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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

Talking With Children About Osama Bin Laden

I asked this question on our Children's Ministry Magazine facebook page: "I'm just wondering...and would love to hear what people who serve children think. With the death of Osama Bin Laden and the ensuing celebrations, how do you think that influences the way children see the world? Good, bad, or indifferent?"

For this blog, I'd like to highlight a few from very insightful responses to give you tips on how to talk with children about Bin Laden's death--from a biblical perspective. You can also share this with parents in your ministry.

Don't avoid the issue. It's highly unlikely that your children--even young children--have heard nothing about this issue. So ask them if they have any questions about it. This will help you to gauge what they're thinking.

Talk about good vs. evil. Osama Bin Laden was a man who did very evil things, and the government's role is to stop criminals. As Christians, we are never happy when evil occurs. Dina DeLucchi Moriarty said, "I told my daughter that Osama bin Laden was a man who did evil deeds. I referred to Romans 13:1-4 about govt. I am glad he was caught because he caused terror and trained terrorists; his deeds were EVIL."

Don't rejoice over someone's death. While it's appropriate to rejoice over the end of evil acts, be careful that you're not rejoicing over the death of a specific person. DeLucchi Moriarty also said, "Now, I did tell her this was not ...cause for celebration because while the Lord hated his deeds, he was still a soul that the Lord died for and wanted. The Bible speaks of angels rejoicing over a repentent sinner, not rejoicing over a sinner who goes to hell."

Talk about God's heart for sinners. Talk about how even though Bin Laden did very evil things, our loving God still loved him. God longed for Bin Laden to turn from his evil ways and turn to Jesus. That's not to say that God didn't want him to stop doing evil deeds; of course he did. Laurie Hoover-Atwood said, "Personally I believe God would be sad to see all the celebrations over his death, even though he did evil things. The Bible clearly tells us God is saddened and would rather they turn from their wicked ways and have life. (Ezek 18:23)."  

Mary Calawa told her third and fourth graders: "An evil man who killed others was himself killed. I said that I was glad he was dead, so that he cannot hurt others. But sad that he would never, ever get to be with God because of the choices he made."

Explain the difference between relief and rejoicing. Susan Bunning Querfeld said, "There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden was an evil man who embraced evil practices; I understand the reasoning behind the operation that took his life and I am glad that he will no longer be able to harm others. However, I believe that as ...Christians we can NEVER rejoice in or celebrate the death of someone who does not know Christ as his Savior. 1 Peter 3:9 says that God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. That includes men such as Bin Laden."

Talk about justice. Whenever someone commits a crime, they must pay. Jessica Stemmerding said, "We are a military family...we don't exactly celebrate Osama's death so much, but we do believe that an enemy of God is an enemy to our family. My husband is currently deployed...so this event has special meaning. Daddy's risking his LIFE for us as well as for the world... I can't 'hide' the ugliness of war. My family lives it (spiritual battles), and my husband (both spiritual and physical)."

In closing, Heather Henry said, "This is the most thought provoking quote I have come across today. "I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." MLK Jr."

 

Posted at 15:54

All in the Cards

This Easter as I stood in the card aisle, hunting for a card for my husband, I overheard two conversations between parents and their children.

"No, son, we don't want that one," a dad said. "Well, how about this one?" the boy asked. "That's great. She loves flowers."

And another conversation: "We should get her a first Easter card," the boy told his mom. "Why would we want to do that? She's 3." I couldn't help but laugh at this one.

As I listened to their exchanges, I realized that they were effectively passing on their values: caring for loved ones, giving, finding things that mean something to the recipient, celebrating Easter.

The truth is every day and in every way parents are passing on values. What they talk about--and what they don't. How they model life. How they deal with conflict. How they are in relationship with others.

Our great privilege in ministry is to encourage parents to see that they are already discipling their children. It's not that hard! It's just doing life with them. And I think perhaps the greatest equipping we can give these parents is not even tools and tips but help to fall deeply in love with Jesus so that the overflow spills all over their kids.

It's not more cowbell we need; it's more Jesus! And perhaps it's not more techniques we need, but it's more Jesus in our families!!! And when we have that, parents won't be able to keep themselves from sharing their love for Jesus with their kids.

Posted at 16:38

Ministry Isn't Perfect

    When I took on new responsibilities several years ago, I experienced those unsettling moments when everything wasn’t working the way I thought they should. And my poor husband would get an earful on our nightly walks. Finally, he told me, “You need to understand that 30 percent of your job is going to be icky—and just accept it.”

    So I started expecting that one-third of my job could go wrong because it was out of my control. And learning to accept the things I couldn’t change helped me find peace (sounds a little like The Serenity Prayer, doesn’t it?).

  So if you, like me, get frustrated with things in your ministry not going the way you want them to, embrace the 30-percent rule and consider what you can and cannot change.

   You can deliver a creative lesson. You can’t control how many kids show up or how many parents make church a priority that weekend. You can’t even control whether kids’ lives are changed for eternity (or even just for a moment). That’s up to God.

   You can offer amazing training for your teachers. However, you can’t control how many will forget to come even though they rsvp’d on your Facebook page.

  You can control what you think about someone who wrongs you. You can’t control whether that person spreads nasty rumors about you. Then again you can control going to that person and communicating directly. You may not be able to control how you feel about the situation, but you can control what you say about the person.

 You can control your ministry’s policies and procedures. However (and this is the one that gets to me), you can’t control whether people follow them. You can’t control when people disrespect you by taking your equipment without asking or making a decision that was really yours to make. But you can control what you do to their cars (just kidding!). 

  You can’t control whether someone takes credit for an amazing program you led. Or whether you lead in obscurity week in and week out and no one seems to notice or affirm your wonderful service. You can, though, take comfort in the fact that God sees your sacrifices and holds them dear and tells you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Posted at 21:58

Grapple On, Preteens!

You know that encounter Jesus had with the woman who asked him to heal her daughter, and he basically calls her a dog? Our pastor preached on that yesterday. It's in Mark 7.

When asked if we thought Jesus was just being rude, most of us raised our hand. But then John (our pastor) said that Jesus was simply being the master teacher. Already, the disciples had asked Jesus to send her away, not understanding that Jesus came for everyone. So Jesus masterfully used the moment to create cognitive dissonance in his followers to make the point.

And I sat there thinking--that's exactly what we do in Grapple for Preteens curriculum. In the large group setting, we create dissonance or "ask the question" so kids get in touch with what they're wondering about: What if Jesus is a liar? How can I know the Bible is true? Why can't I go to PG-13 movies? Do I really have to love everyone?

Then after that, they're challenged to dig into the Word and find God's answers.

I love Grapple for this very reason! I was talking to Deb Helmers, one of our assistant editors, just last week and she said she loves Grapple because that's what we all need to do in our faith journey. When we have questions, grapple with them and go to the Word of God for answers.

If you've never checked out Grapple for your upper-elementary kids, do it today. You won't be disappointed (Oh! and I didn't even tell you how the take-home piece is a website community for your class.) Go to group.com/grapple for more.

Posted at 19:58

When You Feel Overwhelmed

I recently asked this question on our Children's Ministry Magazine facebook page and loved the answers I got. So I'm sharing here.

Q: Ever feel like the job might be a little too much for you? What do you do when you feel that way?

Answers:

Cynthia Marley Parkes pray, asking for wisdom, power, and discernment, and remind myself of the obvious God-arranged journey that brought me to this point.

Valerie Dull-Norton Panic....haha. No- I pray! And study to know how to do the job well!

Ally Thomason Freeman Pray & prioritize!! Evaluate if the main thing is still the main thing and delegate even if it means letting go of doing some of the fun things myself. ;-)

Annie Willems That feeling is a sign for me that God and I need some alone time together.

Melia Warren I love that Annie! I love all of these! such wonderful reminders!

Christi Goodkey Whitford I remind myself that God does not call the equipped he equips the called and He will give me everything I need.

Angie Buchanan just keep swimming! just keep swimming! just keep swimming, swimming, swimming! or if you want a movie quote (haha), "Keep moving forward!" (thank you, Meet the Robinsons.) i think we would be wrong if we didnt feel humbled at such an amazing calling! but taking it one day at a time, continuing to press on despite fears or frustrations, and regular evaluations of what things are working & what things could work better are what have helped us keep moving forward.

Kate Radford First I cry. Then I pray. I have to keep reminding myself that I didn't ask for this, I was truly called into it by God. That is humbling yet so comforting.

Russell Howe I think of all the blessing that God has given in the last month and year and then after that, I try to be a blessing to the workers by giving them some encouraging letter or bookmark! Nothing cheers the soul like being a blessing to someone else :)

Great answers! So how would you answer the question?

Posted at 19:39

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