Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Children's Ministry Registration

Registration for our fall programming is currently underway. See the video below for one explanation of why you should register if you plan on having kids in our programming.

No, we won't leave your kids in the nursery each year, but registering your child(ren) helps things run smoothly for all of us as we approach Promotion Weekend (August 15-16). It helps us allocate our volunteers and plan for future growth, especially as Grace Church will have six services this fall (3 on Pelham Road, 2 in Powdersville, and 1 Downtown). Additionally, you have the opportunity to sign up to be a volunteer when your register your child(ren). We expect to need 650 regular volunteers in Children's Ministry, so we know that there is a place for everyone to serve!

If you haven't registered yet, please go to our registration page. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 10: A Life of Communication

Following up with the previous chapter about different types of communication, Tripp now exhorts us to make deep communication more of a lifestyle than an event. Shepherding the hearts of our children is a process of guiding and leading our children, helping them understand . . .
  • God and His ways,
  • themselves,
  • how sin works,
  • how the Gospel meets their deepest needs, and
  • their goals and motivations.
Shepherding our children is costly for us. Discipling them requires time and flexibility, since they "do not pour their hearts out or open themselves up" according to our schedule. Therefore, we may need to drop everything in order to seize a moment. Furthermore, we must discipline ourselves to be active listeners. I know that I need to improve in this area, to stop and think about what I hear them say before I speak. And, or course, before we can instruct our children, we need the integrity to model what a disciple of Christ looks like. Do our children see repentance and life change in us?

Every parent that I have talked to that has teenagers or college-age children cannot stress enough about the small window of time that their children are in the home. But this small window will cost us. "Parenting will mean that you can't do all the things that you could otherwise do." It may mean your golf game tanks, or that you don't have a "Southern Living" home. It may mean giving up on your college football habit, or it may involve a career change. What hinders your from more fully engaging your child in a lifestyle of discipleship and communication?

The cost of parenting is high. But is anything worth our children being equipped for a Gospel-centered life? My children are looking to be in a relationship in which they are loved and accepted. I know that I have much to teach them, but they will trust my influence only if they know that I love them and that I am committed to their best interests, above my own desires.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who are we?

With a growing church, there are many faces hurrying around during our weekend programming, and we know that it can be overwhelming trying to connect with staff and leaders. To help you learn about who is serving in Children's Ministry, please check out our Staff Contact and Meet the Volunteers pages on our website. Not only can these resources help you put a face with a name, but you can also read a little bit about their stories of how they got connected with being involved with Children's Ministry.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 9: Types of Communication

If you're like me, most communication between us parents and our children involves giving rules, correcting when rules are broken, and disciplining for breaking rules. However, Tripp exhorts us to develop deeper and richer communication with our children. He gives a suggestive (not exhaustive) list of different types of communication, and gives several examples from the book of Proverbs. We need discernment in our communication (I Thessalonians 5:14). For example, several years ago, I realized that I was parenting and communicating with Hannah (then age 5) and Elijah (almost 3) the same. God showed me that I was being lazy; it was easy to have a "one-size-fits-all" approach to leading my children, versus understanding them individually.

Here are some types of communication:
  • Encouragement. My children need to hear that Christ came because we are needy people. When they know the pain of failure, I must give them hope in God.
  • When my child breaks God's standards, he needs correction. I must help him understand what is wrong and what must be done to make amends for that situation.
  • Rebuke. Sometimes a serious and sharp censure of behavior or speech is needed. Of course, this should be followed with other forms of communication.
  • Entreaty. Especially when you can foresee a possible danger, you may need to use intense urging and even begging. You must remember that the goal is not to beg for something for yourself, but to plead for the "child to act in wisdom and faith" for her own benefit.
  • Instruction is when you provide a lesson or information to help your child understand his own world. "As a parent, you are dealing with young people who have large gaps in their understanding of life. . . . Your children need a framework in which they can understand life." The goal is for them to understand God, the world, and themselves so that they will make Christ-centered choices (Psalm 119:104).
  • Warning. I must help my children be on guard for probable danger. Think of the illustration of a sign saying "Bridge Out." In the book of Proverbs, warnings typically take the form of "if you do X, then Y will occur."
  • When you impart knowledge, you are teaching your child. Note that this form of communication may be done either before or after that knowledge is needed.
  • Praying with your child is a great way for each of you to connect with God, and to do it together. Also, you can gain a lot of insight into your child's heart condition by hearing him pray.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Q&A: "How do I deal with my child's fears?"

With regards to a child's fears, I think that most parents fall somewhere on the spectrum between desiring to protect your child's emotional well being, versus wanting to help him be more brave. This document is a chapter from the book "Hints on Child Training" by H. Clay Trumbull. This book was first published over 100 years ago, but I believe this principles are still applicable today. Throughout this book, Trumbull emphasizes that in all areas of a child's life (fears, reading, questioning, eating habits, etc), it is the parent who is responsible to train and lead. Trumbull helps the reader move from principles to specific application.

You can order your copy of this book through our website.

Joey Espinosa

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Communicating with My Child

The previous chapter of "Shepherding" summarized on this blog was about communication. I would like to add just a few more personal thoughts and ideas.

Recently, I was talking to my children about Genesis 3, about Adam and Eve's temptation and sin. My 5-year-old son, Elijah, asked, "Did God know that Adam and Eve would sin by taking the fruit?" After I affirmed that He did, since He is sovereign and all-knowing, Elijah asked, "Then why did God even put that tree in the Garden?" What a great question! He is beginning to struggle with the concepts of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God who allows "bad" things to happen.

So, I thought about a response. Not having a great answer right off the cuff, I decided to stall and distract Elijah with a question of my own. I said, "Well, I have a question for you. When God made Satan, did He know that Satan would one day rebel against Him?" Elijah said that of course God knew that. I replied, "Then why did God make Satan?" My son and I continued to talk about how we can't understand everything about God, but that's good. If we could completely understand Him, then He wouldn't really be so special, would He?

I'm not sure if I should have had a more theologically-fulfilling answer for Elijah. But I do love that he understands that I don't have all the answers about God and life. He knows that his daddy must seek and trust in the Heavenly Father.

Joey Espinsoa