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Christine has over 20 years of children's ministry experience. She's the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles related to children's ministry. It's no wonder she enjoys an almost-daily latte to keep her going! She is also the executive editor of Children's Ministry Magazine and serves as Group's children's ministry champion, responsible for research, development, and innovation in children's ministry resources. 

AIDS Exhibit

My family and I went through the World Vision AIDS Exhibit Tour at our church here in Loveland last week. It was amazing! Don't miss it if it's in your area...take families and groups of children...sponsor it at your church...whatever. It's life-changing.

We each started out with a different I-pod that told the story of one of four children. Heart-breaking stories. By the time I walked through Kombo's simulated home, the AIDS highway, and his grandmother's restaurant, I experienced his mother dying of AIDS with him lying beside her. And when I got to the clinic, I discovered whether I had AIDS or not (I won't tell you the outcome so I don't spoil it for you).

Then after leaving the clinic, we went into a chapel where we heard the Scripture "I was hungry and you fed me...naked and you..." Then we chose a child who needed sponsorship and prayed for that child.

We could put the child back if we wanted. But could we? How could we? We'd given our hearts to these orphans in Africa. We left with three children to sponsor (my husband had already been sponsoring a child for 8 years so now we have 4).

Even more noteworthy, the child I chose is named "Christ." I kept thinking 'How can I say no to Christ?' I mean this was definitely the embodiment of "I was hungry...I was alone...I was naked...I was afraid...and what did you do?" I couldn't say no to Christ.

And that's really a metaphor for all of us. When we hear that there are 15 million children orphaned by AIDS, how can we say no to Christ and do nothing?

To learn more about this amazing experience, go to http://www.worldvision.org/aoa.nsf/aids/events_experienceaids

Posted at 16:20

Elevator Speech

Here's an interesting question from Kay Williams. How would you answer it?

"I have to come up with a brief, but loaded statement about children's ministry. The challenge is to pretend you just stepped on an elevator with someone and they ask you about your children's ministry, what would you say by the time you get to your floor, that would entice them to get involved?"

Posted at 20:54

Spiritual Gift Inventories a Hinder?

[From the Sept/Oct 2008 issue's Editor Letter]

You’re in the middle of recruiting, aren’t you? Tell me if you’ve heard this excuse for not signing up: “Children’s ministry isn’t my spiritual gift.” If you’re like me, you may begin to wonder if the focus on spiritual gifts has unintentionally created a self-centered approach to ministry based on “who I am” rather than “what God is calling me to.” Makes me wonder.

Recently, I heard Wes Stafford, the president of Compassion International and author of Too Small to Ignore, talk about Mark 10:13-16: “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them and bless them, but the disciples told them not to bother him. But when Jesus saw what was happening, he was very displeased with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.’ Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”

Not only was Jesus “very displeased,” Wes said, but he was downright angry! And why? Because the adults stopped the children from getting to Jesus. They stood in their way. They became an obstacle or a hindrance.

In racquetball, there’s a funny rule that allows people to get a do-over if they miss a shot. All you have to do is call out “hinder”—meaning that your opponent got in the way. It doesn’t even have to be an intentional hindrance; it can be completely by accident. But calling “hinder” means that for whatever reason, your opponent kept you from reaching your goal.

It makes me wonder if we applied that to the church, what would it look like? Every time there wasn’t enough money to get the resources necessary for children to learn more about Jesus, could we call “hinder”? Every time we sat and prayed over vacant spots in our ministry, could we cry out “hinder”? Every time people made a comment about us just “babysitting,” could we lovingly help them see how their minimizing children’s ministry could result in a “hinder” somewhere down the road?

It was this line of musing that led to this issue’s Hot Topic article: “When Gifts Get in the Way." Read it with an open mind, and remember that Jesus called every one of us to do whatever is possible to get kids to Jesus. Could today’s spiritual gift inventories really be a “hinder”?

What do you think? Every week, you can find my musings on my blog at childrensministry.com. Come and join me!

Posted at 15:46

Preteens--Always the Afterthought?

So today we're at Denver Children's Hospital for some regular check-ups. It's amazing!!!!! It's brand new, beautiful, kid-oriented, friendly, and everything you'd want in a children's hospital.

Only thing, when we tried to enter the place to hang out between appointments (with big-screen movies, pool table, computers, and more) we were told that it was only for 13 and up. (I have a preteen and a teen! And, of course, I wouldn't lie and say my 12-year-old was 13 even though he looks 13 and wanted me to, I might add.) So we left there and went to the Creative Play Area for children and found that it's only for kids up to age 8. Yikes! I asked, "So what is there for kids 9 to 12?" Nothing.

To be honest, I felt a mixture of anger, frustration, and fatigue! And I don't know what my recourse is so now I'm in the hospital library blogging about it. (Much to my daughter's embarrassed chagrin.)

So why blog about it? Other than the catharsis of complaining to someone who might care? Simply, it just makes me think that preteens are always the last to be thought of and planned for. It's true in this multi-multi-billion dollar hospital. Is it true in your church? The concierge just came and told me that they're planning to do something for preteens (lot of good that does us today). So I'm still a frustrated mom. (Many apologies to my daughter who can't believe I'd have the gall to complain in a place that is so noble and wonderful for families and children who are facing life-threatening issues.)

I'm sorry...I'm just hoping that the redemptive piece of this frustration is to challenge all of us to NOT put preteens last in your planning, programming, ministry. In the words of my preteen, it's rude!

Posted at 20:35

The Economy and Children's Ministry

You can't go anywhere these days without hearing or seeing something about the economy. I'm no economist so I don't know if we're in a recession or not--or what the national implications will be from higher gas or food prices. I do know, though, that my family is tightening our belts and bargain shopping a lot more. So we're feeling the pinch!

What does a tougher economy mean for the church? I've heard of numerous people losing their jobs because budgets are tight so programs/staff are being cut. My heart goes out to those who are experiencing this disruption in their lives.

I've also heard that some "experts" are saying people may stop going to church altogether because of the high price of gas. Or that they might just choose a church closer to home instead of driving an hour to the "star" church they've been attending.

And perhaps I'm being cold, but I mean, give me a break! If people are going to stop coming to church because gas is too high, what are we as Christians coming to? Perhaps God is at work refining his church so that the truly committed remain. I wonder what could happen if a committed core of believers remains in the church and sets the world on fire. Maybe, just maybe, the high cost of gasoline is the fuel to ignite that fire.

And as far as families deciding to go to church locally instead of driving to the "star" church, I say "alright!" "Church" is so much more than just the weekly service. It's the community of believers during the week who fellowship with one another, serve together, and shine as the light in their community--that's hard to do from a distance. Could this be a refining fire from God to strengthen smaller, local bodies of Christ with the believers in their area getting plugged in right where they live? (It costs nothing to walk to the nearby church.)

So, maybe the recession--or whatever it is--is a good thing for the church? What do you think?

Posted at 21:55

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