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 It may end up in a book, so please do not quote me without acknowledging the source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.

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.