There are few people I’d be willing to lead me up Masada, sail the Sea of Galilee, crawl through the aqueducts at Qumran, and climb Mt. Carmel with than Cayce Harris. Cayce is a woman with a deep faith & love for God and a heart of wisdom that knows no ends. I’m grateful for her friendship & leadership. Cayce is the Director of Ministries at Christ Healing Center. She and her husband, Joel, have 4 children with another on the way. The fruits of Cayce’s prayer life are evident in her work, her family & in all of her life. I’m so grateful she is willing to share with us even in the midst of morning sickness. May you be blessed today by Cayce Harris. Welcome, Cayce.
I love it when kids bow their heads and say amazing sweet, simple prayers with their hands folded and their bodies still. But let’s be honest, while it’s tender when it happens – most kids are all over the place most of the time. Activity and noise define what my kids are doing almost always.
I want my kids to learn to be still and listen – and they will learn that, there’s time for that. Even more so, I want my kids to live a life-style of prayer. I want them to know that because of Jesus’ incredible love for them, they have access. Access to GOD – the God who made it all. They can access Him as much as they want – there is no limit. There’s no such thing as too much or too often. There are no boundaries when it comes to their relationship with God and by extension, their prayer life.
How do we foster this as adults who sometimes require stillness and a 3 point lesson to feel connected to God?
Growing up, I learned that praying was for dinnertime, bedtime and for boring, old, long-winded men in church. At dinnertime, my Daddy was the only one who prayed. At bedtime I prayed the same words every night: Dear God, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Sissy & Jamie. In Jesus’ name, Amen. And in Church? Prayers must last at least 10 minutes and the man praying must use only big, flowery words too intimidating to teach & foster in me a desire to talk to a God whose demands for prayers seemed too lofty and dull.
Suzetta Nutt taught me how to Come to the Quiet with children. Here is a sample lesson plan to implement this with your children. This lesson will take you about 10-15 minutes max but don’t rush it. I have done this with children as young as 3 years old. And they can articulate what God told them after they took the time to listen.
I use the story of Elijah in the cave from 1 Kings 19. Depending on the audience, I tell the story or we read it together.
There [Elijah] went into a cave and spent the night.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:9-13
Mixing things up today with a guest post from the amazing Suzetta Nutt! I’m grateful for her introduction to Come to the Quiet.
Come to the Quiet
Encountering God through the Spiritual Discipline of Silence
Not too long ago someone asked me, “How do you think children will remember you?” Great question for a children’s minister, but one I had never considered. As I thought about it, this scripture immediately came to mind.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
These words have shaped my ministry with children in ways that continually amaze and challenge me. These words laid the foundation for change and gave us the courage to try something new that seemed unlikely – entering into silence with children.
Eric Wilson is a man who leads by modeling. To serve under his leadership means to be challenged, supported, encouraged, and fed spiritually. He fights for what is right no matter the cost. He works to see racial reconciliation become a reality in his lifetime. I am so honored to call him my friend and one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. He left a void behind when Pepperdine University stole him away to be their Associate Chaplin where he has served for almost a year now. Eric is an award winning playwright & theatrical director; he is also a religious blogger for the Huffington Post. God is doing amazing things through him, and I’m so grateful he’s joining our conversation today. Welcome, Eric.
That early in the morning you wouldn’t expect the air to be thick with humidity and the call of the cicadas. Even at five in the morning the atmosphere in the boot heel of Missouri is redolent with teeming things. As night gives way to day space is filled with condensation, promise, and the possibilities of what can be. This was my granddaddy’s time of day. The time he and God did business. An aluminum lawn chair with frayed green and white plastic webbing perfectly placed under a generous pecan tree was were they met. My brown boy eyes spotted them from a screened in window held open by a spinning box fan. I saw them. I saw my grandfather and God meet. It was 5 am under a pecan tree next to a dirt and gravel drive way on my family’s farm. He met God there daily, sitting on that beat up lawn chair with the day and his Bible opened for the meeting. Continue reading
I wish I had a camera every time I mentioned that children are capable of practicing spiritual disciplines. The looks of skepticism and “you’re crazy” would make a fun collage on my office wall.
I’m not sure when or why the phrase “spiritual disciplines” became so scary to some. I’m sure church historians or theologians who are way smarter than me could explain it. Or maybe it’s just when I use the phrase in the same sentence as “Let’s do this with children!” that people look at me like I just said my husband is pregnant with twins. Continue reading
Suzetta Nutt is one of those amazing people whom you want to sit at their feet and attempt to absorb as much as possible from their deep wells of wisdom. Suzetta has been serving at Highland Church in Abilene, TX for 30 years; the last 11 have been as the Children’s Minister. She is passionate about listening to children and sharing life with them. She and her husband, Bob, have 3 children, Lauren (32), Ryan (15) and Tabby (4); so life is always interesting. Suzetta has learned first hand that God definitely has a sense of humor! Please welcome Suzetta to the conversation today. May you be blessed by her as much as she has blessed my life & ministry.
For more than a decade my church has been on an intentional journey of learning what it means to be the church with children. This journey has led us to ask many questions of our parents, our leadership and the children in our care. We’ve been amazed and challenged by what we have learned.
Two simple words have changed us forever, pointing us toward transformation and restoration.
The words – I wonder.
Every minister needs a Janyce Sisson in their lives. A woman who believes in you, fights for you, prays for you, calls you out when needed and loves you like her own. Her love for Jesus and for those who serve Him run deep. She’s one of my favorites and I want to be like her when I grow up. I’m honored to share her prayer for you, your ministry, your summer and your kids today.
As this summer begins, Lord of Grace and Mercy, I pray for those who consistently, faithfully present the truths of Your Kingdom of Heaven on Earth to the young ones of the world. May these ministers of Your loving kindness find courage to meet the busy-ness of the calendar, the more involved projects and the increased numbers of people, even though many are small.
Clint Askins joins us today all the way from Ghana, Africa where he & his wife, Hailey, work for Mercy Project. Mercy Project strives to eradicate child slavery on Lake Volta through long-term, sustainable solutions to empower & equip Ghanaians who use the children for fishing. Prior to Clint’s work with Mercy Project, he served in Youth Ministry for 7 years. Clint has a heart for the marginalized & boldly challenges all to live a life worthy of being a Jesus follower.
You can hear more from Clint & Hailey on their blog and on Twitter @clintaskins. Welcome, Clint.
My friend Jim Hinkle wrote on discipleship plans for children and youth, but I wanted to write something specific to all adults involved with churches and these ministries.
During my time as a youth minister, our intentional plan for discipleship relied heavily on mentoring given to youth from adults (other than their own parents) in our church.
Mentors influenced me more than any other factor in my own spiritual growth. In high school, it was my youth minister. In college and graduate school, three of my professors were incredible mentors. And in youth ministry, I learned from watching some of the best.
So naturally, I wanted to provide our youth an opportunity to be mentored by Christ-following, wise adults in our church. We started mentoring groups led by 2 adults and 5-10 students.
One day I was having lunch with a church leader. I was still fairly new to Children’s Ministry & (in hindsight) assumed everyone understood why Children’s Ministry was so important. Prior to our lunch, I had given him a copy of George Barna’s book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, to read hoping it would somehow help our strained working relationship. At lunch that day he told me, “Now I get why Children’s Ministry is important and matters to the church.” All I could think was, “Wait, what?! No wonder we are struggling; you never thought Children’s Ministry mattered in the first place.” It became clear why our relationship had been strained over the previous year and a half: we did not view the importance of Children’s Ministry the same. You don’t know what you don’t know, and he didn’t know he didn’t know.