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Hide God's Word

This last week has been extremely busy, crazy, somewhat stressful, but a whole lot of fun!  Awana, our mid-week kids program, started back up which meant leader trainings, more studying for the lessons, going through registrations and inventory, sending countless emails, getting rooms set up and preparing games and activities.  It’s a lot of work, but don’t get me wrong, I love what I do!  In fact what I love most is when kids sit down in their teams for Handbook Time and begin to memorize scripture.  Everything I’ve done feels worth it at that moment!

In Awana, kids purchase handbooks that help them memorize scripture at their level.  With just about every verse that they memorize and recite back to their leader they receive an award that they wear on their uniform.  But the question always comes up: “Do they even understand what they memorize?”  The answer: Yes!…and no.

I have had many kids memorize and recite scripture and it’s clear they understand the meaning and its significance.  However, I have had kids memorize and recite a verse back to me and then ask what it means.  So the real question is: “Is it worth taking time to memorize a verse they don’t understand?”  The answer:  YES!

Do you remember as a kid hearing adults talk about something that went over your head, and you ask them to explain it but they say, “You’ll understand when you’re older”?  Memorizing scripture is the same way!

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden Your word in my heart…”  When you hide something, you’re putting it away in a safe place to take out or use later, like saving money or Christmas presents.  That’s what we do with scripture when we memorize it!  That verse goes on to say, “…that I might not sin against You.”  That implies that the psalmist knew he might sin in the future but will use the memorized word or scripture to help him through it!

Scripture is not meant to be memorized for you just to use right now.  Scripture is also meant for future purposes.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the story about the sower planting seeds.  At the end, He explains that the seeds represent God’s word, or scripture.  If scripture is like seeds, then that means they take time to develop and grow.  When we memorize scripture we are hiding it in our heart to use when we are older even if its a day, week, month or years from now!

So the next time a child asks you to explain a scripture they just quoted to you its okay that they don’t understand it, because that is a moment when you get to impart wisdom and understanding in a child’s life to help them grow!

In The Name Of The King

One of my favorite stories is King Arthur and the Round Table.  There have been countless retellings of the classic story through books, tv shows, plays and movies; some of my favorites being the 1963 Disney animated classic The Sword in the Stone based on T.H. White’s book of the same title, and the BBC television series The Adventures of Merlin!  Although each has it’s own take on the story, the round table and its significants never changes.  Arthur believed in freedom for Camelot and equality.  His knights, those who joined with him to protect and govern Camelot, came from all different kinds of backgrounds; some of noble status and some of a lesser status.  This of course led to some not wanting to stand with those of lesser status.  So King Arthur brought in the famed Round Table.  Since it is round, there is no “head” of the table.  This represented that all of the Knights of the Round Table were equal, they all shared status and authority.  Because of this belief, they stood as one, won more battles than they lost.  They were champions!

I love to read all sorts of genres, but since I’m a believer I naturally read through a “christian” lens and I find myself looking for Biblical comparisons.  When you read about Arthur you will always hear about Merlin the wizard.  Although I can appreciate the fictional importance of this character, I recognize through my christian lens that wizardry and witchcraft are wrong, evil, sin and even demonic.  So of course Merlin holds no Biblical context for me, but Arthur and the round table does.  Jesus is someone who holds the highest authority who sets it aside to come to earth to become our equal.  He gathered men from different backgrounds, taught them that we are all spiritually equal because we are all sinners and we all need salvation.  In Matthew 10:34 Jesus tells us that He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.  A symbol that represents a knight.

The Bible also tells us that God is our shield and our sword is His Word, scripture.  And our main objective as kids ministry pastors, leaders, and volunteers is to help kids learn what the Bible says and memorize scripture.  So we are spiritually equipping kids with a sword, the Sword of the Spirit.  I know that sometimes we can feel that what we do has very little significance especially when we look at it without a lens.  But this year I want to encourage you to look through a spiritual lens and even ask God to help you see kids ministry through His eyes.  Helping these kids learn and memorize scripture holds a spiritual, everlasting and eternal significance that we may not be able to see yet!

Jesus died for the spiritual freedom for everyone who believes and will believe in the future.  King Arthur and his knights fought for Camelot’s future and freedom.  Jesus was the champion over the enemy and death1  Arthur and his knights were champions of their enemy1  And we are champions as well.  The word champion is defined as a person who fights for or defends anyone or cause.  Our goal is to help kids hide God’s Word in their heart and grow in their relationship with Him!  That is our cause, that is what we fight for and what we are champions of!

After Jesus rose again and just before He ascended to Heaven, He gave authority to the disciples.  They could do what He could do!  In the same way, the round table gave every knight the same authority.  I have had volunteers in the past tell me that they feel in adequate to be a leader, or that kids seem to respect me and my authority more than themselves.  I want you to take a second and look at your Bible.  But I want you to see it a weapon, a sword!  This sword represents a few things: it represents the sword of the spirit that we are equipping the kid with.  It represents authority.  The authority that Jesus gave each of us to make disciples!  The Bible is something that all believers have!  It unites us all!  The next time you are asked to join the kids ministry team, or even the next time you walk through the doors at your church, carrying your Bible, remember that you have authority from Jesus!

So my question and challenge to you is, will you stand with me and my fellow kids ministry leaders around the world to help fight for the spiritual development and security of every child who walks through your church doors?

How Far I'll Go

One of my favorite things is to play games like these with kids.  I get to plan them for Sundays in Community Kids Elementary and Wednesday night Awana.  I’ve noticed recently, that more people have commented on how great I am with kids than I ever remember. I’m always very humbled when people say that to me, but it got me wondering.  Now I’m not asking, “Why is it that I’m so great with kids?”  But I seriously wonder “why am I able to connect with kids when some people aren’t?”  I have had volunteers themselves tell me that they have a hard time and ask me what I do to connect with them.  Honestly, I don’t really have an answer.  I know some would say that it’s a calling God has placed on my life.  They certainly aren’t wrong, but there was a time when I knew I was called to ministry but hated serving in kids ministry.

Back when I was 16, my mom - who is a children’s pastor as well - needed a volunteer to run sound for her on a weekly bases.  Seriously, just ten years ago, I didn’t want anything to do with children’s ministry.  I was all about youth and thought I would be a youth pastor.  However, some of you understand that when your family is in ministry you don’t volunteer but you get volun-told.  So I did what every teenager hates doing; I woke up early at like 6am and ran the sound board for the early elementary age class.

Falling asleep in the sound booth was almost a weekly occurrence.  I was a horrible volunteer!  You know, I’d have to say that God has a sense of humor because now I’m the one asking for help in the sound booth.

So I don’t really know why it is that I am able to connect with kids.  I can give a guess, but it’s not going to be deep or spiritual.  The only thing that I can think why I can relate to the kids is that I love Disney!

Now, I have to say that I am a big Disney fan but I’m not the biggest!  I read an article recently that a man in Anaheim, CA has visited Disneyland Park 2,000 days in a row!  That’s everyday for 5 and a half years!  I love Disneyland, and my wife can testify to the fact that I’m probably on the Disneyland website planning and pricing vacations once a week, but I would never go everyday for five and a half years…maybe.

This is how big of a Disney fan I am: my office is currently decorated with most of my Disney souvenirs.   I collect the original books that all Disney movies are based on.  We celebrated my birthday recently and one of the coolest gifts I got was a Sorcerer Mickey hat!  When we found out Mikayla was pregnant, the first thing I bought was a Mickey Mouse to give to our child.  I also am a member of D23, the official Disney fan club!  I have a member card and everything! Walt Disney was right when he said that adults were just kids grown up!

Back in June, we were on vacation in Arizona and in the last three days we watched three movies.  Can you guess what they were?  All Disney movies!  We watch the new live action Beauty & the Beast, Moana and Cars 3!  One of my new favorites is Moana!

I don’t know why it is, but I find that God speaks to me through movies and music, besides through the Bible and my prayer time.  And it was while we were watching Moana that the Lord spoke to me.  Its probably because those are mediums that I love.  But when I watch the scene when Moana sings “How Far I’ll Go”, my heart broke for my daughter.  I thought, “I don’t want Michaelyn growing up wishing she could be the perfect daughter and struggling with what to do in life and who she is!”  Then the Lord brought Proverbs 22:6 to mind.  It says, “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.” 

Everyone has a calling from the Lord.  No matter if you’re an adult or a child, we all have one.  It is placed inside of us from the moment we are born!  And its our responsibility as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even friends to help cultivate our children’s calling.

When the Lord brought Proverbs 22:6 to mind He also gave me one word: Invest.  Of course investing is when we give a specific amount of money in order to earn a greater financial return in the future.  But according to Merriam-Webster, its also means to cover completely.  Not partially, but completely.  When we “train up a child” we are investing in them, in their calling, in who the Lord created them to be.

Now sometimes, as parents, we assume that our children are going to grow up and be like us. Whether it be their personality, likes or dislikes, we can sometimes assume who they’re going to be. But it’s often not the case. Sure, they get aspects of their personality from us, but the Lord has a neat way to gifting each child with their own unique gifting and personality. 

The chief only invested in one aspect of Moana’s life.  He was only training her to take over the village but didn’t invest in who she really was.  There might be times when our child’s calling seem to big for us or even scares us, but it’s still our responsibility invest in it.  Imagine if your child came to you and said God is calling them to be a missionary in a foreign land. If Michealyn said that to me, I’ll admit my first reaction would be “no way!”  But I have to trust the Lord and the calling He has placed on her life.

If we don’t invest and cultivate our child’s calling.  They are going to look for it else where.  We sadly see it over and over where a child wasn’t trained in the way they should go and they have to figure it out on their own.  Nine times out of ten they end up doing things that they are’t called to do and can even end up compromising who they are.

Now we can invest all day long, but we have to point them back to the one who gave them the calling.  One day they have to own it themselves.  Their calling means nothing unless they have a personal relationship with Jesus.  That’s what the verse means when it says train up a child in the way they should go.

Here are three takeaways from Proverbs 22:6:

  1. It’s a command from God.  “Train up a child in the way they should go.”  Sure it was written by King Solomon, but according to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed…” which means it was inspired by God and was originated from Him.
  2. It’s a command with a promise.  “And when they are old they will not depart from it.”  One thing that we can be sure of through the Bible, history and personal experience is that God keeps his promises.
  3. It’s a command and promise for everyone.  Notice that it doesn’t say parents, teachers, children’s pastors.  You don’t have to have children to invest in the spiritual development of a child.  This verse is for everyone.  “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are older they will not depart from it.”

In this day and age, there are many things fighting for our children’s attentions.  Things that can distract them from their calling and who God has created them to be.  Maybe you’ve made the decision long ago to train up your child in the way they should go, or maybe you’re ready to make that decision now. I want encourage you to say a little prayer of declaration that you will start to or continue to point kids to Jesus. There is no telling “how far [they’ll] go” on life with you and Jesus guiding them!

Block Party

Summer is coming to an end which means school is just around the corner!  This last weekend we hosted our last summer event at Westwood Christian Community, our annual Block Party!  It’s an amazing time where we as the church get to love on our community!  We bring in inflatables and set up game booths where the kids can win prizes.  Provide popcorn and cotton candy as well as partner with the hispanic church to hand out hotdogs!  We also, through donations from our church attenders, were able to give out 150 backpack with school supplies for the kids!  And the most amazing and God thing is that we are able to do this at no cost to the community!

My second favorite part of the Block Party (or any community focused event) is to see the volunteers get excited to love on our community!  When you see 30 volunteers eager and willing to do anything reach out to our community is a big win for me!  But my absolute favorite thing for me is to meet the 100+ kids that come, play some games with them and pass our prizes, and also to share a basic Bible principle with them!  We can’t see the eternal impact this has on the kids, but God does; and even if just one kids was reached and chose to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, every single penny spent was worth it!

If this is an event you would like to do at your church and would like info on the ins and outs of how we do it, you can call our office at 206-763-0585 and ask for Caleb!  Or you can email me at calebv@wccseattle.org!
 





Games

Who doesn’t love games?!  I mean, we love games so much that there are TV channels dedicated to card games, questionnaire games, physical challenge games and more!  We play games during holidays or invite people over to play games just for fun!  Games are a big part of our life, and it’s actually a big part of kids ministry!

It’s no secret that kids have short attention spans!  My wife and I are currently learning that with our 8 month old daughter.  It feels like we are putting a new or different toy in front of her every 2 minutes just so we can clean the house, make dinner and even get ready!  But as kids grow, they learn how to keep focus on one activity for a longer period of time.  Most elementary age kids can focus on something that interests them for about 10-15 minutes without getting distracted by other things going on simultaneously.

When planning a kids ministry service we keep their attention span in mind and no one activity last more than 15 minutes!  One thing that helps to break things up and keep kids interested is games!  Depending on the Sunday we usually play 2 to 4 games in a 60-90 minute service schedule.  The majority of the games we play are just for fun to shake up to service, but the best thing about kid ministry games is that we can use them to help reinforce the message!

Every week we learn or review a verse and one of the last games we play are to help the kids learn the memory verse!  Just last week I was teaching the kids James 4:17 and I wrote parts of the verse on dress labels that were then put on cups and mixed up.  The kids had to unscramble the verse and put it in order to win.  We also turn review questions into a game where the kids have to guess the correct answer or work as a team to figure riddle out that have to do with that day’s lesson.

So the next time you go to pick up your kid from kids church and you see them playing a game, please don’t write it off as the children’s pastor just trying to entertain your child while you're in service.  They have worked very hard to create a game to help your child remember what they learned!  And once you’re in the car ask them what they games taught them!  They will love to tell you all about it; and maybe you can even play it at home!  Have a little contest at home and let them teach you what they learned!

Worship

One of our goals in Community Kids is to pattern our kids services after the adults service at the Main Gathering.  We don’t do Sunday school or classes because we want our kids to know what church really is like!  It also makes an easy transition for them as they grow out of kids ministry.  This means that every kids service has a message, we take offering, make announcements and have praise and worship!  (Of course we add games through out to make it more fun and appealing to kids!)

Leading praise and worship for kids is one of my favorite parts of our Sunday morning kids gathering!  There is nothing better than hearing little voices worship Jesus!  Here are 4 reasons why we have praise and worship for kids!

1. It’s who we are

God created us to have a relationship with Him and worship Him!  Singing is one of they ways that we worship God!  There are so many scriptures in the book of Psalms that tells us to worship and lift our voice to God!  We were created for worship and having it as a part of our kids services teaches them that!

2. It teaches them how to worship

If we didn’t have worship in our ministry and kids grew up to go to the adult gathering, they would most likely have no idea what to do for the first thirty minutes of the service!  Part of our goal with kids worship is to teach them how by raising our hands or kneeling to seek God!

3. Kids love to dance

Now, there is a difference in kids worship verses adults which is that we add hand motions and some dance moves!  I mean, who doesn’t love to dance?!  We do it because we want the kids to feel comfortable with the raising their hands in worship.  It’s sad but true that even some adults don’t feel comfortable raising their hands and we don’t want that for our kids!  If they can do the electric slide in worship, then raising their hand is much easier and comfortable for them!

4. It draws them closer to Jesus

Worship, like prayer, is one-on-one time with God!  It’s our opportunity to praise and thank Him for all that He has done!  It’s also a time for us just to be in His presence!  We desire that our kids have a relationship with Jesus and worship is one step towards that!  After all, James 4:8 does say that if you “come near to God…He will come near to you!”


We currently have a playlist on Spotify with all of the songs we sing for praise and worship!  Search for "CommunityKidsWCC"!  If you don't have a Spotify account, you can create one for free by clicking here!

Music for Kids

There is no doubt that music is a big part of our culture in the U.S.!  Wherever you go you’re gonna hear music.  The grocery store, restaurants, salons, the mall, and your car!  Your car radio doesn’t even have to be on and you will most likely still hear music because someone will be blasting it!  There are even TV channels dedicated to music and musicals are being created everyday!  I would say that it would be near impossible to live without music!

However, being a parent in a world of music can be scary because not all music is appropriate for kids.  I’m not saying music is bad; but there are songs that kids shouldn’t hear at least until they are older.  Like the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”

I have heard countless stories of parents who have the secular radio on in the car while their kid is in the backseat.  They have it on thinking that their child is to young to understand the words or even repeat them until it’s too late and they hear the sweetest little voice start singing along!  Again, not all music is bad, but not all music is for children.

When we were on vacation with family down in Arizona, we decided to watch the newest Disney movie Moana which most of my family hadn’t seen yet including my 2 year old nephew.  While we were waiting for everyone to get situated, the DVD menu was on the screen playing the background music to one of the songs from the movie.  Out of no where my nephew points and says, “You’re welcome!” naming the song.  His mother was shocked that he knew the name of the song without ever seeing the movie before, but it turns out that he had listened to the song a couple times with his father.  Even so, it goes to show that little kids are listening to what is around them and can even recognize music without lyrics!

One thing that we need to recognize is that our kids are watching and looking up to us!  They wan’t to be like us which means they will copy the things we do, say and even listen to.  We need to set the example for them about what Christ followers think, say and do!

So what kind of music should we let our kids listen to?  Here are some “filters” I use when picking out song for my kid:

1. Message

When the Bible talks about music, it’s mostly about songs of praise and worship to God.  So Christian music is always a good idea to play for your kids; a. because we want our teach out kids to how to worship and b. because they message is always good and clean!  But there is music out there that isn’t by Christian artists but still has a Christian or good and moral message to it.  Just because it doesn’t have a “Christian” label doesn’t mean it’s off limits for Christians!  We just want our kids to hear positive messages in music.

Now I’m a die hard Disney fan and Disney music is played daily at our house!  In fact, it’s part of our nightly bedtime ritual for Michaelyn.  Disney has tons of positive messages in their song but we have to remember that Disney also deals with villains and evil and sometimes demonic themes.  One of my favorite movies is The Princess & the Frog which has a great message about working hard to make your dreams happen; but it also has voodoo, witchdoctors and demons which are very reals things.  There is even a song that the villain sings about his “fiends on the other side”.  This is an example of a song that we will not be playing around Michaelyn - until she’s older at least.  Which brings us to the next “filter”.

2. Age

As parents, its our responsibility to introduce our kids to the world.  That means introducing mature things over time as they get older and that includes music.  As our kids get older our boundaries need to loosen.  Currently, Mikayla and I aren’t going to actively listen to Katty Perry with Michaelyn, however, as she grows into her teens there will be select song that we will be able to listen to with her.

3. Emotions

Imagine you’re watching your favorite movie at the storyline’s climax…without music.  It probably wouldn’t be your favorite movie then!  Music can evoke happiness, sadness, anger, fear and other emotions.  We need to be careful what our kids listen to because it can play with their emotions.  An angry, sad or scary song that is listened to on repeat could cause anger issues and even depression.  It’s okay to listen to those types of songs because we need every emotion, just make sure there is a mix!

4. Artists

Every artist is different and they all believe different things.  Just because an artist has one positive song doesn’t meant all of their songs are positive or has a good message.  One of my favorite artists is Katty Perry, and like everyone else, I love the song “Firework” because it has such an uplifting message.  Even so, there are beliefs she has that are apparent in her songs that I don’t agree with.  That doesn’t mean I won’t listen to them, but they won’t be played in out household for many years as long as there are kids who can be influenced by them.

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There are tons of songs and artist in the world, it can be hard to find music that is just right for your kid.  Community Kids as a Spotify account with playlists that were created specifically for kids that has safe, family friendly and uplifting music.  You can create a Spotify account today for free and start listening by searching for “CommunityKidsWCC” or click this link: https://open.spotify.com/user/communitykidswcc!

Boys & Girls Missionary Challenge

Missions is a big part of our church and the Assemblies of God Network!  If fact, its one of the main reason the AG exists!  Early in the 20th Century, the Assemblies of God was established in Springfield, Missouri and believers couldn’t wait for Jesus to return and take them to heaven.  They realized one of the reasons that Jesus hasn’t returned is because the Bible says in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  

If Jesus hasn’t returned, that means the gospel hasn’t bee preached to the whole world.  So they decided to help speed things up and sent missionaries to unreached places all over the world!  Churches back home would take offerings and send the money to the missionaries to help them spread the gospel in hopes that Jesus would come back soon!

It has been over 100 years since the Assemblies has been formed and Jesus still hasn’t returned which means there are still people to reach who have never heard about Jesus!  One of the largest and fastest growing people groups who need to be reach are kids!  In 1949, the leaders of the AG realized that there were missions programs for adults and teens but nothing for kids.  They knew that if kids were to grow up to have a heart for missions, then they must be taught about it while they are kids.  And thus, the Boys & Girls Missionary Challenge - or BGMC - was created!

BGMC is a missions program for kids!  It’s a program that fits all churches.  At Westwood Christian Community, we use it to feature current missionaries that our church supports so kids can see and understand what missions is all about!  Every church uses it differently but they idea is that each kids receives a “Buddy Barrel” which is a piggybank barrel.  All month long they collect loose change, and on the appointed BGMC Sunday, they bring it in too see who brought in the most weight in coins; the boys or the girls.

Here is how it works at WCC: For three months we focus on one missionary and learn what they do to help spread the gospel.  Each kids gets a little biography about the missionary and a Biddy Barrel.  On the last Sunday of the month, kids bring back their filled barrels and we have a competition to see who brought in the most weight in coins and the winners get a prize!

Now, they money doesn’t go directly to the missionary.  Instead, we send it to the BGMC at the AG Headquarters in Springfield.  Missionaries can then request money from BGMC, but is has to be used for one purpose: to reach boys and girls in their mission field!

So BGMC is a missions program when kids can help spread the gospel to kids all over the world!  Since January 2017 , WCC have given $1,000 to BGMC!  BGMC supporters have given $2,944,192 since January 2017 and $144,360,758 since 1949!

If you would like more info on BGMC, you can visit their website at bgmc.ag.org!  If you would like to know how you can support BGMC through WCC, give us a call at 206-763-0585!

Tithe & Offering

Tithes and offerings are a big part of our faith!  They are taken every Sunday and usually at other church gatherings.  A tithe is simply giving 10% of our income to the Lord and an offering is anything above 10%.  We give out of obedience to the Lord as it is written in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe not the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not trow open the floodgates of heaven and poor out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Since adults have jobs, work and get paid, it makes sense that we are able to tithe.  But should kids?  My goal as a children’s pastor is to create a Sunday service for kids that reflects how the main gathering is structured.  This allows for an easy transition from kids service, to youth and then to adults.  Really the only difference between a kids service vs adults is that we add games!  Since I want my service to reflect the adult’s, we take tithes and offerings every week.

Of course kids don’t earn a salary, so it is no big deal if they don’t give.  But some do earn allowances that they can give from!

Here are three things that kids learn from giving tithe and offerings:

1. Math

Figuring out how much 10% of our income is fairly easy!  When I’m teaching kids about tithing, I sometimes ask them to figure out how much 10% is from a specific number.  For example, 10% of $100 is $10; 10% of $10 is $1; 10% of $1 is $0.10; and 10% of $0.10 is $0.01!  They love figuring it out!  If you give you child an allowance try having them figure out their tithe; or, even if your child doesn’t earn allowance, have them help you figure out your tithe!

2. Obedience

We see figures from the Bible giving a tithe to God from Genesis to Revelation!  It’s a command God has given us!  When we teach out kids about tithes and offerings, we are teaching them to love and obey God!  That’s the most important part of this!  We want to raise our kids to know, love and serve God, and tithing is just one way to insure that!

Now the best way to teach our kids to obey God is to be obedient ourselves!  I know how hard it can be to put that cash or check in the offering or to click “give” on the church website!  We all have bills to pay, mouths to feed, clothes to buy and so on.  I know that it sounds crazy that God would want us to live on 90% of our income when we have a hard time living on 100%.  But this brings us to our last point that our kids will learn from tithes and offerings:

3. God is Faithful

The command that comes from Malachi 3:10 comes with a promise: that God will give back and take care of us!  When God gave this command and promises, He knew what He was doing and knew that He could take care of us!  Check these two verses out:

Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be given to you.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Deuteronomy 10:14, “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”

That means that when we give 10% of our income, God says He will give back to us the same amount or measure: 10%!  If everything on earth belongs to God and He gives us 10% back, we are actually getting more back!  This will teach out kids that God is faithful, loves us and takes care of us!

If you have yet to tithe, I want to encourage you to step out in faith and obedience this Sunday and give and see if God will give back.  After all, He told us to “test [Him] in this”!

Summer Camp, Should I Let My Child Go?

June 21st means that Summer is here; and Summer means camp is just around the corner!  Something that both parents and kids get excited for or dread.  For kids, they get to hanging out with friends all day, stay up late, camp fire and smores, swim, ropes course, sleep on the top bunk, and have a week off from parents!  For parents, its a week off from kids!  On the down side, they both get a week off from each other, which can be really hard.

The first time I went to camp I was in 4th grade and was so excited!  When we got there I met the awesome counselors, got to go swimming, played on inflatables and had so many smores!  I was having a great time until it came to “lights out”.  That’s when I realized I was in a different bed away from the comfort of my home and parents!  Even though I had spent the night at friend’s and family’s houses before, this was different.  I wanted to go home.  I felt alone and scared and cried myself to sleep that first night.

Now, please hear me.  That first night doesn’t compare to the fun I ended up having and what God had planned for me.  Camp is where I realized my relationship with God had to go deeper.  Its where I saw the power of the Holy Spirit moving in my life and I received God’s calling to go into ministry.

Fast forward 18 years, I’m still going to camp, but this time I’m taking kids to camp and get to experience another perspective: parents!  I hate to say it, but parents are the #1 reason kids don’t end up going to camp.  It’s not the kids, money, or location, but parents!  Every year I hear some variation of “they’re too young” or “they’re so dependent on me”.

First of all, every single camp there is has been created for specific ages by people who have studied and worked with kids for many years.  Most overnight camps require kids to be 8 years of age or older.  It’s not true that “they are too young” and should never be used as a reason for not sending your child to camp.

Second, saying that a child is too young or too dependent is just an excuse that says a parent isn’t ready to let go.  BUT THAT’S OKAY!  THAT’S NORMAL!  From the moment they are born we do everything for them.  They truly are dependent on us!  However, although it’s a harsh reality, parenthood isn’t about doing everything for your child, but learning to let go at the right time and teaching them to be independent from you.

I can understand and relate to a child being dependent on their parent.  My daughter, Michealyn, just turned 5 months old a couple of days ago.  For the past month and a half she has shown signs of wanting to turn over from back to front while laying on the ground.  Many times she has gotten so close but always flops back.  Her mom and I see that all she has to do is throw her leg over and she’ll get it.  We want to help her so bad and just move her leg for her, but we realize if we do that then she will never learn how to roll by herself.  She would always be dependent on us to turn over.  It just so happened that on the day she turned 5 months she was finally able to roll over all by herself.  Mikayla and I we so proud!  Soon she will be crawling, walking, doing what we currently do for her and even heading off to camp.  Eventually, we will have to learn to let go!

 

Here are the benefits of camp that I hope will encourage you to send your child when the time comes!

Friendships

On a weekly basis, kids spend between 2 to 4 hours at church.  That’s not a lot of time to develop strong friendships with other kids.  They probably have closer friends from school than from church.  The activities at camp are designed to have kids work and play closely together, and even build trust amongst each other.  Since camp is all day, everyday for a week, it’s a great place for them to develop deeper friendships with their church friends that can last a lifetime!

Qualified Camp Staff

The counselors that attend camp with the kids are hand selected by the children’s ministry leadership.  That means they have filled out an application and had a background check done before they can even serve in the kids ministry.  On top of that, every year we have to fill out a 12 page “Cabin Staff” application from the camp and have another background check done.  Your child will be in a safe environment led by qualified camp staff!

Personal Growth

It doesn’t always happen, but there are kids who do have a hard time being away from home.  I’ve had kids come up to me in tears because they miss their parents or even their pets, and I’ve heard kids cry themselves to sleep.  Being independent isn’t easy but it is necessary for a child’s personal growth.  Like I said before, your child will be in a safe environment led by qualified camp staff who have had training on how to guide kids through these sensitive situations.

I’ll tell you flat out, we never promise a child they can call home because the moment they hear their parent’s voice their camp experience is over.  All they can think about is going home.  There are even camp staff dedicated for this specific situation. And when these situations arise, our goal is to get them through the night because we know they will be fine and happy in the morning!  When they are able to get through a week of being away from home and away from parents, kids will have a sense of accomplishment and that they can do anything!

Spiritual Growth

Camp is a place where kids can leave their usual distractions behind and have the opportunity to focus on Jesus!  Going to camp with Biblical teaching, leadership and encouragement is the equivalent of attending church every Sunday for a whole year!  I have no doubt that when your child seeks Jesus at camp, they will come home with a deeper relationship with God and even having received a revelation.

It’s Just Five Days!

Actually its really just four day with three full days at camp and two half days that are spent traveling!  I understand that it’s hard to be away from your child with next to no contact save social media and mail time.  People post about camp all the time on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!  Just follow your children’s pastor or ministry page and you will get to see all the fun your child is having as if you are really there!

Since camp isn’t a full week, it can be hard to send your child mail and have it arrive on time.  I would suggest you write three notes with some goodies and give them to your children’s pastor before camp. That way they can personally deliver your message to your child at camp.  This can even help with homesick kids!

 

If you have any other concerns with your child going to camp, I want to encourage you to talk to you children’s pastor, leaders and even parents who have sent their kid to camp before.  Summer camp is too important for a child to miss out!

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