I am responsible!


After a trip to Rwanda to visit her sponsor child, Brooke Fraser, a Christian musician wrote a song that included the lyric “Now that I have seen I am responsible.” 


This became something of the theme for the “Thai Team 2017” – a group of people from my local church who signed up for a Short Term Mission trip to Thailand.  They considered it as they were exposed to experiences that were heartbreaking and confronting. Dark places that most need the shining Light of Hope and Truth.

As a team, one of our greatest fears is that the impact of the confrontation and inspiration of this trip might fade as time and distance increases. It happens a lot. People are confronted or deeply moved, but then life settles back to its normal rhythm and nothing much has changed. 

So we repeat that phrase – now that I have seen, I am responsible! I can’t unknow what I know or un-see what I’ve seen. I can’t walk away from the need without asking God to show me the part He’d have me play in meeting it. I can’t enjoy the privilege of wealth and circumstance without considering how I might leverage it for those without.

We are responsible. 

It is just as true for us here in our day-to-day as it is for the Thai Team. We believe that God brings people and circumstances across our path for a reason. When He leads HIS people into the spaces where there is need it’s because something of His activity in those people is the answer. We can trust that He will supply what we require to respond as He asks.

How about you?

Who has God led you to? To what need has He opened your eyes? What’s the passion of your heart? What hurt do you feel or injustice do you find intolerable?

Now that we have seen – we are responsible.

Listen TO THIS PODCAST to hear more reflections from the Thai Team 2017 trip. 

 

Advertisements

5 ways to build up your kids min team


Kids Ministry is an exciting and exhausting place to serve. Those who do it well will absolutely love it and give their all to it – but that doesn’t mean they are immune to feelings of doubt or fatigue.

Here are 5 very simple yet super effective ways you can make your Kids Min Team better – building them up in their sense of purpose and energy to continue to invest in our kids and community.

1. Thank them

Give them a high five at sign in. Tell them you appreciate their commitment to your children. Help them understand the impact their serving has on you and your family. Remind them of the important part they play in your church community. Drop them a note, give them a FaceBook shout out, or speak it out loud.

 

2. Know their names

Make the effort to learn and remember their names. Get to know them. Find out what year they’re doing at school, what they’re studying at Uni or where they work. Try and discover what they do for fun, what their favourite chocolate is, what music they listen to or what sport they follow. Your effort will communicate such high value to them.

 

3. Bring them coffee

Because Sunday mornings are hard y’all!! Surprise them with coffee or breakfast donuts and fruit. Buy the night team a pizza for supper or bring slurpees on a hot day.

 

4. Give them feedback

When your kids remember something they learned at Kids Min or when they tell a story about something their leader did – pass it on. Help them understand how their influence reaches beyond the scheduled ministry times. Encourage them to know the impact they are having in your kids’ lives.

 

5. Serve with them

Join the team – Kids Min teams ALWAYS need more members – and multiply their ministry effectiveness by adding your own gifts and skills. If you can’t be part of the scheduled ministry times, find ways to serve from home or during the week.

PICK ONE (or more) – and do it NOW!

C3 Hobart

17431518_10155832891753881_688438467_o

The community of C3 Church Hobart invited me into their conversation about being “Better Together”. They’ve been exploring relationships, parenting and marriage. 

On Sunday March 27th I shared into the topic of Singleness. Or namely “How can the church family be family to those without family?”

Overwhelmingly the response from those in attendance includes comments from Singles expressing such joy to have their unique situation highlighted and understood. And from marrieds who are encouraged to consider what they have to offer to Singles in their circles looking for a deep sense of belonging and inclusion. 

You can listen here : 

http://c3hobart.org.au/26032017-kim-smith/

why YOU should serve in Kids Ministry

I am an unashamed advocate for a generational focus in our churches.

Jesus was too. He’s my role model. With open arms and open heart He welcomed children and presented them as a model of response and heart posture before God. 

Significant portions of Christians make their response to Jesus before they’re 13. Healthy kids ministries are environments where children can explore and experience faith and a resource parents can draw upon in THEIR role of raising kids in faith.

It’s a given that Kids ministry is also a high-volunteer-engagement department. Duty of care requirements and the sheer practicality of how mobile, inquisitive and active children are means lots of adult supervision is required.

But here’s my case for why you (whoever you are!) should do a stint in Kids Min at some point. 

1 Kids min requires a broad range of skills, gifts and personalities.

IT & A/V; physical set up and pack down of rooms; craft and game planning; administrative tasks; leading in music or dance; preparing or delivering teaching; developing relationships; prayer and more – a successful Kids Ministry is sustained by a diverse team each contributing their part. I guarantee you have a skill that your Kids department could benefit from. 

Some children will respond more to a quiet, gentle personality and others will gravitate to the loud and playful. 

Commonly, kids ministry teams are filled with teens and young adults. It’s true in my context. They are the engine room of our kids min with their energy, passion, availability and relational “cool factor” with the kids. But the wisdom, experience, knowledge and security of more senior team members is required too. Both as a resource to the younger leaders AND to the kids themselves. 

2 Sharing faith with a child builds and inspires your own. 

They say if you can’t explain it to a 6 year old you don’t know it. As we more simply and clearly express the gospel and the work of God in our life to young people we crystallise our own understanding and faith. 

Watching someone grasp God’s truth for themselves is incredibly exciting. Encouraging young people to establish themselves in the love of God, anchoring themselves in His truth and His faithfulness as a starting point for their life is an incredible gift we give to others. 

Children lead us in joy and awe. They remind us to be uninhibited in our response to the activity and knowledge of God. 

3 You demonstrate church in action 

You show parents that you really are committed to supporting them in their role. You show the children that everyone serves everyone. You give opportunity for intergenerational relationships (which are a crucial contributor to the feeling of “belonging” in a faith community – for all involved). You model body life – showing the feet, hands, arms and ears all acting as they ought. You share testimony of God’s activity in your life and how He works across various ages and stages of life. 

And before you’re even thinking it – here’s three excuses that just won’t fly!

I’m too something (old, young, new, uncool etc) God uses all types of people to reach all types of people. Your unique “something” could be just the tool He needs to connect with specific people. If you don’t serve, that “something” is missing. 

I’m busy. No one currently serving in your kids min team is doing so because they have nothing else to do. You prioritise what you value. And there is always flexibility in regards to time commitments, frequency and scheduling required by each ministry. 

I don’t want to miss the sermon/service. Podcast the message, attend a second service at a different time  (and consider why it’s ok for others on the teams who make kids min possible in your church to miss out on what you think is unmissable – just sayin.). 

So how about it? Why don’t you give it a go? At least for a season. Consider the impact you could make in the life of the team, the church …or even just one child. Be prepared for God to do something big with your availability and willingness. 

stop saying “they” when you talk about the church

I LOVE the Church! 

Jesus committed to building it and He intends to come back for it and until then it’s the hope of the world! It’s the means by which Christians are built up in faith, pointed to Jesus and mobilised for His mission. It’s a community that can reveal and represent the love of Father God to those yet to encounter Him. It’s a mechanism to mobilise those who’ve experienced the greatest of love, mercy and grace to extend it to the least and the last to bring transformation to the world. I love the Church – even in all her brokenness and dysfunction. 

I am grieved anytime the Church falls short of all it can be and do. I hate when the Church does a bad job of showing Jesus to others and advancing His gospel. I am disappointed when people are let down by the Church. I am eternally frustrated by those within who have such negative and critical things to say about her. 

But then I remember why. 

Because the Church is me. It’s you. It’s not an entity or organisation beyond the people who are in it. You are the Church. You are the “they”. 

Of course, each church will have its leadership and many will have paid staff of varying sizes and makeup, but these roles aren’t the Church. They exist to help you and I to be the Church. 

God calls us to connect to a faith community and invest ourselves in it. He gifts us to serve one another so we might experience and express the fullness of that and so together we might be a force for His Kingdom in our local area and beyond. To see the broken restored, the wounded healed, and the bound set free in Jesus’ name. 

So if “they” are not doing something right, enough or at all. If “they” don’t have suitable programs for specific demographics, sufficient leadership or quality of volunteers. If “they” haven’t got the budget for further facilities or to staff opportunities. If “they” aren’t active enough in the community. If “they” aren’t welcoming of new people. If “they” aren’t providing mentors or developing leaders. If “they” aren’t employing new technologies or advocating for justice or … or mowing the lawns frequently enough! 

Let’s remember who “they” are. 

God gives vision and authority to leadership to guide us. But He gives each of US to our churches to partner with Him in His ministry and mission. When you speak of ‘the Church’, you’re talking about me, you’re talking about you! 

why people at church don’t talk to you


A friend and I have been known to run an experiment. When attending a different church, she leaves me alone in the foyer (to go to the bathroom or something) and we see if anyone will talk to me. It’s damaging to my pride, self-esteem and sense of confidence in my personal hygiene to report that – more often than not – when she returns, I’m standing where she left me feeling forlorn and having had no interactions with others.

As someone who leads in a church and desires that our environments be welcoming and inclusive for all – I run this experiment not just as a test of the church I’m visiting but to remember for myself what it feels like. To experience that awkwardness of trying to posture myself to look open to conversations or interactions without making a fool of myself. And as bad as it feels, I remember that my experiment is only partly accurate because I’m a visitor. Others coming into churches come because they are looking to find Jesus! Some come because they are desperately seeking a place of connection and belonging – of home. While I’m only there for one night. So much more is at stake for them.

Whilst I have received feedback from people who have felt a little ignored or adrift in our church, it’s more likely that those who feel this most poignantly haven’t stayed around to tell anyone – they’ve just left. You may relate to this experience in your own church environment. You look around and others are deeply engrossed in conversations and excited interactions and you wonder why you’re not included.

 

The reason people at church might not talk to you is because they are exactly like you!

They are uncomfortable talking to strangers. As an outgoing, verbal, extrovert I am uncomfortable talking to strangers! Most people are! People don’t talk to you because, just like you, they are unsettled about talking to people they don’t know. How awkward will this be? What if we have nothing in common? What if I inadvertently offend or upset them with what I say? What if they don’t want to talk to me!? EVERYONE is processing these same questions.

They are comforted by their own friends. There’s safety and security in the knowledge of their connection to their group of friends. And in fact, they may well be worried that if they don’t speak to these people no one else will speak to them and so they don’t leave the circle for fear of feeling that isolation. We are all creatures of comfort and security. Stepping away from the known and into the unknown requires a bravery that we don’t always manage to summon.

Someone once said to me “I never realised how cliquey people were until all my friends were away one week and no one spoke to me.” She didn’t even realise the irony of what she was saying. She only noticed that everyone else stuck to their friends when the friends that she stuck to weren’t around.

They wrongly assess their social position. Frequently, the socially insecure assume that everyone else is socially confident. The quiet and shy ones assume that the noisy ones are more bold and self-assured (when, often, it is just the same feelings manifesting in different coping strategies). Those unfamiliar in an environment assume that everyone else is quite familiar. Those who are more connected don’t trust their social connections enough to leave them temporarily to reach out to others.

Ultimately, the human condition is such, that we are all looking for a degree of connectedness and are all at the mercy of one another to find that place of belonging and welcome. New. Old. Loud. Quiet. No one is exempt from contributing to the social dynamic of a community.

*** A common cry. ***

“What if I go up to someone and say – Are you new here? – and they say – No, I’ve been coming for 3 years.

OR what if you start your conversation a different way!?! (Genius, I know!)

“How are you today?” (Revolutionary, but effective.) “Are those your kids? Have you had a busy week? What’s ahead for you this week? How will you be spending your afternoon? Have you done the winter pruning of your fruit trees yet?” (Read – there are lots of other ways to start a question that don’t need you to guess how long they’ve attended your church!)

Or just a simple, “I don’t think I’ve met you before, I’m Kim!” might be enough.

The reason people in MY church don’t talk to you is because people like ME (and you) need to get better at it. We can do this!

 

arriving alone 

One of the more difficult parts of Single life for me is arriving somewhere alone.

I hate it.

There’s something quite terrifying about those first few moments when I don’t yet know where I am going to connect or fit in. Arriving alone is a vulnerable, breath-holding experience.

There was one time when I arrived at an event that was already underway. I walked around the room and there were multiple conversations happening and none of them broke from their interactions to connect with me. So I just walked back out again! It was an intensely dramatic and reactive thing to do. But I just didn’t feel emotionally strong enough to take any further ‘rejection’, so I bravely ran away.

Arriving alone makes me feel very exposed. Even as a socially competent person, I feel a little adrift without the ‘fallback’ of a partner to talk to when other options aren’t available – or even to stand awkwardly beside while they are in a conversation.

I don’t remember feeling this way when I had a partner and attended events on my own. I suspect that was because it wasn’t an always thing and I was less self-protective or sensitive. Or perhaps now the contrast of the two experiences (arriving together or alone) makes the alone feelings more pronounced, I’m not sure.

Arriving with others sets up a different posture of expectation and confidence that changes events markedly. The prospect of a party, a church service, a family gathering and all manner of events or get-togethers, is dramatically altered by the knowledge that those awkward arrival moments will be somewhat alleviated by the company.

An invitation to drive together, meet out the front or save a seat for someone arriving alone can go a long way.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but I often think that if I – in my extroverted, outgoing-ness – can feel this so acutely that I’ve elected to stay home or arrive extra late … I can’t imagine how others might deal with these feelings.

What about you? Or what about the Singles in your world? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. 

5 things every kid needs || uncommon sense


#4 uncommon sense

When we were growing up we were always that family. You know – that family who went to church, that family that didn’t watch certain videos or TV shows, that family who weren’t allowed to go to certain parties or events – that family. 

There were times when being part of that family was embarrassing. Those awkward moments of needing to explain to our friends how our ‘totally mean’ parents were not letting us do, buy or see something that made us different from our peers. But, ultimately, the consistency of the decisions our parents made and the reasoning they gave us to understand something of the values those choices represented, didn’t cause our social death as we feared they might! In fact, they were part of establishing our character and gave us a strong sense of confidence in boundaries well defined and maintained.

There is a degree to which a choice to live by God’s big picture plan for our lives and to walk in His ways will see us looking different than those living by another standard. There are times when using a God-lens to look at a decision or a choice of opportunities will cause us to form a different conclusion to those who view life through a different lens.

To grow and establish themselves in faith, our children need uncommon sense that will help them make wise choices. They need a sense of God’s perfect and amazing plans for their lives that empowers them to say ‘no’ to behaviours and attitudes that would take them down a different path. They need to be inspired by His love for them and His promises towards them in ways that cause them to process and translate life through HIS eyes – drawing them to wisdom.

We are often tempted to condense the Biblical narrative and the gospel down to a behavioural code to live by – particularly as it relates to young people. We teach obedience and sharing, apologising and forgiving, generosity and listening as the ‘moral’ to a Biblical story when the bigger picture is one of a completely new way to think, respond and act. God’s love in us calls us to see others and ourselves in a different light. His activity in our hearts ought to draw us to consider our actions and decisions as HE would consider them. More than ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ – why would He do that? What would motivate Him to turn the other cheek? What would cause Him to give so generously and unreservedly of Himself?

Where have you found that ‘uncommon sense’ needed in the lives of your kids? How have you gone about teaching them the values and ‘why’ of our motivation to make wise, God-honouring choices? 

5 Things Every Kid Needs || Think Orange

#1 a really BIG God

#2 someone else

#3 another voice

#4 uncommon sense

#5 nosy parents

 

pumpkin soup mindset

Have you ever noticed how so many cafes have Pumpkin Soup on the menu? Now we’re in official soup season we might see some specials of a variety of different soups but Pumpkin Soup is on the printed, year round menu. 

In my expert, soup-eating-cafe-crawling opinion there are three main reasons this is so. 

1. It’s easy. 

Like, super easy! At its most basic – you chop up some pumpkin, maybe add an onion, boil it to death in some chicken stock, blend it up and there you go. A dash of cream, a sprinkle of chives and some crusty bread on the side and it’s cafe ready. 

2. It’s safe. 

For the non-adventurous diner, Pumpkin Soup is a low risk order. “Hmm Pumpkin Soup, I wonder what that might be?” It’s soup, made from pumpkins. You know what you’re gonna get. 

3. It’s available. 

A nice big pot of soup, frozen into individual serves is perfect for a quick buzz in the mickey-groover (aka microwave) ready to serve on demand. 

Now, I’ve had my share of Pumpkin Soups when working in cafes and looking for a simple, low cost lunch option to fuel my writing. But every time I do, the above three thoughts come to mind. Because 1. I don’t like ordering (or paying for) things I know I could make at home, 2. I enjoy dining out for stretching my culinary palette – give me some Morrocan spices, give me an ingredient I don’t recognise that makes me feel like I’m being a little daring to order it. And 3. I want to see my lunch served from that big steaming pot of yumminess or see a pile of vegetable scraps being scraped into a bin that make me think there may still be some nutrients active in my food. 

In context to these thoughts – I wonder if cafes aren’t missing the opportunity to show themselves as more creative, current or keen to bring us on something of a culinary journey each time they choose Pumpkin Soup over the myriad of other winter warmers that might be available? A Pumpkin Soup mindset might be easy, familiar, safe and practical – but it’s hardly going to set the cafe world alight or bring any great education or change to the palettes of cafe crawlers. 

Which made me wonder, where else does the Pumpkin Soup mindset manifest itself? The answer that first came to mind was, “pretty much everywhere” but the thought that quickly followed (associated with feelings of frustration and discomfort) was “in church life; in our faith”. 

The Pumpkin Soup mindset is the enemy of relationships, church cultures, faith walks, communities and families that we desire to be dynamic, vibrant, thriving and growing. 

How often are we tempted to make choices based on what is easy, safe and available when none of those things is likely to bring about best outcomes? Where in the call to be a disciple or make disciples was easy, safe and available part of the deal? I’m not talking complicated, unsafe and exceptionally difficult just for the sake of it, but when we’re looking to grow in our personal faith or to encourage our faith communities to greater obedience, greater acts of love and service, greater witness – the Pumpkin Soup mindset is just not going to cut it. 

Next time you’re in a planning meeting, chatting over a problem with a friend, making a big decision, looking to God for guidance on an issue, choosing a course of action, or seeking to grow in your faith, reject the Pumpkin Soup mindset. Be ready to explore a variety of flavours, ingredients or cuisines – be open to the challenge, the unknown, the extra effort and the faith-required options that God might call you through to His best.