Friends

Did you know that if you’re a parent, you can decide who your children are friends with? This plan doesn’t work entirely if you start trying to do this when they are teenagers; but there is some merit to the idea. When your children are little, you are the one that decides who they spend time with and how much time they spend with everyone. Use the opportunity when they’re young to begin doing the little things, and planning for the pre-teen and teenage years.

Screen their friends. It’s simple really. Encourage quality time with those people you want them to be around, and limit the time with those less positive influences. Just don’t become judgemental and separatist in your behavior.

Awareness. Become aware of who they are spending time around and become involved in their social life when the opportunities are there. Regular conversation with the

SchoolBe involved in the social parts of school life. Friendships at school are totally different than church friendships, and can quickly become a loud voice in your kids life.

Be Smart. Specifically in regards to smart phones. A parent who doesn’t know their kid’s FaceBook password is a parent who doesn’t know the company their kids keep.

Make yourself friendly. Make it a goal of yours to become friends with the friends of your kids. Volunteer to drive kids to events, host get-togethers at your house, and do whatever it takes to responsibly become a part of the lives of the kids around your children.

I Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.”

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When I’m talking with potential leaders, I’m usually investigating how much knowledge they have and how they learn. One great question is “What are you reading right now, and what books have impacted you the most?”

I love the responses to this question, and thought I’d answer it myself here. Here is my list of books that have impacted me the most as a family ministry leader. Please add your own impactful books in the comments, doing so might even get you a few books mailed your way...

Think Orange, Reggie Joiner || Honestly, it’s a bit much, because it’s the manifesto on all things family ministry. Lots of things to disagree with and agree with all in the same book. There is also the Orange Leader Handbook, which is much more digestible to go through with a team of leaders.

Lead Small, Reggie Joiner and Tom Schefunus || This is a fantastic book written for leaders that lead kids/students in small groups. I’m real excited about what could come from this little book, because it is stuffed to the brim with ideas for the small group leader. I’ve always got this book available to give away. I take to to lunch when I’m meeting with small group leaders, and have even highlighted sections in advance for people!

Dreaming of More for the Next Generation, Michelle Anthony || I recommend this book to anyone working with kids and students. It’s a great thesis on the “how” of leading kids/students. I love the thoughts on how to teach the Holy Spirit to kids.

Revolutionary ParentingGeorge Barna || A slightly controversial book on what research says about adult Christ-following kids. It’s great if you want to connect parents to what matters. I’ve given this away to parents for years.

Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley || I really believe that as you talk to churches, you are going to find more and more that have been through this book. At least in the interviews I’ve done in the past month, that has proven true.

Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley || Intentional Apprenticing is vital to how we do ministry here at Athens Church. This book is a great guide to take a young person through, or anyone that you see potential leadership

StrengthsFinder 2.0, Tom Rath || This little book is the easiest way to discover what makes you the leader you are, and when used on an entire team will give you a glimpse into how to lead those around you, as well as how to follow your own leader well. I’ve got a stack of these in my office at all times to give to leaders I’m talking to.

Sticky Faith, Kara Powell || A look at the attempt of churches and parents to develop deep, profound, sticky faith in their children. I’m not sure it has all the answers, but it’s impactful nonetheless.

Lead Small Guys

Do you know the hardest volunteer to find? It’s a man willing to work with boys in a small group. It’s the boys groups that are the loudest, craziest, and sometimes, just sometimes, the most destructive. I’m a parent of 4th and 6th grade sons, and I know as well as anyone how difficult it can be to get them to have sincere conversation around spiritual things. And yet, this is the very challenge our men small group leaders are faced with every week.

It’s always my goal to challenge us all to continue to fight the fight for relationship with our kids. Here are a few things I believe could help our men in their attempt to wrangle their small group:
  • Make Introductions. Boys respond well to strong introductions, and being by the door to greet parents and share a fist bump with their son is monumental. It shows parents they can trust you, as well as makes a strong statement of who is in charge of your room. This may mean that you and your co-leader take turns at the door, to make this first impression.

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/guys-that-lead-small/

I am grateful for my husband for many (many) reasons, but even more so as the kids grow and our calendar fills. Our lives are loud and full, but Jonathan is really good about championing simple routines in our lives that help bring some calm.
DINNER: We eat dinner together,  around the table, nearly every night. So many studies show this is a significant factor in strong, healthy families. Grateful that from the time Ryan was a wee little one in an infant bouncer,  Jonathan made it a priority to sit him in that bouncer at the table with us. Dinner time around the table feels like a mini-Sabbath each day.
FAMILY READING TIME: I’m just gonna be honest. This is not something I could ever make happen; and sometimes when Jonathan calls us all in to read together I am internally grumbling about all the other things I could be doing. But about 5 minutes into him reading Prince Caspian outloud as all five of us cram onto our bed to listen,  I’m grateful and humbled. It’s such a sweet time.
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KIDS’ BEDTIME: There are secret handshakes,  the setting of the alarms,  the prayers,  the discussing of the day, the hugs and kisses… But never just a “Goodnight and see ya in the morning” as the kids take themselves upstairs and put themselves to bed. They are walked upstairs and put to bed by their Dad and Mom. There are days when this feels hard,  and I really don’t wanna haul myself off the couch (someone please tell me I’m not the only one that lazy…),  but Jonathan values the time and knows how quickly it’s passing,  and so following his example I get to be a part of that sweet routine each night.
Here’s hoping that the rest of you Mamas in your tired 30′s* are finding times of rest and calm as well!
*I heard this season that we’re living in called “the tired 30′s” in a sermon by Shauna Niequist and was like YEP. My friend Tara recommended I listen to that amazing message, and I’m so glad I did.  You can find it by clicking here and scrolling down to February 16th “Stronger in Marriage”.

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I’ve been attending the Orange Conference since 2008, in roles varying from from breakout speaker to nerdy blogger to an attender. I’ve attended by myself and slept on the hotel couches of my friends. I’ve attended with my entire staff team, and I even made a trip with my boss the year before that. The best of all was probably last year, when I got to hang out with my wife for the first time at the Orange Conference. If you search through this website, you’ll see a plethora of posts about my experiences.

Honestly, I’ve been so much that I’ve transitioned from attempting to drink from the fire hose of information thrown at me, to being more selective with where I get new insight. I’ve been to lunches with new friends, and drank coffee with old friends. I’ve listened to people lament their terrible situations and been encouraged by the amazing stories of others. I’ve heard messages that still echo in my head, and other messages that don’t so much. It has been 7 years of Orange Conference for this Family Ministry Director.

I’ve been there, done that.

This is where many people get stuck. What’s in it for me? Why come to a conference you’ve been to before? Is there something new this year? Are they finally going to have insert favorite communicator name speak this year? Do you want to know what the Orange Conference is for me? It’s a place.

It’s a place filled to the brim with people at all stages of my past experiences, and all stages of what I hope will be my future experiences (both to avoid and gain.)

It’s a place where people ask me questions. Not questions about my day-to-day job, but questions about their own day-to-day experiences.

It’s a place where I can be helpful to a few, and inspired by many more.

It’s a place where I go to center where I am. Connecting with old friends, meeting new friends, and listening to everyone in between.

It’s a place where I go. Would you like to go with me? I’ve got one free conference registration to giveaway. You’ve got to get to Atlanta, and you’ve got to find a place to sleep (not my house), but I can connect one person with a $400+ conference admission.

It’s your opportunity to create a place. A place for you that is unique. A place for you that is safe. A place for you where memories can be made and experiences can begin.

 

I’ve got one free conference registration to giveaway. You’ve got to get to Atlanta, and you’ve got to find a place to sleep (not my house), but I can connect one person with a $400+ conference admission.