Saturday, May 31, 2008

May down, June to go.....

What a week.
What a month!!

I can't believe how fast it has gone.
I'm well ready for the "June rush" now; where the vision for children and family ministry over the next three months becomes a worked-out-on-the-ground reality and I field texts, emails and phone calls from a hundred volunteers, parents, members of the public etc etc for the summer "stuff".

Over the years I've always had tremendous help from our office staff but in the last couple of months I have been given my own admin person for some hours of the week, who I can just go to for anything and everything and I have really felt the benefit of this. Even things like doing phone calls. She is an absolute honey with the most amazing temperament - I wish I was more like her! - nothing is too much trouble and best of all, she really knows me; she knows what I'm like and how I need things done (if that doesn't sound too fussy). I love her to bits. And we have known each other for over 20 years. Wow!

Coming up is one of my favourite annual tasks, for the all age service in a few weeks time. I buy a Bible for the children who are moving "up". I try to buy something appropriate to their age and stage but I also look for something that contains something of the Big Story i.e. God's metanarrative. If you (my silent audience) would like me to publish here what I decide to buy this year, then I'm happy to do that :-)

I can tell you right now what the P5s are getting. They don't get another Bible as when they were P4s they got a full Bible which lasts them till they receive a youth bible in P7. However, as they are "moving up" (an important rite of passage) I do like to get them a paperback. For the last two years it's been Stormie Omartian's Power of a Praying Kid, which is excellent - particularly good on praying for the hard stuff, like sickness, death and dying. A brilliant resource for those at the "searching faith" phase
(I should be on commission).

This year my P5s are getting Mike Seth/Bill Johnson "Here Comes Heaven". If you buy your hungry-for-God child only one book, that's not the Bible, let it be this one. It's outstandingly good, and a groundbreaking idea in my mind Mike Seth, (former children's pastor at Bill Johnson's church in Redding, CA), in partnership with Bill Johnson, rewrote his "When Heaven Invades Earth" book for children (reading age 8-11, I think). Or younger if an adult reads alongside.
(all recommendations on this page are opinion!)

So this is a VERY happy task. I should make it clear that not every child receives a book, because our groups "move up" every two years i.e. every child receives a Bible/book every second year. Everyone receives a certificate of attendance each year. Incidentally, never downplay the certificate. I have visited lots of our church children at home and I have seen many of these certificates stuck on the wall! Awards raise self-esteem in children.

I spend hundreds of pounds on this because there are lots and lots of children where I work. I think its VITAL that we recognise the children, bring them up to the front, clap them, make a fuss of them. I am so blessed to be somewhere where I don't have to fight for that to happen (if you are, feel free to email me for moral support or - seriously - prayer. I will do it!). It's not really a prizegiving, its not based on attendance or points won, its just based on the fact that YOU (kids) are part of our church family and we want to bless you. You might be reading this and thinking that financially you can't buy these books.

Some points to consider.
* Just go right up to people in your church (ask God who), share your vision for blessing children and ask them outright if they would be willing to donate into this "Bible" fund.
* Wesley Owen offer bulk buying discounts on certain Bibles - pick up the form from any shop. Make sure your church has a CPS (Churches Partnership Scheme) account to get an automatic 10% discount. I am amazed to hear from WO that many churches don't.
* check the prices of what you want to buy on Amazon - it can be substantially cheaper. I know this means you are not supporting STL (WO's charity arm) but if it makes a difference between buying gifts for the children in your church and not buying gifts..............
* I personally don't go for the substantially-discounted adult Bibles from different bible societies as they are usually thin-papered, in very small print, and without pictures. Children need material appropriate to them or they will cast it aside and label it as irrelevant because they can't read it. And that kind of thought will linger with them into adulthood. Spend more and catch the hunger-point.
* happy to give my opinions on anything you have seen or bought, I have probably bought it in the past too! Or is there a Bible or Christian children's paperback that you would recommend for presents or awards? Let me know in the comments section. It would be helpful if you could note what age range you think it is suitable for.

Better go, got summer club team training for my guys early tomorrow and people from neighbouring churches are coming. In the interests of ecumenicalism I've promised my SP that I'll be good and stick to that which unites, which is easy in children and family outreach - actually, scrub that! - it isn't!! What is the status of children before God etc....
(seriously, I head up a team from four other churches and we work together in a school club every Tuesday. I love'em to bits! I've just never met these folks coming tomorrow. They're from "the other side" of the 'hood)

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