Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Champion for Orphans



This Hogmanay/Ne'erday, I wonder if you might pray for the Loux family who have suffered a devastating tragedy this Christmas. They are from Kansas City's IHOP (International House of Prayer) - an amazing place. Derek and Renee's huge heart for the orphan has resulted in a quite exceptional ministry and a huge vision.
The excerpt is from the
Loux family blog


Derek Loux Memorial Service

On Wednesday morning December 23, 2009, Derek R. Loux (37), a husband, father, musician, and justice advocate, went home to be with the Lord after a fatal car accident in Nebraska. Derek, a faithful servant of the Lord, was husband to Renee Loux for 17 years and father to ten children, several with special needs.

The Louxs’ two biological daughters, Sophia (12) and Michaela (9), were joined by five adopted daughters from the Marshall Islands: Telma (19), Teyolla and Keyolla (twins, 18), Leeann (15), and Sana (8). Of their three adopted sons from the Ukraine, Sasha (7), Ethan (6), and Silas (3), two have Down syndrome and one has spina bifida.

Late in the evening on December 22, after attending a training seminar on how to save children out of the sex slave industry, Derek and his friend Jonathan, began their return drive home from Colorado. They hit a patch of black ice as they drove through a Nebraska snowstorm, causing their vehicle to spin out of control and flip several times. Derek was not driving the car and was sleeping in an almost completely reclined position. Derek was wearing his seatbelt, but when the car flipped, Derek was literally sucked out of his lap belt. Because he was reclined, his shoulder harness was not tight enough to hold him. Jonathan and a witness of the accident immediately performed CPR on Derek while waiting for the ambulance. Derek was given several different drugs to revive him and after an hour, he regained a pulse. The doctor’s told the Loux family that Derek had been without a pulse for over an hour and that while being transported to a larger trauma care hosptial, his heart rate began to drop and he passed away.

Derek was part of the senior leadership team of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOP–KC) and served many areas of the missions base, including helping to pioneer Forerunner Music Academy. Before joining IHOP–KC, he served as the director of Indianapolis House of Prayer for four years. As a professional musician, singer, and songwriter, Derek recorded several CDs including Paper Religion and Fragrant Burning. He was also a worship leader and a frequent conference speaker.

Derek’s life passion was adopting and restoring orphans, particularly those with special needs. He pioneered the vision of the Orphan Justice Center, a haven of restoration for rescued orphans.

Kirk Bennett, director of IHOP–KC’s justice department, worked with Derek and the Orphan Justice Center. “Derek was a joyful husband and father. He is one of the most amazing champions of justice, adoption, and life that I have ever worked with. He was intensely and personally involved in bringing justice to many; he demonstrated the value of life to people and individuals so that they could experience their own value and freedom,” said Kirk.

Derek and Renee’s firstborn son, Josiah, a special needs child, passed away when he was 2½ years old. Josiah’s life and death opened the Louxs’ eyes to a whole new world of love for children with special needs. As a result, one of their dreams has been to buy approximately 45 acres on Blue Ridge Boulevard, Grandview, to build a “mansion of mercy” and therapy center for special needs children and the staff caring for them. Renee and the Loux children plan to continue their current efforts to help children, fulfilling this dream even in Derek’s death. For more detailed information about the Josiah project and how you can partner with the Loux family, go to www.josiahfund.org .

Mike and Diane Bickle and the entire IHOP–KC staff will greatly miss Derek Loux, his excellent leadership, and his faithful friendship. Speaking of Derek, Mike Bickle says: “He was a faithful man who loved God and cared about people. He led worship teams, and helped start Forerunner Music Academy and the Orphan Justice Center. He was an integral part of our leadership and he will be greatly missed as a dear friend.”

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!


This wee post is to wish you a fantastic Christmas Day and joy and peace for 2010.

Today I led the Christingle service; the regular folk from our own church were definitely the minority as relatives brought their younger loved ones and friends and neighbours. There were LOADS and LOADS of visitors from our local school, which is great as a bunch of folk are praying for it. In the past 2 years the prayer meeting for the local school has gone from 2 to 3 parents to 12 to 14.

The great news about the Christingle, apart from Jesus of course, is that no-one was burned (lit candles, under 10s and narrow pews - recipe for disaster) and the church building remains intact as about 200 Christingles were lit. Mind you, the silk strips to aid younger ones to move and dance in worship to "Shine Jesus Shine" (I love to resurrect!!) were not intended for garroting and at one point, unseen by any other eyes, I removed a bright orange bandana from the baby Jesus' head in the manger.

Last weekend was the all age nativity service focussing on hope - the Christmas story is increasingly relevent to a world that seeks answers, I feel.

Tomorrow I am speaking briefly at our Christmas morning service then eight days off to relax - yayyy!

Really looking forward to spending time with friends and family. Blessings, all!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quote of the Fortnight

Been very busy, so blogging slowed a little.

However, here is something for you to churn over, quoted by Mark Griffiths, author of "One Generation From Extinction":-

Growing churches do have an effective children's ministry because they deliberately see the children's ministry which they exercise as being very much part of the activity of the mainstream church. This integration mechanism of the children's ministry with the totality of the church activity is as important as the quality of the actual ministry itself if growth is to take place.

Peter Brierley, 2005.

More to follow....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Try Again! - Blogging somewhere else today

Blogging at Hopeful Imagination HERE today.

Made a mistake with the URL yesterday. Hope you find it today!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prayer

Our church is in the middle of fifty days of prayer. We have a prayer room that is open 24 hours a day, six days a week. Staff and elders are "prayer captains" and we endeavour to fill all of the slots 24/6.

It's a very precious place to go to. There's a bowl representing the prayers of the saints rising to heaven. There's a community wall for scriptures, pictures, prayer requests, cries to heaven. There's a wall for praise and thanksgiving. There's a wall with a world map to focus our prayers outwards across the nations.

There's beanbags, cushions, chairs. There's creative material. There's hankies.
There's (amongst others) my three favourite Rivera CDs.

I just love being there. I am trying to fit more time in there in December.
We have gone together as a family sometimes; something I have encouraged others to do and quite a number of families have been there, which I am thrilled about. I so want these children not just to feel part but to be right at the centre of what God is doing and saying to his church. When I look on the walls in the room I can see the children's words and prophetic pictures and it feels like movement forward is being made.

I am spending many hours in these weeks crying to God about the church, his church, the church I go to. It seems "ineffective" in the world's eyes to be still and not be "do-ing", doesn't it? Just five or six years ago I would only feel useful if I packed as much as possible into one day. Now I don't care. I don't mean I don't care in that I'm going to say it in a moochy voice, I mean I don't care because I am trying to be my Father's child.

Sometimes I spend some daytime hours not "doing" very much, just resting with Him, thinking about the people I am going to see that week and showing him my diary. I love that sense of him being so close, where each breath in is breathing him in. I can tell the weeks I haven't given him my week's plans.

I can honestly say at this moment in time that I would give all my hopes and dreams up just to be closer to Jesus. We had a meeting in our main worship space this week and we were permissioned to spread out over the whole building and pray and be on our own. In the coldest, draughtiest corner I met Jesus as I lay on the floor (bundled in a duffle coat with the hood up it has to be said) and he showed me things. I didn't want to leave his presence. I was freezing but he was warmer! He took me for a walk along some pews and showed me some hearts and talked to me about his hopes for the church. And I cried and cried at what he saw and what he said he wanted to see as he told me that the solution is right there in that room - surrendered hearts, abilities, good though they may be, abandoned for the best, talents sacrificed to him, all for the sake of the cross.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Will Carry You

This has to be one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard about loss - specifically the loss of a child - and the faithfulness and love of Father God.

Please don't read or watch any further if this might be too distressing for you, although Angie has written her story in order that people might be helped. I don't know her but I have read her story extensively and I believe, as one who works with and loves on grandparents, aunties, mums and dads and children, that there is something in this story that ushers in wholeness and healing. She has written a book; about her little daughter's life and death, that can be pre-ordered here on Amazon.

The song was written by Audrey's mum and dad, Angie and Tim, and you can read theirr story here

If you are in the midst of hurt, grief and anger in the face of suffering or bereavement, Angie's words here might help. It's OK to express that. And if you work with or love children, the perception of a child in the last few paragraphs will have you simultaneously laughing and crying!




I Will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says...

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen Me
To carry you

(c) Angie and Todd Smith, Christa Wells

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Come Holy Spirit

Tonight was the Holy Spirit evening for my family alpha course. There are four guest families and three host families and therefore not a few children. I love, love, love alpha, as you will see if you follow the alpha tag on this blog.

And as usual, after I had given the first talk live and during the DVD version, it is my habit to disappear to the Ladies - for physical necessity you understand,but it also becomes a precious God moment. I have been leading alpha for 8 years, two to three times a year, but on the Holy Spirit evening every single time I shut myself away to pray and listen to God, earlier in the week and earlier in the day (we have the luxury of a gorgeous 24/6 prayer room) but also for 3 minutes before every "come Holy Spirit" session.

My loo conversation tonight went something like this:
Father I have nothing to prove.
You love these people so, so, so much
Holy Spirit, come.
I act only for you.
Fill them, love them, show them your power.
Its all about you Father.


I go into the loo while the "how to receive" dvd plays every single time with butterflies in my stomach. And every time, in a tiny water closet, I genuinely feel no pressure and complete peace and confidence every time I run an alpha course. Holy Spirit, you convict, you draw close, you fill. The beauty of Alpha is that it is all about him. We can't force, browbeat, work up or manipulate. But I do love our guests, very, very much and I hope they know that. I just love being with them. The high point is praying with the children and parents together, just describing it now brings tears (two days running. There I go again!). God touched people very deeply tonight.

Tomorrow I return to my former city to speak twice during the day on my journey of leading children and families into deeper experiences of worship. I heard a really funny thing has been said about me prior to "booking" me but I couldn't possibly repeat it on a public blog. Can I just say I would very much like to behave in the manner with which I was described?? ::::mischeivious grin:::::

I think some lovely people from my former church are going to be there, cheering me on and my good friend from the sidebar is speaking too. LORRAINE - update your blog!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Worship and Children



Last weekend I managed to get some 20 folks together for a time of worship and learning some new songs. It was one of those gatherings that made my heart glad; I felt so moved watching everyone together that I nearly cried. I'm such an emotional creature!

I was moved because I had wanted to host this gathering for some time but now the time is right and it felt good. I think Father God wants us to enjoy moments like this! (my not-so-new church know my heart now! If I had done this the moment I arrived 16 months ago I'd have been forcing something.

The gathering included the worship pastors (greatly overdue with child but they were still there!), lots of worship leaders from a variety of styles and preferences, at least two professional musicians, some of my wonderful students who have a heart to lead worship with the kids, a teenager and three children. Because everyone is part of a very large church, we took some time to introduce ourselves to each other and eat pizza and Tunnocks tea cakes. Always helpful!

There was a wonderful atmosphere as we shared some songs that are (a) great fun and (b) contain succinct biblical truth that set the worshipper free and herald the kingdom!

While we do use a lot of Matt Redman and Tim Hughes songs (SUCH good worship songs for kids; great theology, catchy tunes, opens up the way to spend time in the presence of God) we wanted to teach some songs written by friends like Darrin Clark in TACF and Nick or Chris Jackson of Powerpack.

My final thoughts about teaching children (or adults) about worship or new worship songs is that I've always found it necessary to teach into WHY we worship and in particular about the significance of worship in the new covenant. We need to move our kids on from "Jesus died for me" into "Jesus died for me and this means that I have access to approach the throne of grace. I can trust my life with him and want to spend time listening to him and talking with him".

Here's some excerpt from my take home and go over with parent leaflet on worship given to each child. I teach on this twice a year. I guess what you can't see here is that there are lots of pictures on the leaflet.

(Psalm 95:1-7 is typed out in different colours first)
There are different kinds of worship
The brown bits of the psalm show thanksgiving and praise. There’s lots of joy and happiness in this part of the psalm.


The orange bits of the psalm show awe and wonder – it’s like saying “wow, God, you are so powerful.” Sometimes thinking about all the things he has made help us to worship him with awe and wonder. Remember to have respect for God for everything he is and for everything he has done.

The blue bits show what it’s like to be very close to God because we love him so much. This is called intimacy. It’s like when you pull very close to your mum or dad. You feel safe and warm. You feel loved. We should be able to trust God like this and worship him because we love him so much.


I know Jesus died for my sins. Why is that important for me when I come to worship God?
In the Old Testament, although God’s special people (the Israelites) loved him, they couldn’t get close to him in worship. Only a specially chosen priest could do that. The priest entered a part of the temple called “The Holy of Holies”. There was a thick curtain across the entrance to this place.

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was torn in two from top to bottom. This had a special meaning. It meant that from that moment on, anyone who loves and serves the Lord Jesus can draw very close to God.
So when you think about worship, remember that you are a special child who is close to God because of Jesus. Listen to him!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Missing Link

I haven't posted for a wee while. Been busy, as they say.

This past week, I took part in an International Leaders School of Ministry (ILSOM) with John and Carol Arnott and Alyn and AJ Jones. I've been wanting to go on this school for a number of years. Over the past couple of years they have been held in Lytham St Annes, Chorleywood and Sunderland - but these were all quite far away for me to go to (given childcare constraints)

It's been great for quite anumber of us who work together/alongside one another on staff or eldership to go and be in this atmosphere, dealing with "our stuff" together. Aside from the corporate dimension, for me personally it's been great to re-connect with values that have been incredibly significant for me over the last fifteen years or so - ok, ok, I did get to a conference in TACF not that long ago!) I was pretty broken on Tuesday too, realising how much I operate out of the desire for justice and not grace. Not pretty. To say nothing of a fair number of UGBs....further action required this week.

I had been part-way in organising a second Families conference, following on from this one, when God moved us and now so many things are now coming to my mind for the future as the testimonies from that conference live with me in a bulky folder full of individual written recollections.

Lots of thoughts and dreams have started to re-occur and now I need some time to process and to get writing!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Minute for Madeleine

Please watch this and post it widely on your blogs/social networking sites/Twitter etc

Sent to me by www.ccpas.co.uk

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Weekend Reflections


It's been a good but pretty tiring few days but I am very glad for the recent holiday.

I spent a few days at a national denominational assembly and particularly enjoyed catching up with some friends from my YF days who are now pastors as well as my fellow children's champion Lorraine. And I got to spend two nights with my dear friends so we stayed up watching Michael McIntyre clips on youtube :-)

I had an opportunity to lead some corporate repentance using this and was pretty deluged at the break time with people asking where the thoughts came from and how they could get them to their congregations so that they too could repent. We had talked about having group discussions in our planning meetings some months ago but I felt we needed to repent if we were going to see change happen.

I was very moved when an older woman (who looked like she might have been about 96!)walking with sticks came up to me with tears in her eyes saying that she knew she had harboured critical thoughts and ungodly beliefs about children in her mind and she wanted rid of them.

Man, that's pretty significant. I didn't write anything that I, too, haven't felt in the past. I'm guilty of every one of those things at times - which is why I was able to write them! I am LONGING for the floodgates to open wide for a move of God in our nation like we have never seen before. People, get ready. God's deconstructing a lot of our false beliefs in the church in Scotland so that they can be replaced by truth.
Bring it on - it's painful and uncomfortable but we so need it.

My SP preached an absolute stormer today from James 2 verse 14 to the end of the chapter.
I knew a lot of what he was going to say as he had talked a little about it during the week but that didn't stop the tears rolling down my cheeks as I counted yet again the cost of what it means to have true faith. When we consider what we have to give up we often revert to measuring how much we have to give up compared to *them over there who need to give up more*. Why do we indulge in such self-centred reflection?

So it's been a pretty raw weekend.
Staff day away tomorrow. Wonder what that will hold?
As long as I don't have to build a raft out of oil drums and timber planks..........

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Age Services (HT: ASBO Jesus!)

I have written this post in some way to highlight some of the issues being debated in a helpful and honest way over at ASBO Jesus today. Please check this cartoon out here (I love it!)- please do follow the link so I can honour the copyright and send the click that-a-way to Jon's own blog.

Reminds me of this one from 2006, which I insert on the contents page of any training packs I write for my volunteers :-)

Someone said in the ASBO jesus comments that there is no one strategy that works for every church and I agree with this to some degree. Here's some of my semi-serious thoughts on all age services. There are more under the label "All Age".
However, the following is non-negotiable, in my opinion:-

1. children should not be patronised
2. children should not be ignored
3. the attitude that WE lead the children and they learn to worship from us needs to be binned; the most honest, heartfelt worship to the Father comes from children. Look for the opportunities to incorporate this so that adults are touched/challenged/inspired (choose your own word!)
Check out the children's radical worship (I love to hear children shout worship. We did some very loud ones on Sunday there!) in the temple area in Matthew 21:15-16
I have seen some incredible things happen when children worship, including all of us as leaders kneeling before God and confessing a whole load of stuff because we (who were leading the kids' residential weekend!) watched as a dozen children fell face down in God's presence.They were experiencing God.
4. a strategy for including children should be part of the leadership's vision; you can do all the fantastic songs and creative arty stuff you want but if your pastor/leadership team don't support you and/or affirm the place of children then it makes following on from this much harder.
5. my final suggestion for a non-negotiable value is that the church leader/worship leader/person in charge of worship should be familiar with biblical texts not just on Jesus and children but on the responsibilities of the faith community to nurture faith and build a worshipping community (NB this is actually very helpful when thinking about worship services and new believers of any age. Why do we do what we do? What's the point of it?
More helpful information on this (perhaps?) in this entry.

Thanks Jon! What a great cartoon!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Prayer Request

I have been very moved tonight by the story of little Kate Macrae (HT:Learning from Sophie) - maybe you could join forces in prayer too.

Read her story and updates here

and then have a look at this amazing picture.

Matthew 11:25

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pictures of the Day - Thursday






Today - long walk in Glenmore Forest and later in the day, a visit to see Mercedes the Polar Bear at the Highland Wildlife Park.

I would have posted some of the photos from the latter but the children had control of the camera at that point and invariably photographed snow monkey's bottoms and red panda poo.


How jaunty would YOUR smile be in the crowded Mountain Cafe while your small son shouts loudly, whilst holding the camera: "Can I take a picture of you mummy quick because I need to do a fart!"

Picture of the Day - Wednesday



My picture of the day today isn't an outdoorsy one at all (back to that tomorrow though) as today was a shopping day (for me) and a cinema trip (for the family).
Up is an amazing film but I cried a lot; not just about the obvious sadness in an opening montage, but in the sadness revealed in the little boy's life. I can't watch any film with sad children in it - even if it is animated cartoon fiction - without turning it all over to God for the rest of the day to ask big order questions like "why?" "how long?" "Jesus bring healing" etc etc

Re: shopping while the rest went swimming - I just wanted a few hours to wander round the shops but seeing as this is a 5 week month I couldn't really buy all that much. Still it was therapeutic to have a wander without children and, of course, exercise self-control about all the lovely things I wanted to buy but couldn't in Zara. And same for the boots in Schuh. Mind you, its Clinique Bonus Time in Debenhams - a date I had been eagerly waiting (started Oct 16th) so I managed Something Nice :-)

I wonder what it's like to be able to buy exactly anything you want without having to think twice about it? Not like, in an ostentatious manner, but in that sense of not having to think about it, in that had I bought that £60 pair of boots then my daughter couldn't get a school coat.

I have never ever had the privilege of being able to buy exactly what I want without having to think about it. I expect most of us reading this are the same. And, while sometimes I think it would be lovely, I now welcome the kind of excitement that comes every month when the money has run out and God supplies in unusual and pretty dramatic ways. This past year has seen humbling to the point of fall-down-on-the-floor in hysterical incredulity with the revelation of papa who knows me so well and knows what I/the family need. We are trying our best to teach to the children that good things sometimes have to be waited for, or some birthday wants can only work if the cost is shared with other relatives, or holidays downsized in order that other things take priority.

We are so thankful for incredibly generous friends all round the country who have done so much to bless us - lend us their houses (like this week!), give us a shot of their cars, do lovely things for our children this year in the new place, or visit, write, phone, email and text so very frequently. Sounds quite like Acts 2:46 really.

God, your people are so very, very good. You're an amazing, inspiring Father and I love you so much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Picture of the Day - Tuesday



There's nothing worse than someone jumping out from behind trees in a thick wooded forest to snap you as you pedal.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On holiday.....

A sad day yesterday mixed with hope and joy.

I attended the funeral of a young woman who had helped me organise a children's choir one Christmas. I returned to my previous church for a beautiful thanksgiving service. She had been battling cancer for some months.

None of us left without hearing her songs in our head as one she had written one some years ago was played on a loop before the service began and after it had finished. It's chorus was: "our light and momentary troubles are leading us into eternal glory". Her voice was heard clear and loud over the PA system "running, got to keep on running...."

Pray for her work colleagues who turned out in large numbers and were incredibly moved by her faith and courage.

We are away for a few days to Aviemore so no blogging for a bit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazing Grace

That last post was far too long!

A short one now.

I posted a song by this wee girl ages ago.

Here is her latest song - she was still 2 years old when she sang this

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Unlearning the Unhelpful

I have entitled this post Unlearning the Unhelpful after one of the afternoon sessions from my Vision day on 26 September. It's not out of a book (I know I do use books a lot to help me make a point but I always cite where information comes from and not take credit for things I didn't write); it's a list that came to me on Tuesday 22 September when I asked the Holy Spirit to show me what might prevent him from visiting our churches in greater power. He spoke to me about our love for those with wordly power and prestige; who can make things happen in our churches or donate time and money - and not those who are weak, without a voice and helpless and unexperienced and maybe even unskilled. He reminded me that Jesus let the rich young ruler walk away and yet he sorely rebuked his close friends; his disciples from preventing people bringing their children to him.

I would really love to share the points below more widely within my own church and I would appreciate prayer and guidance on how to do so. We have so much going on (exciting!!) that everything always has to compete a little for time, space and attention and I need to be sensitive to that. I feel tears pricking up in my eyes as I even just think for a second on the kinds of things that happen and are said over children and teenagers every single week in our UK churches.

Last week, at our pre-service prayer meeting, we gathered to pray for the preaching of the word in the service and its effect on the hearers and I felt something rising up within me: WHAT ABOUT THOSE OF US OPENING UP THE WORD TO CHILDREN? Can we be prayed for? Can our youth pastor's team be prayed for too as they teach from the word of God too?

Excuse the capitals, I wasn't angry; having been trained in theological college I utterly agree that preaching is an event where the Word of God is released, but don't the mentions of preaching and teaching in the Bible (proclaiming/declaring/telling/teaching/explaining/announcing.....there are many more!) have something to say about the dynamic relevance of opening up the Word of God to a wide variety of groups of people? I'm totally happy to be corrected and taught by other readers on this one; it is a genuine question I have and one I must ask my SP. He's a good instructor.

I am very grateful to the encouragement a fellow blogger has sent me recently to keep on going; in that they have recognised that there is something driving me, which, in their opinion, could be the missing piece of the revival jigsaw. To hear that from someone I haven't met, who is far away and in a different denominational stream, has meant a lot. Thank you!

Here, then, is my writings on Unlearning the Unhelpful. I post it in order that it may help the hundreds of readers who now visit each week; as you prayerfully go through it I trust that it will help you draw near to God as you renounce things that are not true and replace them with the truth.

I need to stress that there is no guilt in doing so; we live in a world that is FULL of unhelpful attitudes towards children and simply put, we get tainted with this. Today is a time to break free of these and come afresh to Father God to be re-energised with his wonderful heart towards children.

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Things we may need to renounce:-

not seeing children as made in the image of God (seeing them as to be tolerated)

•thinking that we have nothing to learn from children

•not allowing children to express ideas and opinions (ignoring faith development studies, where children need to ask questions and test what we say against what they say)

•if we are teaching children, -not giving over adequate time for prep (these are all well known stories I know like the back of my hand) and therefore not allowing the Spirit to speak to our hearts as we read from The Word.

seeing children as bait: if we get them to come to church, we get the adults (the important people)

•believing that squirmy/noisy children are not listening in church when in reality they are taking everything in

not allowing children to experience God taking hold of their imaginations (hence the resurgence I think, of Jerome Berryman’s Godly Play, allowing children to enter right into the stories)

limiting children to our own experience, not allowing joy or sadness or excitedness or the experiential dynamism of the Holy Spirit

•being glad when they have left the service; seeing them as interruptions to our own worship

•if you are a kids' leader, seeing yourself as a babysitting service, missing out on the “main event”

•going “phew!” when children leave the room

•believing that all we need are lovely facilities and the best equipment and then children will be happy (and leave us alone to enjoy God as adults together)

•being a lone ranger and not part of a team


Here is a prayer of renunciation and repentance that I suggested could be used on the training day:


Father, I renounce the lie that _______________________________________
I am truly sorry and ask you to forgive me. I choose today to believe today that ____________________________________________________________________________________ (say here something that is the opposite of the lie that you have believed)

In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Children Seeing Angels


I am heartened by this little piece of research reported in The Telegraph, on children having "dreams with a religious connection" and about children seeing angels, reported here

I spoke about this very topic on the Vision and Training Day on Saturday and I am reminded of many of these occurrences in the past six years of pastoring children and their families. Here are some I have experienced - and I am only one person in one country....:-

A 4 year old drawing the throneroom of God, complete with correct number of creatures around the throne with the prerequisite number of wings.
A 5 year old who has been raised (in her mum's words) in a religious vacuum because of her own atheism, the child never been to church, did not own a Bible, never (at that point of P1) having had any RE lessons in school and yet asked her mum why Jesus had died on a cross. Her mum (not a believer) did not know how she could know this and we wondered if it had come to her daughter in a dream or a vision.
A 6 year old seeing a very tall angel in the church's meeting room and describing its position in the building to me.
A 7 year old seeing an angel in exactly the same position in the building and telling their parent, who told me, neither of them knowing that another child had described the same thing.
A 6 year old waking up in the morning to tell their parents that God had taken them up into heaven and showed them a golden city there. He described the colours he saw and then told his parents that God had spoken to him and said: "there is nothing in the sea that will harm you" (exact words. Not your usual 6 year old kind of words)

I am UTTERLY convinced that we need to release and expect such revelations in our children. Are these to be unusual prophetic manifestations? Perhaps. But perhaps more likely, I believe, is that we who parent, teach or train are to build EXPECTATION in our children; that God is living and active; that he wants to have a positive, godly, heavenly influence on our children's minds, because if he doesn't, then there is one who will. I hardly need to conduct a blog poll to ask how many of us reading this have or know of children who have bad dreams.

Readers, it's time to REDEEM our children's dreams and daydreams for God. Teach your child that God communicates today in all manner of ways. He really, really does. Please note that I will never undermine the importance of the Bible - anything God reveals in dreams and visions is to be tested and matched up against the Bible and in all of the examples I have come across children have heard and seen exactly as if written in the Bible.

Consider the words of the Jean Darnell prophecy given in 1987

The Lord is going to send a tremendous revelation of Himself to boys and girls in this country. Between the ages of nine and fifteen particularly, children will begin to have a revelation of Jesus. They will see Him, they will know Him, they will hear Him, He will speak to them. He will come to them in visions and dreams, He will reveal His word to them. They will be converted and filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted by Him. And they will start praying. They will be healed themselves, and they will start praying for each other; and there will be wonderful healings through these boys and girls.

They will not only be the children of Christian parents. The Lord is going to manifest Himself to those who are in non-Christian homes where there is no love nor real family unity, where there is no knowledge of the Lord at all: perhaps not only for one generation but for many generations no Christian person has been in that family. But Jesus is going to meet them and reveal His power and His presence to them and His love for them. When they start coming to our children and to our teachers and telling what they are seeing and hearing from the Lord, our duty will be to receive them and love them as they are- because they will be rough diamonds, and they will have rather unusual, un-churchy language. But their experiences will be real. Some of their experiences will be so unusual you may doubt them. At that point receive their testimonies at face value, give them the word of God, and teach them how to love: because these children will have ministries not only as children, but as leaders in their adult life, and they will bless your country and other countries. So receive these children, teach them. Those of you who teach Sunday school, those of you who have children in your home and neighbourhood whom you are concerned about, begin to ask the Lord to raise your level of expectation of what they can receive, because they are going to start hearing. And just like the adults, they will start hearing the word and receiving the Lord and being able to receive deep spiritual experiences in the Lord
.

We need to not only get ready, but to open our hearts to all that God has prepared for our children and young people. It's time to get ready, to get all hands on deck.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ooooops


I have had a testing two days. Anyone slightly close to me knows I have an *interesting* relationship with keys. I've already lost a set of keys for this new house we have been in since.....June.

I'm not going to go into it all suffice to say I have been locked out totally and utterly and had to take refuge in the manse (Tuesday) then ran out of petrol 50 miles away with no purse and phone out of charge (Wednesday) but in both of these cases my heavenly Father has intervened pretty hugely saving me from huge cost (thank you kind, kind locksmith) and using his people (the whole staff team for morale boosting, eddie, gary and joanne) because he loves me so. I'm rather dizzy at times.

Our family support group (a requirement for those on staff in this church) met also and brought such kind words from Father God to me; never a truer word was spoken by one of the group though, about there being a tug on my heart. She is someone I hardly have to say a thing to for her to know my mind. She is older than me and more senior in ministry terms. She is from another church, another city, another whole kind of ministry role but I so admire her prophetic ability that I learn from it every time. She is one person with whom I rarely have to speak and she knows what is on my mind.

I have a whole lot going on in my head and heart just now but this I know for sure; I want to be so close to Father God that lots of moments within this family are filled with worshipping and praying and talking and thinking. I don't think I am coping that well with some things coming my way, and I have been told as such too, which is hard to move on from. Oh to be instantly refined - but that was never promised us!

But my love (for the children here, for mums and dads desperately seeking more in every sense of the word, the Christians and the not-yet Christians) is growing stronger rather than waning. But the tug is for more...of more than I can or should write here. Pray as we work this out.

Perhaps you could post in the comments the answer to this question: what tugs at your heart?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Refreshing and Blessing Your Kid's Ministry Workers



Sneak peek at some of what I am going to be speaking on at the very end of the Annual Vision Day......I've had two aims for the day all along:

1. to cast once more the vision that outlines the incredible need for well thought out theological teaching on the place of children in our churches

2. for those who are involved with children as parents or kids leaders to be refreshed, to be renewed in their experience of the Father so that they may pass on their experience of this relationship to children who are tired of stories and ritual without relationship. I hope and pray this day will bring significant refreshing for the pastors and leaders/coordinators who will attend.


This is not just written for pastors and group leaders who oversee teams of people who work with children and young people; I have written this for everyone involved in volunteering.

Volunteers are the backbone of the church. Without them, nothing could be achieved. The church is recognised as having the largest unpaid workforce in the world, who should derive satisfaction from what they do.

Here are some practical pointers on what you can do to refresh (bring something new to) and bless (encourage, build up) your volunteers/team. If you are a pastor in a church where your kids/youth volunteers are dropping like flies, try some of these strategies!

1. assist your children’s ministry leaders in the development of a vision. And then, allow them to articulate this to the leadership and to the whole church. Work this out together. What are your theological views on children and their place in the church? Two or more parties going in opposite directions is a recipe for misunderstanding and therefore you won’t be able to refresh and bless your kids’ ministry leaders as easily!

2. give children’s ministry leaders your time – if they phone or email you, make sure you get back to them promptly. (at least follow the 80/20 rule!)

3. Listen, listen and listen. Children’s leaders need to be listened to – please remember that they might spend up to 50-75% of their time outwith the main services; outside of community. Pastors/leaders can tend to listen more to “adult” leaders than to children’s leaders – think of the importance sometimes given to small group leaders or those on the mission field rather than to those who minister to the youngest.

4. ensure your church gives your team money to buy resources. Don’t skimp or moan about costs and do act quickly to reimburse when you receive receipts.

5. arrange annual or termly training and be prepared that this will cost. There are several providers – for example: Scripture Union, individual denominations, New Wine.
Check out: http://kids.new-wine.org/training/
Perhaps you might consider sending key individuals to do a specific children’s ministry module. I particularly recommend “Children and the Church”.
www.icc.ac.uk – website has full details of the children’s ministry specialism or email me for further information (this is the theology degree I completed).

6. Don’t overload children’s ministry team with meetings. Instead of monthly evening meetings, be prepared to talk with individuals on Sunday mornings or help set up and/or chat informally at the end without resorting to “meeting-itis”. Release your team to be the best at what they do.

7. Consider putting on thank-you events or socials for your children’s ministry leaders: examples – pizza and punch night, bowling trip. And yes, they don’t pay!

8. Ensure that church meetings/vestry/session hear reports of what is happening in children’s ministry. Celebrate successes of your team(s). Pray for the children’s leaders in services; not just at holiday club time. Consider this quote from the book “Evangelism - Which Way Now?” It’s pretty stirring.

9. Consider your use of language in the services: how do your volunteers feel if they hear that our worship will begin once the children have left for their own groups? How does this marginalise children?

10. Verbally thank your volunteers, often and go out of your way to pass on encouragements. This sounds so obvious. But it means a lot and it won’t make their heads get big, honest!

11. Pray with and for your volunteers. This again sounds so obvious. There is nothing as special as a senior pastor/pastor/coordinator praying with and for his/her children’s ministry team – in whatever way you are comfortable but in some demonstrable way that expresses your desire for them to be filled with the knowledge of God.

You could use this prayer from Colossians chapter one, verses 9 to 12:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light

12. Give your volunteers opportunities to encounter God in an experiential and tangible way; you as the reader could be the one to make this happen!
It’s not good to serve long-time in children’s ministry (or any!) without the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Put simply, we run dry. Teach volunteers about the phileo love God has for each of his children – the demonstrated, natural affection of the father to a child which he wants to lavish on each one of us (1 John 3:1)

Then we will do some of numbers 11 and 12 on Saturday :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's not Big Brother but thanks to Google Alert someone is watching...

....imagine my great delight to find a comment from the President of the Barna Group on the blog post below.....I was mid-reading it when blogger crashed and lost the comment.....

Thank you David for emailing me with your comment again!

1. thanks - for following and using our stufff
2. be sure to check back because we are releasing more data on kids, teens and young adults all the time
3. it might even be worth signing up for e-newsletter - free

I hope you're doing well, Lynn. keep fighting the good fight of faith. and truly, sincerely it is a privilege to serve folks on the front lines like you.

blessings!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Barna Group


In the words of Monty Python, now for something completely different.

Several times a year since I started this blog in 2006, I like to highlight the work of George Barna. Quite simply, anything the Barna Group publishes is worth reading. They are the Gallup of the N. American Christian/Social Trends scene. George Barna is not a children's pastor, he is a researcher. He is used by God, I believe, in a very practical sense as well as in a prophetic sense to herald things for the church to sit up and take notice of.

I am preparing for my annual Vision Day - why work with children? How can I help children's leaders and church leaders to carry the flame unflinchingly for the necessity of developing children's faith development at the heart of any plan to grow the church? Growing the church starts with nurturing the faith of the very youngest and discipling them to play their fullest part of the ecclesia, the called out, chosen ones, under the guidance and nurture of the family. I have written more on this in previous posts such as here and here.

[If you wish to come to this day on Saturday 26th Sept, email me on children.pastor@gmail.com for further information]

It's far, far too risky to leave this task to chance, to whoever will look after the kids, "fingers crossed" that they will hopefully do an OK job; or to assume that parents new to faith coming out of postmodern vacuous spirituality will know how to disciple their children.

History shows us that the enemy is seeking to - quite simply - get rid of children - in lots of different ways such as high levels of infant mortality in times past, and also through specific events such as the slaughter of Hebrew boys in Moses time, Herod killing children in Jesus time, through "social trends" such as infanticide commonly practiced by Roman fathers, in communist regimes such as China at the height of the One Child Policy ...I need not elaborate further.

“Children are central to the health and future well-being of the church. Reprioritizing ministry to children is the beginning of a revolution.”

So said researcher and cultural analyst George Barna before a strategic two-day session attended by 94 Christian leaders representing 54 organizations, including churches, parachurch ministries, media, and academia, at AWANA Clubs International headquarters in Streamwood, Illinois.

Barna’s clarion call to churches was doubly strong toward parents, as he claimed his recent research shows that “while 85% of parents believe they have the primary responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of their children, more than two out of three are abdicating that responsibility to their church.”

“And very few churches” Barna continued,”go beyond seeing children’s ministry as ‘bait’ that enables them to land the real treasure — i.e., adults. We spend roughly 68 times more money per capita on caring for the average felon than on a church’s ministry to a spiritually hungry child.”

Barna presented the findings of his research on the state of children’s ministry in the U.S., which fueled group discussions concerning the “4-14” window; that is, the critical age timeframe wherein the vast majority of people decide what they will—or won’t—believe. Barna’s findings—and their meaning to a church and family in transition—are spelled out in the book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions (Regal, 2003).

“Our children will determine the future, which makes them our most significant and enduring legacy,” Barna proclaimed, “can we afford to let the spiritual and moral dimension of our future leaders be shaped by default?”

A surprising outcome of the gathering was the uniform acceptance of Barna's words of challenge, even among those participants who have appreciated children’s ministry for years,beginning with pastors.

“I’m in the process of rethinking the direction and priorities of our church,” stated Dr. Ed Johnson, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Ocala, Fla. “I’m going home with the deep conviction that children need to be the number one
priority of what we’re doing.”


So strongly did the majority of attendees respond to Barna’s challenge, that they themselves issued a number of calls and challenges.

Specifically, the Forum:
*** Called for churches to strategically place their resources toward ministering to children within this window of opportunity and to assist parents in their role of being spiritual shapers.

*** Called for parents to step up to their biblically directed responsibility to be the primary source of spiritual nurture for their children.

*** Encouraged strategic partnerships among organisations to work together to create awareness of this window of ministry opportunity

*** Called for ministries, churches and parents to adopt a comprehensive system of high quality teaching and mentoring efforts that include meaningful assessment and evaluation of children’s understandings.

*** Agreed to a coordinated ongoing effort at shifting the perception of ministry to children from that of mere appreciation to that of strategic priority in the local church.


Sponsoring organizations for this forum, held April 5 and 6, included: AWANA Clubs International, The Barna Group, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Christianity Today International, Gospel Light, and LifeWay Christian Resources.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why do people involved in children's ministry sometimes struggle?


I've just come back from visiting some very good friends from my long gone teenage years and they were describing their church's emergence (good news!) from a period of meltdown amongst those who previously led their work with children and families.

Working with children and teenagers for a church, as either a volunteer of a staff member, is a very challenging position and you need to be totally, totally focused on God's call to do so. This doesn't mean that if you suffer stress or hard times whilst caring for children, dealing with parents and relating to lots of volunteers that you are necessarily an in a bad place emotionally (though you could be!) as I think the following bravely articulated article outlines so well.
As George Barna said (not me!) children's ministry is the one area of ministry where best attention should be given at the highest level of church leadership.....he wrote that as a researcher and not as a children's minister of any kind....If this is in any way true, then it's probably going to be a target! Another children's pastor recently asked the question: think of the three areas of your church life you'd like to knock out if you were God's enemy. I'd say: work with children, work with teenagers and worship.

There hasn't been comparable research done on this for children's workers and pastors, but at college I was told that the average turnover time for youth workers/pastors was a mere EIGHTEEN months. This does seem to be substantiated by this post and this one.

In my previous church there have been three people employed (one after the other) to work with teenagers in a seven or eight year period so this statistic on first glance fits, if you were a young person throughout this time - although in reality each stayed longer than 18 months and the 7 or 8 years is the span inbetween. What has been your church's experience of this? How can this be reversed? Should it be or is turnover good?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Signposts



All around me just now is change.

Change is good and necessary but sometimes change brings about casualties.
Times of change are times where we need to take extra care with attention to detail not in a need to be "professional" but in a way that brings about inclusion.
Change requires us to bear with one another; to see the good in one another; to speak in love to one another; to seek above everything else that which unites and which demonstrates the heart of God.

But times of change also allow us to reflect and review the things we are involved in. Time to drop something? Pick something up? Time to move on? Time to settle down if we have nomadic tendencies?

I am really struggling with my workload more than I ever, ever have before. I work 0.8 of a week in a really large church, some 50% bigger than my past church, which was also a large church. Sometimes it takes me one whole day a week just to get through the previous week's emails; people wanting to join the team, queries, pastoral matters; all important things. Then there's the people I want to visit out of the office; the materials I need to write; the volunteers I want to encourage and support. If you talk about your workload, as many readers know, you can tend to have an audience of one as everyone is the same; there is always more and more work to be done. But there comes a time when mapping out areas of responsibility and writing out time diaries can be incredibly useful, plus the input of outside organisations such as this one

I had the privilege, a few years ago, of hearing Jill Garrett, formerly head of Gallup and now with Caret, speak on leadership issues within churches and a lot of what she said at that time was incredibly useful to me to help with the work-life balance. The reality is that I care deeply about my spiritual health - sometimes my job stands in the way of my own personal growth and that of others in my household.

I'm a child of my Father first and foremost and a Christian who nurtures my children's faith and releases them into all that God has for them. Instead of rushing over to praying with as many people as possible tonight after a wonderful open-air baptismal service (going into work-mode), I just sat with my wee boy on my knee and prayed for the release of all that God has for him in his life. I love him so much!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Welcome!


September is the month when everything kicks off afresh.

My aim this month is to overhaul the links to blogs I read at the side of this page, as sadly some of them are no longer in existence, add some good books to read and perhaps do a wee redesign.

Good intentions now that I have so much free time......
White woman speak with forked tongue.
More about that in another post!

Meanwhile, I would love to encourage ANYONE who read this blog to please, please say hello in the comments box, even just raise a little wave and you can do that anonymously without anyone knowing who you are. You can even become a blog follower and get updates sent to you automatically. The newest person to join is James and you can find out more about him if you click the followers section on the left hand side of the page.

Look forward to reading your hellos. (even if you have been away over the summer!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Upcoming Event

Ooooooooooooooooooh this looks really good.........


!!!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can children be filled with the Holy Spirit?

I have written this as part of a research paper. It may end up in a book, so please do not quote me without acknowledging the source
However, I got fairly panned for my views in my theology degree. Ah well. I was a bit upset about it I'm over it now!

Can children be filled with the Holy Spirit?

We need to first ask if children can have a personal faith and love for God.

John Westerhoff’s Theory of Faith Development is relevant to this question. He uses the analogy of a tree to describe the growth of faith in developing human persons. He says “a tree with one ring is as much a tree as a tree with four rings” , in other words experienced faith, the first stage of faith development, is as valuable for a person to possess as owned faith, the final stage. So a very young child can profess love for God the Father and Jesus the Son AND the Holy Spirit their helper – but adults need to teach even very young children about the Holy Spirit. How can you love someone whose name you do not know?

All those who nurture, teach and train children need to make clear that faith is a journey and the goal should be to move towards owned faith; which is the point at which one would lay their life down for their faith. I believe the Holy Spirit, in his role as empowerer and helper, assists with this journey, as I hope to prove later.

Is there any historical evidence of children being filled with the Holy Spirit or exercising spiritual gifts?
Ronald Kydd has examined spiritual gifts in the first three centuries of the church. He draws a clear conclusion that spiritual gifts were very important in this period. He says:
“We have drawn (material) from virtually every kind of person in the church. We have heard from bishops and heretics, philosophers and poets, storytellers and theologians. Generally speaking….the church prior to AD 200 was charismatic .”

Around AD 177, Bishop Irenaeus provides a list of spiritual gifts seen in the church very similar to those found in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 . Irenaeus is just one of a number of Christians from the past who observed gifts in action firsthand and recorded their occurrence for interested parties to read today. Although children are not specifically mentioned in the ancient primary sources under investigation in Kydd’s book, this does not mean that children were excluded from being filled with the Spirit or from exercising the gifts brought by the Spirit. Non-mention does not necessarily mean exclusion. One can assume that children were part of communal worship. They were learning about faith in action from their parents and the extended community around them. Catherine Stonehouse points out that many events recorded in the Bible included children as well as adults.

Childcare programmes are an altogether modern invention. It can be presumed that children were present when spiritual gifts were being exercised and even practicing them in a very natural way, as part of the body of believers. Just because we do not specifically read a chapter and verse reference to a child prophesying or exercising the gift of faith, does not mean it did not happen.

There appears to be a dying out of charismatic practices in written records of early church history after AD 260. Ronald Kydd notes that after this point in time the church was “highly organised, well educated, wealthy and socially powerful ” which sounds remarkably similar to the present day.

Harry Sprange describes many situations from past centuries where children were present during great moves, or effusions, of God’s Holy Spirit in the nation. Sometimes children were present in the gatherings alongside adults; sometimes in there were separate meetings for children. Particularly striking are accounts from the time of George Whitefield’s visits to Scotland, from 1741 to 1743, where children under twelve years old hear the preaching to repent and show great manifestations of sorrow and subsequent signs of being overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is difficult from snippets of primary sources contained within a secondary source to accurately grasp the extent of how the Scottish revivals affected children. The quote below from a Church of Scotland minister, James Robe, in 1734, is a striking example:

“ I had a room full of little ones yesternight making a pleasant noise and outcry for Christ; and two of the youngest; one of them but ten years of age, fainting and so distressed they could scarcely go home. I cannot write to you of the wonder I saw; one of eleven years of age crying out that she was sick of sin, and crying out with hands uplifted to heaven…….. “

The Cane Ridge camp meeting in Kentucky is an example from another continent and at a later date. In 1800, upwards of twelve to twenty-five thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds stayed for days and weeks to receive “the mighty power of God….with heavenly fire spreading in all directions…” At one meeting there was between twelve to twenty five thousand people present. Evidence from sources like this has to lead to the conclusion that children were not excluded from the opportunity to deepen their faith and experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Whole families came and stayed to partake in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at that time.

Sources:
J Westerhoff, Will Our Children Have Faith? (Revised Ed) Toronto: Morehouse Publishing 2000, 90
R Kydd, Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church Peabody: Hendrickson 1991, 87
C Stonehouse, Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey, Grand Rapids: Baker Books 1998, 32

H Sprange, Children in Revival, Fearn:Christian Focus Publications 2002, 37
K Hardman, Issues in American Christianity, Grand Rapids: Baker Books 1993, 120

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And now for something completely different

After my squint at the past year - time for something completely different - based loosely on some resources at ColdWater Cafe Humour section.....

You Know You've Run a Holiday Club When.......

You're seeing breadsticks and raisins in your sleep
You calculate just how many paper cups for Sunday morning supplies you can take without anyone noticing
Your own kids think you get abducted by aliens every August.
Summer doesn’t start for you until Monday 10 August when the club is over
You blew your holiday club budget and the Exec Pastor chose you for some "additional support and counselling"
You tasted PVA glue accidentally.
You tasted PVA glue on purpose - just to see if its toxic, of course.
The office staff and/or caretaker schedule holidays around August
You can build pretty much anything with some midget gems and cocktail sticks.
Everyone starts stalking your volunteers.
You have glitter in your teeth.
People in your church appear to feel sorry for you.
The worship deacon still glares at you for accidentally leaning a holiday club prop on the drum shields (I wouldn't DARE btw!!)
You and your family are willing to lay down your lives to see some kids and their whole families touched by the Lord.

More seriously, when balancing all the demands on time/staff attention/space/money etc in a busy church, I came across this quote on the website which I think is pretty accurate and perhaps helpful in terms of a vision for children's ministry:

Get aggressive to bless kids and people will come to you. McDonald's learned that years ago.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Year On


We have now been here for one year. Have I made any difference? What's my review of the year contain?

It was long journey to get here, in terms of stepping out big time into the unknown, resigning from not one but two jobs with only one job being concretely offered at the time of resigning, house sale in the middle of a property slump, having to rent and do the whole "store your possessions in a room" thing then renegotiate a lease when house didn't sell, then once it had sold, buying a house and moving into it while trying to finish theology finals blah blah you get the picture if you hadn't been following it.

And that's only the mechanics bit.

We've had to change a lot of our terminology - no-one knows what we mean by a "wall song" here :-), the amount of equipment/resources that have to be moved from building to building, the number of services Lynn attends (this is a multi multi service church) some of the way we relate to others has changed, we've had to make new friends, learn to cope with change in theological practices in a couple of things, cope with a shift in emphasis in others, understand different ways of responding to even more things that crop up in a church in the middle of rapid growth and transition.

And that's not even beginning to deal with the financial implications of moving and the educational issues around our kids, who only now are beginning to feel settled. So why did we do it? I'm not the main pastor, who leads the church. These are the people who move locations cross-country(s) most often. I'm not one of the leadership team of elders. In other words, whereas I can make a difference in some areas, there are big areas of church life where what I do doesn't really influence things - nor should it necessarily?? Its the only negative I can see of "specialist" staff appointments and I speak as one who's been in two.

What next?

To be obedient to God. He loves the children of this church SO MUCH that he called our family to move, to come, to THEM. And I tell the precious children here this fact often, that God loves them so so much and that I do too.

I've had a year of laying down a tight vision and some foundations of children and family ministry, teaching a little on theology as it pertains to children, building teams, getting to know each and every child by name, visiting families, (establishing accurate records and safeguarding procedures!!! So important!) linking in with families in the community and looking to see how we can offer support to family life and most important of all, welcoming the refreshing presence of God into everything concerning the aforementioned. Dry, oft-repeated stories rattled off on Sunday mornings only are not enough any more and I'm longing to see on-fire children, confident of who they are in Christ, standing alongside adults and family members, reaching out into the local community. I've most enjoyed the children's discipleship group and our weekend away where we worshipped freely and tenderly enjoying the Father and some great outdoor activities as well as prayer and teaching :-) Highlight of the year.

But the task ahead of me feels so huge, and there are things I'm praying to see happen that just can't at the moment. I can't specify the constraints here but I'm carrying them alone at this point of the summer vacation. I'm longing for and anticipating more in every sense (more children, more children with support needs who we can help, more families who find a safe place to be together, more team members, more children moving on in their relationship with God, more of God's presence whenever we meet) but I need more hands on deck alongside me. If you're a blog reader and pray-er, please do pray for me and what's ahead this year. It's a biggie and there are some exciting possibilities ahead!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Away again

Champions Challenge BBQ went stormingly on Friday night; nearly every family came (except a few who were setting off on holiday) and there was a great atmosphere. This morning was our all age service; there were less children present than I would have thought but significantly there were some families whose children had had such a great time that they wanted to know more about how to connect in and come every week. I am thrilled and can't wait to feed this back to their wonderful group leaders who are the main point of contact during the hol club - I'm just the "point person" in many ways, leading from the front and enabling from the rear, I hope. These children received immense care and concern from the team and this indeed is the high point of summer clubs and camps. I am pleased that the rippling effects from holiday clubs/midweek clubs for children leading on into family support and friendship and perhaps towards family alpha - things I witnessed in my past church appears to be possible here,although I am obviously just at the beginning of this new journey - one year in next weekend.

Significantly perhaps, many, many, many of the older people in the congregation talked to me about how thrilled they were to see and hear what had been happening. As we have quite a few services in the morning with different ages and stages of life attending them, these are folks who don't always see and hear what God is doing and stirring amongst the young.
An interesting point to note, as I begin to think about an article I have to write on inclusiveness for our denomination's leadership journal.

Off to Aviemore for a few days to rest!!
Staying with wonderful friends who have a little flat above their garage for missionaries, pastors and needy folks.

Which category do I come in?? :-)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Champions Challenge


I'm at the halfway point of a holiday club for 75 kids and 25 leaders.

We decided to go outside the church buildings to hire a local centre and its great having big break out spaces for dance, craft and games workshops.

The highlight of the week will be, I hope, a family (indoor) BBQ on Friday early evening, complete with little "show" of what we have been up to.

I'm off for some prep, prayer and soaking as I'm in need of some refreshing before I lead tomorrow. Some niggly little problems hit the club today (entirely normal for Day 3 before the important Day 4 message) and I need to retreat into the "cleft in the rock" - in all seriousness!

G'night all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Resource


CWR has launched two daily devotional books for children six years of age and under.

The Jesus and Me Every Day volumes are brightly illustrated and easy to understand, giving young children a fun yet meaningful entry into daily Bible study.

They also offer Christian families a creative way to talk about the Bible with their children and introduce them to regular prayer.

The volumes each explore 10 much-loved Bible stories and themes over 60 days of devotionals, talking points and prayers.

My son is daft about Topz for age 7+ (must do Topz before I go to bed mummy!) and this new resource for under 7s is well worth checking out. I love CWR resources.

Book 1 looks at themes such as giving, helping and the start of creation, while Book 2 looks at the young Jesus, Moses the leader, Elisha and Abraham.

The books are written and illustrated by Eira Reeves and published by CWR priced £5.99 each.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Song For Thursday


You are so good to me Father.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Graduation


I'll try and put a few pics up, here's just the one for now.
It was a great day and I am so glad I went to the ceremony with some family and friends. Some people do graduate in absentia but the college had put so much effort into making it a special event that I didn't want to miss it even though our holiday to Cornwall had been booked from the Thursday. Even though I had graduated once before at one of Scotland's oldest universities (!), a long time ago (!!), it was a quick affair as there were hunnerds of MA Honours graduands. Saturday 4th July's ceremony lavished more than a few seconds on each graduate, announcing their award along with information about their future career plans or current involvement.

There was a classic moment: as I walked across the platform to the Principal of the college, it was announced that I was continuing to work for XX X church, where I had been on staff since 2004 - which of course was incorrect. There were a few of my friends there and I felt more than a tad embarrassed and emotional that, no, actually, I DIDN'T work and serve there anymore.

But I do feel a massive sense of achievement and relief (and release!) - I went in 2003/04 session to take ONE module only and now I have a degree and I will be eternally grateful to my anonymous sponsor(s), whoever they are, who believed I could do it and backed me financially.

More about our holiday on another post!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

July here we come

Its been all go here with a new house needing unpacked and a housewarming for 100 people from the "other side" of Scotland.

Also, on Saturday I will be mainly graduating with a BA in Theology!
Promise to post a photo!

That same day we are off to Costa del Cornwall for a fortnight in an unexpected and much longed for holiday in a caravan by the beach. Can't wait. Need to get away and see a change of scene, to study JG Dunn and the new persective on Paul - NOT!!!

Here's what I am going to do:-
* have long sleeps
* enjoy my children
* spend quality time with Mr HIWWC
* hopefully not spend too much money
* build sandcastles
* jump waves
* eat ice cream
* read Cosmo and Bill Johnson (good combo)
* go and see some lovely gardens
* visit the Eden Project
* not think about work at all (I have no problem switching off as there is no internet in the field!)

My interesting and random fact of the day is that J G Dunn, considered the leading NT scholar in the world, went to the same school as Annedroid and myself. So there you go.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mission Shaped Communities


Some of the staff and elders of the church where I work spent a few days here courtesy of the European Church Planting Network We were talking and learning about different ways to take the church OUT and planning for future missional expressions that our church would plant out of our church building and in the community.

This was a trip replete with sweet memories. Way back in the early 1990s, Mr HIWWC and I had places and people that hugely influenced us and who, in a way, we kind of worshipped (blush). That sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? Almost idolatrous.........so the villages of Chalfont St Peters and Chorleywood were not unknown to us. Jim Graham had led a very significant weekend at my previous church in 1984 when I was honestly just a child and Goldhill Baptist Church was somewhere we longed to visit at that time. Great to see again the sight of men playing cricket on the village green, which also greeted us all those years ago - very quaint and "English" (!)

It was great to be away - to chat and discuss away from phones and without glancing at other people/keeping an eye on how things were going (as some pastors invariably do; one eye on the congregation; one eye on the worship leader; some also with one eye on the watch!!)- we were encouraged to be "fully present" with mobile phones put away and to throw ourselves into this Learning Community, picking up things from the other churches that were present, asking questions about children and families (in my case) in these other churches' missional communities.

Most of all I loved the atmosphere of prayer - the team at Chorleywood wanted to encourage and bless us and when the time to pray for one another came - it was awesome. It felt like home; a safe place, where loving words, scriptural encouragements and prophetic direction was being spoken over us. I wept and wept for this nation and for our hearts to be his. (always the sniffler)

On a lighter note: gorgeous B&B with three of us in a lovely room but with a CURTAIN dividing the ensuite from the rest of the room. Not to be recommended after eating a curry at 10pm.....

Saturday, June 13, 2009


The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was not an easy man to serve under. He was brilliant, demanding, and not one to shower his subordinates with compliments. Yet even Wellington realized that his methods left something to be desired. In his old age a young lady asked him what, if anything, he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. Wellington thought for a moment, then replied. "I'd give more praise," he said.

This has impacted my thoughts hugely today - for those of us who lead, who set high standards and a high bar for ourselves as well as for our teams, praise is so important. See I Thessalonians 3: 6-13

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm BACK!!!!!!

This has been my longest absence ever.
But with good reason.

I moved house.
Phone and internet not connected yet.
I completed my final final final theology degree exams and written assignments.
I'm finished!!! It feels so good as this has been such a long year with a lot more written work to complete.

Since I blogged last, work has been really busy too.
There's been a busy all age service and I am getting ready to preach again. I've taken children away for a residential weekend with lots of outdoor activities and teaching sessions on God's heart.
Also had a Saturday training session with these guys - if you work with children or young people and/or are a church leader and you have never connected with these guys, then I recommend taking a peek at their website.

Last weekend was a house move extraordinaire with about fifteen people helping us and we have been blown away by folks helping us clean, unpack and cooking for us. We are blessed indeed.

We moved into our new home exactly a year to the day from making this announcement to our old church.
It's been a really, really hard year in so many ways but it has grown our faith. I have never prayed so much, cried so much, been as vulnerable, scared and doubting yet have had to trust so much and seen AMAZING provision for everything that I need.

God is faithful and I love him even more than I ever did before.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia

Hello there Qualicum Beach!

Feedjit is a wonderful tool (see left hand side of the blog)

Whenever I have a spare moment, I look at all the places blog readers come from and daydream away, imagining who they are, what they do, what the geographical place they live is like (so for Qualicum Beach I am imagining white sand and deep blue sea, it being BC an' all; no shallow aquamarine inlets seeing as you are right on the edge of the Pacific basin.

ahhh here you go.........check this picture out!

[actually the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I know the person who lives here - is it you, D??]

I wonder if the regular visitor from Milton Keynes works for these people as that's where their HQ is (I think).

I wonder if the person from Oakland California who visits this blog regularly is permanently suntanned as CA is very hot I believe and to me will always be the home of Anaheim Vineyard (one place I have always wanted to go!!).

I wonder if the person from Chicago Illinois works for a church or works with children.

Scores and scores of people from N America have hit on the blog by searching for "children and communion". I wondered if a lectionary or some popular teaching material used all across the States suggested doing communion with children in April/May as for some reason this topic was hit really heavily.

If you are even possibly one of the people I have mentioned, please do "out" yourself and leave a comment to say hello. I send you warm greetings and love in Christ Jesus from my little corner of the UK.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Children and the Holy Spirit


I have been feeling a strong urge for some time to teach into the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Can children be filled with the Holy Spirit? What are your views on the Holy Spirit? Are you very cautious, as Francis Bridger is in his book "Children Finding Faith", or are you the exact opposite, like Rich Hubbard in his book "Taking Children Seriously"?

if this question is to be answered in an unbiased manner, one must first ask if children can have a personal faith and love for God. For if children can love God, then they receive the Spirit of sonship and can be filled to overflowing with his Holy Spirit.

John Westerhoff’s Theory of Faith Development is relevant to this question. He uses the analogy of a tree to describe the growth of faith in developing human persons. He says “a tree with one ring is as much a tree as a tree with four rings” , in other words experienced faith, the first stage of faith development, is as valuable for a person to possess as owned faith, the final stage. So a very young child can profess love for God the Father and Jesus the Son AND the Holy Spirit their helper – but adults need to teach even very young children about the Holy Spirit.

How can you love someone whose name you do not know?

There is much more I could say here, but it is the subject of a research paper that has to be externally marked so I will have to leave it here! ** Update - I have now been able to reveal more of my views now that my degree is finished! See entry on 27 Augus 2009.
I have to recommend Clark Pinnock's book "Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit". An awesome book in every meaning of the word!

I feel a call to make sure in our kids ministry programme that the Holy Spirit is taught about at cerebral level, welcomed at a personal level and free at a corporate level to minister to children.