Category Archives: What if…
We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools.” Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing (see Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:3-4). We found one way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools: stuffing gift baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, & end of school. Snacks, healthy & not so healthy. Homemade baked goods. Office supplies & teacher gear. And always with a note of encouragement.
What are other ways that you or your church have been a blessing to your local schools?
WHAT IF every teachers lounge was filled with encouragement from local churches all year long?
Love what one Northshore church is doing to get their small groups On Mission For Others. FBC Mandeville is having each of their Life Groups choose a “NEAR Mission Project” to engage in together. They’ve started a blog to communicate local opportunities for mission. Check it out: http://fbcmandeville.blogspot.com/.
Imagine the possibilities for your Small Groups or Sunday School classes…
Ever thought about taking your churches children’s ministry to the streets? I think we should. Most children’s ministry is focused on reaching/teaching/discipling kids that show up at my church on the weekends or midweek. Some of the questionable outcomes of this:
- Can teach kids that church is all about them & most importantly, about them having fun, falling just short of disciple-making.
- Wanting to grow our churches, we sometime start talking about kids as only a hook to get their parents “butts in the seats” (to quote Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act). “If the kids have fun, the parents will come back” ~ church growth quip.
- Children’s facilities can cost mega bucks.
- Can cut the rug out from under parental responsibility for discipling kids as they become more and more dependent upon the “professionals” down at the church.
AND the big one, that our team has been grappling with: WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY KIDS THAT ARE NOT COMING TO THE FULL COLOR KIDS MINISTRY EVENTS AT OUR CHURCH EVERY WEEK?
In my region of 345,000 people, demographic reports show that around 21% of the population is age 14 or below. That’s around 69,000 kids!!!! In my denomination, which is one of largest in the region with 11,500 worshipers on any given Sunday, approximately 18% of that number are children under 14. Meaning on any given week only 2,500 or so kids are attending, which is only about 4% of the population in the 14 and under age bracket. We average about 7,000 each year for Vacation Bible School, which is a 1-week, 4-hour overdose of Sunday’s Kids Ministry. That gets us to 10%. Add the other evangelical groups to the mix and best figures, after consulting with other church leaders, give me a number of 4,500 kids in an evangelical church each Sunday for faith & fun. That’s only 7% of the kids in our community. And many of these kids are growing up with absolutely no access to the Gospel story or a Christian witness in their lives. Are we losing a generation as we strategize on how to improve our children’s facilities? (& considering the # of kids that need to be reached, can we even build a big enough facility to do what’s needed?) & preach loudly about God being taken out of schools? & order next years Vacation Bible School curriculum? & continue to think of kids ministry as a facilities focused ministry?
A New Vision for Kids Ministry
What if we began to consider the 93% in our Kids Ministry strategy? Not neglecting the 7%, providing faith & fun on Sunday’s as we are, but also thinking of new ways to get God’s story into the lives of kids in our community. When you think of it like this you’ll realize there are more opportunities then you might imagine. Here’s a few ideas:
- Encourage your congregation to get involved in schools on their terms, not yours. There are a variety of mentoring, tutoring, encouraging opportunities that will equal relationships with unchurched families in the community & opportunities to invest in kids. Our church recently provided free popcorn for an area schools open house & met several families in need.
- Partner with local kids organizations that are serving children & asking (if not begging) for volunteers. In my community, there’s the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, local multi-housing complexes, private schools. And we’ve found many of them are open to you sharing THE story as part of your work.
- Multiply what you do on-site, off-site. You’ve made great backdrops & costumes, produced cool videos & posters, you’ve bought expensive curriculum, & prepared awesome crafts, & you’ve trained volunteers who are loving it. Why not look for an avenue to multiply that in the community? Do the VBS at a local multi-housing complex or another church that would not be able to do it for the kids in their neighborhood on their own. Do a one day kids ministry event at a local park or multi-housing complex utilizing all the stuff you’ve done over the past few months.
- Local Festivals provide opportunities to show kids & families that faith is fun by providing some of the crafts or games or other elements you do each week. This is a great way also to build trust with community leaders & parents. And you can say, “if you like what we do here, you’ll love our Kids ministry at ______ Church on Sunday.”
- Get the Kids involved. Instead of seeing them as hooks to get more “butts in the seats.” See them as missionaries who can invest in their friends & demonstrate that faith is fun & meaningful in the community. Teach kids that it’s important to serve & that faith is not just about them but others, by taking them on a local mission trip to the park or festival or multi-housing complex for Kids Ministry Day.
- Start or get involved in a mentoring program for children without dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster children, etc.
- Instead of VBS. I heard of one church that instead of VBS they encouraged neighborhood Bible Clubs during the summer & trained & empowered people to reach the kids & families around them, utilizing the same curriculum sets & production quality, but in yards & subdivision common space all around the city.
- Other ideas?
We’ve reached a point where we can’t keep preaching about culture decay, God kicked out of schools, & bad parenting. We’ve got to get involved. The doors are open in our communities. It won’t be easy, but salt is no good left in the salt-shaker. Could our churches add salt by taking your kids ministry to the streets?
Just thinking. Please share other ideas, opinions, corrections, smart remarks, etc. in the comments.
We often hear laments about churches not being able to “get into the schools”. Most of the time, we’re trying to get in on our terms instead of thinking of ways to be a blessing (see Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:3-4). We found one way that is enthusiastically accepted 100% of the time at our local schools: stuffing gift baskets full of goodies for teacher’s lounges at the beginning of the school year, holidays, & end of school. This year as part of our Faith in Action weekend, we focused on snacks, healthy & not so healthy. We’ve also done baked goods & office supplies. And always with a note of encouragement.
Praying for our local schools!
What are other ways that you or your church have been a blessing to your local schools?
What if every teachers lounge was filled with encouragement from local churches all year long?
Our church partners with a few area Multi-Housing complexes to provide New Resident Welcome Baskets. We also want to make them available for the rest of us to bless new neighbors with as well. We stuffed a bunch at our last Faith In Action Sunday. Here’s the list of stuff in ours, which was put together by our Creative Team. Their leader Angie McGinty sent me this list.
- Basket (I have been lucky enough to find some the perfect size in the dollar section at Target, but I think they are out now)
- Archer Farms Brand (@Target): Box of cheddar sourdough cheese straws and caramel macadamia popcorn in the big clear container (by chips). I picked these because they look nicer and more gourmet if you will.
- Some type of gender neutral note pad (I found ones with magnets in the Target dollar section)
- A nice pen to go with notepad (I usually only get these if they have some in the dollar section…nice pens are not cheap)
- Antibacterial hand soap (I get the nice ones from Bath and Body Works..they were running a special for 7 of them for $20 but they may not be running that anymore. If not, I know that Target has some nice ones like the organic hand soaps) I think adding a nice soap with a great smell really makes the baskets kick up a notch as opposed to just some random everyday soap. I still have 4 of these left.
- A nice dish towel/hand towel. You may be able to find some cute Spring ones on sale at Hobby Lobby right now. I got a neutral color from Target for a few bucks.
- Thick wire edge ribbon to tie around the basket (Hobby Lobby has great ribbon and usually on sale)
Cost of each basket: less than $25
- Every multi-housing complex had a partnering church to welcome new residents.
- We noticed & took responsibility for new movers into our neighborhoods & cultivated relationships during this important season in their lives.
What else would you include? Does your church do anything like this?
Last month the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced the opening of their first offices on the Northshore. With the announcement came the stat that 91,000 Catholics live in St. Tammany Parish. With the population estimates at 261,000, that’s about 35% of the population. However, almost 50% of the population when polled claim to be Catholic. 22% claim to be Baptist, but actual attendance roles show only 7% of the population actually attending a Baptist Church at least 3 out of 8 weeks (3.3% weekly for Southern Baptist). Dave Olson’s research of actual attendance roles reveals that 24% of St. Tammany residents attend some kind of church at least once per month, but 64% claim to attend church at least once per month in our recent opinion poll.
Researchers call this the Halo Effect. We tend to give ourselves credit for our intentions when asked without knowledge of ability to fact check. Same holds true for voting. If polled 10-25% more people say they voted then actually did each election according to the voting rolls.
Question: What if we actually followed through on our best intentions? What if we actually did what we give ourselves credit for? What if we actually lived what we believe to be right and best for our families? Would the world be different? Would I be different? Would anything change? Is there a gap between your intentions and your actions?
James 4:17 says, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
Jesus can give us the power to close the gaps and live with intentionality, not just good intentions.
Most people want to make a difference in the world. Ability, time, and permission is often in question among us church goers. How can I be a blessing to those around me? Here’s a simple strategy that anybody can implement. I heard this last week during the Verge Conference from Dave Ferguson. BLESS:
B – Begin w/prayer.
Pray for opportunities and open doors. Pray for the heart of God for those around you.
L – Listen.
If we’re willing to listen, people will tell us their needs, hurts, desires, questions.
E – Eat.
Build relationships. Do coffee or lunch. Invite someone over for dinner.
S – Serve.
When we listen and build relationships with people we will know what they need and can serve them.
S – Story.
It’s incomplete without sharing the story of Christ. His is the story promised to bring blessing to every nation.
What if you committed to do at least one of these each day? Just one. If so, you’d find yourself on the way to making a difference from where you are.
Sara’s Story. One of my favorite moments from the Verge Conference.
A few months back our church parked our trailer in a neighborhood under revitalization while we helped with some painting and home repair projects. The next week we got several lectures from Christians about how dangerous it was down there and how we should be careful. Sara’s question gripped me! “Who’s fearing for the safety of these kids?”
What would it look like for you to take the teachings of Jesus seriously and not water them down? Are we too concerned about our safety and comfort to reach out to people who need the Gospel and need real-time help? What if…
As part of our Incarnational Action strategy our church does regular events at West St. Tammany’s largest mobile home park. Our resident missionaries at the park, Mauricio and Rebecca Hance, came up with a great idea of having hot chocolate and breakfast snacks at the bus stop for the 40+ kids that catch the bus there.
Cost: $50 or so. And food is a great conversation starter even for the skeptical. Read Mauricio’s recent post about the experience here.
What if every multi-housing complex had a Bus Stop Breakfast Buffet once per month? Could your small group or Sunday School class or family adopt a complex? Other ideas?
Yesterday we held our annual Multi-Housing ministry roundtable on the Northshore. Thanks to Jeff Cook for leading us in the great dialogue about ideas for engaging a vastly unchurched population segment. By the numbers:
- 24%, or 47,611, housing units on the I-12 corridor are mobile homes or multi-unit dwellings. That doesn’t include the 1,300 dorms at Southeastern, and the multitude of institutional settings like nursing homes and retirement centers. Get our full report on Multi-Housing on the Northshore.
- 2%-3.5% of Multi-Housing residents do not attend church.
- Experts say that 4% of the people in a multi-housing complex can be reached by going and inviting them to your church. 30% can be reached by taking your church to them through Bible Studies, Kids activities, congregationalizing inside the complex or park.
How do I start ministering to a multi-housing complex. 3 Tips:
- Get to know the Management. Ask them, “How can a church help?” Then get ready to respond to needs.
- Think Incarnationally. How can we bring our church/VBS/Sunday School/etc. to them?
- Pole your church and see who is already living in local multi-housing complexes. Then work toward commissioning them as missionaries to the park.
- Look for needs. Be creative. Start Small. Ideas: Block Parties on site, beautification projects, outreach to the vulnerable (elderly, widows, single moms), activities for kids, benevolence ministry.
- Trailer Park Weatherization Clinic
- Tutoring ministry for kids.
- Outdoor Movie Night. Blow up movie screens can now be purchased for $200 or so. The Northshore Baptist Association has one in our Block party trailer.
- Affinity classes on site: Parenting, Financial Planning, Marriage, Addiction Recovery, etc.
- One of my favorite books in this regard is an oldy – One Church, Many Congregations by Tim Ahlen.
- Check out this video on Francis Chan’s new mission of starting congregations in high rise apartments in San Francisco. It’s called Adopt A Building.
What if every multi-housing complex or park had a church adopt it for prayer, activities, and ministry?