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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. 

Bearly Here

So, we're taking off tomorrow for an RV adventure to Yellowstone. I won't be blogging next week. Hope to see lots of bears--from a distance!

Posted at 04:34

Have It Your Way

Remember the old Burger King slogan "Have it your way"? Today, more and more products are letting children have it their way.

Case in point: Iconoculture reported on Stardoll--a virtual environment where kids dress their avatar in the game. And now, Stardoll is partnering with Spreadshirt so kids can design their own clothes and have them created in the real world. Now that's customization!

The implications for ministry? Are we providing environments where kids are actively involved in making choices, designing their faith, and finding creative ways to wear it home? We have to move away from a linear lesson plan structure that's teacher-focused and instead create a network environment for learning where kids guide the process, make discoveries, and themselves make connections to real life.

Posted at 17:45

You Never Know...

We've had a horrendous thing happen here in our town of Loveland. Marital dispute, separation, filed divorce and restraining order papers led to the father being served at their home. Before it was over, the father had killed the process server, hurt his wife who managed to run for help, and tried to kill his two children before the police stopped him. And he told his children as he choked them that he loved them so much he'd do anything to protect them. It's horrifying.

On the nightly news, neighbors said the same things, "We never would've thought it." "They were such a good family." "They put up a cross at Christmas."

Something else that shocks? This was a family that was active in church. And the process server was a member of the same church they went to. My church.

It is doubly grievous to think about why the gospel of peace wasn't more pervasive in this family's life--especially if they were exposed to it regularly. What do we need to do more effectively? I'm not saying it's our church's fault; in fact, our pastor is very good at reminding us that none of us is perfect in our church. But it just makes me wonder.

It also troubles me to think of children in families in our churches who are exposed to violence and are abused--and we don't have a clue.

I've been reading a lot of memoirs lately, and one I just read "Driving With Dead People" chronicled the aftermath of abuse that the children experienced from the hands of their church-going father and mother. The abuse happened years ago but it makes me wonder if our church culture has changed enough that families would feel safe enough to tell someone about the reality behind closed doors--before tragedy strikes. What would it look like if we could talk to children openly about being a safe place for them to come if they need to be rescued? For children who go home to living hells, it just makes me wonder if it's enough to tell nice stories and have great lessons. 

Posted at 16:38

Subtle Signs of Stress

I'm a pretty calm person (which means I internalize my stress). And the telltale signs of that are I get this pain in my neck when stressed. Yes, it's an actual, not a figurative, pain. Doctors say it's an ulcer on my vocal chords. And it's baaaaack.

Why so stressed? My son just graduated from high school (yea!) so there was a lot to do, but that was pretty easy. Company came in; that was fun, but kind of high-maintenance.  (and we had tornado scares while they were here...an F-3 actually hit a nearby town, causing lots of damage.) So, here's the real stressor, Grant wants to join the Marines and go to Iraq. I'm not dealing real well with that one. I'm praying that God will help me to live life with an open-hand, and I'm trying, but I don't think the problem's in my hands--it's in my neck. Gulp.

Work has been busier than ever. The good thing is our managing editor had a precious baby boy. The tougher thing is filling in for her. She's fabulous so stepping back into a hands-on role (on top of other responsibilities) has piles of unfinished work and unanswered emails accumulating. And I think there's some kind of weird fungus on my keyboard. No time to clean it. Gulp.

We leave for vacation in a couple weeks--in a rented RV to Yellowstone--while gas is climbing over $4 per gallon. And I think it gets like two miles to the gallon. Big gulp. Looking forward to a break, but not sure it's going to be an easy trip. Packing, cooking, cleaning, unpacking. I'm adding to my stress just thinking of all the details.

So I'll just keep swallowing my antacids and trying to take deep breaths--not gulps. Say a prayer for God's peace to flood my life if you read this. That's what I long for.

Posted at 17:21

Conversation Over

Wow! It's taken me awhile to get caught up (I'm really not yet) from the Large Church Conversation. We had a great time exploring the top-four trends in children's ministry (according to an article I wrote in CMMag last year called "Trend Quakes").

For safety, it didn't surprise me that all together the groups listed 117 things that they're doing to keep kids safe in their ministries. We talked about "due diligence" as opposed to providing for every single possible danger. "Due diligence" is that we've done everything reasonable to do. We all agreed that background checks need to be the norm instead of the exception.

A surprising thing: Many of these churches have armed security onsite. But, here's the shocker for me, one of the churches actually has an armed sniper in the balcony to protect the pastor who's had threats on his life.

In the area of Wired Ministry, it was surprising to hear how many of these high-tech churches are concerned about not letting technology replace relationship and relevance for kids. They see the use of technology as part of their ministry, not all of it.

In the area of Family Ministry, not surprising, they're all trying to figure out how to impact today's families. We had a great discussion about learning from the "go green" movement. Matt McKee suggested that we do "value adds" and make spiritual nurture look natural for parents. There are four key areas to do that: getting faith conversation into the home, family events, everyone on the same Scripture each Sunday, and maximizing milestones. (We'll actually be doing an article on this in the Sept/Oct 08 issue.)

In Experience Required, some of our folks got scolded for starting a fire on the LaQuinta's property. Long story. But it's part of the creative experience we do to make the point.

Volunteers are a challenge, as they are for churches of all sizes. In the end, we all need to cry out to God. Jesus said "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers"! There's no substitute for prayer. And we all need to be cautious of running around looking for the next program/solution/strategy apart from the power of God!

Wow! We had a great time! Looking forward to our next conversation with denominational children's ministry leaders this fall!

Posted at 16:27

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