Wednesday, February 17, 2010

D6 Conference Coming Soon!

If you are in ministry with youth, children, families: you don't want to miss this coming conference.

Some of the speakers:
Rob Rienow: Family Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, IL
Steve Wright: Rethink and ApParent Privilege author, Student Pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC
Randy Stinson: Dean, School of Church Ministries at SBTS, President for Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From the Pen of Rob Rienow: Parenting and the Church

More reading - and passing along the nuggets of truth to you.
I have just finished 3 books by the same author: Rob Rienow, founder (with his wife, Amy) of Visionary Parenting and Family Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, IL. I have spoken with Rob about ministry and then got to meet him and hear him teach a class at his church in January.
The three books that I have read are:
God's Grand Vision for the Home
Passing the Torch (just two chapters in a multi-author book)
Visionary Parenting (if I just got one, get this one)

Here are some valuable quotes from him and some personal thoughts:
"delegation parenting" - Love this term. It is what a lot of parents in the world today, even in the church, do to get someone else to teach, train, or discipline, or even just be friends with, their kids.
"What am I doing daily with this power and responsibility to impress the hearts of my kids with a love for God?"
"We need to set the example for our kids by putting ourselves under the authority of the Bible, allowing it to speak to our hearts, and letting our kids us talk about it." Honestly, I didn't grow up with this in the home. I went to a Christian school and church, but didn't have it spoken of much in the home. Not till I went to college and built a relationship with my mentor did this become a reality to me.
"Generation after generation have failed to win the souls of their children." I have spent the last month in the Old Testament. Many times, even in those genealogies many of us skip over, it speaks of the generations and if the sons followed after the fathers. Lineage, genealogy, and faith were very important to the Israelites.
"Christians (begin) to reflect the secular culture." When did we do this? Sad but true. We do it in parenting, in clothing, in books/movies. We are called out from the world, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. Back in seminary I had a square postcard on my closet door: The Church is not called to reflect the world, but to change it.
"At the heart of the advance of the Gospel is the call to parents to impress the hearts of their children with a love for God and for His Word." How does your own life reflect this love? Not only to your children, but also to your co-workers, your extended family, and people you meet in line at the grocery store?
"No one can compete with the power a parent has to shape the heart of a child. Your power to bless your children, to build character in their hearts, and to lead them to faith in Jesus Christ." See the first quote. The last two episodes of Criminal Minds - by far my favorite show on television - has been about the influence of fathers over their sons. Powerful stuff!
"God never calls us to do something and then abandons us when we seek to be obedient." This may be helpful to you in any situation you are facing right now. I've had to remind myself of this very thing as I get anxious about some changes coming in my life. God is so much more faithful to us than we could ever be to Him. He will not leave you!
"Our kids will remember who we are at home for more than what we accomplish in our work and activities outside our home."
"One of the subtle ways the enemy pulls parents away from their primary life mission of passing faith to their children is to get them over-involved at church." Wow. This was a power statement for me.

If you are a parent, work with parents, want to be a parent, know any parents (yes, I think that could just about include everyone who reads this blog), pick up these books. I think Visionary Parenting is a good overview and very convicting. These books have great theology, are packed with personal experience, advice, and practical tips, and are loaded with Scripture.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

This will go down as one of the best Valentine's Day EVER! God is so gracious to me and shows me HIS love in so many ways!
Actually, one of the best VDAY wknds EVER!
Friday: single red rose from my secret sister at work. Made my day and it smelled as only a rose can smell.
Saturday: bought some great new shoes, read about gospel-centered parenting, babysat for amazing kiddos and got some beautiful tulips and wonderful conversation with their parents after they returned from their date. Tulips are absolutively my favorite flower - to matter the color. This has to mean that Spring is on the way.
Sunday: got to hear 4 and 5 year old boys being taught about serving their sisters in Christ in Sunday School (by serving them their goldfish during snack time). Hung out with new friends from Louisianna for dinner and Sojourn 7pm. Pastor Daniel challenged us to give our BEST PRAISE to the amazing God! More on that coming on Wednesday in honor of Ash Wednesday.
And there is now a possibility of no school/work tomorrow because of 5-9 inches of snow coming over night. I love waking up to a white world. (But, I desparately want Spring to come quickly!)
I hope you had an amazing wknd too. God is love. May the Love of Christ compel us. And, as a 6 year old boy quoted this morning, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentines Day Approaching

The more I live the more I see that this world is not about Christ. Ok - yes, I should know that, and I do. But, the closer I am with God - the more I am in His Word, serving Him, being shaped by Him, the more I am appalled by sin.
Being home the past two days has allowed for good times of reading and little TV watching - that was grand!
With Valentine's Day on Sunday, I thought I would shoot this out there. How do you prepare for Valentine's Day? Last night I made some Vday goodies to share tonight and tomorrow. I am babysitting for a couple on Saturday night so they can have a date. I am making brownies shaped in hearts for a potluck on Sunday. I really don't think much about the fact that I am single on Vday, because I've only ever dated one person on Vday, and it didn't rock my
I came across this on a blog I read (about fitness mostly, or well-being), and I wanted to counter her 5 points with Scripture. This is how you have to start looking at the world - a biblical worldview!
Noshtopia wrote this: How to have a good Valentine's Day:
1. Be completely selfish. Phil 2.3: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
This first one is so anti-biblical. I am reading Elyse Fitzpatrick's Counsel from the Cross. The third chapter is all about LOVE. It doesn't say anything about being selfish. I would counter Stephanie's first point by saying on Vday - find something to do for others. I love babysitting for people around Vday (and I usually say I'll do it for free) because I want to be encouraging their marriage.
2. Give Your Inner Voice a Day Off. Counter this with: Preach the Gospel To yourself every day. I actually agree with her point. She knows, as we all do, that if we are single we are usually hating life on Vday because our culture, especially our church culture, makes it miserable for you to be single. I think culture looks upon singleness as a good thing (for mostly wrong reasons). I have found it mostly difficult to be single in the church because most people are pressing you to get married, or women's events are geared toward mothers or wives; not just women.
3. Get Glammed Up and Go Party. Counter this with: 1 Peter 3.3-4: Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. Do I think it is a bad thing to get dressed up and go out to eat, art show, somewhere fun - NO. I love doing it. But so much of our culture presses this issue, especially for single women. This Sunday night, I'm going out to eat with new friends who are coming to look at the seminary. Will I look pretty - as much as I can. But, I can't find my worth in this - or try to use it as a flirtatious model for attracting men.
4. Make Love with Yourself. Counter: Hebrews 13.4: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. This one appalled me more than any of the others. Where do I begin? Sexual activity is just for the marriage of a man and a woman for life. No where else. I was watching a repeat of "American Life" on ABC Family. The mother of one of the teenagers told the father (in front of the son) - "He's just wanting to figure out if he wants oral sex from one or sex from the other?" For real, on ABC Family? What kind of family show is that? Well, don't need to watch that anymore. Do I really need TV?
5. Write Down 5 Things You DO Have. Counter: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. The Word tells us to be grateful for all the blessings we do have. God has been so gracious to us. And on this Valentine's Day I am grateful for: new friends, new ministry opportunities, my family, friends who have loved me for a long time, the Word, provision. do you look at Valentine's Day? What are your plans for the wknd?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Undisciplined Life

My life this past week has (for the most part) been very undisciplined.
Most people would not see that as an issue, but for me, if one area gets out of "disipline" than all of them seem to fall.
Think it started with being sick, so my eating, sleeping, and exercise got out of whack. Being sick and tired I didn't go to church last weekend (I was supposed to head to Nashville). That didn't give me the encouragement from being around the Body. My reading in B90x has been off so this weekend I am playing catch up. My house is very out of sorts with boxes everywhere. I have been sleeping on my very very comfy couch, which isn't a problem, because actually I've been sleeping better. I've been reading, but not as every day as I need to be. My exercise has been off because of the weather, or staying late to work, or stress at work and just not having the energy when I get off.
This wknd won't be normal: snow, housing office, power yoga session (can't wait), hanging with a family, 2 morning services (one to be in a toddler's class, one for church), lunch with a pastor and his family, Super Bowl, sleeping at a friend's house after the big game. I have the task of getting my life back on track - my whole life. Wow - this is a big undertaking - and it has really only been a week! I am a firm believer that every area of life affects the other parts:
Even though I can never be an Elder in the church, I still want some of the qualifications to be seen in my life: (Titus 1)
If anyone is above God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Book Review: Perspectives on Family Ministry

I went to First Baptist Church, Plant City, FL for most of my high school years. Tommy Warnock had such an amazing impact on my life in areas of discipleship, leadership, and missions. His faithfulness in ministry and love for others was contagious. I'm so glad God put me there; much of the future of my life was rooted in that one decision to go to that church.
Time span: 1995 (graduation) to 2010 (now). I have grown in knowledge of the Word and the turns and styles of ministry. Being in many churches since high school graduation and attending seminary, and now working at a seminary has definitely had an impact on how I think about and am active in ministry.
This book highlights one of the latest "styles" in how to do children and youth ministry. 5-10 years ago no one would have had a conversation about family-integrated, family-based, or family-equipping ministry models. I read Mark Devries' book Family-Based Youth Ministry in college as I minored in youth ministry, and applied it to the youth ministry in which I was working. I quickly forgot what I read and couldn't tell you one underlined statement from that book - but I remember its implications.
The youth ministry staff I was on was a thriving youth ministry, boasted the largest youth ministry in St. Augustine. I loved teaching the Word every week to 70+ middle schoolers, playing games, going on ski-trips, having 5 middle-school girls sledding down my stairs on a mattress - those were the times. I love those girls I had in their youth group years. I love the parents who participated in the youth group, went on the same trips, loved teenagers, taught Sunday School, cooked brownies. They were so cool. But I also remember the parents who whipped through the parking lot of the church (dodging the kids shooting baskets or skateboarding) to drop their kids off for youth group by 6.10pm. I pray I had an impact on the lives of those girls. My first discipleship opportunity with a young lady was amazing and life-changing for both of us as we enjoyed dinner with her family every week one summer and then studied a Max Lucado book together upstairs. I loved that time. She is thriving in life and ministry right now. But, I guarantee that has more to do with the fact that she has parents who model a life of following Christ every day than that one summer I had with her, Wed night youth group meetings, ski trips, and Sunday School classes.
Anyway...this discussion of style of ministry is fairly new. When I started working at Southern Seminary in Fall 2007, the first I ever heard of this was because Steve Wright wrote a book entitled RE:Think. Timothy Jones and Randy Stinson continued the conversation and were teaching principles based on the Word, and dubbed "Family-equipping model". This is the culture I have been immersed in over the last 2.5 years. This has provided me much to think about and wrestle with. This is what I have come up with.
God created the family - Gen 2
God gave the mandate to the parents for discipling their children - Dt 6
God gave the ministry of equipping the saints to the pastors - Eph 4
The call of disciples of Christ is to evangelize the world - Matt 28.

This book, edited by Dr. Timothy Jones, with authors Paul Renfro, Brandon Shields, and Jay Strother, is a good introduction to these three models (mentioned at the beginning of this) and gives the reader much food for thought. This book would be extremely helpful to people training for ministry, or for church staffers looking at making a change to existing ministries.
Personally, I thought Renfro's was the strongest argument, Jay Strother's was the most practical, and Shield's was the weakest. That doesn't mean anything - that may just be the style of writing. I liked the humble dialogue between the authors as they brought out points that most readers may not have thought of while they worked through the styles of ministry.
Here are some quotes from the book:
"Church programs have usurped a responsibility that Scripture and church history place first and foremost at the feet of parents." - Jones, 21
"Family ministry is not another church program that a pastor can add to the present array of programs." - Jones, 41
Jones definitely accomplishes his task with this book: "My goal is not to convince readers that one of these models is better than the others. I do want to equip them with the knowledge needed to discern which model might work best in their congregation." - 45
"Who is better able to discern the condition of their children's hearts and to know if true repentance has occurred than those who live with them every day? The home is the best context for discipleship." - Renfro, 63
"Could it be that family-integrated churches so heavily emphasize traditional family structures that they subtly give non-traditional families the impression they are second-class citizens?" - Strother, 86
"When attempting to reach another culture, there is a fine line between relevance and accommodation." - Shields, 110
"So many American families are merely a shell of what God created them to be. In such families each family member has personal agendas and schedules; homes are merely pit stops for the washing of clothes, the provision of food, and a few hours of sleep." - Renfro, 121
"In the typical church it will require significant changes not only in the message communicated to parents but also in the church's internal paradigms to send a loud and clear message that parents have the primary responsibility for their children's discipleship." - Strother, 129
"We must go where they are, preach to them in their language, compel them to come to Jesus, and consistently create attractive environments where persons from any background can grow in their relationship with Jesus." - Shields, 137
Why must we create attractive environments? That is my area of disagreement with the above statement.
"Family-equipping ministry must represent the congregation's convictions about the entire nature of church and ministry." - Strother, 161.
This is not merely a youth ministry question - this is an entire church life question.

My thoughts: I am not a parent. I have been in youth ministry/college ministry/kids ministry now for 15 years. This has given me much view of typical American families. I see failures and successes. Not every teenager that comes out of a intact, Bible-believe home is a radical Christ follower. Not every teen that comes out of a divorced, broken home is a loser who wants nothing to do with Christ. This isn't a 100% no-fail solution. God is still in charge of radically changing the lives of sinners like me. He called parents though, Christian parents, to disciple their children in the ways of God. The church is called to equip and evangelize. Evangelize the lost, and disciple them to do what they are called to do. One of the things they are called to do, if parents, is to disciple their own children.
Much more is to be discussed on this topic: broken families, single parents, single adults, etc. But...this isn't my dissertation on the topic of family ministry. This is my response from reading Jones' book on it.
I am thankful for all 4 authors as three of them have had a personal impact on my life and ministry and all 4, through this book, have made me think.