KidMin Construction Site

My grandson has an obsession with excavators. He’s two. He will play all day digging, moving small and large things with an extractor and a dump truck. Shifting, moving, digging, leaving plenty behind, spilling as he goes. Content to talk it through in two year old vocabulary as he plays, works, thinks. He leaves the area to eat, sleep, and come chat for a while. He always returns to continue the excavating, the dumping, the moving, the spilling.

Ministry with children is shifting.

Shifting from Sunday to every day.

Shifting from facility-based to home-based to as-we-go-based.

Shifting from Bible story lessons to families living their stories every day in every way with their eyes on Jesus and their eyes out for other people.

Building deeper family relationships.

Excavating.

With our shoes off.

Personal.

Unhurried.

Over the long haul.

Over a childhood.

Watch yourselves closely so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

In the New Testament account of Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8), we find an apostle following God’s call to, “Go.” Meanwhile, the Ethiopian has gone to worship and is sitting, reading the Word of God on the road as he goes home. Philip ran up to the Ethiopian and asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replies, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” So he invites Philip to come up and sit with him. They read the Word together. The Ethiopian asks Philip, “Tell me, please…” Then Philip begins with that very passage of Scripture AND tells him the good news about Jesus.  as they traveled, they came to some water (a next step). When their time together ended, Philip continued to GO and PREACH, while the Ethiopian WENT ON HIS WAY REJOICING.

Can we go?

Can we say discipleship is worship AND a regular diet of reading the scriptures with a guide?

Can we run up to our kids with the Word, then let their guides sit with them?

Can we be ready to be invited into the conversations, but equip the guides?

Can we sit alongside?

Can we just start somewhere?

Can we travel together for a season? Is discipleship a pick up basketball game? Can discipleship be digging, dumping, moving, spilling, set aside for a bit and picked back up?

Can we offer our families the tools to ‘go on their way rejoicing?’

Can we tell them the good news about Jesus?

What has changed?
* 48% of church goers have not participated in online church offerings over the last month.
* Even our regular church-goers are starting to experiment with different faith-formation options for their entire family.

What has not changed?
*Parents are still interested in security and safety.
*Kids learn best through experiences involving all five senses: sight, smell, sound, touch, taste. 
*Kids learn to love Jesus by spending time with people who love Jesus.

What we win them with, we win them to. – Frank Turek, as quoted in Mama Bear Apologetics 

4 Things I Love Lately

Memorial Day weekend is always a time of reflection. Reflecting on the families and generations who have given the ultimate sacrifices for my family to live as we do, as well as considering the events of the last school year in our own family.  Over the last school year we have watched families redefine distance- and home-schooling, learned a ton of new things on the fly, and even had a new grandson join our family. Without getting all crazy with emotion, here are four things I love lately:

Resilient Church Academy: Innovation Track and the Master Classes – I have chosen to reflect God’s goodness and generosity in this season. Our Creator is great at sharing and giving to us more than we can imagine for ourselves. To build my imagination muscle, I’m jumping into the deep end of the creativity pool by taking a class each Friday with the goal of setting the stage for taking risks and re-imagining  what faith formation can look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, and feel like for kids and their families. Not an event, but rather a fresh expression of developmentally appropriate faith formation for kids to grow in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man on my watch. With all that we have experienced, what is the Lord waiting with delight for us to discover?  Stay tuned!

Drinking >100 oz of water daily – Grateful for moving into some healthy habits in late January, I’ve learned a lot about hydration. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, but some of what I’ve learned is that typical adults daily lose 12 cups of water: 2 cups from perspiration, 6 cups through urine, 2 cups from breathing, and 1 cup through the soles of our feet. I know, TMI! 

My back porch – I’m only slightly joking when I say Mr. Bob and I have discussed a lot the original appeal of our open-concept living space. His work life has changed from being an outside salesman with a 5-day work week to an inside salesman with a 4-day work week. I feel I have a 7-day work week. Don’t judge and don’t make suggestions. I’m an enneagram 3 and it takes a mini-series to turn my brain off, and who’s got time for that? When he’s not in his office and I’m on the phone, I’m on the back porch. I love my back porch!

My Local Church Children’s Ministry Leadership Team – Every leadership team is filled with various creative types and we are better together. As we follow a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit, we’ve taken the Creative Types assessment and have a better understanding of our gifts and skills, so we are throwing everything at a weekly kid-friendly-family-engaging service presented three times each Thursday evening in June, possibly July. Using our collective genius with faithful, and even a few new voices, we are hearing and watching the Holy Spirit blow our minds through the design thinking model of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing. Stay tuned!

What are you loving lately?

“Good things come to those who wait, and for experimentalists, it’s never too late to become original.” Adam Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, pg 113

A Drive-In Dry Run

When the guidelines were provided for Drive-in church from our denomination’s leadership, an idea was formed. With the standing goal of resourcing families together to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves, we began planning.

The plan is to offer a kid-friendly-family-engaging service of less than thirty minutes outdoors at three different times. Families with multiples could choose their service as they’d all be the same. We chose a Thursday night so not to interfere with any other ministry choosing to edit their programming or service offerings through the summer. Nothing is as it was and everything is up for innovation. The services will be the same: 6pm for 1st grade and younger; 7pm for 2nd-3rd grade; 8pm for 4th-5th grade. The back parking lot is perfect for sound and no drive-thru traffic on Thursdays.

A ZOOM call with the children’s ministry leadership team gave direction followed by phone calls with the senior pastor, the head of trustees, the head of IT team, the head of AV team, and a super Dad who always has a spirit of YES. We reserved space, ordered an inflatable movie screen from WalMart, thought through the projector needs, and this amazing team of super-servants met at 6pm last Thursday to see where the sun would be and set up for a dry run. An upgrade in sound/visual equipment in our sanctuary offered some replaced equipment which was sitting on a shelf.

The location was perfect, but a tad windy. The inflatable movie screen was awesome to look at, but the wind made it so unstable we had to move it behind the sidewalk we’d hope would serve as a stage area. Moved it so far to rest against the building which was on a slope making the screen low and small. The screen also had a hole in it so it wouldn’t stay upright. We couldn’t get a visual from the projector even though it was in the shade to be seen by the cars in the parking lot. A new projector with the lumens necessary to be seen in the daylight would cost a fortune. We’re now rethinking how or even if we should present the music video and/or the story video. If not a visual, how else do we engage with more than one sense (auditory) to present the message, share the message in the vehicle, and invite families to respond within the boundaries given? The two heavy plastic kiddie pools we’ll use to collect an offering will give us an awesome sound when money is dropped in as families exit. Sidewalk chalk will X-out spaces where there is no parking. Traffic patterns were set and the sun will cooperate for the appropriate shade. More ideas are coming in from folks who have been silent for a while, but have jumped all-in to the deep end of the innovation pool because sharing Jesus with kids in a sticky, fun, and engaging way is the goal for us all.

The Resilient Church Academy has helped me process the fireworks of thoughts and ideas that can only be turned off by watching an historical documentary on Prime TV. What are you watching? Sorry, squirrel moment. Yesterday’s Master Class of mobilizing the resilient gospel spoke of creating spaces for lament, spaces for mission, and spaces for hope. Our Drive-in dry run created space for all three. And I’m good with that.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

Summer Family Faith Kit

Family Faith Kit Drive-thru was one of our many responses to the crisis of the pandemic and the resulting quarantine. We started with 35 bags and grew just last week to serving 161 with close to 100 bags. It’s been hugely successful, yet it was our response to the crisis. We can not sustain it physically nor continue offering it with excellence. After much prayer and many a phone conversation, our children’s ministry leadership team decided to end the family faith kit drive-thru on a high note and begin making plans for an intentional opportunity to build on our main goals of (1) resourcing families to keep their eyes on Jesus modeling and leading their kids to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength AND love their neighbors as themselves, AND (2) we’re better together as we follow the rhythm of our community for June and July. Our last Family Faith Kit Drive through will be today, so we wanted to be sure we equipped our families to continue to keep their eyes on Jesus with a Summer Family Faith Kit with the following instructions:

The Summer Family Faith Kit is a way for your family to keep your eyes on Jesus as you vacation and enjoy wonderful family time this summer, building memories around faith practices and holy habits.
In this bag are ways you and your family can…
GROW – JUMP ROPE; THANK YOU SEEDS
• JUMP ROPE to memorize Bible verses with a chant, a song, a rhyme.
• THANK YOU SEEDS – Write a note to Mom & Dad and give them this item inside the note thanking them for helping you to keep your eyes on Jesus during Quarantine and this summer, then plant it together.
TELL – FLAT JESUS; SQUISHY JESUS
• Color FLAT JESUS and then tape it where you brush your teeth to remind you to pray every morning and every evening to thank God, tell God, ask God, to know that God loves you and your family.
• Take a picture of SQUISHY JESUS and post it on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media with #kidsjourneywithJesus as you go/travel from place to place. Going to Grandma’s, take a picture. Going to the store, take a picture. Going to the pool, take a picture. There’s even a Facebook page as we share the Journey with Jesus challenge with other United Methodist Churches in North Georgia. 
SERVE – Mini STARBURST PRAYERS; SUNGLASSES
• STARBURST PRAYERS – Prayers are far from mini in size when offered to a great big God, so as you eat your snack, pray blues by naming those who are sad to find their joy in Jesus, pray pinks by naming those who are sick, pray greens for yourself asking God to help YOU to stay the course of loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND loving your neighbor as yourself.
• SUNGLASSES – The sun will be bright as you help others with a challenge to serve someone each day. When they ask you why you helped, you can say, “Because Jesus loves me AND Jesus loves you!”
WORSHIP – DRIVE IN; PRAYER WALK
• Come to the McEachern Kids Drive-In on Thursdays in June beginning June 4
6pm for families with K5 & 1st graders
7pm for families with 2nd & 3rd graders
8pm for families with 4th & 5th graders
If you have multiples, pick your service.
Services will be less than 30 minutes, no restrooms; back lot parking spaces only, bring your Bible as we tailgate together.
Weekly Family fun kits can be picked up at McEachern Kids June Drive-in.
• Use the Nature Prayer Walk to pray as you play on your family walks this summer.
BELONG – JESUS SQUISHY HEART; SIDEWALK CHALK; FUN DIP
• Write a note to your neighbors on your driveway that Jesus loves them, ‘JESUS LOVES YOU’.
• Place the SQUISHY HEART beside your bed to hold as you say your prayers each morning and each night.
• FUN DIP – enjoy right now, because YOU are a McEachern Kid which means YOU will have fun as you live out your faith this summer.

Through it all we want you to remember to take Jesus with you. Jesus is the most important thing in this bag, but especially in your family life, as you go about your day. Jesus isn’t a ‘one more thing’, but rather He is your Savior ‘as you go.’

I will show you my faith in Jesus by my deeds. James 2:18

Things I’ve Learned on Coronacation

Can I get a witness for how daily life has been altered since Friday, March 13, 2020? The last days, weeks, months have been filled with lots of changes, disappointments, hard conversations, new ways to celebrate, and probably the most creative time in ministry with children than ever in recent history. The deep dive into the new pool of ministry has made our world a new place for the development of new thoughts, new experiences, and new skills. These are just a few things I’ve learned over the last seven weeks:

  • Parents are up to the task of teacher, nurse, doctor, counselor, chef, and spiritual leader. These superheros are working from home, playing card/board games, and doing laundry as they teach their kids math and life skills. They wear the capes in the eyes of their kids and finding their way.
  • New favorite music by Cochren & Co music.
  • I can learn new things: Play the ukulele; take Messy Church training online; take classes with Resilient Church Academy.
  • I can get over myself and be videotaped. Watching some of the best on YouTube and Facebook Live have offered private tutoring lessons for this novice especially when thrust on the small screen.
  • Not everyone recovers at the same speed. I thrive in changing environments and am ready to go at the two on a three-count. Others need to breathe deep and check all the boundaries before moving forward. We are all needed and living out how God has wired us. I’m honored to share life and laughter with these amazing people in the trenches. They make me a better disciple and better at life.
  • Mother’s Day is at the end of the week and the mamas in my world have done it all. Collecting the comments made by other mamas, I’ve put together a fun list of some shared experiences of some of the women in our lives. Mother’sDayQuarantine
  • My tribe of those sold out for families in the local church are the best and most creative people in the world. When one shows up at your house with flowers, a life-size plush Jesus, and a huge box of limes, you put the kettle on and enjoy the story she’s given you to share.

Yeah! Learning and living in a new way has made for connections and deeper friendships. Have you had a chance to make a new friend? Learn something new? Grown a deeper appreciation for those who sustain your faith? Played a game? Offered grace to those different than you? Made the phone call? Took the phone call? May these extraordinary times develop a more extraordinary you. You are indeed, an extraordinary you!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Trusting the Process of Pastoral Change

One of the life-skills learned serving the Lord as a United Methodist is both the joy and angst of pastoral leadership change. Left to our own devices people prefer living in the land of UR (Usual Routine; Genesis  15).  If you don’t believe it, try to move something in your sanctuary.

I was well-trained by several spiritual leaders to welcome change as a true expression of the movement of the Holy Spirit. By its very nature, an active, thriving movement of the Holy Spirit can’t stay the same.

The third Sunday of April was ‘announcement Sunday’ in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Each year, through prayer, discussion, prayer, goal-setting, prayer, evaluation, prayer, clergy appointments are made among the local churches and church organizations in each conference directed by a prayerful Bishop and a prayerful cabinet. Sense a theme here? There are many prayerful considerations in placements and moves such as retirements, newly ordained clergy, clergy growth, church growth, sabbaticals, community changes, career moves and new church starts, to name just a few. Hence the absolute necessity for intentional prayer and wise discernment.

Serving under the direction of different pastors and in different congregations has made me a better disciple of Jesus. Better at ministry.  Better at life. I’m a firm believer in submitting to the authority over me.  Hebrews 13:17 reminds us to, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” God has placed inside of each of His people a calling. Submitting and trusting the process has taught me much about the grace and love of our creative and awe-inspiring heavenly Father. May I never doubt how God meets the needs of His people.

The Staff-Parish Relations Committee Chairperson arrived in the empty sanctuary that Sunday just before the live-streamed service. This was my first indication that an announcement was coming.  I took a deep, long breath. After presenting the Children’s Moment, I sat and waited in the empty sanctuary until the end of the service when the pending announcement would be made. 

As I waited, the Lord brought to mind the wonderful lessons learned by the amazing clergy I’ve had the pleasure of serving under. Some were pastors to me and mine during the remarkable moments of life. Some are my dearest friends. Some were guides. Some shared life. All were teachers.

If you lose your joy, you lose your impact. – Dr. D. B.
Your family is your first ministry. – Rev. J. H.
Do ministry in such as a way that when your children grow up they still love Jesus and love the local church. – Rev. R. H.
“Worship on Sunday starts on Saturday.” – Dr. R. H.
Every talk must speak of Jesus. – Rev. D. H.
 “God gives His children good gifts.” – Rev. R. H.
To lead people well, they must know your heart. – Dr. D. T.
Keep your connection with your home church because you will need a soft place to land and be loved when the job gets hard. – Dr. C. H.
Humility, humor, and prayer can ease the pain of cuts made by stained glass. – Rev. S. H.
What will set you apart will be your purposeful intentionality. – Rev. J. B.
“God has called you for such a time as this.” – Rev. R. H.

What are some of the lessons you have learned from the pastors you’ve served alongside?

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7

Grandparenting With A Purpose

One of the most spiritual experiences of my life was the minute I delivered Baby Girl in Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I prayed that very minute that she would choose Jesus as Lord of her life at a very young age. Twenty months later, I prayed the same prayer when #1 Son was born. The Lord honored those prayers with a resounding YES! because I was on a mission to do all I could to make that happen. On April 6, 2012, we revisited that simple prayer the moment our first grandchild was born. More like a blessing over each one, all four grands were prayed for and God’s word spoken over each one anytime I get my arms around them.

Our culture leads us to believe that having fun, baking cookies, and gift-giving make us good grandparents. As followers of Jesus, there’s so much more. In Deuteronomy 4:9 God’s people are instructed to “Watch yourselves closely so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children AND TO THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THEM.” (emphasis mine) We have more than a one-generation mission to share our faith, we have a two-generation mission to intentionally tell of God’s great deeds.

Most of us learned how to grandparent by how we were grandparented. My paternal grandmother was a Sunday school teacher in her local church, but she was harsh, demanding, and that corset made her far from huggable. My maternal grandmother had the struggles of marrying at 14 in the hollers of the West Virginia coal mines. She was kind and generous though I don’t recall any conversation about Jesus. I learned much wisdom from her over a flour bowl she would use to make home-made biscuits in three times each day every summer from the time I was 10-16 years old. There was a family Bible on the coffee table and picture of a Guardian Angel on the wall of her home, yet that was their extent of grandparenting with the purpose of making Jesus Lord of my life.

The average age of a first-time grandparent in the US is 47 years old. If the best time to begin a Christian legacy in a child’s life is at the beginning, the best time to begin a Christian legacy in a parent’s life is at the beginning, it would behoove us to begin a Christian legacy in a grandparent’s life at the beginning of their tenure as a grandparent. Outside of parents, grandparents have the #1 influence in a child’s life because they typically have more time over time (long-term involvement), they’ve been around the block (offer greater wisdom), they’ve got great history with the Lord (stories of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness), and they care more that their grandchildren would have a faith in something greater than themselves. Grandparents enjoy a sweet spot in a child’s life. 

What can we do to better equip and support these disciple-makers through family ministry?  This demographic of discipleship is lacking in most local churches. I aim to be a catalyst to change that. 

“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth…things we have heard and  known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done…which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God.” Psalm 78:1-7

Tucker Children’s Ministry Think Tank

Think Tanks are opportunities for leaders in ministry with children to gather to share ideas, thoughts, culture shifts, and a powerful brain trust for making disciples of Jesus Christ among the families of our local churches. We gather several times each year in a home which by its very nature offers an intimate expression of God’s love through hospitality, trust, and perfect for building lasting personal and professional relationships. Thank you, Mimi Sanders, for hosting this amazing day in early March. This is some of what we covered:

We Are McKendree – A shared event with a local elementary school which shares it’s church name. The two-hour event provides food, translators, and fun in August with the goal of helping families and the community find local and church programs that would be beneficial to them in raising their families. Contact the Children’s Ministry of McKendree United Methodist Church for more information..

Klub Serve – Wednesday night programming for K5-3rd grade fun nights of service based on an informal survey asking the kids what they would like to learn including worship planning, ball games, science experiments, preparing care packages, consignment sale set up, cards for soldiers, and playground toy washes. Contact the Children’s Ministry of McKendree United Methodist Church for more information.

Big Sundays – Simple ways to make Sundays a special celebration without it becoming a huge, labor-intensive-expensive special event especially for those who share or rent space to hold church. Several big Sundays discussed were New Year/New You, Messtival, Fall Back Sunday, Tall Small Ball, Pajama and Pumpkin Party, Cocoa Loco, Sleepy Church Sunday, Cookies and Costumes, Lego-My-Eggo Sunday, Community Cupid, Bring A Grown Up Sunday, etc. Contact the Children’s Ministry of McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church for more information.

Lent Family Bible Study – Sunday evenings with kids and their tall people including a soup and bread supper. This study is designed to help families grow confident in using their Bible and making it their lifelong companion. Learning to Use My Bible does not assume prior knowledge of the Bible and is appropriate for confident readers, yet with adult assistance, appropriate for all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Contact the Children’s Ministry of Tucker First United Methodist Church for more information.

Grandparent’s Club – With the average age of a first-time grandparent of 47 years young, this is an area of great conversation for equipping these disciples. Maybe your grandchildren are living with them. Maybe they’re thousands of miles away. Their parents may be actively involved, or absent from the family. No matter the circumstance, the GRANDPARENTS’ CLUB welcomes all! Come share the joyful, rejuvenating and sometimes complicated subject of GRAND-parenting. Whether you’re a “Grandma,” a “Poppy,” an “Opa” or a “Nana”, you are welcome! Contact the Children’s Ministry of Tucker First United Methodist Church for more information.

Family Passover Seder – A 2-hour seder meal with 4th & 5th graders and their families including a meal, celebration, teaching, and music. Contact the Children’s Ministry of Alpharetta First United Methodist Church for more information.

Kids Journey With Jesus – Whether you are headed to the local park or across the country let’s journey with Jesus this summer. While you explore God’s great creation let squishy Jesus tag along! Read a scripture, say a prayer then take a photo of squishy Jesus with your family or having His own adventure. Tag it #KidsJourneyWithJesus Contact the Children’s Ministry of Acworth United Methodist Church for more information.

Children’s Ministry Think Tanks take place each March in North Georgia. Two more were to be held in McDonough and in Canton which were cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus. Two weekly ZOOM meetings for those who serve in ministry with families have been in response. If ever there was a time of community and incredible creativity, this is that season. We are indeed, better together!

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 1 Corinthians 15:1

We Were Made For This!

We were made for ministry in this COVID-19 season. No, really! Even in the challenges, the quick-change of seasonal celebrations, the lack of certainty, the children’s ministry community has been rocking it. What would have taken a 90-day committee to pull off, we are finding lots of creativity, lots of grace, little expectation for perfection, and just doing stuff to keep ours and other’s eyes on Jesus. You are leading, learning, looking, laughing, and making ministry happen. I see you and you are rocking it!

“Flexibility is the new superpower.” – Carey Nieuwhof

On the flip-side, not everyone in professional ministry is thriving. Some are frozen, silent, missing-in-inaction. Some are overwhelmed with any task, lonely, and waiting for someone, anyone, to offer direction. Some are spending more time with the refrigerator, the news, and Netflix than they think. Some are overwhelmed with what others are doing. Some are disappointed because we are not being checked on, not included in conversations, not being communicated with at all. Take a breath. Take a really deep breath.

The things that are the most important are not uncertain: relationships, family, Jesus. 

As the local church we were made for such a time as this. We are in the business of pointing everyone to Jesus. We are not in the business of event-planning nor only information-sharing. We are in the business of offering hope, confidence, a non-anxious presence (the operative word being ‘presence’) for the four populations we serve: kids, parents/grands, servant leaders/volunteers, and for some of us, paid staff.

Serving these four populations and keeping our eyes on Jesus, the ICE framework helps:
I = Impact – What will have the greatest impact? Low-hanging fruitfulness? Easy wins? Then, do or be that.
C = Confidence – What do I have the greatest confidence I can do well? Know that those who love you are not interested in perfection, but you. What are you known for? What has not come naturally to me, I’ve watched others do well on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube with a willingness to try anything. Then, do or be that.
E = Experience – What do you have the greatest experience to do with the logistics already figured out; the relationships already figured out; the ease of who you are? What’s been your experience as the most important opportunities for life-long faith formation? Who is doing something you think you could try and reach out to? Then, do or be that.

My greatest challenge has been in a daily schedule, so a block schedule has helped me stay within some boundaries: 7-10am, 10am-1pm, 1-4pm, 4-7pm, 7-10pm.

You already have things in your backpack to not just persevere, but shine. The way we get through a crisis is together. Reach out to one another for logistics. Be the hope, the confidence, the non-anxious presence, but be fully present. When you look back on this season, what kind of Christian leader do you wish to be in the midst of it? If every church leader was just like you, what will the Kingdom of God here on earth look like when we are on the other side of this? Then, do or be that. 

You were made for this!

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

Family Faith Kit Drive-thru

As soon as we knew we would be home-bound, especially on Sundays, we prayed of ways in which we could remain connected in a healthy way. Kate Morris, the children’s pastor serving Acworth United Methodist Church began a Sunday school drive-thru on the first weekend. After some quick collaboration, we started the Tuesday Family Faith Kit Drive-thru.

We gathered every bag we had in the supply closets and prepared 50 bags for the next seven weeks. 15 of the 50 bags were for multiple children in a family meaning there were 3-5 of everything in each bag.

We gathered everything we had on hand of extras and typical kid’s items including bubbles, stickers, candy, snacks, all the St. Patrick’s Day items I’d purchased ahead of time for the Sunday that didn’t happen, sidewalk chalk, pompoms, etc. We also added pre-purchased items for Lent events ready to be staged. We didn’t spend any additional monies except the palm branches. We gathered what we had on hand and prepared to share, separating everything into seven weeks of bags with a printed devotion. If you’d like a copy of the first three week’s of devotions, contact me by email at dedereilly@comcast.net. 

Posting on social media, we invited families to drive thru the breezeway of our children’s entrance (that way if they didn’t come to us regularly on Sundays, they will know where to enter when we are permitted to return to Sunday gathering) between 11am-12noon each Tuesday. We make a big deal of greeting each vehicle, wearing gloves we set the kit on the empty front passenger seat, maybe take a photo, and then ask if we can pray with them with our hands lifted toward the heavens. We pray and we invite them back the next week.

6 o’clock Bible readings
We invited parents to record their child(ren) reading a favorite Bible story/verse from their Bible in their favorite place at home, under 2 minutes and send it to me on Facebook messenger. I’ve scheduled a Bible reader/memory verse for each night at 6pm on our closed Facebook page. Hannah Harwood, the Children’s Pastor at Sam Jones United Methodist Church in Cartersville, Georgia began this early on as morning digital devotionals. 

Handwritten postcards
Pre-purchased postcards with forever stamps were ready for VBS. Instead, we’ve handwritten notes to every family and every servant-leader to “Say your prayers and wash your hands, until we can be together again! – Ms. DeDe & McEachern Kids”

Other Connections
• Prepared schedule of texts and phone calls to check in.
• Providing copies of Family Faith Kit devotions are being added to the lunches and dinners provided by our partner elementary and middle school through the missions team.
• Weekly email to email list (may not be on social media) on Saturday how to celebrate Family Church with a reminder of our online service info and Family Faith Kit drive through.
Hallelujah Project: Use what you have (sidewalk chalk, paper, paint, crayons, string, scraps of wood, etc.) to create a “Hallelujah” banner/sign/message for Easter Sunday. Tag the church on Instagram or Facebook using #athomehallelujah. Another great idea from Christine Hides, Director of Christian Education at Kenilworth Union Church, Kenilworth, Illinois.

There are lots of things which can be done, but let me remind you to pace yourself and remember your why.

McEachern Kids exists to partner with families to grow in their faith in Jesus together by experience, resource, and encouragement. We can’t be part of the noise, especially during the week when families are navigating schoolwork, working from home, feeding the family, laundry, pets, and new schedules. We are all about relationship building in the family to grow in a personal relationship with Jesus, worship the Lord together, belong to something and someone, serve one another in the family and others outside the family, and tell their story.

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?'” Exodus 4:2