Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where are you leading them?

Are you good at following directions or do you, like I, think you know how to get where you are going? I have a pretty good internal compass so I usually don't get lost. If I've been somewhere before, I can get back there. But going to someplace new is a little different. Now, thanks to Garmen, I can get wherever I need to go.

If you are a parent or volunteer, you function sort of like a Garmen to the kids in your life. You are giving them directions for living in situations where they have never been. Every day for them is a new learning experience and your influence, by example and instruction, will guide them. You can shape the direction of their development by your actions and your words.

I'll bet if you think back over your childhood you can recall someone who was a guiding influence in your life, someone who pointed you in a certain direction that had long-term implications. Now you have become that person. You are the one giving direction, even when you aren't aware that you are. You are an influencer. You are a world changer. You are a guiding force in the lives of kids- so let's do good job of it.

Now here's the question- if kids follow your directions for life, where will they end up?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's working!

This morning I was talking with a dad whose kids had recently invited some neighborhood friends to come to church with them. He told me how excited these new kids were about coming back to church because they had so much fun. They had even taken some of their BayBucks to school with them and were showing them off to other kids.

I share that story to encourage all of you who volunteer with BayKids. It's working! All your time and energy is making a difference in the lives of these kids. Imagine how cool it must be for them to grow up with such a positive experience from inviting somebody to come to church. When they become adults it will be the most natural thing in the world for them to invite people and become a difference maker.

You guys are literally changing the world by shaping the future for these kids and pointing them in the right direction. Every weekend you are adding another stone to the foundation of their lives and solidifying the basis of their world view. Make it count. Give them all you've got and let's watch as God changes our community one kid at a time!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

If you've ever watched the TV show, you know there are some pretty smart 5th graders out there. AND, you may also have concluded that you are not as smart as you thought you were! I'll confess that I don't always know the facts as well as those kids do but it does challenge me to step it up when it comes to ministry to kids.

I want children's ministry to push kids to think about how to connect God into their lives. I want to challenge them to think big about God and to see Him as a normal part of life, a personal friend without whom they could not function. A lot of the facts they memorize in school (remember all the dates you had to learn?!) are necessary for a well-rounded education but they don't necessarily translate into life application. Similarly, knowing a ton of Bible trivia might help a kid in a quiz format but unless he or she KNOWS God personally, they will find those facts to be of little help when they need spiritual direction. I want them to know God, not just know about Him.

It's the difference between knowing about prayer and knowing how to pray. I know about flying but you wouldn't want me in the pilot's seat because I don't know how to fly a plane. Whether you are a parent or a BayKids volunteer, let's be sure we know what we're teaching because we practice it ourselves and let's push kids to experience God at their level and learn to know Him for themselves.

Friday, June 6, 2008

BackPack Bonanza

You can be a “Difference Maker” for some urban kids in Tampa by providing them with a backpack full of school supplies through one of our church plants.

* Get their education off to a good start next year.

* Help a local church share God’s love.

Purchase these items and bring the loaded backpack to CATB any weekend in July.

1. Backpack (none with wheels)

2. 2 pkgs. of notebook paper (wide ruled)

3. 2 boxes of tissues

4. 2 8 oz. bottles of hand sanitizer

5. 2 pkgs. of standard number 2 pencils

6. 1 box of crayon (24 count) or colored pencils

7. 1canister of wet wipes

1 rain poncho (optional)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Do Kids Really Matter?

I often tell our volunteers that they are "Difference Makers." It is actually a slogan for CATB. The reason I say it so much is because it is true, but also because it hits one of the basic drives we all have- the need to feel significant. Volunteers need to feel that their contribution is valuable. And all of us need to know that we matter to God.

In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow formulated a heirarchy of basic human needs. In his book, "Effective Parenting in a Defective World," Chip Ingram reminds us that "the most important thing you can do to help your children reach their potential is to meet their two primary emotional needs: significance and security. In other words, your kids need to know that they matter, and they need to know that they're safe."

As we work with kids, whether as parents or CATB volunteers, we can make a difference in their development by treating them with the significance they deserve. Why is that so important? Because, as Maslow theorized, until that need is met, a person will struggle to find that significance and they might find it in places that are not helpful to them. I know a lot of adults who are still looking for that answer and their behaviors reflect that unmet need.

So you can really make a difference by treating a child as if they mattered, to God and to you. Call them by name. Get down at eye level and talk with them. Listen to what they say and give them personal attention. You'll be amazed at how kids gravitate to you when you act like they are important. And here's another reason- if they don't think they matter to you, what are the chances that they will believe they matter to a God they can't even see?!