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!

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C3 Hobart

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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/

I can’t believe I don’t have a baby 


I’m over 40 and I’m Single and childless …and I just can’t believe it. 

Sometimes I am hopeful that might change, sometimes I’m quite at peace and content if it doesn’t, sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the grief and sadness of it – but mostly, I just can’t believe it. 

I just can’t understand how this is the way my life has gone! All I’ve ever wanted to be is a wife and mother. Instead, I continue to experience so many other amazing things that I didn’t expect, or even imagine would be part of my life. I have so many other roles – a friend, an Aunty, a Pastor, an author, a speaker, a leader, a traveller – I love so much about my life. But I just can’t believe I’m not a mum. 

I love babies. I love children. They seem to love me (well most of them). They run to give me hugs, they fall asleep in my arms; they each have their special nicknames, hugs and traditions. I have a well-developed ability to sleep literally anywhere (including standing up – true story) at any time which I am sure would be a handy skill to have as a sleep-deprived new mum. I have a full heart and an empty home.

I am supremely confident of God’s nearness and His love. He leads me, He defends me, He grows me in wisdom and in His grace. He comforts me. He blesses me abundantly. While I completely trust His plans and purposes for my life, I don’t completely understand them. I’m sure He knows what I long for. 

I can’t believe I don’t have a baby. 

My Singleness doesn’t feel like it has an end date. I can marry at any time – and I hold the deep hope that I will on an open hand. There’s a biological reality to my capacity to conceive and carry a child on which the window is rapidly closing, or may have already closed. 

I can’t believe I’m not a mum. 

I think it’s okay to say that out loud. I feel like it’s healthy to express that in context to a greater sense of contentment and peace. Because the sense of disbelief is actually the feeling that rises most regularly. Sometimes it’s so strong it physically arrests me and I literally stop what I’m doing and shake my head – I’m sure I have a confused expression on my face. 

And then? Well, then I take the next step forward into whatever else is happening and whatever else is coming. 

launching adults • when they don’t get married 


Imagine this. You have a 26 year old daughter. She meets *the* guy and after a period of dating he pops the question and you’re on the track to launch your daughter into the world. 

There’s an engagement party. Friends and family gather to express their excitement and joy. A handsome collection of towels, platters and salad bowls are given to the happy couple and stored away while preparations for the BIG day roll on. 

The house is bought or a rental property secured and furniture is purchased or gathered from friends and family looking for a charitable reason to upgrade their own. 

The bride is treated to a Shower or Kitchen Tea – where the women in her world huddle to exchange recipes and tips, play random games with pegs, stock her pantry and laundry closet with hundreds of dollars worth of consumables and thirty tea towels and, more importantly, let her know that there are women in her world cheering for her and supporting her in this next stage of her life.

Then comes the wedding day. People come from interstate and even overseas. They file into the church in their finery – the married ones reminiscing about their own special day and everyone feeling the privilege of sharing in such a sacred and momentous occasion. Then they eat and dance and raise their glasses as parents and best friends speak blessing and hope on behalf of everyone. The wedding gift registry has been bought out; providing tableware, appliances, linen and decorative items to ensure the couple are well established as they create their first home. And the questions commence about when you might be expecting the arrival of your first grandchild. 

Now imagine this. 

Your daughter is 26 years old. 

And she moves out of home. 

That’s all. 

Perhaps she has a housewarming. Maybe she receives a couple of cards and a few candles or table runners. 

Exchange your daughter for a son and though there’d be some differences in the narrative the end result is similar. A well celebrated, highly affirmed, and practically supported launch into the world. 

The contrast ought to raise a few questions for us. 

Who knows if there is marriage in their future or not. Maybe there are still the engagement, showers and wedding to look forward to. But maybe not. 

What do you think? How do we launch adults with any sense of ceremony and passage without the engagement and wedding process? What is missed for those exiting home and establishing themselves independently without these experiences? What mechanisms might there be to facilitate intergenerational connection or verbalised support? 

skin hunger – our need for physical intimacy


I love massages!! Any kind. Feet. Head. Crazy Thai ones where they stretch and contort your body like a pretzel. Soothing oil ones with dolphin music playing. I like getting my nails done. I love getting my hair washed or done. 

I love physical touch. It’s a weird statement to make but an acknowledgement of truth that is perhaps more pertinent in context to my status as a living-alone Single. Ultimately, all of those things above are more than just self-pampering, they’re a means to have my skin hunger somehow satiated. 

Skin hunger is a need for physical touch – not necessarily sexual in nature. It is a studied phenomena in psychology. Unmet skin hunger has been associated with failure to thrive in babies and infants, and increased anxiety, depression, stress and sleep dysfunction in children and adults. Each individual will have a different level of skin hunger and consequently, the absence of physical touch will be felt more acutely by those whose need is greater. 

Some stages and styles of life are innately more rich in physical contact. Living arrangements that involve others will almost always include physical touch – perhaps of an intimate or sexual nature, maybe because of the presence of small children being nursed, held and wrestled with, or even in the more incidental contact that happens as people work together in the kitchen or move around each other in the bathroom. Certain work environments are more physical – various fields of medicine and therapy, working with children, or coaching certain sports.

Physical touch affirms my presence. It is one thing to grasp my own hand or rub my own neck – but it is different to experience those things externally. It’s a tangible recognition that I hold a place in the physical realm; that I relate kinaesthetically to other people and things around me. 

Physical touch releases hormones that increase wellbeing and decrease stress. 

Physical touch communicates non-verbally a sense of belonging and connection. 

What does physical touch look like for a Single person? 

How is skin hunger appropriately satisfied in non-sexual or romantic contexts?

As I mentioned, I am a physical touch kind of person. I’m likely to grab your arm while I’m talking to you. I will normally go in for a hug and a cheek kiss when greeting someone I know. I love love love (love love) holding babies – especially soothing them to sleep. I love little person hugs and high fives. I even like the absent minded touches kids do when they’re talking to you – playing with your hair or leaning against your leg. I love big hugs from big people – I make sure my Dad gives me a couple every time I see him. For some, pets are a large part of their skin-hunger-meeting regimen. 

Skin hunger is connected with our need for intimacy and equally needs to be met in healthy and helpful ways or we will find ourselves seeking to satisfy it inappropriately. Identifying the degree of skin hunger we feel is important to being able to manage it intentionally. 

What does that look like for you? Or for those in your world? 

your teen needs you!

There are times in the parenting (or leading and teaching) journey when this feels far from true. Your teen may not LOOK like they need you, they might not ACT like they need you and they may even SAY they don’t need you! But they do.

The cry of the teenage/emerging-adult heart is for relationships and community where three things are present – Trust, Respect and Belief. Sociologists report this drive as the key factors behind gang or ‘bikie’ culture. Such is the need of the heart that it draws a person to connection and belonging ANYWHERE these things are present. It’s true of adults too – but (hopefully) there is a greater degree of discernment to determine whether the presence of trust, respect and belief outweighs any negatives about the people or culture who are offering them.

Let’s unpack these three factors further.

TRUST

What they want …Teens want to be trustworthy but they also want to believe they are capable of trustworthiness and so will crave actions and communication that demonstrate this trust and confidence.

What they fear… Questioning their decision-making skills, their ability to consider all outcomes and options, or their self management or control, translates as an absence of trust.

What to try…

  • Give ample time and opportunity for your teen to explain what they do know and what they have considered (rather than assuming they haven’t really thought things through).
  • Ask questions or use hypothetical scenarios to extend  their awareness of potential outcomes and concerns and grow their consideration.
  • Express your desire to ‘assume the risk’ for the unknown or potential consequences of a decision rather than burdening them with that when their experience or vision is limited. In other words, sometimes a parent needs to be the one who decides because the decision and its outcomes are too weighty for a young person to have to bear.

BELIEF

What they want… In the face of sometimes crippling self-doubt, insecurity, fear of the future and competition teens will gravitate to people and places where they are encouraged to dream big dreams and imagine an extraordinary future.

What they fear… Youth are constantly wondering if they really have what it takes to succeed in life (aren’t we all!). They don’t have the history or experience of seeing how things will play out and so their capacity to predict the future is limited. They are highly sensitive to any inference from adults in their world that what they hope for or are aiming for in their future is not possible.

What to try…

  • Check any language that overloads current decisions or actions with future impact (“if you don’t do well at school you’re not going to have opportunities in work later”). Of course all choices and actions have consequences but then all consequences have options, grace and capacity for recovery. Finite, exaggerated or fatalistic language will scream dis-belief.
  • Encourage aspects of character, attitude and heart that, if they continued to develop them, will open up a world of opportunities to live a productive and impact-ful future.

RESPECT

What they want… As teens transition into adulthood, they are super sensitive to insinuations of immaturity. While they fight for independence they want adults around them to start seeing them as emerging adults and treating them accordingly.

What they fear… Commonly the language and tone we use when talking to young people is quite different to how adults would talk to peers. We can present as quite condescending and they feel that we are unable to see them as anything other than a child.

What to try… 

  • Ask the question “How would I handle this situation if this were a co-worker or peer rather than a teen?” (For example, if a coworker knocked a drink over at a meal table we’d probably be quite quick to help them feel ok about the mishap rather than chastise them for their behaviour.)
  • What actions or statements can you change or add to your interactions that communicate respect of their property or privacy, of their opinions and perspectives, and of their insecurities and fears?
  • Consider how you could deescalate a situation by prioritising respect – both given and received.

How about you?
How have you seen this need for Trust, Belief and Respect manifest in your teens? What do you recall of your struggle with this in your own journey into adulthood? How might you leverage this knowledge to bring greater connection with your teen?

 

5 things every kid needs || nosey parents

#5 nosey parents

Every parent will know that the way kids and teens relate to their parents ebbs and flows throughout their life. 

There may be times when children are clingy and needy; they don’t like to be away from their parents. At other times kids seem so independent a parent can almost feel redundant. There’s the “please don’t make me kiss you” or the “drop me off around the corner” phase. There are times when you are the source of all knowledge, power and entertainment and the times it seems you can know, say or do nothing of value. 

When it comes to raising children in faith, regardless of what your child may think they need or want from you – every kid needs nosey parents – at every stage. They need parents who are interested in their spiritual condition and concerned for their spiritual development. 

To this end, parents can 

  • Develop a faith-culture at home 

Deuteronomy 6 encourages the incorporation of learning and sharing of faith into the normal practices of home life – eating together, bedtime routines, and the regular comings and goings of life. Just as you would expect your kids to engage in routines such as brushing their teeth, expectations around faith practices communicates high value. 

  • Know the questions your child is asking 

And if they’re not asking any – ask some of your own. Stories shared about interactions had with friends, news and current events, or movies and TV shows, are all opportunities to know how your child sees the world and where God’s perspective shapes that view. Are they caused to question God? Do they understand His heart towards people or circumstances? What do they know of His power and activity in the world? 

  • Recruit others to shepherd and invest in your kids 

Know the names of your child’s ministry leaders – know even more than that! Know the leaders your kids love and why. Help the leaders know your child and your family better. Encourage those who have an influence in your child’s lives and champion them as your most powerful allies. 

Ministry leaders and other parents can also be a rich resource for you as you navigate difficult topics or responses to behaviours and attitudes. 

  • Know what they’re learning in faith groups and activities

If you get the “nothing” or “I can’t remember” answers when you ask your kids what they learnt at youth or kids ministry go directly to the source. Ask the ministry leaders what discussions and activities were part of that week’s session. You can still demonstrate trust in your leaders while also having a high expectation of communication of topics, intentions and responses. 

** A note for ministries and leaders …

You can train your parents to be nosey. Firstly, by your responses to their inquiries. Any sense of reluctance to share or a lack of knowledge will communicate to the parents that their inquiries aren’t welcome or they are asking for something that you can’t give (which is concerning!). When you welcome and engage with parental inquiries you grow their confidence to ask and your genuine intent to partner with them. And secondly, by answering the questions they should be asking – even if they’re not. Offering information to parents about what you’re observing of their children in your ministry or in their faith development, builds their confidence. Sending emails or “take-home” sheets that empower parents to connect with their child on the topic or story of the week is a great resource. 

Parents – what ways have you been “nosey” in your child’s faith development? What have you found most or least successful?

Leaders – how have you encouraged “nosey parents”? What successes (or failures) have you had in this endeavour?

5 things every kid needs || think orange 

#1 a really big God

#2 someone else

#3 another voice

#4 uncommon sense

#5 nosey parents 

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

 

how to fix your church 


When your children or youth are reluctant to go to church things can get hard. (Read more – against their will

If you’ve elevated and communicated the value of church attendance, negotiated and threatened your lips off and offered bribes of every incentive you can possibly imagine but are still struggling to get buy-in from your kids – there’s only one thing left to do. 

You need to fix your church

You know the old adage about not just identifying the problem but being part of the solution? Yeah, that. It’s time to roll your sleeves up and get involved in fixing your church. 

It may seem like a big challenge (depending on what your church dynamic is like) but it may take less than you think. Here are some low output-high impact first steps. 

  • Show up yourself

Passionate, genuine, supportive and committed people who show up regularly and consistently make every/any church better. Whether your attendance almost doubles the size of the congregation or fills one of 60 rows, every person who shows up contributes something vital to the dynamic of a gathering. 

It may seem a little arrogant to assert that your very presence could improve your church – but flip it over and consider what would happen if everyone thought their attendance didn’t matter and didn’t show up!

And as a side note – not surprisingly, your kids won’t be passionate about attending a place that you are not demonstrating a passion for. If your attendance is more about a week-by-week decision based on feelings and schedules rather than an anticipated fixture in your weekly rhythm you undermine the integrity of your desire to see your kids engage. 

  • Serve. 

There isn’t a church in the world with the budget to professionalise all aspects of church life. And even if finances allowed it, it would not reflect the church as Jesus declared it or as Paul and others advocated in the New Testament. 

Pretty much every service your church provides is possible because of the contributions of “someone” like you. “Someone” with skills, time, talents, heart and availability to serve one another – and the desire to see needs met, people connected, God encountered and disciples developed in a variety of ways for a diversity of people. 

The only way your family benefits from corporate worship, generational ministry, events, and shared faith experiences is because “someone” serves. “Someone” gives their Friday night or their Sunday morning over to teaching and leading – in music and word. The building is physically ready and you are welcomed because “someone” comes early to prepare for you. Small groups happen because “someone” opens their home. Morning tea is served because “someone” sets up the urn and packs away afterwards. 

Again, if everybody thought that they didn’t need to contribute you would show up to a very different kind of service, in a very different physical space and ultimately be paying for some very expensive psychiatry bills for your burnt out Senior Pastor! It’s not rocket science. You need to give something for the system to work. 

Side note – your child is much more likely to feel connected to a faith community when they experience a sense of ownership and purpose (true for you too). Serving is essential for fixing your church

  • Influence the influencers. 

All people thrive under the intentional investment, discipleship and encouragement of others. In any church environment there are going to be specific people who have influence over your child/ren. They may be positional influencers – those with the title of “leader” or “coordinator” in specific departments or ministries. They may be proximity influencers – those they’ll serve next to or find themselves spending time with. Or they’ll be influencers by personality – that cool young adult that everyone gravitates to or the super caring and connected person whose name your kids remember and repeat most often. 

If you want to spend your fixing energy wisely, direct it to the influencers. If, by your investment, care and counsel, you can help an influencer flourish you will be influencing your own kids through them. You will be making the church a better place for them (and others in kind) to connect to and thrive in. 

Invite your kids’ youth or kids ministry leaders for dinner or to birthday parties and basketball games. Host their groups in your home. Pray for them. Know them well so as to be able to assist them best. 

You can fix a lack of leadership or develop the competency and confidence of leaders by your intentional encouragement and support of those who God has appointed and who stand to impact your child’s sense of belonging in a faith community. 

***

Again, they’re simple steps but also essential. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who will speak of their disappointment in them or their families not finding a place of belonging, connection or support in a church community and they haven’t tried any of these fixing tips. They’re certainly no guarantee that your child will grow to love God and church – but their absence has a far greater likelihood of assuring the opposite.