This summer I was blessed with the opportunity to be a CentriKid staffer. This was something that I had dreamed of ever since I attended CentriKid as a 5th and 6th grader. When I accepted the position, I knew that it was going to be a whirlwind of a summer full of crazy schedules, crazy cool kiddos, and serving a crazy awesome God, but little did I know that it was going to be a summer full of intense learning.
3 of the biggest things I learned this summer were:
How important relying on the Holy Spirit is.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” This summer the Lord taught me how to live in this verse. Instead of worrying and being anxious about Track Times or sharing the gospel or Recreation, I just needed to trust, rely, and think about HIM. At CentriKid, we root everything in scripture, because without Jesus this is all for nothing.
The importance of a testimony.
A testimony carries extreme power. I was able to witness the power of testimonies this summer when a child would open-up to an Adult Leader and a staffer because they heard a testimony of someone going through the same thing they were going through. Seeing the look of defeat on a struggling child turn into a look of hope is a sight that cannot be forgotten.
The importance of community.
Romans 12:4-5 (HCSB) says, “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” If we know anything about the human anatomy, it is that if someone took out our heart, we would not be able to function. The heart brings something to the body that is of vital importance. In the same way, without other believers in our lives, we suffer in our own personal walks with Christ. This summer I made 25 of the greatest friends I will ever have: my fellow CentriKid staffers. They prayed with me when I was tired and weary, they spoke scripture into my life when I felt unworthy, and they encouraged me when I was feeling unfit. I was better able to minister to the children because I knew all 25 of their personal stories and could connect a struggling child with a staffer going through the same situation. Community is something that I used to think was unnecessary, but now I have learned that it is something that no believer should ever do without.
I loved being a CentriKid staffer, and you should apply to join me! CentriKid staffers are young adults with a passion for hanging out with kids and sharing Christ through everything they do. Find out more here!
About the Guest Blogger:
Lukas Comer is a CentriKid staffer! He’s studying Interdisciplinary Studies K-5th at Middle Tennessee State University. Lukas is currently the children’s ministry intern at Parkway Baptist Church in Smyrna, TN. He also wants to be a kids minister “when he grows up!” We’re thankful to have awesome staffers who love kids and love the Lord like Lukas serving with CentriKid Camps.
Leading your team, whether it be three people or 300 hundred people, is huge. As Christian leaders, we want to serve Christ faithfully and steward the opportunities He has given us well, but how do we do this best?
I’ve learned (and am still learning) that one of the primary ways to lead your team spiritually is through prayer.
Looking at the life of Jesus, consider just a few of the times we see Christ pray to the Father. We see Jesus praying in the solitude of the wilderness (Luke 4 and 5), praying for guidance and help in the garden (Matthew 26), and praying for His disciples as He knows His time is soon drawing to an end (John 17) .
We serve a Father who is faithful to listen to His children. Scripture shows us this —
1 John 5:14 says, “Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (HCSB)
As we step out in leading others, may we remember our God who never fails and may we, in humility and with boldness, go to our Father in prayer. In leading your team spiritually consider these ways to pray:
PRAY FOR THEM. Before the throne, with genuine devotion, intercede on your team’s behalf. We have a Father who listens to the prayers of His children. Knowing this, create a routine to continually pray with your particular team in mind. No matter the circumstance, you can always remember your tribe in a loving, Christ-honoring way when you go to the Lord.
PRAY WITH THEM. It’s important to be a leader who prays with your team. Your team should be comfortable to pray with you and quick to come to you with their needs. Be mindful to create an atmosphere where authentic prayer is paramount.
PRAY OVER THEM. As the shepherd of your flock — be it an entire congregation or a volunteer group of four — you should regularly pray over them. This means to visibly, boldly, honestly pray over them, standing at their sides. Lead your team in group prayer and ask that the Lord would guide you all to walk together in faithful obedience to Him.
PRAY FOR YOURSELF. Remember that before you can lead anyone else spiritually, you must first be in a place of pursuing Christ. This does not mean you have to be perfect. As a spiritual leader, you do not need to appear as one who has “arrived”, as if you’re pulling others to meet you at your destination, but you have to simply be walking toward a life that looks more like Jesus.
“May you look more like Christ when you lay down tonight than you did when you got up this morning.”
Leading a team spiritually is an important task, but it is not a complex one. Rest in knowing that leading others spiritually is a gift – a simple and genuine gift. Your care and devotion to this gift in which you’ve been entrusted will reap great reward when you humbly and wholly present it before the Father.
We stand at the base of our mountains and stare up at the daunting climb. We can feel the breath-taking vastness of the summit and taste the crisp air of the peak if we close our eyes just long enough. But sometimes doubts and fears creep in when we consider the long journey ahead. No matter what mountain we are given, the climb is a difficult one if we choose to walk it alone. Fellow traveler, let me urge you, do not walk alone.
In leadership it can feel like you walk many nights by yourself, but to lead, and lead well, always involves community. Life is not meant to be lived unaccompanied. We know this in our head but we do not always hold this in our heart. Serving in leadership, whether you’re called the “teacher”, the “minister”, the “volunteer” or the “pastor” can often feel like you’re standing by yourself. When your hands are empty after begging for volunteers, when your emails receive no reply, when your prayers seem to be returning void…it can feel like you’re alone.
Brothers and sisters, let me urge you, feel not alone; be not alone. Be comforted that Christ never leaves you and be then compelled to find close, tangible, encouraging community around you. God’s word shows us this. Think of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 which says, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”
In my summers with CentriKid, I’ve come to know the great value of community. The sense of belonging and purpose that comes with being on a camp team is unmatched, but that can leave one feeling out of sorts when the camp season expires. In reflection on my time as a camp director, I can see times where my leadership was grown and my capabilities were tested. The community that surrounded me always made the difference. Thinking on this and looking at my life in the day-to-day, here is what I’ve found for practical leadership tips in this journey:
Inside your church
You need a flock of similar experience and beliefs who can understand your needs, desires, and utmost prayers.
Outside your church
You need folks of similar environment who can understand daily struggles and lend a simple, caring hand in the everyday.
You need the few who can sit beside you when there is no understanding to be found. There needs to be unquestioned reliability, vulnerability, and trust here.
Reach out to find men and women in these areas of your life to be your people. Community is built upon the common ground of trust. Rest in and trust that your sojourners will support you no matter the valley or the peak. The people you find at your side have faced their own mountains and have much to teach you as you journey together. As “the leader” you don’t need to shoulder the weight of your mountain climb alone. Remember that even our Lord didn’t walk solo. You need to rely on and rest in the comfort of community.
Remember that the Father marked your path, the Spirit walks with you, and the Savior has already conquered this mountain. Walk in community with those who remind you of this. They will be Jesus to you in the valleys.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you won’t get to experience the program you’ve put all your hard work into to make happen. You constantly feel like you need to have a clipboard in your hands, checking off the daily schedule as things happen. Do you want to hear some good news? It doesn’t have to be that way!
Sometimes being in charge of things doesn’t make it easy to be involved. I’ve been an Assistant Director for two years with CentriKid, and as we all know, a lot of detail work goes into making camp happen.
Camp is something I do, because I enjoy being a part of the daily camp programming with campers and adults. Part of being in a leadership role means planning.. Planning meal times, planning pool rotations, planning travel details, but also planning “free time”. My ideal free time means going out to the Recreation Field and playing Mosquito Tag with the campers! One of my other favorite things is taking the time to go sit down with our Adult Sponsors and talk to them about their lives – these people love their campers so much, and it is so refreshing to hear their hearts. Taking even just a little bit of time talking to kids shows that you care. It builds relationships with them and creates an environment that makes it easy to invest in the lives of the kids!
Kids can sometimes think that their leaders at church are like teachers, but we never want them to feel like they are in a classroom setting. That is why we want to be involved with the kids so they know we like to have fun too!
Take an hour or two. Step away from the clipboards and computers, and just HAVE FUN! The coolest part of being in a leadership role is seeing the fruits of your labor. You get to see your kids learning about God AND having the time of their lives all at once. What could be better than that?!
I love Christmas. I love the smell. I love buying gifts for people. I love to decorate. I love to wrap presents. I love to surprise neighbors with small gifts. I love the lights. I love that December is the perfect time to celebrate and I love what we celebrate. December comes with lots to do, a busier than normal schedule, and sometimes some stress. How do we make sure we create special moments for our kids and teach them what we are celebrating? Here are a few practical ideas to make memories in your family or ministry this Christmas and to help kids celebrate the season:
Read. Wrap a book for your kids to open each day. Use this as a time to share a moment with them while they learn about the birth our Savior.
Pick one night a week. Protect this time and use it to do something together. Make a craft, go look at lights while listening to Christmas music, drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie. Do something on this night that is unique to the season. Encourage families in your ministry to do this by sending them home with something to talk about or an activity to do related to what they learned on Sunday.
December Daily. Make a book and let your kids document something fun they did everyday in December. It’s not too late! These have become a tradition in our family. I make one every year and each December we pull them out and look at the last few years. This is a fun way to remember fun things you did and of course see the growth and change from one year to the next.
Read the Christmas story from the Bible. This one seems obvious but I think sometimes we over look it. No matter the age of your children or the children you are ministering to, they need to hear it. Read it, sing about it, act it out, and tell it as you move characters around in your nativity scenes. This is the reason we celebrate and can be a seed planted in your child’s heart that can lead to other conversations throughout the year.
Pass it on. Give hope to someone. As a family or as a Sunday school class, let your kids brainstorm something they could do for someone else. Let them come up with the idea and talk about why we should show kindness and serve others.
Don’t let the busyness of this season steal your joy and the opportunity to make it special for your own kids or the kids in your ministry. Pray now that this holiday season will have deeper meaning for your ministry. We at CentriKid pray that this holiday season will create times for intentional conversation, opportunities to serve others, and some special memories for your families and ministries.
About the Guest Blogger:
Emily Echols lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she coaches high school softball and teaches private softball lessons with young girls. Originally from Texas, she has been involved with education and coaching for over 10 years. Emily loves being a mommy to Madison (4 years old) and wife to CentriKid team leader, Jeremy (their 14 year anniversary is tomorrow!).
In my first summer as a Camp Director, I learned more about leading well than I thought possible. The Lord walked beside me through new challenges, before me as I faced unforeseen obstacles, and with me as I navigated the sometimes murky waters of leadership. In this journey I was not alone, as I was blessed to serve alongside 29 of the most servant-hearted, hard-working, like-minded followers of Jesus that I’ve ever known. The Lord taught me much and continues to teach me from my 2015 camp experience. Let me share with you two lessons in leadership that I took away from my third summer with CentriKid Camps, and first summer as a camp director.
Trust the Uncomfortable
Be vulnerable. Have tough conversations. Embrace sacrifice.
No, these things aren’t easy, but they are absolutely necessary as you seek to lead a group in Christ. As a leader, don’t be afraid to open up. Look past the lure to avoid the problem and see the worth in wading through messy circumstances with someone in the hope of a better end. Surrender your ease to lighten the burden of someone beside you.
Being responsible for a group of 29 staffers along with 300-900 campers weekly is quite the challenge. I learned quickly to plunge into the trenches. Choosing to get messy and invest, no matter the cost, always brings forth the richer reward.
Honor your team
Romans 12:10 says, “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
I was lucky enough to not just lead a bunch of college kids who were labeled as a “camp team,” but to serve brothers and sisters in Christ who became my family.
We did not just “love on” one another, we loved one another. A way that I did this as a leader was making my best effort to never take credit for something that I didn’t directly do. I learned that as a servant-leader you should always be quick to give recognition and credit where credit was due. Keeping the mindset that Paul spoke of in “out-doing one another in showing honor” was a driving theme throughout the summer.
I value each lesson I learned throughout the summer and hold them dearly. Leadership, at camp and in life, is a life-long journey that I am happy to walk. In this pursuit, I hope to always walk in step closer to Christ.
About the Guest Blogger:
Meg Brown has worked CentriKid since 2013, and has served as a Bible Study Leader and Assistant Director, and most recently as Camp Director at Lee University, Austin College, Lousiana College, and Shocco Springs. She’s a senior at Campbellsville University where she studies Educational Ministry and Public Relations.
Over my first summer as Camp Director, I traveled over 6000 miles, met hundreds of new friends, ate fast food way too many times, and learned several key leadership lessons along the way. One of the best things about working CentriKid is getting to work with about 20 fellow staffers. The Christian fellowship we enjoy is uncomparable, and I have incredibly fond memories of times spent with these friends over my 4 years of working camp. This summer, beyond the incredible time spent with my teammates, I learned the value of two leadership tools: investment and preparation.
Now, I’m not talking stocks and mutual funds here… I mean investing in those who you are leading. Investment goes a long way. It shows you care and allows you to build a better relationship with your team, which improves how you get tasks done together. This action can be a game changer in your ministry. Individuals love to feel valued and poured into especially from those who are leading them.
Investment begins with knowing those you are leading. Knowing about their day-to-day lives (where they went to school and where they work), what hobbies and interests they have, and about their family is vital. Once you begin knowing them, you may start to dig deeper to a more personal investment through providing helpful tips and guidance. Beyond this, spiritual investment may begin as well. Encourage them to spend time in God’s Word and in their walk with the Lord, in general.
Preparation is a key leadership tool in all things. Time spent in preparation is always worth it. Taking the time to prepare allows you a few benefits:
Take the time to prepare for events, conversations, etc. that you have planned or foresee occurring in your ministry. Mentally walk through everything that will be taking place and however works best for you, prepare for it. For me, that involves typing up plans and a breakdown of the order and flow of things. For you, that might just be providing yourself with outlines or simply thinking about what needs to be done. Different events and people will lend themselves to different preparation, but whatever it looks like for you, it is important to prepare ahead of time. These skills I learned are incredibly important in leadership, and it is always good to raise our skills in these areas as we go and grow as leaders.
About the Blogger:
Vincent Thomas is the newest member of the CentriKid office team! Originally from Georgia, Vincent has served as a team leader, recreation leader, and most recently, Camp Director of CK8 this past summer! In the office, Vincent oversees all things recreation and tracks times. We love having Vincent as part of the office team, and are excited about God is going to use him to make CentriKid even better!
We all share a need for rest. Rest is important to physical health and wellbeing, but it is also quite essential to spiritual health. In fact, the theme of rest is prevalent throughout Scripture.
Even from the beginning pages of God’s word, the importance and need for rest is clear. The very structure of the creation narrative helps highlight this significance. On days 1–3, God creates a different realm or domain of creation, and on days 4–6, He creates the solar objects and living beings to fill and live in those realms, respectively.
Day 1: Day and night ————- Day 4: Sun, moon, and stars
Day 2: Water and sky ———— Day 5: Fish, sea creatures, and birds
Day 3: Land and vegetation —– Day 6: Land animals, creatures, and humans
Structurally, all these days pair together, leaving day 7—the day when God rested—as the emphasis of the text. In this special moment at the beginning of time, all of God’s good creation lay before His presence in a state of rest.
Sadly, because of sin, the perfect rest Adam and Eve enjoyed with God in the garden was destroyed. The good new, though, is that Jesus offers the opportunity to enjoy that rest once again.
Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
As you continue on your spiritual journey, be sure to take time to rest physically, but also find opportunities to enjoy spiritual rest. Sit in His good, sweet presence, and praise Him for the opportunity to be known as a son or daughter of God.
Looking for an opportunity to retreat? We design KMC to be transformational experience with great worship, inspirational messages, practical workshops, lots of laughter, and a ton of fun! You are sure to leave refreshed and refueled. Join us at Music City Center in Nashville, TN, October 19–21.
The new school year has started and you are already taking your kids 100 different directions making it hard to remember the lessons that they learned this summer. How can you help your kids remember to be a disciple of Christ when they can’t even remember their lunch? I have been hugely blessed to grow up in a Christian home, so here are a few ways that my parents reminded me and my sisters how to be disciples of Christ. Try applying some of these to your family’s life as you grow in your faith.
1. A Disciple Encounters God Through His Word
My 8th grade sister’s favorite part of the day is lunch because she gets to talk to her friends and also see if mom packed her any surprises! At camp, we learned that a disciple encounters God through His word and that we are supposed to ingest it like food. Every once in a while slip a surprise snack into the lunch bag and write on a simple verse and note on a napkin that your child can read and be encouraged. On the ride home, talk to your child about how they used that verse during the day or how they were able to share it. Make this into a fun game and you will be surprised how fast your kids look forward to getting a Bible verse in their lunch box.
2. A Disciple Embraces God Through Prayer
Getting to school can sometimes be a hectic production of grabbing homework, packing lunches, and being sure all the kids are in the car. Once you are in the car, take time to say a prayer before dropping them off. The peace that comes from praying before you open the doors and start another crazy day will create a firm foundation for your kids. I still remember my dad praying for my oldest sister and I before we jumped out of the car for school and knowing that God was there with me no matter what happened that day.
3. A Disciple Engages with God Through Giving
As the kids go back to school, be sure that you are staying plugged into your church. We talked about how a disciple can give both their time and talents to Christ. Show your child that Christ is a priority in your life by being at church. You are the example that your kids will follow and when they see you giving your time to God, they will follow.
4. A Disciple Engages with God Through a Christian Community
Friends are a huge part of school and your children’s lives! Be intentional with those friends and their families. The friends your kids have will shape them and it is important that you invest in their friends.Creating a community of families that would hang out together has been a huge part of my walk with Christ. Having that group of Christian men that I could look up to and the support of so many people has encouraged me to grow as a disciple of Christ.
Parents, you are the number one example that your kids will be following. Starting school can be just as daunting a task for you as it is for them. Be sure to take some time to invest in your kids and their spiritual growth as you both grow as disciples of Christ.