Orange Week: Churches Partnering with Parents


It took years before I felt comfortable teaching about parenting. I don’t feel adequate to teach about parenting adult children now, since I’m still doing that, but I feel better about helping parents of younger children. Our boys have become healthy, well-adjusted, God-fearing children.

This week is Orange Week; a ministry of The ReThink Group. It’s a week to talk about the Orange strategy of partnering churches with parents, believing that the combined effort works better than either one of them working independent of each other. I’m happy to participate. Grace Community Church uses and believes in the Orange strategy. If you want to improve your ministry to families, attend the Orange Conference next year.

Cheryl and I owe all our success at parenting to God’s grace, but it’s also true that we were extremely intentional with our parenting. Our boys were early teens when I surrendered to ministry, but they were raised in the homes of committed church members. My boys have been “pastor’s kids” less than 10 years, but we were “orange” parents before we knew the term. The ideal arrangement for us was to be in a church that believed in helping us direct our children towards Christ, but not doing it for us.

I didn’t want the church parenting my children. I didn’t want my boys to learn all the important life principles, even the Biblical principles from the church, but I realized that the church should and did play an important role in the life of my two boys. Some of their best friends were in the church, which helped them make wiser decisions in school. They found mentors in the church, which helped for times they didn’t want to talk with me. Cheryl and I became better people and more committed believers in the church, which made us better parents. The reality of us working with the church in our parenting was powerful and I’m confident it helped mold our boys character to what it is today. For more on my parenting philosophy, click HERE.

Are you partnering with the church to improve your parenting? Are you taking advantage of the opportunities the church offers? Are you being intentional in your parenting? How has the church helped shape your home?

For more information about the Orange strategy of helping churches partner with parents, click HERE.

Criss Cross: Our Newest Staff Member at GcomChurch

We have a new staff member at Grace Community Church. His name is Criss Cross. He started in the office this morning (and thankfully I’m out of town).

Criss Cross is our children’s ministries new mascot. We realize churches usually don’t have mascots, but we are passionate about reaching children for Christ. It amazes me to watch children get excited about a mascot at a ballgame. Sometimes they don’t even know a game is in progress if the mascot is nearby. I love watching their excitement interacting with a mascot.

Our goal for children is to get their attention, so we can share with them the love of Christ. Honestly, in a sea of entertainment, that’s much harder to do these days. We are hoping Criss Cross will help us attain our goal.

Welcome to the team Criss Cross! Stay out of my office!

What are you doing creatively to reach people for Christ?

Love at Last Sight (Kerry Shook) Book Review


Authors Kerry and Chris Shook are encouraging a revolution of relationship strengthening in their new book “Love at Last Sight”.  The Shooks, who founded Woodland Church in 1993, and have seen it grow to a mega church of 18,000 per weekend, believe that relationships are in trouble.  The key relationships in our life, such as with our spouse, children and close friends, needs to move from a “love at first sight” mentality, to a “love at last sight mentality.”

Too many people get into relationships by falling madly in love, but then allow the relationship to lose energy over time.  “Love at Last Sight” challenges readers with Biblical principles to find people in our lives whose relationship needs encouraging, and invest in those relationship intentionally for 30 days.

It’s normal for relationships to strain and grow apart over the years.  For relationships to thrive long-term, people must be willing to risk the awkwardness of letting go of schedules, lists, and personal demands to concentrate on the relationship.  This book is practical and has the tools to challenge, strengthen, improve, and save relationships. This is not fluff reading, but anyone who cares about their marriage will enjoy reading this book.  I encourage you to read and apply the principles in this book today!

As a part of this book promotion, Kerry and Chris Shook challenge you to participate in the national Facebook fast on August 25th.  Their hope is that people will spend time off social media building genuine, authentic relationships….with skin on them!  Will you give it a try?

Three Easy Parenting Principles

I am asked dozens of questions about what we did or didn’t do as parents. I am amazed that God has allowed us to raise the two young men we have in our house, but there were a few principles we practiced consistently.

Here are three principles for parenting I think all parents should consider:

Be intentional – Parenting is hard work. Don’t try it without a plan. It’s amazing how we tend to plan for everything in life, but seldom for our parenting. I know men who have a plan to improve their golf game, but nothing to help them grow as a father. If you want to be a great parent, you must be intentional about that role. Have an overall plan for your parenting and an individual plan for each child, depending on their needs at the time.

Shape the heart – The Bible is clear that we should “Above all else guard the heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) I believe in firm discipline. I also believe in extending much grace. More than anything, however, the parent should learn to know, protect and shape their heart of their child. It is that heart, which will determine the decisions and directions the child eventually makes in life.

Enjoy the ride – Children are children for a very short time. Enjoy those days. Be a fun parent, balancing love with discipline. Laughing together with your children will help relieve the stress of your life and keep them wanting to be close to you well into the difficult teen and early adult years.

For my complete parenting philosophy see THIS POST or read other parenting posts HERE.

Which of these do you most need to improve upon as a parent?

(Speaking of principles, be sure to read my disclaimer post about them from yesterday by clicking HERE.)

Caption This Photo: Winner Gets a Free Book


This is a precious picture from our time in Sierra Leone. I recently returned from teaching pastors in the country and I’m forever changed. You can read a post about the children HERE.

The children wanted to touch us, hold our hands, crawl in our laps, and share love with us. This picture helps share that story.

What caption would you give this picture? Comment on this post with your caption and I’ll pick one of them and send the book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. (This is a great book to help frantic families restore sanity to the most important organization in their life!)

Again, all you have to do is comment a caption for this picture.  I’ll pick the one I think best captures this image. You have until Tuesday, July 27, 2010 to answer.

(Please understand this winner will simply be based on opinion.)

Also, will you say a prayer for the children of Sierra Leone?

Using Your Influence for Good: Lessons from Sierra Leone


Throughout our time in Sierra Leone children swarmed us everywhere we went, especially Daniel and Jesse, the youngest two on the trip. Their energy and enthusiasm with the children was highly contagious. They became almost like celebrities in every village.

At one point Jessie admitted she felt guilty for attracting such a crowd. She didn’t want people to think she was seeking personal attention or fame. Daniel agreed with the sentiment.

That’s when the thought occurred to me. Popularity, wealth and power are not all bad. Being “famous” is not necessarily something to be avoided. It may depend on how and for what purpose it is being used.

What occurred to me is that Daniel and Jessie were attracting crowds of children, entertaining them with games and songs, and then leaving them to go to the next village. What they left behind, however, was their influence. Those children in remote villages in West Africa will never forget the love and attention they were shown by these two young adults. They will be running through the streets of their village singing “Jesus Loves Me” because of the experience they had with Daniel and Jessie. They will do push ups, because Daniel taught them how and they will recite cheers Jessie recited and they will laugh and dance…all because two people used their influence in positive ways.

Don’t shy away from the influence God has given you. If it is being used for His glory, rather than for your own, it can be very positive. If your motive and heart is pure, and the glory is pointed towards God, be thankful for the opportunities he gives you.

How are you allowing God to use the influence He has given you?

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Reflection from Sierra Leone


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

I understand the heart of Jesus for children even more from my time in Sierra Leone.

The innocence of children was evident to us in every village we visited. The children would run to us, swarm around us, and follow our every move. They were sponges for the love of God. They were filled with joy and excitement…always seeming to anticipate more.

I was reminded that children are the future of this great country in Africa. The children of Sierra Leone may not remember the war, which devastated their country or the lasting effects it had on this nation. I hope they know the history and never forget the pain and destruction of war, but I hope they see a brighter future and set a new way for this nation.

God bless the children of Sierra Leone.

It also encouraged me as a pastor to continue to invest in our own children at Grace Community Church. I’m thankful for the incredible team God has assembled at Grace who lead our children’s ministry. Under the direction of Katrina Watts and Adam Bayne, our children get to experience worship and teaching with excellence every week. I want to continue to push for adequate funding and resources for these important ministries of our church. They are our future.

God bless the children of Grace Community Church.

Do you work in children’s ministry at your church? If so, please accept my thank you. Have your children been blessed by others who work with them at church? Consider thanking them today.

Happy Father’s Day Challenge: The Nurturing Dad

iStock_000004677667XSmall

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Fathers are not usually seen as the nurturing ones in a family. When my boy’s get sick, they don’t want me, they want Cheryl. The Bible, however, tends to also place the father in a nurturing position. We are told not to “exasperate” our children, which means not to wear them out with correction, but to “bring them up”. That phrase literally means that we spend time with them on a regular basis and encourage them in the development of their character.  That sounds like nurturing to me.

The Bible tends to lay responsibility on the father to help set the tone or the climate of the home. A father, who is consistently harsh or is never satisfied with his children, will tend to produce children who lack the confidence to face tough situations in life. On the other hand, a father too quiet and passive to be intimately involved in the lives of children will likely lead to adults who cannot connect well with others, either in the workplace or in their own marriages and homes.

Fathers are often one of the best determinates of a child’s future success in life. If a boy never feels he meets his father’s approval, he may become either an underachiever or an overachiever, but he will likely never feel that he “measures up” in life. A girl whose father fails to affirm her will often seek that approval from another man, often in seeking inappropriate or less than ideal relationships. She may enter marriage unrealistically expecting something from a husband that he may or may not be able to give. I haven’t even mentioned the effects of an absentee or abusive father.

The biggest impact in the life of a child whose father never nurtures is that they often have a harder time realizing the nurturing aspect found in a loving relationship with a Heavenly Father. Without the model from an earthly father, they see God more in the role of Judge than of “Abba”; which is the Hebrew term for our modern “Daddy”.

I’m thankful for the grace and mercy of God that allows so many second chances for fathers who have missed the mark, but if we desire to be Godly fathers, we will strive to nurture our children in love.

For more thoughts on parenting, click HERE.

Happy Father’s Day!

What changes do you need to make this year to be a more nurturing dad?

Children Have Become Media Junkies


Our children have become media junkies. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study of children ages 8 to 18, which found, not surprisingly, that they are consuming a astounding amount of media entertainment each day. Children now consume an average of 7 ½ hours per day or 52 ½ hours per week of media saturation.

Consider the average daily media consumption of U.S. children according to the study:

  • Listening to music: 151 minutes
  • Watching television: 270 minutes
  • Playing video games: 73 minutes
  • Talking on cell phones: 33 minutes
  • Text messaging: 90 minutes
  • Nonschool computer use: 89 minutes

Do you find these numbers surprising?
Do they alarm you?
If the numbers are what they are, how does this impact the way we attempt to reach this generation with the Gospel?

Your thoughts? Do we run from this part of culture, ignore it or embrace it?

Source: ON MISSION magazine Summer 2010, from Kaiser Family Foundation, February 1, 2010.

Father Influence Survey


I’m working on some blog posts, messages, and eventually a book on the impact of fathering. I’m especially interested in addressing the absence of a strong father figure in a person’s life, since I see it as a huge scar in many people’s life.

You can help me with this part of my ministry. Please consider completing my survey on fathering. It’s quick and easy and all responses are anonymous. I understand in advance that just answering questions about your father may be difficult for some, but your responses may help others. Thanks!

Click HERE to access the survey. Feel free to send others here to complete it also.

Also as a part of this post, I would love for you to add your public comments on fathering and the impact it has on your life, either as a father or by your father as a comment on this post. What difference has being a dad made on your life? What influence did your father have on you? Who knows, your comment/story may make it into a book some day!

Thanks!