When your kids do not want to go to church

Several times a year I teach a Child Dedication class and one of my favorite parts of the class is embracing the tension between letting kids making their own choice and making some choices for them. In the class we cover Deuteronomy 6:4 and this tension lives in the part of the passage passage, “Impress them on your children.” What this verse unpacks for parents isn’t quite applicable for the parents of babies in the dedication class, but it’s a huge principle that parents need to carry with them as their kids grow. In over 15 years of ministry...

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Parent-Child Relational & Spiritual Engineer

You like that? It’s my new title. I’m having business cards made as we speak. In a few weeks we’re going to re-brand our Children’s Ministry the Parent-Child Relational & Spiritual Center or PCRSC for short. Pretty awesome, right? Okay, maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m not changing my title either. I might have lied about those business cards too. So, what was all this about? Well, I’m trying to make a point. This morning I read Greg Baird’s post about whether churches should have a children’s ministry or a family ministry. It was a good article but as I read...

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Your kid needs counseling

Seriously, your kids need counseling and this isn’t meant as an insult to you as their parent. Yesterday I wrote about how failure as a parent is inevitable. Parents can’t be awesome all the time. Even the best parents miss the mark and cause damage that lasts.

Recently my wife and I have come into contact with several incredible families with messed up kids. These kids aren’t necessarily messed up because of bad parenting, but because people are broken and things happen. Sometimes this is unavoidable. As a result, my wife and I had a brilliant idea. We’re working hard to give our kids great opportunities. I don’t know if we’ll be able to pay all of their college, but we’re going to do all that we can. However, we’ve thought that an incredible investment that we can give our kids upon graduation from High School or maybe College is several thousand dollars for counseling. Counseling to help them fix, cope with and overcome the ways we might have broken them through our parenting.

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Failing as a parent

Are you ready for a full dose of reality?

Failure as a parent in inevitable. Stop living in a dream world, you’re not as great of a parent as you think you are. Okay, enough with the negativity.

Recently I’ve become aware of several parenting “misses.” I’ve encountered multiple people who have experienced total parenting failures, either as parents or as kids of parents. You’re probably thinking, “why is this such a surprise? Just take a walk around your block and you’ll find more parenting failures than you can count.”

No, what has raised my awareness of this issue is that in every case, the parenting disasters (or near disasters) have happened in incredibly loving, Christ-centered homes. From my limited viewpoint, I didn’t see any blatant sin or negative behaviors that would lead to these incidents, but they happened anyway.

I think that these situations are very challenging for us Christians. When stuff happens, we start to look for the cause. We try to justify what behaviors happened that caused this. We try to sniff out the dysfunction. As a result, we end up hurting rather than healing and we make the situation worse, even in our sincere efforts to “help.”

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The demise of the modern family

Yes, that blog title was a bit extreme I will admit. Maybe it was too much, but it points to a real issue that is causing bigger problems than we’re actually acknowledging. Marriages and families are having less than ideal experiences and one cause of many are the little screens we cary with us everywhere.

Twenty years ago, it was the TV. I remember seeing pro-family campaigns that talked about how TV is destroying the American family and I’m sure this sentiment hasn’t changed, but if they only knew how little of an impact TV has on society compared to the effect mobile technology is having on society. It’s time for families to have real conversations about how always on connectivity and media is impacting the home.

I’ll confess, I struggle with mobile and technological addictive behaviors. My default mode is to look at a screen as opposed to just sit and think, rest and enjoy a moment. I’m far more productive with technology than I ever was without it, but I realize that this does come with a cost. I’m not really calling for throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I do feel that conversations need to be had.

This past March, I got a little dose of reality.

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Create a safer place

One of the very best things we can do in our ministries is to create a safe place for kids when they’re with us. Yes, we want environments where kids can have conversation in confidence when that is needed, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Our actual environments need to be safe. We have to have a place where parents know and feel that their kids will be happy and whole when they come back to pick them up.

I wrote a post a few weeks about about this very issue, but from a slightly different perspective on the Lead Small Blog. Yes, if our environments aren’t safe, families won’t come back. We all get that. But sometimes perception is reality. You may have a safe environment and your volunteers might follow all the procedures, but there is a perception issue that is going to trip up some of your families. It’s important to recognize that our culture is becoming more and more skeptical and what may have worked five years ago doesn’t anymore.

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Heavenly Adventures: Tracking the ISS

Here’s a totally random but potentially useful idea to use in your kidmin.

A little over a week ago, I took my family on a really cool adventure. I’d come across a website that shows you when and where to look to spot the International Space Station. No, really. You tell the website where you are and it tells you when you’ll be able to see it. It will tell you where in the sky it will enter your view and where in the sky it will leave. It will also tell you how long you’ll be able to see it.

To really make this an adventure, we drove almost three hours away to Enchanted Rock… a famous outcropping of granite in the Texas Hill Country that would give us a completely unobstructed view of the night sky. We got to the top of the rock about 15 minutes before the scheduled sighting. When the time came, we were not disappointed. It was the brightest light in the night sky and for the next four minutes, we watched it zoom across the night sky. We then hiked down the small mountain in the darkness which only added to the adventure.

So, what does that have to do with kidmin?

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Teens, tweens and social media addiction

A few months ago I read an article in Wired magazine that was quite shocking. The article is based on a book, “It’s complicated, the social lives of networked teens” by Danah Boyd. We all know that teenagers are overly connected to their electronic devices. Between twitter, instagram, snapchat and texting, they seem to always be glued to their devices. We’d even go so far to say that they’re addicted to their devices.

However, that’s not the view of this book/article. They suggest that teens/tweens aren’t addicted to their social devices, they’re addicted to each other. They spend so much time on social media because they usually don’t have any other way to connect. The suggestion is that if parents gave their kids more freedom, kids would be less connected to their social devices. It’s an interesting idea and worth exploring. More than ever, we’re more protective of our kids and we have them busier that any generation before. What if our kids had more time and more freedom to be together?

Check out the full article here.

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The two most significant questions: Part three

I’ve been talking about the two most significant questions asked in the hallways of our children’s ministry environments.

Did you have fun?
What did you learn?

If your’e just joining this conversation, you might think, “What’s so significant about these two questions?” Nothing really, at least from our perspective. They’re really not significant at all. When you get to the bottom of it, they’re absolutely not the questions we wish were asked in our environments. They’re shallow and automatic… meaningless even.

But, they’re significant because they represent an opportunity.

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The two most significant questions: Part two

Yesterday I began a short series on the two most significant questions asked every week in our church hallways. They are questions parents ask their kids when they pick them up after the service. I truly believe that the answers to these questions have a huge impact on whether a family will come back the following week.

Yesterday, I revealed the first question, “Did you have fun?” Fun! It’s what parents seem most concerned about. More than anything else, parents care about whether their kids laughed and giggled during they hour they were there. It may not be our favorite question, but I think we have a fantastic opportunity. If we can create an experience this is crazy fun, that visiting family is much more likely to come back next week.

The second question is better. I mean better because those of us who work in children’s ministry like it more. It’s a question we want moms and dads to ask. Interestingly, this question is typically asked after the “did you have fun” question and much less often.

Question number two:

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