I know there are a number of forums out there with great discussions happening, but it seems like it is mostly the same people participating in the discussion.  I’m hoping to get the conversation going on here by asking an open-ended question. The goal is to get the conversation started.  What happens from there is up to you.  I know people don’t comment much on blogs, but I encourage you to leave a response and participate.  Just the process of typing your answer may be beneficial to you.  Please feel free to remain anonymous and use a pseudonym in the name line.

So, here’s this month’s questions.

Should we teach kids how to defend their faith (apologetics)?

For added discussion:  Does the Christian faith even need to be defended? Does teaching them apologetics make our faith sound weak? How do we do this? Special classes? During Sunday School? During regular kids’ church?  If we do teach it, at what age should we start?

This post is part of a series pertaining to doing a regular family service or “family experience” in a small church.  View the first post here.

Our Family eXperiences (or FX) take place on the fourth Sunday night of the month.  For our first few FXs, we used the virtue that the kids had been talking about for that month and did a sort of recap.  In an effort to better equip our parents and encourage dialog at home, we have shifted and now premiere the upcoming month’s virtue at FX.  This has met with great satisfaction and is an added bonus for the kids who come to FX.  They get to know the virtue before anyone else.

For our welcome we do a comic host and credible host routine.  The comic host enters with some sort of dilemma, problem, or outrageous behavior that conveniently pertains to that nights topic and sets up the introduction of the virtue.

One of our hosts is “The Famous Dr. Know.”  Dr. Know is a mad scientist type character, more of a crazy scientist with an afro, who is played by our pastor.  What I love about using him in this role is the exposure it gives him to the kids at church.  I want the kids in our church growing up knowing that he is their pastor, I’m the children’s/youth pastor.  I also like it because they get to see him let his guard down, which means they know he can have fun in addition to be serious.

Another of our comic hosts, though she doesn’t come out as much, is “Millie the Baker who bakes.”  Millie is a baker who never seems to get her recipe right, that is, when she uses a recipe.  Millie is played by our pastor’s wife, who also is our preschool/nursery director. 

Both of our characters have extremely low-budget costumes, but when working with comic characters, sometimes it is actually better when the outfit looks a little pieced together.  Don’t get me wrong, they look good, but you would be surprised what you can put together with borrowed items and after Halloween sales. 

It is safe to say that with both Dr. Know and Millie, the adults AND kids enjoy the opening routine.  It is fun to see your pastor or his wife acting goofy and in costume.  Plus, both of them are surprisingly talented and do a great job with their characters.

That’s how our FXs begin.  By the time the welcome is finished, the direction is set for the service and the congregation has their attention focused on what is happening.  From there, we move on to dismissal…gotcha, just making sure you were paying attention.

Last week, I talked about the importance of bragging on your family in the privacy of your own home.  It tells them that they are valuable to you because you have nothing to gain by doing so.  Besides bragging on them in privacy, brag on them in public.  When done properly, it doesn’t come across as braggy, but as something genuine and authentic.

This is something I can be really good at…and other times I can be really bad at.  Sometimes, I have the tendency to make jokes at my wife’s expense.  On the flip side, I can’t talk about her for more than a few seconds without saying how wonderful she is.  I do my very best to recognize her publicly for the work she does. 

During our Christmas musical she did a lot of work getting things ready behind the scenes.  She was also responsible for ordering the roses that we give to those who help.  In her own humility, she didn’t order a rose for herself.  I made a special point to contact the florist and get one extra rose.  I couldn’t believe how much it meant to her. 

With our kids, this is just as important.  Make sure you brag on your kids when you’re around others.  It’s easier for me now, because my son is at major milestones, learning to walk and talk and beatbox (the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen).  I am already intentional about bragging on him so that, hopefully, I will do it when he is older.  I want him to know that I don’t care what other people think, I’m proud of him because he is my son.

One final word on this matter.  I have been on the receiving end of a father who uses personal stories about his kids during sermons.  Be cautious when doing this and always ask your kid’s permission before doing so.  Even good stories can be embarrassing.  I had a professor who said he paid his kids a few dollars for every story he used of them in sermons.  I like this idea and may implement it with my own kids someday.  Whether I pay them or not, I will definitely clear it by them first.

As of Friday, I have officially read two complete books of the Bible through this Bible reading challenge.  At some point, I know the readings will jump around more than they are right now and I look forward to that.  If you are doing the reading challenge as well, hop over to kidmin1124 and offer your comments.  Or leave them in the comment section below.

Monday (January 31, 2011)

  • Exodus 4-6

Tuesday (February 1, 2011)

  • Exodus 7-9

Wednesday (February 2, 2011)

  • Exodus 10-12

Thursday (February 3, 2011)

  • Exodus 13-15

Friday (February 4, 2011)

  • Exodus 16-18

Saturday (February 5, 2011)

  • Exodus 19-21

Sunday (February 6, 2011)

  • Exodus 22-24

I remember when I first heard that LifeChurch.tv was offering free kidmin and other church resources.  I was skeptical of what would actually be offered for “free.”  Though I’m young, I’ve been around long enough to know that people rarely give anything of value away for nothing.  That is the motivation behind the Free Resource Friday, to help you sift through all of the stuff out there and give you the best free kidmin resources. 

On my first visit to Open by LifeChurch.tv, I expected to be able to view samples or get low res video clips, but be asked to pay for the full curriculum or high res videos.  Fortunately for me, and everyone else, they offer all of their stuff for free, in its entirety.  It really is some good stuff.

They also offer many of the downloads in multiple formats, so you can choose the one you want.  You will need to create a login to download the materials, but the registration process is simple and there is no cost for that either.  Once you’ve registered, just add the stuff you want to your download list and click the download button.  To get started, go to open.lifechurch.tv.

I’m curious if any of you use Open regularly?  Let me know in the comments section.  I have downloaded and used a bunch of their church resources, but haven’t used many of their kidmin resources.

I was reading an ancient letter sent from the Roman official Pliny the Younger (AD 62-c.113) to the Roman Emperor Trajan written during about the year AD 112.  This would have been the last year or in the last years of Pliny’s life.  The letter is written concerning what is to be done with Christians.  The letter explains that Christians were given a chance to recant their faith and worship other gods and the emperor in the presence of Roman officials or face punishment up to and often including death, because if nothing else, “their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished.”

What struck me the most was this statement.  “The contagion of this superstition has spread not only in the cities, but in the villages and rural districts as well; yet it seems capable of being checked and set right.” He goes on to explain why he believes folks were and would continue to return to the Roman system of worship.  Less than one hundred years after Jesus was resurrected, the Christian movement was spreading at an alarming rate, yet the Romans believed it could be stopped.

And then here we stand 1900 years later as a testimony that it couldn’t.  Millions of people have stood in the face of oppression and refused to back down on their belief that Jesus Christ lived, died, and lives again.  They have faced ridicule, torture, and death.  And Christ’s Church moves on and continues to grow.  It continues to spread in the cities and it continues to spread to the most rural and secluded areas of the world.

This whole thing is bigger than you or me.  It’s bigger than kidmin, student ministries, and even bigger than family ministry or Orange thinking.  It goes way beyond the four walls of your church building or home.  Jesus established a movement that could not, would not be stopped.  It spread like wildfire in the cities and then it infected the villages and furthermost reaches of the world.

But does my faith do it justice?  Is it contagious in the way that the faith of early Christians was contagious?  Is it unshakeable and unstoppable like those guys?  Or am I just in it because it is easy?  Do I either intentionally or unintentionally teach the kids in my church that being a Christian is easy?  Would I face death for this man Jesus?  All of these questions run through my head.  I only pray that my life brings glory to Jesus the way these early Christians brought glory to Him.  I pray that my love for God and my love for others becomes infectious to those I lead and to those that I interact with in everyday life.

Serving Him together,

The letter referenced above was found in the book Documents of the Christian Church which was published by Oxford University Press. The book is a collection of writings throughout history that have had a significant impact on the shaping of Christian history.

I would venture to guess that every church that does a family service does it differently.  At least, I hope that is the case. Every church has a different church culture, different leadership, different strengths, and the family service should reflect that.

For our kids’ ministry, we use 252 Basics curriculum.  Along with the license for the kids’ curriculum, we are also provided with the Family Experience scripts.  The scripts include a welcome skit with a comic host and credible host, an intro and exit sketch featuring characters from a kids’ clubhouse, the Bible lesson, and usually a rapid response game that reinforces the lesson.  (If you’re curious about what this all looks like, you should sign up for the three-month free trial of 252 Basics.)  We use some of those elements and then we add in some of our own stuff.

Our services last an hour and the order of service looks like this…

Welcome/Introduce Virtue
Intro Sketch
Family Game
Family Friendly Worship

Word and reflection
Family Game
Exit Sketch/Wrap Up
Family Game

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down each of the elements and explain how we do them and why we have opted to do it that way.  Keep in mind that some of what we do is because that is the way our curriculum is set up, but most of the ideas can be transferred to any church using any curriculum.  I certainly do not think we have perfected the family service, but I think we do a really good job based on what we have.  We have changed things along the way to make it better and we are constantly improving, which is a good sign.

Check back often to make sure you get the full scope of how and why we do what we do.  My hope is that through this series at least one church will be inspired to start a family service or to improve what they are already doing.

I am a huge advocate for the family.  I never get tired of telling people in ministry that their family comes first, right after their relationship with God.  That being said, I want to encourage you and help you as you minister not only to your community, but to your family.

There are many things that you can do to improve the state of your family and to improve your relationship with your family.  One of those things is bragging on them, specifically in the privacy of your own home.

You need to tell your spouse constantly how much you appreciate them.  They need to know that what they do with you and for you is valuable.  We send gifts and cards to our volunteers, but when was the last time you sent your spouse a thank you card through the mail?

The same is true of your children.  My little boy is only a year old, yet I am constantly telling him I am proud of him.  Why?  Because I want him growing knowing that even the littlest things, like eating a carrot or being good in the bath are important to me.  He is my son and I am proud of that fact alone, so whatever else he does only serves to remind me of that fact.

When no one is around and you tell your spouse or your child they have value, they know that you are not just saying it for show.  You mean it for real.  I still get excited when my mom or dad tells me they are proud of me.  And there is no greater sound in the world than to hear those words from my wife.  So, if you don’t already do this, be intentional this week about telling your spouse and/or your children that you are proud of them.  Do it when they least expect it.

Here are the chapters I will be reading this week as part of the Kidmin1124 Bible reading challenge. It seems like no matter how many times I read the Bible, it’s almost always like I’m experiencing it for the first time. It really is such a great book and I’m constantly surprised by the stuff that is in there. Even if you are not following the same plan that I am, I hope you are making time for God’s Word each day.

Monday (January 24, 2011)

  • Genesis 35-37

Tuesday (January 25, 2011)

  • Genesis 38-40

Wednesday (January 26, 2011)

  • Genesis 41-42

Thursday (January 27, 2011)

  • Genesis 43-45

Friday (January 28, 2011)

  • Genesis 46-47

Saturday (January 29, 2011)

  • Genesis 48-50

Sunday (January 30, 2011)

  • Exodus 1-3

A few months ago, I told you about the exciting free e-book called, What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry.  I later wrote my own unofficial entry for the project.  I am excited to tell you that do to the success of the e-book and printed format, What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry now has a video web conference. 

The conference will take place on Thursday, January 27. It is completely FREE and since it’s online there is no travel necessary.  All you need to do is head over to cmwhatmatters.com and register.  It’s FREE.  Then, tune in on January 27 to hear fifteen leaders in children’s ministry answer the question, “What matters right now in children’s ministry?”  According to their website, “You’ll hear from the Lads, David Wakerley, Amy Dolan, Henry Zonio, Rob Reinow, and many more.”

It looks like the videos will potentially be available for viewing after the conference, but I don’t know if there will be a cost for that and I’m not sure if it will only be available for those who have registered prior to the conference.  So, you might as well go ahead and register (it’s FREE, remember).

If you are not absolutely convinced that you need to be a part of this FREE online conference, watch the creator talk about it in the video below.

Did I mention that this conference is FREE?  That’s a pretty big deal.