Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REACH OUT: Quench their Thirst!

John 4:13-24
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It's summer!  A great way to reach out to your neighbors is to buy a bunch of water bottles, put invitations (card or sticker) on them, and walk around on a Saturday passing them out to the neighbors working in their yards.  You might ask them if there's anything they might like you to pray for as well.  Be sure to write down their prayer requests, tell them the congregation will be praying on Sunday and that they're welcome to come visit. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

SERVICE: Let's Hear it for the Boys!

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.


Help for the single gals!!  A great service idea for men is to spend a Saturday helping out single moms or single women in the congregation (or the community, if you dare).

The Car Guys

Have a car wash for single women to come get their car washed by the guys, and have tire pressure and oil checked as well.  If your car needs additional service the guys can also steer you to a trustworthy mechanic.  If you tell a few mechanics you're doing this you may get them to offer a few services to the ladies for free. 

The Home Guys

Single women all have things in their house or yard/garden about which they could use a little help or advice.  Have the ladies sign up and make a list where the guys can set up an appointment to go and either fix the problem or offer some sound advice.  Personally, I would love somebody to help me caulk my bathtub in a way that it doesn't look a mess...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

REACH OUT: The Secret Evangelist

Interestingly, none of the apostles set out to grow the church.  They shared the incredible stories of Jesus and through their lives and actions the Holy Spirit grew the church.  We all know this.  It is not the pastors, youth directors, etc. who grow the church.  It is, indeed, the Holy Spirit working through every single one of us as believers.  The church today provides opportunities to hear and study God's Word and by our lives, we go out and live accordingly, unafraid to speak of what we know as any opportunity arises.  Just look at how Jesus himself did it. 

I have heard many people who say their church isn't growing because...
  1. Their building is old and outdated.  If it doesn't look right we won't entice the younger generation.
  2. We need more programs for people to have fun.  We'll entice them in and then we'll secretly infuse them with the Holy Spirit?
  3. Our church doesn't have a band.  Without contemporary music the church won't grow.
Perhaps your church isn't growing because you're too busy putting God and the power of the Holy Spirit into a small box.  I don't think anybody has left a church saying, "Ya, sure, I would have believed, but the music just wasn't any good and the old pew was uncomfortable."  There is enough entertainment in society.  Give them the truth.  It is easy to share, it is powerful, and it is what they're looking for!  As I read Paul's letters in the New Testament not once did I read anything about adding a new education wing or the future of the church depending on a really cool youth room.  The future of the church is not when the kids grow up.  It is every person right now, this afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow living in and being unafraid to speak of the love of Christ.

Outreach Philosophy in a Nutshell
  1. Change your focus from recruiting to caring.  The great commission is NOT the greatest commandment.
  2. Teach people what to say when somebody wants to know what they believe and why they believe it.  You'd be surprised how many people know but can't verbalize it.  Give them the opportunity to practice answering "why?"
  3. Don't freak out about money.  Showing people Jesus is not a financial endeavor.
  4. Talk more about Jesus and less on the issues in the church.
  5. Stress reading scripture.  If you don't know what the Bible says, how can you talk about it when somebody asks?
  6. Trust that the Holy Spirit will use every seed you plant as you focus less on yourself and live your life showing Jesus to everybody everyday in the smallest ways. 
I believe the story of creation is the beginning of a love story that ends with a beautiful reunion with our creator and savior in paradise and it needs to be shared in word and deed as we live!  You do your job and let the Spirit do his.  It's just that simple...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ACTIVITY: The Reachout Quest

This is an idea to help people feel more comfortable being open about their faith.  It can be done for outreach or just as something fun for kids.  I call the activity THE REACHOUT QUEST.

The idea of the challenge is to have teams of participants find or do things all week (or it can be one long day) before they show up in church to see who completes the quest.  I would make the last thing on the list to bring AT LEAST one person who has never been to church to the final event. 

THE REACHOUT QUEST

Every day for a week (or every hour of a day) text and/or email the things teams need to do or find to complete the quest.  It's one of those things where you'll need to tailor it to your group and/or community, especially if you're doing it with families.  Examples of what needs to be done might be:
  • Visit 3 churches of a different denomination from yours and bring back a piece of literature from them that tells what they believe.  (This may NOT be done online.)
  • Find the locations of all the universities and seminaries in the Concordia University system.
  • Ask 5 friends who don't go to church what they believe about God/Jesus.  (Names and answers required.)
  • Use sidewalk chalk to write a Bible verse in front of 3 PUBLIC buildings.  Take pictures of it.
  • Tell 5 people at a mall what you believe about Jesus.  (You must have video or written proof.)
  • Find out what translation of the Bible we use at our church.  Find 3 other translations.  How is the verse Romans 1:16 translated in each?
  • Find and take pictures of a team member with 5 different Christian symbols in the mall.
  • Take a picture of a team member holding 3 different Bibles in a secular book store.
  • Use the internet to find the name of 5 men who participated in the Reformation.
  • Ask your pastor why he became a pastor.
  • Bring at least one person who has never been to church to the final event.

THE FINAL EVENT

The wrap-up should be about what everybody learned and there should be enough time to allow every team to share.  Make sure your questions are about what the teams learned that they didn't know before, if there is anything that made them curious to know more, how they felt about sharing their faith, how they felt about inviting somebody to church, if there is anything they'd like to know more about, and if they have other ideas.  My big question regarding kids sharing their faith is making sure they can verbalize what they believe.  This could lead into a great Bible study to have the kids answer the question, "If a friend was having a hard time and asked you what you believe about God and Jesus, what would you say?"  After you answer that one their follow up might be, "Why do you believe that?"  Be prepared!


Friday, July 13, 2012

VBS for EVERYONE?

Very large congregations can end up having hundreds of kids from their congregation and the community coming to VBS.  A traditional VBS works well for them though it may end up a virtual Bible carnival.  Unfortunately, that doesn't work for everybody, especially when budgets are low and communities are different. 

Where it may have been to have a special week for the younger set in the congregation for years, perhaps it is time for your congregation to think outside the box.  When you're sitting with your planning committee, ask this... what are the goals of our VBS?  Is it just for the K-6 kids?  Is it to reach out to the community?  Is it a refresher for everyone? 

If one goal is to reach out to the community, one of the pre- activities should be having a community walk to hand out brochures, etc.  Perhaps take some bottled water with customized labels to hand out as invitations.  If one of your goals is to broaden VBS to be a refreshing and enjoyable time for more than just the kids, then it's time to change it up.  VBS can be a refreshing time in the Word for everybody.  VBS for EVERYONE might be done from 6-8 pm Monday through Thursday or may become a weekend event.  An evening schedule might look something like:  

     5:30 pm - Picnic Supper (together)
     6:00 pm - Introduction Prayer and Songs (together)
     6:15 pm - Theme Activity (separate)
     6:45 pm - Adult Bible Study - Kids Bible Talk and Crafts (separate)
     7:30 pm - Closing worship/Devotion and Songs (together)

It is possible for adults and kids to study the same theme and it is possible for adults to relax and have some fun.  For example, when talking about God the Father, adults can begin with a "Who is God? Who am I?" activity that will relax them while kids play the fruit basket upset game with a twist, "Stand up if God likes this..." and "Sit down if you like..."  For every question where every child is standing up it's fruit basket upset and everybody runs around giggling and changes places.

For a more detailed plan of how a VBS like this might work, please contact me.






Thursday, July 12, 2012

CONFIRMATION: Journey of Faith Poster

Invite the congregation to get to know the confirmands by having them complete a poster describing their journey of faith.  I created this one for a friend but you can also design your own.  It's possible to have an 18"x24" poster printed professionally for about $3 online at Short Run Posters.  If you want to download the poster to upload to the site look for it here:  Journey of Faith Poster

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

RALLY SUNDAY: Carnival of Ministries!

On the kickoff Sunday in the fall when many churches begin their education year, make it a day to have a bit of a carnival of ministries.  Take the Sunday School hour to invite EVERYONE to participate in the life of the congregation.  We're all in this together and we need you!

ADULTS
  • have a short (and funny) skit to introduce the board members and the adult leadership so people know who leads what ministry.
  • take a survey of how they would like to participate or what they always wanted to try.
  • introduce seasonal Family Fun Nights (examples might be autumn pumpkin carving, winter cookie swap and snow games, spring bird feeders and campfire cookout, summer backyard water games)
  • introduce Bible study options

KIDS
  • have a puppet show or skit to introduce kids to people they should know at church.
  • give the 3rd graders their very own Bible.
  • introduce the Sunday School theme of the year and have related activities.  For example a possible theme is Bible Investigators, Inc. and activities might be having mug shots taken (photo of kids on a decorated paper plate frame), a short investigation (Bible scavenger hunt), giant puzzle clues that are put together on the wall to unveil a theme verse.

If you have a theme for which you need ideas, let me know.  My brain works really well like that.

Remember that enthusiasm is contagious!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

RALLY SUNDAY: Random Acts of Kindness

The Kindness Tree

Kindness is infectious!!  For Rally Sunday (the beginning of the year education kickoff) introduce a theme verse and a Kindness Tree for the congregation to actively show the love of Christ to people in their lives.  After doing a random act of kindness they give the recipient a card and the recipient can notify the church that they've been gifted with an act of kindness.  Remember that when sharing the many acts of kindness with the congregation that the goal is NOT to give credit to the person being kind, but to God for the ability to share His love.  Watch the outward giving attitude of the congregation change!!

Theme Verse:  1 John 3:18

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

GOAL

In a society that is very "me" focused help the congregation begin focusing outside itself and sharing the love of Christ in the community without receiving credit for it.

DETAILS

Put a tree branch into a large can or bucket and make cards that have ideas people can do as random acts of kindness on the tree as ornaments.  I suggest making the ornaments two colors, one for adults and one for kids.  On the side of the tree have postcards that say something similar to the examples shown.

Front of Recipient Card
Back of Recipient Card
The recipients can contact the church via phone, email, regular mail or dropping the card off, to let them know that somebody from their congregation randomly showed them the love of Christ.  Periodically the number of random acts of kindness that have been performed in the name of Jesus can be announced to the congregation in the bulletin, newsletter, or on a Sunday morning. 
- - - - - - - - - -
Examples of random acts of kindness:

Deliver thank you cards to a local fire station.
Take a few vases of flowers or some homemade art to unknown people in the hospital.
Take homemade art to and visit residents of a nursing home or assisted living complex.
Volunteer to round up clothes to deliver to a local thrift shop.
Create and randomly leave inspirational book marks around the Library.
Leave a simple gift for a server wherever you eat lunch.
Leave a simple gift for the lunch lady at school.
Run errands for shut-ins.
Share 10 sticker smiles with random strangers along with your own beautiful smile.
Volunteer at a hospital or adult care center.
Share music with the members of a nursing home or assisted living complex.
Offer free tutoring or babysitting.
Help a neighbor with yard work.
Offer to pray for someone.
Volunteer to do a job at your church.
Wash the family car without being asked.
Bring enough lunch to share with a friend at work.
Bring an extra snack to school to share with a friend.
Sit with a stranger for lunch at school.
Thank your mail carrier.  (Don’t give homemade food…)
Write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life.
Offer to study with a classmate who’s struggling in a subject.
Visit an animal shelter.
Appreciate your bus driver.
Appreciate your school janitor.
Appreciate your teacher.
Send an “I Love You” card to a grandparent.
Bring lunch to your church work professional.
Give your extra change to the LWML.
Stand up for somebody who deserves it at school.
Clean your room (without being asked).
Anonymously share inspirational quotes/Bible verses with coworkers.
Pick up trash in a public place.
Give the lady who cleans the church a free week off!
Do something nice for your boss.
Come up with your own ideas.  There are THOUSANDS!!

INTRO: Why, Why, Why am I Doing This?

I am a DCE (Director of Christian Education) and have the spirit of a helper.  I like to help.  I like to try things and come up with new things to try.  It's fun in ministry because there's always a new way to show the love of Jesus.  And as a DCE I believe in equipping the lay leaders who work tirelessly for others in the congregation.  Are you stuck?  Need an idea?  Just need some emotional support?

My pastor once told me that the sheer number of ideas that come through my head is astounding.  I appreciated that because it's true.  I have a tendency to have a creative turn of mind, not to mention that I am a teacher and we're always assessing what's working and what isn't and trying new things.  You might say my mind is a wild jungle of "What if we..." brainstorming.

Instead of just thinking all these ideas and driving my pastor crazy I thought I'd share them.  If you try something or a version of something and it works or if you have an idea of your own, please share it so others can benefit.  After all, it's all about Jesus!