But I Don’t ‘Sound’ Like a Seminarian…

8 06 2016

It is that time in the quarter and the school year – when I have a lot of deadlines with my school, my kids school, our family life, our church year – the end of Spring quarter and the beginning of summer. It is also that time of the quarter where I become self-reflective and concerned about whether or not I should even be in seminary (never mind  I’ll have completed approx. 40 of the 120 credits needing for the Master in Divinity program in a few days).

Tonight was the last meetup for one of my classes that I am sad to see end – Global Christian Heritage. I can’t believe I have taken three quarters in this series following the history of Christianity around the world beginning with Jesus on up to today. It has been an eye opening series of classes. I have learned a lot more about the beliefs and interactions of the church – the one I grew up in, the ones in which I’ve served, the ones that family,friends, and others attend or now disassociate themselves with, and the church experiences yet to come. I don’t know it all, but I know a bit more than when I started my second year of class this past September.

Something else I’ve learned is I still haven’t acquired the ‘lingo’ of a seminarian – at least that of the ones I often hear speak up in class around me. This is something that really hit me tonight as we gathered for our final class at our professor’s home. I shared something connecting my work in children’s ministry with what we were talking about it class and what I had to say did not at all have any ‘seminary/theological’ lingo. I felt like the one with the most practical answer, with the most simple words, and I couldn’t even think of any words to try to match those of the brilliant colleagues in my class.  I kicked myself even as I spoke, realizing I was opening up my mouth yet again about children’s or youth ministry, wondering if what I wanted to say even made any sense to our discussion. It is really hard – very easy  to want to compare myself with others and yet understand that I am who God has made me to be and will give me the words I need for each situation. This is all on myself. No one has said anything to discourage me. I think it is my own expectations of what a seminary student is really supposed to be able to say, understand, and communicate.

Sometimes I wonder if because I have spent so many years translating theological concepts to children, teens, and other adults – trying to learn the big words and break down the lingo for others – that I don’t have the ability to speak as ‘eloquently’ as my seminary colleagues and professors. Perhaps this is one of my purposes for being called to pursue seminary studies: to learn the big concepts, grasp the greater issues of the church so that I can break it down to those whom I minister at church and at home. As I work through this frustration, I’m guessing this is how many of the people I’ve worked with who volunteer in children’s and youth ministry feel – and to those of you I say, it is OK if you aren’t able to teach or speak like your pastor or other minsters… just do your best to master the material set in front of you and translate God’s role and our role in it the best you can for the children and youth in your care – even if they are ‘just’ your own children.

We need not compare – only encourage and pray for one another to continue the call God sets on each of our hearts, knowing somehow that through our simple and our eloquent words that God will be made known to others. And please don’t hesitate to remind me of this if you hear me worrying about whether or not I’m eloquent enough to be in seminary (although I’m sure to some I could probably make some improvements when I contribute to a classroom discussion).





Children’s Book Review: The Story of King Jesus by Ben Irwin

17 04 2015

Bob Irwin FullSizeRender   “The Story of King Jesus” by Ben Irwin is a great new book brought to us by David C. Cook publishing! It is a refreshing perspective of the Bible in a nutshell that incorporates Creation, the calling of Israel, the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and why all of that is important for people today and in the future – God is renewing creation with his love (including humankind) and we are called to help further this mission to the time of completion that will occur when king Jesus returns. Ben Irwin, of course, doesn’t use as big of words to communicate his interpretation of Genesis through Revelation with young and elementary age children.

I read this to my own daughters (ages 7 and 10 years) and my seminarian theology-geek heart was filled with joy because it sums up what I’ve been learning about through my masters of divinity classes (canonical approach!) and the perspective of God that I’ve for so long attempted to communicate to children and their parents as a children’s minister.

Parents and children’s ministry (kidmin) leaders – Sometimes it is hard to teach children about Jesus’s death without instilling fear of death or scaring them with images of nails and blood and violence. Let’s be real – violence happens all throughout the Bible and is an important part of the story and the reason why God is wanting to reclaim and redeem the world. Bob Irwin does excellent work explaining certain situations – people fighting, Israelites being thrown into captivity because they didn’t follow God, wrong doings of many of Israel’s kings,seeming silence of God, Jesus arrested in the garden and death on the cross – in a way that says “This is/was not OK, it hurts and is sad, BUT THERE IS HOPE”. The illustrator of “The Story of King Jesus” – Nick Lee – also does beautiful and amazing work portraying these scenes in a powerful, meaningful and not-overbearing manner.

My 10 year old is an aspiring artist (loves to draw!) and she was highly impressed with the illustrations in this book. Her only dig was “why does everyone draw Adam and Eve as naked behind the bushes?”. Silly girl! My seven year old daughter was able to understand the story and even tell other parts that weren’t specifically mentioned, but she could look at the pictures and without reading the words and understand what is being depicted.

I highly recommend “The Story of King Jesus” to anyone looking for a good solid canonical theology of Genesis to Revelation children’s book and for folks looking for artwork to depict the Bible as well. I thought it would be thicker than it was but it is a thin 24 page book, which I then assumed would be simple and cute – yet it is packed with information and it is not too overwhelming unless you have a wiggly child – then you might break it up into parts reading over a few bedtime story sessions.

Check it out – Bob Irwin’s “The Story of King Jesus” today, comment on this post today and WIN A COPY of “The Story of King Jesus” by Bob Irwin!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free “The Story of King Jesus” book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sunday, April 19th):

  1. Leave your name and reason why you’d like a copy of this book in the comments below for one entry.
  2. Share this post via Facebook, Twittter, Google+, and even pin to Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me where you’ve shared.

I’ll draw a name at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 19th, 2015 – get your entries in and if you think of someone else who might love this book, be sure to share this post with them so they can enter as well.

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase the book you can find it at:

ChristianBooks.com  | ThoughtfulChristian.com | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

or your local independent bookstore!

BTW – the only compensation I receive for this post is a copy of the book to use for review and promise of a giveaway book to my readers upon review.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment to enter the drawing!!

 





Bible Stories Book Review and a Giveaway Drawing – Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley

15 09 2014

I was given opportunity to review a new a new children’s Bible stories book while it is on a blog tour for David C. Cook.

Here is a video trailer featuring Kelly Pulley’s rhyming Treasury of Bible Stories:

And here are my thoughts and impressions on the Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

Definitely a book for 4-8 year olds… if you have a child ready to snuggle up and read or listen to a story, you can start right in. I have a wiggly 7 year old daughter, she is just learning to read and I asked her to help review the book with me. She read the first page on her own – outloud to me – and then she said “This is good, but I think preschoolers and kindergartners who aren’t reading yet would like it better.” I think it also was the timing – if I had her attention and read it as a bed time story or as a children’s sermon story where I already have her as a captive audience then maybe she would have been more receptive.

I have to say I was surprised by how few stories are covered in this book – the author seems to have chosen quality over quantity, which is not a bad thing – making it easier to read through the book with your children. The stories are more like long poems that are very rhythmic – think Dr. Suess style and fun to read outloud. When I first received the book I had hoped to use it with our upcoming Sunday School lessons on the Jesus feeding the 5000 with a few fish and loaves shared by a young child. Sadly, the story was not in the book. I have tried to figure out if there was a pattern to the stories chosen, and I’m not sure there is – perhaps these are some of the author’s favorites or stories that were designed to follow a set of Sunday school lessons.

So who do I recommend pick up this book??

  • If you or your child like rhyming – this book is for you.
  • If you are looking for a new Bible stories book to share with your young child – give this one a try.
  • If you are wanting to read rhythmic stories to children in a nursery or preschool setting – this is a great book to engage little ears.
  • If you’re wanting to add a book to your church or Sunday school’s children’s ministry library – I’d recommend you consider this for your shelf.

WIN A COPY of TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES by Kelly Pulley!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free Treasury of Bible Stories book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sept 20th):

  1. Leave your name and reason why you’d like a copy of this book in the comments below for one entry.
  2. Share this post via Facebook, Twittter, Google+, and even pin to Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me where you’ve shared.

I’ll draw a name at 10:00 a.m  on Saturday, Sept. 20th, 2014 – get your entries in and if you think of someone else who might love this book, be sure to share this post with them so they can enter as well.

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase the book you can find it at:

David C. Cook  | ChristianBooks.com  | Lifeway Christian Books

Family Christian Books | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

BTW – the only compensation I receive for this post is a copy of the book to use for review and promise of a giveaway book to my readers upon review.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment to enter the drawing!!





Inspired by “Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church”

5 08 2014

I’ve come across an excellent post describing how one can help a person in transition when they need to leave the church. Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church. It discusses how to address a congregational community member when they leave for life changes like college, marriage, new jobs, etc.

What I hoped it would but doesn’t address, is those who are simply looking for something different in worship service or a different type of worshiping community – locally. This is where I often  have continuous conversations with parents and teens in children and youth ministry in a smaller church.

In our church a few things might cause people to want to try  something else (at the same time, these might draw people in!):

  • We don’t have the exciting thrills of the mega-churches around us in the Seattle area when it comes to children, youth, or adults.
  • Our children’s and youth minsitry various from 1 to 20 children/teens on any given Sunday.
  • We have women in leadership – the pastor and myself (whom the church has chosen to call in to these positions).
  • Much of the staff and much of the congregation is (not officially) affirming to LGBTQ parishioners and families – our pastor will perform same sex marriages.
  • We are trying to figure out the best use of our large, beautiful building that we can’t afford to keep to ourselves.
  • Staff salaries have been cut recently including hours of availalbility which affects programs and plans.
  • For now church polity requires that in order to be an elder or deacon you must be an official ‘member’ of the church – and some people are not keen on membership to anything really hindering some excellent folks from holding various leadership roles in the church.
  • We have and use an organ (among other instruments) and sing songs from hymnals (among other types of music)

These and other concerns are reasons I’m continually having conversations beginning with “We are trying out some other churches…” . In a smaller church you really notice when someone or some family is missing for any number of weekends. Other parishioners get nervous and constantly ask “Where are they? do you know if they are coming back? What can you/we do different to bring them back?” . I sometimes know the answer to the first question and usually have nothing for the other two.

To be honest, I decided several years ago that people are going to make their choices, we can do the best we can to involve them in the life of the church and then it is up to them and God’s holy spirit to figure out the rest. My brain will get tired trying to keep track, but it isn’t up to me to decide whether they will stay or go. It is up to me not to let my heart be jealous and angry at people for making their own choices.  We all have seasons in our lives where we need to try something a little different or experience something for ourselves to see to even know if where we are at is what we want and need. I’m of the opinion that we pray for folks and give our blessing to let them wander and try new things and let them know should they choose to come back and stay we are here and have a place for them. I will be sad if it is a person or family that has been a “pillar” of sorts in the congregation community, but it isn’t fair to make people feel guilty or hold them back from something God is calling them to do for themselves and their families.

I have the same opinion when it comes to working with volunteers. Sometimes volunteers want to try something else and they feel stuck in having made a commitment to a particular ministry. I love my volunteers and generally it is few and far between with children and youth ministry – but again we need to let the Spirit lead. If they have gifts and talents and interests they want to try somewhere else for a period of time or they simply are having some tough times in life  – release them, give them permission, and trust that God will work within the ‘gap’ seemingly left in your ministry. We have to trust that God isn’t just working in the life of that one person, but yours as well.

We are called to be people of the spirit – the one Jesus’ sent to work in and through and with us. That means it is important having the tough conversations and giving permission and blessing to allow God’s spirit to work in all people – even if it stings our heart a bit.





Help me: Children Verbally Abused by Peers

20 05 2014

This happens in communities all the times – I see it in the children/youth ministry and I see it among my almost 10 yr old daughter and her friends – and it breaks my heart.

Child # 1 just happens to be friendly to others and tries to be understanding in tough situations and then by chance and sometime “on purpose” because she gets along with others well – she gets paired up or simply stuck in a group with Child #2.

Child #2 is maybe jealous , can’t handle the niceness or Child #1, or maybe gets frustrated in their own shortcoming but knows Child #1 won’t lash back so passive aggressively blames the failings and frustrations on Child #1 – privately or in a group setting.

I’m in an odd place in trying to figure out how to be the adult in these situations – because:

1) often the children come to me to report, Child #1 is hurt by child#2 and doesn’t like it and needs it to stop. Child #2 claims they’ve done nothing wrong and it is the fault of Child #1.

2) I don’t always see or hear the interaction.  Other friends chime in to support child #1, and no matter what Child #2 keeps up the shenanigans.

3) Child #1 knows all the others are on their side, but that doesn’t matter when you are a tween or a teen = because you’ve been embarrassed in front of them, so there must be something wrong that you are the one verbally abused.

In church, school playground, and “team work” related activities parents have committed children to participate in Child #1 has no real way to get away from or ignore Child #2.

So what do you do? I can see why child #1 might actually love participating in a ministry program or attending church, or avoid going on the playground during recess, or not want to be in an extracurricular they really love – becasue if they go it is more than likely they will be attacked (in a way the adults won’t see) by child #2.In a few cases, I KNOW it is NOT the fault of the parents and in other cases , it is more than  obvious the parents have modeled this behavior for their children.

Also what do you do in group settings where child #2 gets ostracized by others, after they have repeatedly been reprimanded by the community of friends of child #1.  In church, the school playground, other activities — these kids need the interaction with others, but they become unwanted after damaging the hearts of other one too many times.

How do we love Child #2, while protecting/supporting/empowering Child #1? How might both be engaged without  both dropping out  because they’ve been hurt.

When is it OK to talk to parents as an adult who hasn’t been an eye-witness but has children eye-witnesses?

How do you talk withthe parent of Child #2 when they are a leader of the group, or not willing/to embarrassed to  admit their child could have been so hurtful to another?

I get stuck in the middle as a parent (my kiddo is so often the Child #1 and it breaks my heart). Tough when I am usually the leader of what ever program Child #1 and Child #2 are participants of…. “Your child is picking on my child” – They see me as the leader who thinks their child is perfect and can do no wrong.

Please share your suggestions and similar experiences in the comments below.





5 Traps That Can Catch The KidMin Leader | Kidmin360

8 04 2014

Taking me longer than I expected to process the promised “next” post.

I couldn’t help but share this link for my KidMin (Children’s ministry) inclined followers. I’ve been in a conference workshop session or two led by Greg Baird and I respect his thoughts and ideas when it comes to minsitry leadership. He has great words and adapts his posts to the context of small, medium, and large size churches. I especially appreciate today’s post on “Traps”. True-to-Life situations and excellent questions for us to ask to keep ourselves and our ministries in check. All apply to me, but applaud #5… something that has been meaningful for me to realize over the years as a small church faith formation leader.  Take a peek, it is worth the read:

5 Traps That Can Catch The KidMin Leader | Kidmin360.





Please!! Let the Children Lead!!

27 09 2013

I drove into my daughters’ school drop-off zone yesterday morning pnly to drive out angry at how adults sometimes treat children who are trained and designated to be community leaders.

I confess – we were in the “5 minutes to the last bell”crowd. As I pulled up closer to the five designated drop-off-and-drive-off spots, I immediately noticed some heavy drop-off congestion. Five cars were all vying for the same spot. Just beyond the parking lot, safely on the sidewalk and wearing her patrol gear what a child who looked frustrated but kept doing her job – holding out her hand for cars #6 and beyond to wait and directing other cars to pull out. Parents in cars #1-5 and even #6 #7 were ignoring this poor young lady and just driving up to other spots and causing the crazy congestion that stopped the entire parking lot from working as smooth as it could.

Now these drop off spots are very clearly marked by numbers and heavily publicized policies in parent/school  communications). Often there is an adult – parent or teacher – helping out, but these patrol students are well trained. I’m guessing it was “5 minutes to the bell” and the adult helpers needed to get to their classrooms, etc. There really shouldn’t be an issue here. Had the driving “adults” respected the leadership and training of this student – rather than simply dismissing her as “only a child” perhaps the drop-off area would have run more smoothly.

I was really frustrated for this little girl and need to send a note of thanks off to our principal to let them know what I observed. I was so frustrated that parents of a community pledging to come together to raise our kiddos up as leaders in this school system can decide to one-up the system and take things into their own hands. Not only does it clog up our parking lot and drop-off system – it degrades the very thing we are trying to teach and deflates an individual child’s confidence in their abilities.

Here are my thoughts when it comes to children and leadership in churches (or anywhere really):

* When provided training and given responsibility we need to let the children go and let them lead – especially the ones who really get it. Sometimes they may need assistance etc. But let them lead.

* When being led by a child – we need to let them lead. Adults simply need to respect and trust that if another adult has left a child (11,12,13 yr old child) in charge then they likely are responsible enough to lead. IF there is an issue – bring it to the team leader, rather than take things into your own hands [unless it is a viable safety issue of course].

Please let our children and youth be leaders – they need it, we need it, and sometimes they are just better at the job!

And to that young patrol student – this is what I want you to hear: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  – 1st Timothy 4:12








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