Like Me?

harvest-vineInvited to serve on a design team for a national conference two years ago made me downright giddy. Two years in the planning offered the chance to leave my bubble of ‘practically everyone like me’ and engage in a creative forum with incredibly gifted people who may not look like me, work like me, process like me, talk like me, filter like me, see like me, speak like me, schedule like me, are the same age as me.  The one commonality? We all love and teach Jesus. A beautifully creative and accessible community that would challenge me…yep, I was ‘all in.’

nogacefHolding conversations with others ‘not like me’ teaches me to listen, to compromise, and to give in gracefully when a ‘win’ is defined as keeping the conversation going. Naturally drawn to hear the stories of folks, I am fascinated at the words and expressions of all of God’s people. But don’t we all linger where we are most comfortable? Collaborate only where it’s easy and frustration is limited? Share our ideas where we are most likely affirmed? Stay in the safe lane? Run from contention and differing processes?

ninjasThe last two years of face-to-face meetings, monthly conference calls, and an enormous number of emails resulted in a national conference where folks new to Christian education were empowered, where experienced folks shared ideas, and where surprises abounded. I was responsible for championing the vendor and networking fair on the second day as well as the conference response stations on the last day.  Ideas and partnerships with those in my own local children’s ministry networking group and KidMin Ninja mentoring group in attendance made for closer relationships and lots of laughter as together we set up, cleaned up, pulled up, worked up,  lit up all three events.

cefchuckThe vendor fair was one afternoon with a variety of local talent and non-profits set alongside seminaries, authors, and denominational agencies. The greatest thing our denomination has to a national celebrity is a guy who stars in three minute discipleship training videos that cover everything ‘church’ from the colors of the church year to the church sacristy: Chuck Knows Church. We expected to have him for 15-20 minutes of photo ops. He stayed 56 minutes. That’s how long it took for the line to go down. He was in full character and was definitely among ‘his people.’ Think twenty somethings with Justin Timberlake. That’s the energy of Chuck among United Methodist Christian educators.  The next hour Flo Paris of the musical group Rain For Roots performed three beautiful songs with her daughters. The next hour we shared in a chef’s delight of afternoon appetizers. Yummy!

cefnetworkingThe networking fair gave conference participants ‘table time’ with folks who are the best at what they do for 15-30 minutes.  Not a workshop, nothing formal, very organic conversation. We offered a schedule of times and locations (three were happening at the same block of time). Some of the networks who gathered included: Developing VBS themes with a VBS publisher; Creating space for young adults in your context; Youth ministry confirmation ideas; and learning how to blog or to go to the next level in blogging.  We even skyped-in a networking leader who spoke of Connecting Worship and Christian Formation for All Ages. Networking and table life takes many forms, amen? A constant coming and going of people, up and down a staircase, in the same three rooms, for close to four hours, who wished to gather and share info on a whole array of topics and conversations. Access!

This season is over, but several new seasons are beginning. I am such a better person, a better collaborator, and a better team member for this experience. For my natural bent to being a chatterbox, I got plenty of practice to ask more questions and make less statements.  I met online, by phone, and then in-person, amazing resource leaders in the field of Christian education who I would never have otherwise had access to. Conversations and collaboration made me think and caused me to laugh my head off. Are you intentional about following Jesus professionally where it may not be so….you?

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble…because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9

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CEF Conference Response Stations

cefresponse3Just last week I enjoyed the company of Christian educators at the 2016 National CEF (Christians Engaged In Faith Formation) Conference in Nashville. After participating in teaching, communities of practice, conversations, worship, workshops, table life, and laughter on the lawn, we finished the last day with an hour of response stations. Outdoor stations, enjoying nature, and giving hands-on responses to gather our thoughts and feelings before worship and returning home. These were those stations:

cefresponse7Response Station #1 – Kind Hands TV TRAY, STAND UP FRAME

We are called not only to ‘pray without ceasing’, but also to pray with our whole selves. How we use our bodies when we pray shares what is on the heart of the person who is praying to God.  The KINDNESS that comes from God tells us we belong to His family. We must be KIND because we belong to Him.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

While standing, rub your hands together gently as if you were putting on lotion. Make sure to turn your wrists in all directions and touch all parts of your hands – between your fingers, the back of your hands, and even your wrists.

Share with God as you rub your hands, “Thank you, God, that You are kind when you ______ and ______ and ______. Help me to be kind when I ___________. Amen.”

Additional Resource: Body Prayer: The Posture of Intimacy With God by Doug Pagitt and Kathryn Prill


Let’s COUNT our blessings!

“For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find, …to bless the Lord, O my soul. Worship His holy name.”

cefresponse8Write (or draw) a blessing from this week at CEF.  Clip it to the frame with a clothespin.

Additional Resource: Counting Blessings by Debby Boone and Gabriel Ferrer


Take a strip of fabric and as you tie it onto the frame, share with God your regrets over the last year. Make a conscious decision to let it go and move on.  You may also choose to give thanks for lessons learned.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Additional Resource: Praying in Color: Drawing A New Path To God (Active Prayer) by Sybil MacBeth


Anointing sheep’s heads with oil shielded them from annoying and even deadly insects, so anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.

Using the anointing oil, anoint yourself (on the back of your hand, on pulse points, or on your forehead) and recite the 23rd Psalm.

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” 1 John 2:20

Additional Resource: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

cefresponse1Response Station #5 – Bubble Wrap Worries TV TRAY, BUBBLE WRAP CUT INTO STRIPS, 2 CONTAINERS, STANDUP FRAME

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength. Corrie Ten Boom

God loves you and knows the desires of your heart. He also knows what you think can keep you from fulfilling His call on your life as you use your gifts and graces back home.

Take a strip of bubble wrap and pop the bubbles as a symbol of giving your worries over to the One who has called you, will equip you, will go before you, will never leave you, and will teach you along the way.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthews 6: 34

Additional Resource: Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth by Samuel Chand


Play in the sand with your hands and fingers.

When you choose a word to take with you in your heart, write that word on a glass bead and take the bead with you as a reminder of ‘the fresh word’ you received this week at the 2016 National CEF Conference.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Additional Resource: Reimagining Faith Formation for the 21st Century: Engaging All Ages & Generations by John Roberto


We all follow the saints of our journey. The saints who plowed the fields before us. The saints who spoke truth into our lives when we didn’t want to hear or maybe didn’t know to listen. The saints who have gone on to Glory, yet their influence upon our own calling lives on in us. We are their legacy.

Tie a ribbon in the net as you give a prayer of thanksgiving for the saints of your journey who have gone on to Glory, yet their influence continues in you.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell

cefresponseResponse #8 – In Honor (SAME STATION #7 AS ABOVE, ADD ON)

We all share in influencing others for the cause of Christ. We teach, we lead, we speak, and we pray. We laugh, we train, we offer an effective hand off to those coming behind us. They are our legacy. They are the lives in whom we speak truth and influence to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.

Tie a ribbon in the net as you offer a prayer of hope for those who you are influencing to answer the call to carry the banner of Christian education.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” Kenneth H. Blanchard

As you end a growth event, like a conference, how do you process on the last day to gather your thoughts and prepare to return home to implement what you’ve gleaned and learned?

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Engaging Children In Worship Writings

family-at-churchThis week I am thrilled to be with other champions for Christian education at the 2016 National CEF (Christians Engaged In Faith Formation) Conference in Nashville and participating in a Community of Practice for engaging children in worship. I serve a church where intergenerational worship happens every week.  But getting there started with the first step of communicating the ‘why’. One way to begin the conversation of moving to sharing worship as a whole family of faith included months of sharing writings/blogs/research about that very thing on my personal Facebook page with our congregation.  These are some of the writings shared that helped us engage in the conversations:

This is just a sample of information that is available to continue conversations within a congregation…one at a time…over a period of time….of engaging and including children in worship.

children-praying-over-me2We are ‘all in’ to include children in worship at my church. It works for us and sets us our mid-sized church apart from other churches in our area that provide separate worship for children and adults. Worshipping as a whole family of faith is now part of our culture. Where we wish to go this next season is to not only engage children in worship, but continue to make worship even more engaging for children. I can’t wait to find out what else we will learn and share this week as we endeavor to champion for children in worship. What other writings can you communicate to continue the conversation?

“What’s good for kids is good for adults.” Mark Burrows, Director of Children’s Ministries at First United Methodist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, author of Children First: Worshipping With The Family of God

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:39

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Staying Alive

cpr-first-aid-3170There is nothing like a three hour CPR & First Aid course to remind me how much I can forget. Enlisting the help of the fabulous trainers of First Response, we offered a class last Sunday. I’d used these folks before and their trainers are thorough, funny, talk a mile a minute, and use 80’s tunes like the BeeGee’s Staying Alive and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive to help us keep a steady beat of compressions.

cpr1I booked the First Response folks last May for an October date. I marketed the class inside the church through typical channels (social media, bulletin, newsletter) through August and September. First Response requires a minimum of 12 participants at a very reasonable rate. Knowing we needed to cover a couple of our college student nursery servants, and in case I couldn’t get the minimum, we added a small buffer to the fee we charged.

cpr2Two weeks before the class date, we promoted it through other social media channels and to our community on the signs along our roadside. I got two phone calls within a couple of days from a children’s caregiver and a girl scout leader calling to reserve a spot. On Sunday, three others just showed up along with an additional three of our own who were not sure they could make it (so they didn’t reserve a spot ahead of time) and did.

cpr3We had a total group of 18 folks from all walks of life, all ages and stages: a grandmother and her granddaughter, two caregivers from a senior adult care facility, our nursery caregivers, our head of trustees and his daughter, a twelve-year old boy scout working his way to Tenderfoot, two high school freshmen who serve in children’s ministry often, two day care workers, a girl scout leader, a mom and her daughter-in-law who serves as a teacher and expecting her second baby in a few months.

In all honesty, for fear of not making the minimum participants, I was sweating it ten days ago. But I was reminded again that we are called to provide an opportunity to do good things, God will do the number crunching and the people gathering. Our job is obedience.

cpr4Completely surprised at the community participation of 6 out of 18, I will be scheduling CPR & First Aid training as part of our regular calendar every fall. We will promote it just as much as an outreach to our community as to our own. We extended the gift of Christian hospitality to our neighbors and our own. Our own bumping elbows with our community for three hours…on a Sunday afternoon. My supply list: name tags and iced-down, bottled water.

My very favorite part (other than our youth naming their dummies after characters from The Walking Dead)? Our instructor arrived late due to Atlanta traffic of the last Braves game AND a Falcons home game, so it gave us a chance to share why we were there and get to know one another.  Yeah, I’m doing this every year!

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14


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What Do We Do Now?

what-nextToday’s post is more like a public service announcement because we didn’t know six months ago what we know now. You may be in the same boat. Six months ago my mother-in-law passed away suddenly. When I got the news by phone, my first phone call was to one of my bridesmaids of life in my Emmaus Reunion Group because we knew we’d need to be covered in prayers. The next two phone calls were to our adult children. But the fourth phone call was to my pastor and boss with a cry from a place of utter grief and despair, “What do we do now?”

At 55 years old, we are the first of our peers to lose both parents AND be responsible for everything. These are a few things we have learned along the way:

  1. Get a will – Kay had her will and my father-in-law’s will along with their passports, social security cards, birth certificates, and other important papers in a safe-deposit which my husband had a key for. We went to the box the day after she passed. All important papers like car titles, home closing documents and tax returns were also in one place. She had a clear filing system. She set this up years ago. Don’t put it off. The will has protected us, guided us, directed us, and made clear much of what we needed to do next.
  2. Have personal and professional relationships – with an attorney, a pastor, and accountant/CPA, contractors, realtors, etc. We are so grateful for the wisdom and expertise of those we had built relationships with through our local church.
  3. Beneficiaries trump wills – If the will is specific to what happens next with limitations and directions, yet only names are listed as beneficiaries of investments and assets, the limits and directions within the will do not apply.
  4. Have an Emergency Fund – There will be many expenses that will need to be covered way before any paperwork can be completed at the courthouse: funeral expenses (including special wishes by family members), monthly utilities, monthly mortgages, lawn services, house cleaning supplies, groceries, paper products, clothes, traveling expenses, home repairs, and a whole lot more. Reimbursements take a long time…right now, more than six months.
  5. Have a list of accounts and passwords and update the list often – Kay did nothing online which made the paper trail easy to follow. Over the course of 45 days, every utility, investment, bank statement, and QVC order came through the mail.  We, of course, do everything online. Passwords, account numbers, vendor and utility lists should be on paper and stored in some way so to be easily located. How will anybody be able to settle your affairs and gain access to your parent’s or your assets and liabilities if nothing comes through the mail?
  6. Be gracious, no matter what people and family do and say – Everybody has questions. Everybody has opinions. Everybody grieves differently. Everybody has a different perspective. Everybody remembers a past conversation. Prayer and wise counsel are imperative.
  7. Talk through the process with your adult kids – This has been a learning experience for all of us. Clear communication with our young adult children throughout this process has equipped them and their spouses to know what to do and what to expect when our time comes. We had wills prepared when they were minors, but as adults, new wills and this learning is our responsibility to impart as part of their financial training.

The grief has been intense. The responsibility has been heavy. Ministry with families happen all throughout remarkable moments of a family’s life. When we learn new things, we figure out a way to teach them. This is one area where I now have experience. It helps the healing to pour out our lessons as a drink offering unto the Lord.

What will you do now?

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:1-2


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Calendaring 201

calendaring201I just picked up a 2017 calendar from the office supply store which means I just printed my own 2018 calendar. Which means I printed the two counties’ school 2017-2018 calendars. Which means I am preparing for 2017 in September of 2016. My parents and families need calendars for the next year so I can’t just throw things together and hope it fits the rhythm of my community.

The first installment of my calendaring process can be found here at Calendaring 101. But what else?

Calendaring is not planning. Calendaring is about partnering. Calendaring is putting on the calendar that which complements other ministries: Holy Week, Advent, Missions, Stewardship, Good Friday, One Service Sundays, Youth Mission Trips, etc. AND what I know about my own community: school calendars, scout calendars, band/music calendars, local festivals which happen the same time every year, etc. so when I plan special events and time specific to my families as ‘church’, I am a help to my families. We are no help to families when we are one more thing to add to their calendar nor one more thing for my families to feel guilty about because of the hard choices they make each day of what is best. Calendaring should help offer a healthy rhythm for volunteers and should give families some ‘easy wins.’

It helps that our pastor gives us the next year’s sermon schedule a few months before year-end. We calendar to partner with another ministry by piggy-backing: Missions Lunch & Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Sunday; CLUB345 Bake Sale fundraiser for camp & Youth Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday, etc.. Partnering with other ministry events/specials offer greater opportunities for intergenerational relationships and sticky memories in the hearts of minds of our little people. Always a huge win!

Then there’s what you want to start new.  How does it fit in the mix? First, you evaluate the ‘whipped cream’ of your ministries. Anything outside of Sunday am programming is ‘whipped cream’. Sunday is the ‘daily bread’ of Children’s Ministry and it must be done to the best of our abilities and resources.  For example, we noticed this year a lessening of enthusiasm for The Saints Book Club, so we will be taking a jubilee from that in 2017. Thus opening a spot for something I’ve been tossing around in my head for a couple of years now. The challenge comes when it’s all good, but we have limited resources in volunteers, champions, funding, and time. So let’s be intentional about offering what is best: be in prayer, talk with your parents, chat it up among your students, run it by your pastor.

Don’t forget to plan for personal time away for education, for rest, for reevaluation, and for celebration. The white space will fill quickly. Calendaring is how we offer easy wins for families, including your own. Shauna Niequist wrote in Present Over Perfect, “I fake-rested instead of real-rested, and then I found that I was real-tired.” She went on to write, “Loving one’s work is a gift. And loving one’s work makes it really easy to neglect other parts of life. People love it when you say yes, and they get used to it. But you can’t have a yes without no. If you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it.”

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation as quoted in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature by Peter Scazzero.

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Away at Rock On Camp

rockonrocksJust this last weekend, I and three other chaperones took students to Rock On overnight camp along with 300 other 3rd-5th grade students in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This is our second year at Camp Glisson in the fall located in beautiful Dahlonega, Georgia.

We ate together. Table life around a huge table over Lucky Charms and the biggest cinnamon buns on the planet. Because we ate, we also served one another and cleaned up together. There was something for the pickiest eater and the students who eat anything as we ate family style, passing plates, pouring, spooning, etc.

rockonbreakfastWe laughed together. From the ‘favorites’ conversation in the van on the way home to raising our hands when we went over bridges because of ‘ancestors.’ We chatted and chuckled all over camp.

We played together. The lake excursion was the favorite of the trip, by far. The teams were separated so well that our students were able to do their ‘special’ more than once. No waiting in line to maybe get one ride. Multiple zipline rides, multiple jumps from the landings, multiple swings on the high swing (so that if you only went halfway the first time, you were going all the way to the top every time afterwards.). Lots of videos and still shots were sent home to parents.

rockoncrossWe worshipped and danced together. From sitting in the back by the fans on Friday night to serving communion in the center of the room by Sunday morning. Sacred spaces all over campus kept us on the lookout everywhere we walked. Man, did we walk. Good thing I wore my Fitbit this time!

We prayed together. Young adults who know Camp Glisson like the back of their hands escorted and presented a prayer walk all over campus. We truly got a tour of the sacred spaces and followed in the footsteps of all who had gone before us.

The first aid kit I kept in my backpack was used once by another church’s leaders to help with a spider bite, so bring the Benadryl. We were always with other students from other churches so we met new friends and recognized old ones. Conversations before breakfast over the coffee/tea table with colleagues I only knew through Facebook were precious, indeed. Watching a college student serve as one of our chaperones was both hilarious and surprisingly effective.  Rev. Debby Fox and the Connection Ministries team were aware of the developmental needs of this age group and Chuck Bell is a very gifted worship leader who engaged the students beyond singing. Our students rockonnotesparticipated in conversations with our ‘stage’ leaders because these leaders were all over the place all weekend, were completely accessible, and started conversations with my kids all weekend long.  So glad that the music didn’t ring our ears and students were in bed early. And I can’t thank enough the partnering churches who shared our cabins and rotations who’s chaperones made their presence known so our kids felt like their kids, too. One big family.

Away at camp builds relationships…memories…kindnesses…connections with other churches…independence…conversations…and a desire to come back to a place where we can stay with God, grow with God, and go with God.

“The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer…my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2


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The Bible: That’s Funny!

laughingOver the years of serving children in the local church, you would think I’d become more mature in the things that make me chuckle. Not so much. Maybe because I grew up with 4 brothers, bodily functions remain a top laugh-getter.
Anyway, I have collected over the years some bible passages that have caused me to fall in the floor laughing:

  • Luke 12:35 “Be dressed and ready for service.” (a permanent post-it-note on #1 son’s XBox during high school)
  • John 12:7a “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. (my all-time personal favorite)
  • Jeremiah 1:17 “Get yourself ready!  Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.  Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.”
  • Proverbs 10:19 “Where there are many words, Sin is not absent.” (aka “shut thee up”)
  • Leviticus 13:40 “When a man has lost his hair and is bald, he is clean.”
  • Exodus 32:24 (Aaron speaking to Moses) “So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
  • Proverbs 26:17 “Like one who seizes a dog by its ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.”  (nothing like a bite in the face to keep you in your own business)
  • Proverbs 25:24 “Better to live on a corner of the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”  (self-explanatory, and said again in Proverbs 21:9)
  • Nehemiah 6:3 “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.”  (a Mama’s mantra through middle school)
  • 2 Timothy 4:11b “Take Mark, and bring him with thee:  for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (Baby Girl found this when she and Mark began getting serious)
  • Psalm 119:139a “My zeal wears me out.”
  • Ezekiel 44:18b “They must not wear anything that makes them sweat.” (Can I get an “AMEN!”?)

A clergy friend of mine has begun to get in on my collection and has added some of her own:

  • Jeremiah 49:32 “Their camels shall become booty, their herds of cattle a spoil.”
  • Ecclesiastes 10:1 “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor.”
  • Ecclesiastes 10:11 “If the snake bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer.” (duh)
  • Yep, “She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  Proverbs 31:25

Got any you are willing to share?

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Geaux Team!

lsutigerThis blog was originally posted in January 2011. In honor of college football starting this weekend, which is the true beginning of fall, a repost is in order.

Last night, on national tv, my beloved LSU Tigers whooped up on that precious team of Aggies at the 75th Cotton Bowl. Did I mention that LSU won? Well, they did. College football brings out the fanatic in me. I am an LSU class of ’83 graduate in Political Science with a minor in Greek and Roman history (due to 4 years of college Latin and some strangely entertaining Art Appreciation classes). I paid my own way through college working at a local bank during the day and checking groceries at the A&P grocery store at night and on weekends. I gave blood to pay for my books and parked my 1970 VW beetle on the decline so as to easily start the thing by putting the car in neutral and popping the clutch. It was a dance and a challenge everyday.

Dave Ramsey, of Financial Peace fame, says, “When you are footing the bill, you WILL finish college in 4 years.” He is so right. My college years were difficult, at times lonely, financially impossible (1 student loan my senior year). But I was on a mission. I wanted the piece of paper. I believed, and still do, that education can re-program one’s future.

Now, I have to admit that although I am a fan, I may not know each player’s name, where they come from, even which team they are playing (Bob now puts this on the fridge for me in August). But I am loyal to the max. I shared a season on land and in buildings with other LSU-Baton Rouge campus students that changed the trajectory of our futures.

It reminds me of the local church. I am also a fanatic for the local church. We come in as individuals with expectations and hopes and dreams. Then we begin to share a season on land and in buildings that will set us on a course of changing our lives and transforming the world.

May I put on my purple and gold AND the love of my local church well enough to invite others to jump on board. We are supposed to be a team, right? Working, living, serving together with one goal…to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Philippians 4:1

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American Ninja Warrior: Bible Edition

NinjaAwardsWhat do we do after handing out a slew of new Bibles to 3rd-5th graders? We schedule a late night (6:30-9:30pm) on the following Friday for 3rd-5th graders to learn to use this new gift. Using the hugely popular tv show American Ninja Warrior as our theme, we set up bible and physical challenges that go together. Brainstorming for this event with another kidmin champion made for an awesome night.  The plan was to have it outside, but a rainstorm called for plan B – our gym.

Students were instructed to wear red, white, and blue, bring a towel (to lay on during the silence time), bring a bible (that’s why we’re here, but have some student bibles handy just in case someone forgets), bring a water bottle (the kids got thirsty quick), and use free Event Bright registration for signups (this made for quick notification emails of the change in venue and intake location).

Arrival activity: let students write names on headbands with a sharpie or a name tag for those who wore their own headbands, and lots of jump ropes.

Introduce the gathering attention chant with a leader saying, “The B-I-B-L-E” and the students respond “that’s the book for me.”

NinjaStudyUsing a Rainbow Bookmark – As followers of Jesus, we are people of THE BOOK…the Bible. 2 sections, 66 books. Testament – covenant – promise. Asking the question: What is the Bible? We pre-made 1/4 inch ribbon bookmarks knotted at the top to be placed in different places in their bibles as a large group:

  • black=Table of Contents;
  • red=Genesis, the first book in the Old Testament;
  • orange=Joshua, the first history book in the Old Testament;
  • yellow=Psalms, the 2nd poetry book in our Bible;
  • green=Isaiah, the first prophet book in our Bible;
  • blue=Matthew, the first Gospel book in our Bible;
  • purple=to mark Romans, the first letter book in our Bible.

NinjaQuadstepsQuintuple Steps – Discussion and overview of the Bible. How did the Bible come to be? Play the telephone game (oral tradition).  The story of the Bible is about God and how God acted in people’s lives then and now.   Run the Quintuple side steps without touching the ground.

Agility Ladder – Creation – Genesis 1…We serve a God of order & systems. We made a creation trail mix to save for later for snack and used an agility ladder to run through the 7 days of creation in order. Joke: Where does the Bible talk about baseball? Genesis 1:1 “In the big-inning.” Then back to the bible study tables.

NinjaTiresFlip the Tire – The Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible. Was originally written on scrolls (rolled up paper). Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Flip the tire 5 times and say the books that make up the Torah.

Over Under PVC Hurdles – God gave His people the 10 Commandments to live well with one another. Look up in Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5. Run under the pvc hurdles for the ‘do’ commandments and over the pvc hurdles for the ‘don’t’ commandments. Then speak loudly reading the commandments from a 10 commandment poster taped to the wall.

NinjaStumpsKing of the Mountain – Look up the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Step from stump to stump without falling off.

Hula Hoops – Look up Matthew 10:2-4 and discover the 12 disciples. 4 stations of hula hoops. Jump through each hoop 3 times each saying the disciples/apostle’s names.

Bean Bag Toss – Look up Matthew 22:36-40 to discover The Greatest Commandment. Toss a bean bag into a Rubbermaid bin saying, “YOU shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, and with all your might. YOU shall love the Lord with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself, UMPH!”

NinjaLaddersPass the Torch – Gotta have some water, right? Look up 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and discover the relationship between Paul and Timothy. Pass or carry a halved pool noodle with a cup taped to the end filled with water to another bucket. (We were not able to do this being inside, but the plan was there.)

Walking the Plank – Look up  Luke 11:1-4 The Lord’s Prayer. We’ll discuss the many aspects of prayer using a gift from Mark Burrows, the Children’s Ministry Lead at FUMC of Ft Worth, WITH (Wow, God….I’m sorry, God….Thank you, God…Help me/another, God), then a 10 minute NinjaBalanceperiod of silence. Walking raised lengths of wood for balance beams.

SilenceAt some point on the course have a rest time for a period of silence (10-15 minutes, depending on time) to eat the trail mix and a cold Powerade on their towels spread throughout the space.

Drag A Tire – Look up the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 and discuss who is my neighbor. Drag a tire with a rim by rope across a long space.

NinjaTirePerform Sword Drills for a whole host of things. (We did not have time for this, but we were ready just in case we did.)

Closed out the evening with awards of “Take 5” candy bars on 1/4 inch ribbons as we discuss taking 5 minutes each day to read the bible and pray.

My kidmin brainstorming partner’s husband came to pick up at night’s end. They have scheduled their American Ninja Warrior: Bible Edition late night at her local church in two weeks. With the help of NinjaTrailMixparents and some gracious 5th grade boys, we had everything except the largest quad step packed in the van and ready to go within 20 minutes.  Most everything will be returned for next year’s event, because this turned out even better than I imagined. When parents arrived for pickup, they were able to watch their students ‘run the course.’

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

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