Discipleship

Pray

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.

Continue reading

Listening to God’s Voice

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

Continue reading

Come to the Quiet

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.

Continue reading

Lawn Chair Legacy

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.
PicForNewsletterLagunaRitzJuly2005LawnChairs

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

Going Deep

Bills

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

I wonder…

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.
8b1359d1904b2191a11b52b593957f56

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.

Continue reading

Asking Better Questions

What would happen if we started asking better questions?

Questions that left room for messy. Questions that didn’t wrap everything up into a black and white bow at the end of class. Questions that left room for wonder & curiosity & what if. Questions that dealt with real life.

Generally speaking, I think a lot of us are really bad questioners when we teach. Rarely do follow up questions go beyond “Remember” or “Understand.”

Bloomtaxonomy-e1445435495371

Our Educator friends are very familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, and it is a great resource we need to be using regularly when we are writing or tweaking curriculum or lesson planning. Better questions often appear in curriculum for preteens, but we need better questions for children of all ages. Children are capable of wrestling with challenging questions, even in preschool.

Continue reading

BONUS: The First Step

Remember how I said sometimes we’ll just throw the format out the window? Today is one of those days.

ntF1MUuTClint 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.
Only one problem. Continue reading

Wish List for a Child’s Heart

There are few people I know who are more intentional about every aspect of ministry than my friend Jim Hinkle. I mean seriously some days meetings will last twice as long as necessary because of how much he thinks through every detail, word choice used and the implication of decisions made. But it’s born out of wisdom and his deep love & passion for the local church and how she should love others well. Jim was one of several who sat down and tackled this overwhelming job of creating a discipleship model for Children’s & Youth Ministries. I’m so excited to invite him to our conversation today to share just how they set out to tackle this feat.

It’s an entertaining mental exercise to make a wish list. What would a wish list look like for a remodeled kitchen? How about a new car? What about the ultimate super hero? All of us, at some level, have let our imaginations dream about what could be if we could simply make a list of what we’d like to have in a kitchen, a car, or maybe even a super hero.

But what about our wish list for a child’s heart. What attitudes, skill sets, and perspectives Continue reading

Intentionally Making Disciples

Screen-shot-2011-09-16-at-1.19.01-AMThen Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

In ancient Jewish tradition, children would attend Bet Sefer where they would memorize the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy) from 5 – 10 years of age. The best of those students were selected to attend Bet Talmud (at 11 years old) to begin learning the interpretation & application of the scriptures. If you weren’t selected you went home to learn the family business. The best of the Bet Talmud students were chosen by the Rabbi for Bet Midrash about the age of 15. The Rabbi would declare, “Lech achori.” or “Come, follow me.” The Rabbi would train, teach, worship with, live life with, and mentor his students in the ways of God & faith. “Lech achori” was the phrase every Jewish child dreamed of hearing from a Rabbi. This command meant more than physically following the Rabbi. It meant the Rabbi thought you were capable of becoming like him. It was a statement of the Rabbi finding worth & value in you.

Continue reading