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.

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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

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.”

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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.

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A Pray for Your Summer

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. 
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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.

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My Prayer for You

There’s this crazy beautiful responsibility God has entrusted to each of us. Whether you are paid or volunteer, the calling is real and deep and heartfelt. And the struggle is real, too. Nothing about this responsibility is easy or simple. So this week is dedicated to you, dear reader, who loves children and serves them week after week despite the challenges and the difficulties. Despite the scars you carry because church work is hard work. This is for you who can’t escape Children’s Ministry because your heart beats for kids’ spiritual formation. This is my prayer for you. May you be encouraged and know what you do is making a difference.


Lord, I bless You and honor You as King of the Universe, Creator and lover of children. Thank you for setting an example for us of how to welcome children with open arms. Thank you for calling us your sons and daughters. Thank you for making a place for us at Your table. Thank you for this crazy beautiful responsibility. Thank you for blessing us with gifts to accomplish what You’ve set before us. Continue reading

Implementing a New Curriculum

It is my honor to introduce you to Shannon Rains. Shannon is the Children’s and Family Minister at Kingwood Church of Christ. She has been journeying in ministry for over fifteen years. Shannon is currently a D.Min. student at Abilene Christian University and will join the faculty of Lubbock Christian University this fall as the Assistant Professor of Children’s Ministry. Shannon is married to David and has two children. Please help me welcome Shannon to the conversation.

I will never forget my first experience with implementing a change in curriculum. I evaluated our current ministry and made a list of goals for the future. I formed a team of stakeholders: parents, volunteers, and leaders in our congregation. We reviewed curriculum and compared them to our goals. Through prayer and discernment, we made a final selection. The team was excited about the new possibilities. We scheduled a meeting with the teachers and rolled out the new resources.

During the meeting, the teachers seemed excited about the new curriculum. Or, maybe they were a little nervous. In hindsight, they were probably more nervous than excited. I was excited. I misread their feelings through my own lens of excitement.

A few weeks later, reality set in. Continue reading