Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are You Smarter Than Your 1st-4th Grader??

This week in Camp Grace, our campers competed in a Genesis review game of “Who Wants to be a Bible Scholar?”  At the end of class, they brought home a bookmark for their continued reading and study, which can also be found online, but there was no S’more Card for this week.  Instead, test your knowledge with these questions and see if you and your camper can answer them all (answers are at the end so you can check).  Did you miss a few more than you thought?  Improve your score and connect with your camper by studying the S’more Card together each week.  Look for the S’more Card at the end of class next week or online.  Let’s all “get some more of God”!

Question 1
We started the year studying about the Trinity.  The Trinity means that God is three persons in one.  He is God the Father, God the Son and _____________________.

A.    God the Creator.
B.     God the Holy Spirit.
C.     God the Big Guy in the Sky.
D.    God the Merciful.

Question 2
God created Adam and Eve to live in the Garden of Eden. He told them they could eat from any tree, except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan tempted Eve into eating fruit from this tree, and sinning for the first time. What was Satan disguised as?

A. Skunk
B. Seal
C. Salamander
D. Serpent

Question 3
Adam and Eve had two sons, one of whom killed the other out of jealousy and anger. What were their son's names, and who killed whom?

A. Abel and Caleb; Abel killed Caleb
B. Casey and Alex; Alex killed Casey
C. Abel and Cain; Cain killed Abel
D. Joseph and Judah; Joseph killed Judah

Question 4
The world was filled with evil, and God decided to destroy every living thing. He spared Noah and his family because Noah was righteous. God showed Noah and his family grace by saving them. What is grace?

A. Being given something you deserve
B. Getting whatever you want
C. Being given something you don't deserve
D. Being mean to someone else

Question 5
After Noah and his family came off of the ark, what was the first thing Noah did?

A. Built an altar and worshipped himself
B. Built a house for his family
C. Built an altar and worshipped God
D. Built a barn to put the animals in

Question 6
God created us to worship Him. To worship in truth means:

A. To worship in a town called Truth
B. To worship from the heart
C. To take a lie detector test before worshipping
D. To find the old Christian group, Truth, and ask if you can join

Question 7
God appeared to Abram and changed his name to Abraham, which means "Father of many nations," because God promised Abraham many descendants. How old was Abraham when God appeared to him?

A. 77 years old
B. 99 years old
C. 111 years old
D. 44 years old

Question 8
When Abraham and his nephew Lot had to separate ways, they had to decide how to divide the land. How did they make that decision?

A. Abraham was selfless and let Lot choose first, even though he would probably not get what he wanted
B. Abraham chose first because he was older
C. They raced on horses
D. They played paper-rock-scissors

Question 9
When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham:

A. Laughed and told God, "You must be kidding."
B. Packed up everything, left town, and tried to hide from God
C. Obeyed God's command because he loved and trusted God
D. Asked if he could sacrifice Lot instead

Question 10
Abraham sent his servant to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac. This servant displayed great Godly character in finding Isaac's wife. What was the name of this servant, and what was the name of the wife he found for Isaac?

A. Elliott and Rebekah
B. Eliezer and Rachel
C. Eric and Ruth
D. Eliezer and Rebekah

Question 11
Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons named Jacob and Esau. They were very different from one another, and Jacob was jealous of Esau. What did Jacob trick Esau into giving him?

A. Food
B. Birthright
C. Money
D. House

Question 12
Jacob left his family to live with his Uncle Laban. There he married Laban's daughters, Leah and Rachel, and had 12 children. God told him to return to his homeland, so Jacob obeyed. When he returned and saw Esau, he was humble and bowed to Esau. How did Esau respond?

A. He ran to Jacob and kissed him
B. He ran to Jacob and killed him
C. He turned his back to Jacob
D. He told Jacob to leave and never return

Question 13
After Satan tempted Eve and she sinned for the first time, what happened when God called to Adam and Eve?

 A. They ran up to Him and gave him a hug
 B. They hid from Him
 C. They played tag with Him
 D. They gave Him a piece of fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Question 14
Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy. What happened before Cain killed Abel?

A. God warned Cain not to let sin take control
B. Cain told God he was going to kill Abel
C. Cain was angry and threw a tantrum
D. Abel gave Cain a present

Question 15
When the world had become filled with evil, and God decided to destroy every living thing, He sent a flood to do this. Before he brought the flood, how long did he give the people to confess their sins and repent?

A. 100 years
B. 260 years
C. 120 years
D. 85 years

Question 16
After the flood, the first thing Noah did was worship God. God then made a covenant (promise) to never again destroy all living things with a flood. What did he leave us as the sign of His promise?

A. Clouds
B. Rainbows
C. Waterfalls
D. Earthquakes

Question 17
God told Abram to leave his family and everything behind to go to Canaan. A famine struck Canaan, and Abram was forced to go to Egypt. What did Abram do in Egypt that showed He did not trust in God?

A. Abram lied to the Egyptians and told them he was born in Egypt
B. Abram told his wife Sarai to steal food for them
C. Abram stole food because he was afraid
D. Abram lied to the Egyptians and told the pharaoh his wife Sarai was his sister

Question 18
When Lot was captured, Abram fought the army who had Lot and won. He freed Lot and got back everything that had been taken. Which king blessed Abram after his victory?

A. King of Sodom
B. Melchizedek
C. King of Salem
D. Kedorlaomer

Question 19
God blessed Abraham and Sarah in their old age with a son. They named him Isaac.  What does Isaac's name mean?

A. Sad
B. Funny
C. Laughter
D. Waiting

Question 20
When Abraham sent Eliezer to go to his homeland to look for a wife for Isaac, Eliezer obeyed all of Abraham's commands. Where did he meet Isaac's wife, Rebekah?

A. At a stream
B. In a courtyard
C. On a hill
D. At a well

Answers- 1)B    2)D   3)C   4)C    5)C   6) B   7)B   8)A   9)C   10)D   11) B    12) A  13)B   14)A   15)C   16) B   17) D   18) B   19)C   20) D

Friday, November 11, 2011

Future Women Conference: One Dad's Reflection

This past weekend, my wife and I attended the Future Women Conference along with almost 500 other parents, grandparents, and ministry leaders. Like most parents, we are not just looking to raise “good kids” who do not get into trouble, or even ones that know lots of answers to Bible questions. Instead we want to parent them in a Gospel-centered way that equips them to evaluate their own hearts, their relationships, and their culture in light of who God is and who we are in relationship to Him.

As a father, I also realize that I am accountable for how I shepherd my family. I did not grow up in a family or culture that thought this way, and it is a life-changing experience for me to be a part of a community that takes equipping the next generation, seriously. That all sounds lofty and altruistic as I write it, and in practice it is work...which requires a lot of thought and creativity in the moment. Sometimes I feel like I do that well, and other times I fail miserably.

There were several great take-aways from the conference, but one of the most significant “ah ha” moments for me came when Ed Sweeny said we need to take time to say “yes” to our children. I have felt that before, but could not have put words to it. There are days that I feel like all I say is “no,” followed by discipline, followed by more sayings of “no,” with a few “you know you are not allowed to do that” comments sprinkled in. I knew something did not feel right about that as it was happening, but if you asked, I could not tell you what it was. All I knew was it felt like I was beginning to exasperate them (Colossians 3:21), but did not know how to fix it.

Saying “no” is easy...especially for Dad. We carry a lot of weight, we are tired, we are also (thanks to the fall) predisposed to be passive, feel free to fill in your favorite excuse here. I realize as I am typing this that the days I am most short-tempered and most likely to be agitated are the days that I am least engaged with my children. It takes time and effort to say “yes.” It means I am going to have to close the laptop, not finish that email just yet, turn off the TV, and engage. I will have to ask questions, listen to the answers, and ask follow-up questions. Sometimes it is as simple as getting off of the couch and laying in the floor for 30 minutes while they use me as their trampoline.

“Yes” requires thought and creativity. It requires time and effort. It requires my best when I am feeling my worst. It requires me to evaluate the request and redirect it in a better direction.

Is “yes” always the right answer? No. But “no” is easy and I use it way too much.

- Rob Allen, Children's Ministry Staff

For more information about Men's Roundtable, click the image below.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Future Women Conference: One Mom's Reflection

Several hours after our daughter was born six years ago, my husband looks at me and says, “This one is different.” We’d had a whole year and a half of parenting a calm, compliant, easy-going little boy, and realized early on that this “sweet little girl” was going to be a whole new ball game.

So, when Grace announced they were hosting a Future Women Parenting conference, you can bet we were the first ones to sign up. Teach me how to raise a kind, loving, thoughtful girl? A teenage girl that will dress modestly, won’t gossip, or be mean to her “friends”? A teenager we will actually like? Yes, please, I would like the recipe for that.

I wanted to know exactly what to say when my 5-year old comes home from school and says, “Mom, I don’t like playing with Suzie because I don’t think she’s as pretty as Sally.” I needed answers.

And, honestly, I didn’t get all my questions answered with a simple, one size fits all answer. But, here’s what I did get:

  • We need to first understand and embrace femininity as it was created by God. Only then can we parent our girls with purpose and direction.
  • Our girls have been hard-wired by God to be relational. “Femininity is uniquely suited to find and meet need in the context of relationship.” It’s why, when they are playing with matchbox cars, my son will race them and fight with them, and my daughter names them and makes them into families. God created that, and it is good. I need to remember this when she is 12 and wants to text with her friends all day long.
  • Modesty is about displaying your femininity in appropriate ways. I’m not exactly sure what to do with this, but it’s the best definition of modesty I’ve ever heard. And I’m guessing that’s going to be a big issue for us in a few short years.
  • Her core sin is autonomy. It’s why she asks me (often), “Mom, why does DAD have to be in charge of our family?” And how important it is for me to answer her clearly and fully, and often. And know that she’s not just asking that out of curiosity. There is a sinful, rebellious heart inside her that wants to be in control of EVERYTHING.
So, maybe I didn’t get all the answers I was looking for. But, if I did, would I really need God as much? Would I look to Him, as the creator and author of my daughter’s story for help? Would I ask Him for wisdom in raising my daughter?

Maybe, I got more answers than I realized. Maybe, you did too.

- Braeton Beres, Children's Ministry Staff 

For more information about Ezer, click the image below. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Register Now for Future Women!


Don't miss out on your opportunity to attend our Future Women Conference and become equipped with a theology, language, and practical application of what it looks like to raise the next generation of women!

Registration closes Wednesday, November 2nd, at 5:00pm!

Click here to register.

We have over 300 people signed up for far! Thank you to everyone who has signed up!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Future Women Conference

On November 4th & 5th, we will be hosting the Future Women Conference. We will be providing a language, theology, and practical application for what it looks like to raise the next generation of women. This conference is for anyone who is involved in some capacity with raising girls to learn what it means to reflect God in His image as a women, through the core capacities of nurturing, partnering, and inviting. We encourage all parents, grandparents, teachers, and leaders of girls and young ladies to attend this event.

Register for this event on our Future Women page.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preschool Curriculum: God is Jealous

This past weekend, we began a new series in our Preschool Ministry. We are studying through the Ten Commandments to learn that God is Jealous, and we should worship Him.

The points of emphasis for this study are:
  1. We belong to God
  2. God wants us to only worship Him
  3. The 10 Commandments tell us how God wants us to live
Here is an excerpt from the Leader Preparation for this series...
God is a jealous God and He expects our worship, service and obedience to be for Him alone. Sometimes the worlds "jealous God" cause a struggle for us. To the world's way of thinking it sounds so self-centered and self-promoting for God to be a jealous God and call us to worship, serve and obey Him exclusively. But, God is not like us; He is transcendent - He has an "otherness" to His being...The Scripture reveals the transcendence or "otherness" of God to us as it unfolds facets of His character and very essence. Just as multiple simultaneous bursts of light in the sky make up the "WOW" of fireworks, so the multiple facets of the character and "otherness" of God make up the "WOW" of His glory!
The memory verse for this series is Matthew 4:10, "You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him."  This series will run through October 30th.

You can view our more information about our Preschool Ministry on our website.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Future Men, Future Women

Two years ago, in October 2009, we hosted an event called Future Men. This event provided a language, theology, and practical applications of what it looks like to raise up the next generation of men. We had almost 400 parents, grandparents, and leaders attend. 

From our Men's Roundtable teaching, we taught the Biblical definition of manhood to be...
A real man is one who rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects God's reward.

We also walked through 3 main stages of going from boys to men:
  1. Authority. God's authority needs to be established, as well as the authority He's delegated to parents, teachers, and other leaders. When an authority tells a child to "do this," he needs to be taught to obey quickly, completely, and happily.
  2. Responsibility. During this stage, your son needs to learn to "handle his deal." He needs to be challenged and respected.
  3. Partnership. By this stage, you are no longer standing over your son, but you are standing alongside him.
You can view several video discussions that emerged from this event on our YouTube channel (search "Future Men") Several that might be of interest to you:


Coming up on November 4th & 5th, we will be hosting the sister event to Future Men, appropriately called Future Women. Here, we will be walking through the language, theology, and practical applications of what it looks like to raise up the next generation of women. We encourage all parents, grandparents, and leaders of girls and young women to attend this event. Save the date, and stay tuned for more information about this event!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Camp Grace Curriculum

We are 6 weeks into the curriculum in Camp Grace, after having finished our first round of the split-curriculum (you can read more about this here) on August 6th & 7th. We have studied about creation, how God created man and woman in His image, sin entering the world, the consequences of sin that we experience today, and the corrupt nature evident in humanity through Cain and Abel. 

We began our study of Noah in Genesis 6-8 this past weekend. We saw how God was grieved by the evil rebellion His people were living in, and decided to destroy the world through a flood. One man, Noah, found favor with God because he was righteous and followed God. God gave Noah instructions to build an ark for his family and two of every animal to go aboard in order to be saved from the flood. We saw how Noah was obedient in everything God asked of him, and God was faithful to save Noah and his family from His plan to destroy the world. 

This weekend, we will finish the story of Noah to see how Noah responded in worship to God's grace and faithfulness to save him and his family. We will study from Genesis 8:20-22 and 9:12-17, and discuss what it looks like to worship God in spirit and in truth. We were created by God to worship Him with our lives, and we will learn how we can worship Him.

For more information about our Camp Grace curriculum and an outline of our upcoming curriculum, click here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parenting: It's Never An Interruption

"Parenting is all about living by the principle of prepared spontaneity. You don't really know what's going to happen next...What you do know is that Scripture gives you the wisdom that you need and your always-present Messiah gives you the grace that you need to be ready to respond to the moments of opportunity he will give you. Along with this, you and I must remember that our Lord loves our children more than we ever could and his commitment to their growth and change is more faithful and persevering than ours could ever be."

The above excerpt is from a post on the Paul Tripp Ministries blog. The mission of Paul Trip Ministries is "connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. You can finish reading this post here

Paul Tripp is a well-known Pastor and author, President of Paul Tripp Ministries, in addition to Professor of Pastoral Life and Care at the Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas and Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a co-author of the How People Change study, which many within our church community have taken part in.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Burns Family Supports Osborn Mission

Joseph and Elizabeth Osborn have been a part of our Grace community for years, and have been pursuing being missionaries overseas. They recently moved their family from Greenville to Papua New Guinea. They are a part of New Tribes Mission, and their goal is to preach the Gospel, translate the Bible, and eventually plant a church among tribes of people who do not have access to God's Word in their own language. You can find out more about the Osborn's and stay updated through their website, Osborn Mission.

Children's Ministry Saturday Night Coordinator, Molly Burns, and her family are a part of the support team for Joseph and Elizabeth Osborn. Molly was a guest blogger on the Osborn's website this week, sharing why she and her family are partnering with the Osborn's in their mission in Papua New Guinea. Here is an excerpt from her post:
"There are many reasons it seemed natural for us to partner with the Osborns in their mission in PNG. One, because we know it is a real call God has on their lives to go; two, because we know it is an equally real call God has for us to send...as it became increasingly clear that 'the going part' was not God’s call for us, we realized God had brought our families together for us to play a different role in tribal missions."
You can read more from Molly here.

Please be in prayer for the Osborn's as they adjust to a new country, new environment, and as they begin their long-awaited mission of spreading the Gospel of Christ with tribes in PNG.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Preschool Curriculum: Adam & Eve

This weekend, our preschoolers will begin a new series that will run through October 2nd. We will be reading from the beginning of Genesis to study about Adam and Eve, in order to learn that God is Relational. We will see how God created us in His image, male and female, and our response should be to follow Him.

Check out an excerpt from the Leader prep for this weekend's lesson.
"God created human beings to reflect Himself. Our memory verse for this unit says we were created “in His own image.” However, we were not all created the same. The verse goes on to say “male and female He created them.” Even though we are different, we still reflect the image of God.
God also created us to be in relationship – relationship with Himself and with others. God knew that it was “not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) so He provided another person for Adam to connect with. God also provided instructions and responsibilities. Just as God gave Adam and Eve the job of caring for the Garden, God also gives us responsibilities. He has a purpose for each of us. But He doesn't leave us on our own to find and pursue that purpose. He gives us instructions. Just as He gave Adam and Eve guidelines for living in the Garden, our instructions are found within His word, the Bible.
But even the most perfect plans don't always go smoothly. And God, in His infinite wisdom, even had a plan for our shortcomings. When Adam and Eve failed to follow God's instructions in the Garden, God already had a plan for their restoration. He provided His Son, Jesus, as a substitute for the punishment that we all deserve and through Him the hope of a restored relationship."
Are you aware that you reflect the image of God? Do you trust in His plan for your life? Do you believe that God provides restoration, no matter how much we mess up? Take some time to pray for God to reveal His plan of redemption to you so you understand more fully how you reflect His image for His glory. Ask God to give the preschool teachers the wisdom and understanding to faithfully teach all of our preschoolers that they were created in God's image to follow Him.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Do I Have To Check My Child In And Out?

In July 2007, we implemented a computer-based check-in and check-out system, called Parent Pager at our Pelham Road campus, and have since implemented it at our Powdersville and Downtown campuses. Previously, our attendance tracking consisted of a printed roster attached to a clipboard in each classroom. Parents would sign-in, and then a volunteer administrator would check the numbers during the service. There are a number of advantages to our electronic check-in/out system, over the old system, including:
  1. Security. Each weekend, we have over 600 children on just the Pelham Road campus, around children at our Powdersville campus, and around 150 children at our Downtown campus. We cannot expect every volunteer, and especially not classroom substitutes, to know every parent and adult who is authorized to pick up every child. We have never had an issue of someone trying to get a child that he or she is not authorized to pick up, but we want to be proactive in this area, since we are growing so fast as a church.
  2. Safety. Accurate tracking allows us to be able to find a child quickly in case of an emergency. Additionally, we can add comments to the child's information if their parents are serving, so we can find them if needed. The photographs can help if we need to find a parent in the worship service. And we can easily update and identify allergy information with this system.
  3. Parent-Teacher Connection. Soon after we began using this system, we received a comment from a veteran Camp Grace leader, who said that with this system, he's met more parents in a few months, then he had in the few prior years. Parents have to bring their child to class (versus letting them go on their own), which giving an opportunity for the Small Group leaders to meet and talk with them.
  4. Class Sizes. With Parent Pager, we can set maximum numbers on each class. In the past, we've had preschool classes with up to even 18 kids, which creates a less safe and less meaningful environment. Additionally, because we can close classes, most of any bit of 'chaos' is focused in the main hallway, not near the classrooms.
  5. Administration. It is now much easier to update class rolls (just a few clicks of a button). Tracking attendance requires much less man power. Three years ago, it took a staff person from 8AM until past lunch on Mondays to count up all the numbers and enter into a spreadsheet; now, we can run a report in just a few minutes, and the numbers are much more accurate. Being able to accurately track numbers helps us to plan for growth.
 If you have questions, please leave a comment or email us.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kairos Internship Reflection - Caleb Phillips

"How was your summer?" "What did you learn this summer?" "What was your favorite part of the summer?" These are all questions being thrown at me left and right as the best summer of my life draws to a close. My summer as an intern at Grace has been, as I describe it in my response to the above questions, "beyond words." I couldn't begin to put into words an adequate description of what I have learned and experienced this summer, but I am going to do my best.

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Grace on Pelham May 21st for the first official day of Kairos. I walked into a room of more than 20 people, knowing only 3 of them, then sat down behind a notebook and stack of books. I was completely clueless on what was about to hit me. I was quickly made aware that I would be serving with Children's Ministry, Fusion, AND 24Seven. After receiving multiple calendars and schedules from my ministry leads along with several meetings, my first day was over. The first week of my internship felt like pouring the Atlantic Ocean into a five-gallon bucket.

Ten weeks later, that first day feels like yesterday. The task lists have been completed, and the summer calendar has come to an end. My feelings were mixed as I thought about moving out of my host home and returning to college life. This summer, I learned more about myself, the church, and about the Lord than I could ever have imagined possible in a ten-week span. Through my experiences this summer, I have learned who I am and who I am not, who God is and who He is not, and what the church is and what it is not.

I found out very quickly this summer that I am even dumber than I thought I was! I can remember walking out of class after hearing Bill White or Matt Williams teach, and having nothing left in the tank to even begin my day. My brain was fried from having everything I believed in questioned and challenged, but it only took a few short days to realize how great of a blessing this was. I realized how important humility is to the learning process through the classes and teaching. The idea of me being under authority and being transparent played a huge role in the formation my view and striving towards humility.

My view of who God is has been transformed as well throughout the summer. I realized it's not in my job description to understand everything about Him. He is greater than I try to make Him to be, and His love is beyond comprehension, so I should praise Him for choosing to love me instead of trying to earn or understand that love. Nothing I do can rid God of His supreme sovereignty, and that gives me a peace beyond measure.

In one of the first Kairos classes of the summer, Jeremy Keever talked about what the Church is and what it isn't. My idea of the Church (little "c" and big "C") had been formed or deformed by my Southern Baptist upbringing and the Southern Baptist University I attend. It was refreshing and encouraging to be immersed in a gospel-centered and biblically oriented church with such a strong heart for community. These three aspects were absent from any church I have ever been a part of, and are my foremost motives in pursuing my membership at Grace.

I am thankful for Grace Church and the people who made this internship possible. I am excited for the momentum gained this summer, both in my life and in Grace Church, and I am looking forward to what God has planned for the future.

- Caleb Phillips, Children's Ministry Kairos Intern

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kairos Internship Reflection - Katie Horton

One of the questions I get about once a week is, "How is your internship going?" I know that in a couple of days, that question will be a past tense question, and I'm just going to have to embrace that. But for now - I never really  know exactly what to say. Don't get me wrong, the internship has been fantastic and life-changing for me. But how do you describe to someone a time in your life where the Lord absolutely rocked you? It's been hard to describe to others the growth and changes that have occurred when I am still trying to figure it all out myself. It hasn't always been easy to learn what I have about myself, and the areas that I need to grow in, but it's great to walk through that in a safe environment.

I guess the best way to share this with others is to pick a few things that I have been learning. I know that I spoke to this to some degree in an earlier post, but I feel like I could easily spend hours telling people about my internship.

From Children's Ministry, I learned the importance of doing behind the scenes work. In the past, most of my ministry and service has been up front and visible, something I have loved. This summer, however, my role in Children's Ministry was the opposite of that. I spent my days in the office cutting paper and prepping for bin stocking each week. It took me a while to realize how important this part of ministry is. It was good for me to see how much prep-work has to be done in order to have Children's Ministry run each week.

From Student Ministry, I learned that stepping outside of my comfort zone is a good thing, and that I need to do it more often. I'm an Early Childhood Education major, so hanging out with children is something that I am familiar with and am gifted in. Hanging out with middle- and high-schoolers, however, is a completely different scenario. As uncomfortable as it was for me at times, I quickly learned that Student Ministry is something that I love and have a passion for. Those students taught me far more than I taught them, and demonstrated a passion for the Lord that encouraged me greatly. I'm excited to get to hang out with them some this year!

I learned the importance of really digging into and studying the Word. Typically, when I would read scripture, it would be a surface level reading and I didn't really have much of a desire to understand the context behind it. However, in class we have learned the importance of understanding scripture in its context. I've learned that in order to enhance my understanding and application of scripture, I should first look at how the original audience would have interpreted it.

From my co-workers, I learned about community and how necessary laughter is. If you haven't spent time with the interns yet, it's a shame. They are some of the most hilarious people I have ever met, I ten to take myself and other things way too seriously, and need people to make me laugh about situations and life, and stop stressing about things. I quickly learned that it was hard to take yourself seriously around them, and that I needed to lighten up and laugh some more. At the same time, however, it's not just fun and games. In class, I learned they are also incredibly wise and knowledgeable about the Bible. They taught me so much and really helped me walk through what we were learning, and what I was going through outside of work. I can't explain how grateful I am for their friendships, and I truly hope that they will continue as we all go our separate ways. They have been incredible community to me, and a huge blessing this summer!

On a practical scale, I learned how to work under different types of management. I have never had a "real" job before where I report to people and have assignments that I turn in, and so the whole experience was an adjustment. Because I was split between two different ministries, I was switching gears between different managing styles and environments. I had to learn how to multi-task, prioritize, and work in different settings. There were times when this was difficult for me because I like to zone in and focus on things, but I know that in the real world, that is not always going to be the case. It was good for me to gain some practical skills in a setting where people are gracious and are willing to walk through things with me.

I am so thankful for the experience that I have been able to have this summer. I know the things that I have learned about scripture and about myself are things that have changed my life in a way that I can't even describe. Not only am I leaving with knowledge, but I'm leaving having gained a community and a church family. As sad as I am about Kairos ending, I know that I have been well prepared to head out into the world to minister to others and spread the Gospel of Christ.

- Katie Horton, Children's Ministry Kairos Intern

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kairos Internship Reflection - Michelle Phillips

Being a Kairos intern this summer has definitely changed my life in more ways than one. I had certain expectations coming into this internship that came with their own set of worries and concerns. As early as my first full week working at Grace, they were exceeded by a level I never thought possible. My first day was very intimidating seeing all of the tasks and meeting eighteen other fellow interns, who would soon become some of my new closest friends I hope to stay connected to for years and years to come. I have made so many memories and changes in my life that have given me a sense of excitement for what the Lord has next for me.

To debrief my summer with Kairos, I want to share what I have learned about the Children's Ministry and the staff that works there. I have a great appreciation for what the Children's Ministry staff does. Before beginning my internship, I could never imagine the hours these people put into the children at Grace. From an outside perspective, the staff seem to have tons of fun, including doing fun skits and making crafts with your children, but it is so much more than just that. Although the Children's Ministry office is one of the most fun offices I have worked in, it is also a very hard-working and intense place. One of my main projects this summer was doing a lot of organizational and administrative tasks to get ready for the Camp Grace Summer Camp for 3rd & 4th graders. I couldn't imagine that the staff did all of the work I was participating in. It took me hours to create a simple driver's list, only for it to get revised seven times, even the day of camp. This was very frustrating to me, but seeing the way the staff handled this and similar situations was very humbling and encouraging. I was constantly reminded by the staff's words and quiet actions that we are here working to glorify our Almighty God and spread His Word to the young hearts here at Grace Church. As for me studying Elementary Education, I hope to incorporate this work ethic and love for my future students. All in all, it has become very apparent to me how important and vital of a role the Children's Ministry and its staff at Grace and any church plays in its foundation.

A few other things I learned throughout the summer about myself and in a work-related situation are organizational stills, to trust and obey, and a goal of furthering my dependence on God. Firstly, to tie into the many tasks I was involved in this summer, came a necessary skill of organization. I am a pretty neat person all around, but working in the Children's Ministry required a new form of it. I had several tasks from people with due dates that I had to manage and balance. It was very helpful to see the staff work. The way they managed their time, relationally, in the office, and with children was very helpful for me. Secondly, I learned something I was taught before - to trust and obey. I was faced with several challenges this summer I never thought I would have to face, and I was forced to trust and obey God in those times of controversy. No other source could help me with my trials except my Lord God. A verse that a good girl friend shared with me this summer was Isaiah 54:5, "For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven's Armies is his name!" I found a great amount of comfort in this verse because it gave me a reminder that God is eternal and will never leave me, so He should be my focus and the One I place my trust in and submit to. Finally, another area I learned a great deal about this summer that goes hand-in-hand with trust is a goal I have of completely being dependent on God. I know that it is hard to accomplish, but I am excited for my journey. A verse I have clung to dealing with this has been Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I have learned that God is ever-present and there is no need to try to be independent because He is forever.

As a whole, my experience with Kairos has been awesome. I have benefited from it in ways I never thought I would, personally and spiritually. Kairos has been a huge blessing to me. It has taught me all of the things I spoke about earlier. Also, I feel like I have an entire new look on God and the Kingdom I never knew before. The lessons we received in our Kairos classes have opened my eyes to huge concepts I hadn't known before. So many of the lessons were extremely practical for me, such as Matt Williams' lessons on gender and woman's role in the church, and Bill White's teaching on the Gospel. I feel like I have several challenges waiting for me when I go back to school in a few weeks, but I know God is in my life and He is a shield for me to use to protect myself. Also, I feel confident in what I have learned, and I hope other people around me can be blessed through my words, like I was through so many people this summer.

I could never pin point my favorite thing about my Kairos experience, but I do know that I have made some relationships that I could not have gotten elsewhere and gained knowledge that is unique to this opportunity. Also, I got to do one of my favorite activities, which is interacting with kids. I love to be involved and get to know and love on kids. I feel like that is where God wants me to put a lot of time and energy throughout my lifetime. I am so unbelievably thankful for the way God has been moving within me and my fellow interns. It has been a daily reminder for me that God is active, constant, and a light into darkness. I would encourage anyone considering participating in a Kairos internship to do it! I have not been disappointed at all. I have had experiences that you cannot experience anywhere else. It is obvious that God is present here at Grace Church, in the staff, its members, and its community.

1 John 4:4, "But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world."

- Michelle Phillips, Children's Ministry Kairos Intern

What To Expect This School Year

As a mom and a teacher, I do look forward to a new school year. Its arrival brings a mixture of excitement about the possibilities and a little fear of the unknown. Even though we can’t anticipate the surprises this year will bring, there are four things that every parent can expect and embrace in order to help our children succeed:  

Successes and failures.
Children will experience both success and failures of varying magnitudes. It is a parent’s responsibility to maintain a big picture perspective. We shouldn’t be too puffed up about successes or too deflated by failures. Failure is often our greatest teacher and motivator. What a blessing a parent can be by coming alongside a child as he experiences the ups and downs of life. In his book Running the Rapids, Dr. Kevin Leman illustrates adolescence as a wild raft ride over white water rapids. School is sure to introduce a few bumps and turns along the ride. A child needs to know that mom and dad are in the raft with him, no matter how rough and crazy the ride becomes.

Teachable moments.
Education is more than learning multiplication tables and interpreting literature. It is preparation for life. Take advantage of every opportunity in your child’s life to mold his life skills and character. God is always loving and faithful in our lives – even through bad teachers, pop quizzes, embarrassing moments, hurt feelings, and playground fights. Pray that your home is a safe haven where you can apply God’s truth to every situation in your child’s life. 

Conflict – among parents, children, teachers, and peers.
Don’t be surprised when you experience it. Conflict is inevitable, but as Christians we have Biblical guidelines and examples to follow in dealing with it. May our children see Jesus in us as we train them to work through conflict with grace and wisdom.

This year will end.
Since a school year is a finite amount of time, it is perfect for setting goals. Think about what amazing things you or your children could accomplish in one school year. Maybe it is breaking a habit or developing a new one. If you begin with the end in mind, it helps you run your days instead of letting your days run you.

So it’s time to gear up for battle and prepare for success. What should my focus be for the school year? Can I really begin with the end in mind and succeed this year? Yes. Here are my favorite 5 P’s: 
  1. Provide peace in your home. 
  2. Pray, plan, prepare, but do not panic when plans fail. 
  3. Prioritize and let some things go. 
  4. People > productivity. 
  5. Problems are merely opportunities for growth

- Susan LaFlam

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Camp Grace Curriculum

In Camp Grace, our purpose is to engage elementary-age children through meaningful relationships, creative drama, lively music, and Biblical teaching in order to communicate the message of the Gospel.

Our Camp Grace curriculum is a 2-year character study, going through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. We have 85 total lessons with several special programming weekends included (such as a Christmas Program, Passover Seder, and several Review Days). The goal is for a child to enter Camp Grace in 1st grade, and assuming he or she stays in Camp Grace through 4th grade, to go through the whole curriculum (all 85 lessons) twice over the course of 4 years. The curriculum has been written by the hands of staff and volunteers over the past 8 years, with several rounds of revising and editing already having taken place.

The most current revision, which has taken place over the past 2 1/2 years, has been to create a 1st and 2nd grade version of the curriculum that is tailored to reach the younger age group in a more engaging way. The curriculum was written at a 4th grade level, and we saw the need to provide a version of each lesson written at a 1st and 2nd grade level. All four grade levels learn the same basic principle and study from the same passage for each lesson, but the 1st and 2nd grade copy of each lesson has simpler content with more hands-on activities, whereas the 3rd and 4th grade copy of each lesson has more in-depth content with more discussion oriented activities. We began teaching this version of the curriculum 2 years ago in August.

We now have 2 more lessons before we finish this round of our curriculum in the 2-year series! This weekend (July 30/31), we will be teaching from Galatians 2:11-16 about our need to confront other believers in sin, and the danger found in hypocrisy. Next weekend will be our final lesson, where we will be teaching from Revelation 20:11-15 and 21:1-4 about the final chapter of God's story; Jesus returns, Satan is defeated once and for all, and God's promise to create a new heaven and new earth for his children that will be free from pain and sorrow.

You can find out more information about Camp Grace on our website.

- Nicky Darling, Elementary Coordinator

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pick Up Your Copy of "Eden Derailed"

Have you gotten your copy of Eden Derailed yet? You can pick one up online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You also have a special opportunity to get a signed copy at Cross Way Christian Supply tomorrow, Saturday July 23rd, from 11am-1pm. Cross Way is located at the corner of East North St. and Pleasantburg Dr.  Don't miss this event!

You can visit the Eden Derailed website to find out more about this book that offers answers to life-changing questions about Biblical sexuality.

Also, check out a Q&A with Matt Williams about his book, posted on the Grace Church Pastor's Blog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

11 Ways To Break Through Ministry Discouragement

We all run into it at some point in ministry… discouragement. Sometimes it creeps in gradually, and sometimes it hits us like a brick wall. It could be a particular situation that causes it, a season where things are tough, or it could come from nowhere. However, it is universal. Every person in kidmin will face discouragement in ministry. Here are eleven ways to fight to overcome discouragement.

1.  Get back to the basics – It is quite common that my feelings of discouragement in ministry often come in seasons when I have neglected the basics in my relationship with God. If you are feeling discouraged, ask yourself how consistent your own walk with God is. Are you reading the Word? Are you praying? When is the last time you sat in big church for service?

2.  Get Away – Not forever, you have to come back. But sometimes if you can just take a brief break, you can regain perspective. Sometimes discouragement is a sign that you need rest.  Honor that and take a break. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Go to Target. Go somewhere and don’t think about ministry for a little bit.

3.  Get Friends – Often discouragement in ministry can cause us to feel very isolated and alone. Resist the urge to hide away. The more alone you are, the more discouraged you will feel. Take a friend to lunch. Don’t have friends?  (That’s probably part of your problem, by the way.)  Get some! Figure out someone that you kinda like and reach out to them. Do something fun.

4. Get to tomorrow – When times are tough, this is the statement I say to myself, “Tomorrow will be better, if not it is a day closer to being better.” There are seasons in every ministry. Some are awesome, some not so much. The good thing about seasons is they come to an end. Hang in there.

5.  Get Real – Not everything is bad. It may feel that way, and there may be lots of bad things happening. But not everything is bad. Write down a list of the “wins”. Write down everything that you’ve seen God do in your life and in your ministry over the past six months. The reality is that God is faithful and is doing great things. Don’t let discouragement hide those from you.

6.  Get organized – Sometimes our discouragement feels greater because our world feels like chaos. We are trying to juggle way too much, and it is overwhelming. Take some time to organize yourself. Write down what has to be accomplished, and prioritize them. Create timelines for completing projects. Don’t let the lists overwhelm you, either, but use them as tools to help you feel in control and to see light at the end of the tunnel.

7. Get perspective – There are a lot of things that are out of your control. Those things are often extremely discouraging. You’ve heard the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” Acknowledge that you can’t control it all, but you serve the God who does. Let Him carry the stress.

8.  Get past the past – Dwelling on past decisions, events, or mistakes will only increase our discouragement. You can not go backwards. Learn from the past, fix what you can, and then move forward to what God has next. Revisiting the past repeatedly rarely is healthy.

9.  Get ice cream – Ice cream makes everything better. Really, it does.

10. Get on your face – God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Isn’t this what we teach the kids? It is absolutely true for you too. God has called you to ministry. That is precious. Your calling is precious. Get on your face and cry out to God to heal your heart and to strengthen you for what He wants to accomplish.

11. Talk to me, let me know – Let us pray for you, with you. Let's see if you are carrying too much of the load physically, spiritually, and if you are serving in your strengths.

Blog post by Jenny Funderburke on ministry-children.com. (#11 added by Grace Children's Ministry)