and author Jonathan McKee offers these suggestions for parents in addressing the issue and helping students make wise choices regarding social media use and technology in general.

1) Have conversations about the effects of social media. Not lectures… conversations! Read them one of the articles linked above and ask, “Is this right?” Then ask, “What do you think is a wise way to prevent this?”

2) Don’t think mere rules will solve the problem. The answer isn’t as simple as just limiting screen time (which isn’t a bad thing) or buying the newest parental tracking software for your kids’ phones (which isn’t fool proof by any means). Instead take the time and effort to teach your kids responsibility with their mobile devices. Here are 5 steps to actually doing that.

3) Look for ways to connect with your over-connected kids without have to say, “Put that stupid phone away.” Give them opportunities to enjoy “tech free” zones. Here are the top 5 of these connections I return to again and again.

If social media is keeping your teens up at night (or even you for that matter), this is good information for parents and those who work with students.

Kick-Off 2017 – Bazooka Ball

For the past few years we have started off the new year for our students with a fun activity.  We take a break from our regular programming over the holidays and so try to jump-start January with something that creates a little bit of a buzz.  Last year we had a Black Light Bash and played 9 Square using black lights.  Pretty fun.

This year we played Bazooka Ball.  Our students were introduced to the game at our church camp (Butler Springs) and they love it.  Any time we go to camp, either during the summer or for a retreat, the students want to know when we get to play Bazooka Ball.  So, to get back into the swing of things in 2017, we brought Bazooka Ball to WCC!

And a good time was had by all.

This recap video shows a little bit of the action.  As we were cleaning up, one of our junior high students came up to me and asked, “Will we play this again next year?”

A good sign that the game was a success.

Selfie Obessession

The “selfie” has become a pretty popular thing (no news flash there). I have actually found myself taking “group selfies” on our trips with students. And the last couple pics have turned out pretty well…if I do say so myself.

But then I wonder if a group selfie is really a selfie because there are many “selves” and not just a “self” in the picture.

Anyways…this infographic is pretty interesting as it gives the stats on how many selfies are out there. Just think – 93 million selfies taken each day. WOW!

There is a story of how damaging the selfie obsession can be and some tips for people to consider as they take selfies.

Interesting information for parents, teens and those who care about students.

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Parent/Student Progressive Dinner Updated!

I posted yesterday about our Parent/Student Progressive Dinner and added a slide show of some of the pics from our photo booth. After posting it I was looking back through the pictures and kept thinking we missed some people. I did! Somehow several pictures ended up in a different folder on my memory card – don’t you love technology?

Since we have such beautiful people in our church family, I felt they needed to be in the slide show.

So, check out the updated video below and gaze and the awesomeness of our families!