Thursday, August 30, 2012

Family Ministry In Our Church

A Family Ministry Blog Tour has been taking place over the past two months. Over 60 different leaders, all involved in Children's and Family Ministry from many different denominations have been answering the question, 
What Is Family Ministry? 
It's a complex question, with no 'right' answer, because all churches are different, all families are different, and all ministry is different. So what does Family Ministry look like in my church? I could probably write a really complex answer, but to put it simply, our Family Ministry looks like love. We simply try to love every family that comes through our doors, or every family that we meet on the street, no matter what that family looks like
For me, Family Ministry is praying for, and with families. Family Ministry is asking families what they need from us. Family Ministry is intergenerational fellowship and fun. Family Ministry is about providing resources and opportunities that will enable families to grow in their knowledge of Christ and advance in their walk with Him. Most of all, Family Ministry is about creating a safe and welcoming environment, where no one is judged, but rather all are loved, because everyone that we meet belongs to God's great big family. 
Family Ministry then, is about serving, befriending, and loving others, no matter what their family looks like. Mom and Dad; Just Mom; Just Dad; Dad and Dad; Mom and Mom- it does not matter. Family Ministry is all about unity- uniting all of us, brothers and sisters in Christ, with Jesus as our Head. That's what matters.
I pray for those who will believe in me...that all of them may be one. John 17: 20

Monday, August 27, 2012

Is it Worth it?

So my friends are arriving from England later today. They have probably never seen a hummingbird before...the weather in the British Isles is just not warm enough for these tiny birds to survive. So I have some assessing to order to put my hummingbird feeder up, I firstly have to find it, amongst all the junk in my garage. Then I have to clean it. Then I will have to search on Google to find out how to make the nectar. Next I will have to make the nectar and let it cool in the refrigerator. When that is done and I am finally ready to fill the feeder, I will have to drag the ladder out of the garage and climb it in order to hang the feeder in my front window, because I cannot reach the hook. And so I ask it worth it? Such a lot of effort for such a little bird. But my friends from England have probably never seen one, and they are good friends. So I somewhat reluctantly begin to look for my feeder.
About one hour later, I am sitting in my front room with my eyes on that swinging feeder and I am waiting....waiting because I tell myself that if I catch sight of just one of those little hummingbirds, then it will all have been worth it. And I so want to tell you that this is what happened. I want to write that all my efforts were rewarded as I witnessed one of those fascinating little fellows feeding from the nectar I so lovingly made. But I can't write that, because that never happened. After all that effort, I never did see a hummingbird coming to my feeder. But suppose one came when I wasn't looking...would it have been worth it then?
In our children's ministry, we are busy preparing for a new season. We pray, we plan, we organize, we recruit, we lead, we encourage, we teach....and despite our best efforts, we may never see that one little child who comes to Christ. Such a lot of effort for such a little child. And so I ask it worth it? And the answer is... yes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Hollow Shoulder

Click on the photo to see
baby Stefan fast asleep.
My dad is 88 years old. Baby Stefan, his newest great grandson, is barely 4 months old. At a recent family gathering, Stefan started to cry. His mom was about to pacify him, when my dad said, 'let me have him.' We all watched as Emma handed her baby to him and my dad gently put him on his shoulder and began to pat his back. Within two minutes, that baby was fast asleep. He felt safe and secure and loved. Baby Stefan was lying in my dad's 'hollow shoulder'...a little refuge from the world, formed over the years from numerous babies that have nestled there, from his own eight children, to his twenty six grandchildren, to his eight great grandchildren. 
We all need a refuge from the world. We all need a safe, secure place, where we feel loved and cherished. God has a hollow shoulder too...a safe place formed over the years by generations of children who have rested there. And there is room for us there too. 
The one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12

Monday, August 13, 2012

Castle Walls...

Click on the photo to see
the name inscribed in 1870
This time last week I spent a wonderful day wandering around the ruins of an ancient English castle. Occupying a commanding position at the head of Portsmouth Harbor, Portchester Castle was originally built in the early 3rd century and now stands as an impressive example of British medieval architecture. As I stood in these ancient ruins and made my way up and down the narrow, winding staircase, I couldn't help but marvel at all the history contained within these walls. In the 1800's the keep was used as a prison where over 3000 men were contained. In an effort to relieve their boredom, the prisoners carved their names in the stone walls, many of which are still legible today. But as I stood reading their names, I knew that the reason for this graffiti had to be far more than an activity to pass the time. In the midst of their captivity, these prisoners must have carved out their names because they wanted someone to remember them. They wanted someone to know that they had been there. They wanted to ensure that their names would not be forgotten.
Isaiah reminds us that God knows our names. In fact, they have already been inscribed...not on stone walls, but on the palm of God's hand. As Christians, we can remind our children that God remembers our names. He knows just where we have been. And we will never, ever be forgotten.
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:16

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Fever

As a British citizen living in the United States, I was anxious to join with millions of viewers from around the globe to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. 
Wow! As I watched over 200 nations parade their flags proudly around the Olympic Stadium, and listened to the cheers of the crowd, I couldn't help but think that I was witnessing all that is good in the world. So often, we get caught up in our differences, but in that Olympic arena, the tremendous diversity of our world was celebrated, and barriers of class were transcended as dignitaries like the Queen witnessed the arrival of the Olympic flame alongside the 500 ordinary construction workers who built the stadium. It was a perfect picture of unity, diversity, celebration, and equality in God's world. It made me proud to be British.  
Unity was important to important that it was the subject of His final prayer in John 17. Jesus' earnest plea to His father was that all of us may be one.
As Christians, we are called to transcend barriers of race and class, to celebrate diversity alongside our brothers and sisters, so that all of us may be one.
As I watch the Olympic games this week, I will be reminded of the awesome privilege I have to be called to celebrate diversity, to work to bring unity, to be a voice that pleads for equality for all our children, and to build God's kingdom in His amazing world. I'm not just proud to be British...I'm proud to be a Christian. 
Read Jesus' Prayer For Unity