As we come to the final days of 2009 I just had to say thanks. Thanks for sacrificing your Sunday worship in order for parents to have undistracted worship time. Thanks for recruiting more workers/teachers than any other person in the church. Thanks for making sure our children are taught about our Savior rather than just taken care of. Thanks for being patient when parents have forgotten to pick up their kids while catching up with friends or the pastor goes long today. Thanks for making sure our kids are always safe, physically and emotionally. The list could go on and on.
Children’s Ministers are too often the unsung heroes of the church. Statistics show most people make their decision to follow Christ at children. This makes you the most important staff member of your church.
So today, as we say goodbye to 2009 know you are loved and appreciated!
PS, If you attend CentriKid thanks for trusting us with your kids. We will never take that lightly.
Are you planning to attend the Children’s Pastors Conference in Nashville this January? If so, our office team would love to connect with you. We’ll meet up for dinner on us (location is TBA, depending on the number of attendees) on Tuesday, January 5 at 6:30pm, somewhere close to the Conference. Join Jeremy, Lance, Andy, Meredith, and other camp friends!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and to get location details.
When 4 little boys appeared at the door to a Romany Bible study gathering one December morning last year in Brno, Czech Republic, God spoke a message of hope.
The boys had met and played American football (or a version as they understood it) with our group of college students the previous two days, so when they showed up to the gym on Sunday morning to find it empty, they set out in search of their new friends. As they walked into the 2-room building serving as the “church”, they were greeted with smiles from both Romany and Americans alike. The boys sat with the rest of us as two of the American guys they had grown to admire shared what Christ was doing in their lives. Afterwards we learned that these Romany boys had never set foot in the building before, meaning these were 4 more lives to which the missionaries were now connected; more open doors for life-change. God was faithful in using a simple game of football to spark relationships that may ultimately connect these boys back to Himself.
The American college students were Fuge and CentriKid camp staffers that had the opportunity to put action to their faith thanks to the money raised by campers and staffers over the past 4 years. Despite being the final year for the formal partnership with the Roma through the IMB, I can’t help but think that of the thousands of hearts exposed to the Roma, this may be a lifelong venture for some. To learn more about the outreach to the Roma, read more stories or get ideas for giving and praying for the Roma year-round check out these sites:
I recently finished a book that I’d been reading very inconsistently for months. I was ready to check it off my “need to finish” list, so I finished it. In The Living Church, John Stott outlines 8 basic characteristics of a relevant, biblical church. The last chapter was about the potential impact we have as Christians, and distinctives of those of us who claim to be Christ-followers.
Stott points out that we must be distinct from the world in the way we live, if we claim to follow Christ. The call, he says is to a greater righteousness (one of the heart), to a wider love (loving not just our friends but also our enemies), and to a nobler ambition (seeking God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, not just the stuff we selfishly want). Only in doing these things will our salt retain its saltiness, and our light its brightness.
Do I really live in this way? I think my default is to hang out with other salts and other lights, and tend to become less distinct. No doubt I need fellow Christ-followers to keep me in check. But, do I daily realize the greater, wider, nobler way of life that I’m called to? Do I live a life so distinct that it will dispel darkness and hinder decay? Something to think about…
This summer, I had the opportunity to train my team to teach Bible study to kids effectively. Throughout training, we talked about a lot of these “taboo words” and how to make the concepts behind them concrete for kids. Our goal was to present the Gospel in a way that every child could grasp and internalize in such a way that they could repeat it to their friends weeks, months, or even years later.
After a full day of the normal camp chaos, I asked a few of my leaders how Bible study had gone that morning. One replied, “I really felt like my kids were getting what salvation was all about. They were asking questions and no one interrupted and asked how long they had to wait until it was lunchtime today!” I was excited to hear about kids glimpsing a sight of what Christ had done on the cross for them.
A few seconds later, her last statement was followed by a dramatic pause and a “…but…” She then proceeded to tell me about a little boy named Cody who asked if he could ask her a question as they walked from Bible study to rec. She was happy to answer his questions, and prayed over the conversation as she asked him what his question was.
“Coach, you know how you said I have to walk with God? Didn’t you say we have to try to walk with Him everyday of our lives?”
“Yes, I did say that. We want to be obedient to Him, and we can know what He wants us to do if we walk with Him everyday,” she answered.
“Well, will I ever get a chance to sit down? If I walk my whole life I’m going to get really tired! I’m not sure I’ll make it!”
“When we become a Christian, we want to walk with God everyday.”
“Your life will now be a constant marathon of mammoth proportions. You will walk and walk and walk some more. Good luck. I hope your athleticism measures up to the eternity that you will be in perpetual motion.”
My friend answered his question with a smile. She told Cody that “walking with God” meant always living in a way that would make God smile. She talked about what Jesus had done, and that He paid for our sins. We were bought, and when we become Christians we want to live to show others that we belong to God. She told him how important reading the Bible and praying is, because that’s how we know what it is that God wants us to do. We want to always have a special relationship with God.
Cody got it. He later asked Jesus to be in control of His life that week and told his leader that if God asked him to walk forever for Him, he’d do it.
Tell us about a time when a kid in your ministry “got it.”
Over the last year, we’ve continually heard how incredibly difficult it can be to recruit volunteers to come to camp each summer as adult sponsors. We recognize that this is a real need of our churches, and in order to help meet that need, we are implementing a brand new option.
The Team Assistant Program will allow each church group to bring their best high school juniors and seniors, or even young college students, to be adult sponsors for their week of CentriKid. These students will count towards the standard 1 to 5 adult to kid ratio, and will be housed with your group like all the other adults you bring. But, as an added bonus, they’ll get to work alongside the CentriKid staff helping out with recreation, track times, and Bible study — giving them a behind-the-scenes look at serving as a CentriKid camp staffer. We hope you’ll take advantage of this great offer coming to CentriKid this summer!
1. Each church can bring a maximum of 2 students.
2. Churches should include team assistants in their normal registration numbers for camp. Churches do not have to identify their team assistants at the time they register.
3. There is no additional cost to the program, however team assistants will pay the standard camp participant price.
4. Churches will identify any Team Assistants on their participant form, submitted 2 weeks prior to camp.
5. Any additional information you need will be covered in a phone call from the Camp Director or Assistant Director prior to arrival at camp.
6. A schedule for Team Assistants can be found in the Group Leader information that will be made available on our website beginning in January.
My first summer as a CentriKid staffer was great. I was a little nervous, of course, but the first week I had a great group of 3rd and 4th graders who I absolutely loved. I was so excited because one kid, Tyler, was very eager to understand how to become a Christian. I wanted to present the Gospel with perfect clarity, especially for Tyler. Wednesday during Bible study, I explained the cross and our need to be forgiven.
Tyler asked me, “How do I become a Christian?” I thought I had the perfect kid-friendly answer, “You ask Jesus into your heart.” There was a long pause and an incredibly puzzled look on Tyler’s face that slowly turned into horror. “Coach Mary, how bad is it going to hurt to get him in there?”
I was speaking in abstract terms to a concrete thinker. Kids begin to understand abstract thoughts around 12, but most don’t fully grasp them until much later. I needed to speak in ideas that he could relate to or hold in his hands.
“You ask Jesus into your heart.”
“This requires a surgical procedure to put a little heart-sized Jesus into the really important organ in my chest that keeps me alive.”
I explained to Tyler that we all do lots of things that don’t make God happy, and we have to be sorry for those. I also told him about what Jesus did on the cross for him, and that Christ was punished for those bad things Tyler (and all of us) did. I also explained that he’d have to want God to be in control of His life. I asked him what he thought salvation was and asked him to explain what he knew about Jesus. Tyler wasn’t quite ready to “ask Jesus into his heart,” but he definitely was learning a lot about exactly what it meant.
I may not have twenty-some years of experience, but I certainly have had my share of triumphs and downfalls talking with kids about salvation. I’m so glad that salvation doesn’t depend on us! I can be a total failure at the English language at times, yet God is so good to sort out my words and work in lives despite my miscommunication. Watch for more taboo words like “asking Jesus into your heart.” We will create quite a list.
Have you ever had a time when you felt like a failure in communicating to the kids in your church?
This story was submitted by Madeline, a CentriKid camp staffer.
Sometimes I think camp staff learn more than the kids do. I had one of those weeks at Mississippi College in 2008. A little boy named James Christopher Alums was in my Bible study group. Five years earlier he was diagnosed with a disease called Fanconi Anemia, which attacks your bone marrow. Coming to camp was a major deal because if he got cut, he could bleed to death. His immune system was also very weak and being exposed to germs in a huge crowd was a risk, too. Without a bone marrow transplant, he wasn’t expected to live past 2007.
Having James Christopher in my bible study was very intimidating in the beginning, but I can assure you that Fanconi Anemia did not slow him down. This little boy played hard and had more faith than most people I know. Both of his parents and all his siblings came to camp, and I was blessed by the opportunity to speak with his mother during lunch one day. This family has incredible faith in the Lord’s power to heal James Christopher. They also look at his disease as a way to talk about their faith and share the Gospel.
Since that summer, I’ve been able to keep in touch with the family via James Christopher’s website. Though there have been scary moments, God has always been in control. It is truly a miracle that he is alive today, and this family is constantly praising the Lord for His provision. Through his story, I have witnessed the power of a family who’s center is Christ. I have also witnessed the power of faith. Every day with their son is a blessing from the Lord, and every moment of life is savored.
Have you been challenged by the faith of a child? Share a story with us in the comments.
So, I’ve realized lately that I have a secret (well, not anymore now!) desire to have gone to Jewish school when I was a child. And if indeed I am able to somehow go back in time and fulfill this desire, why not make myself class president while I’m at it!?
I’m sure part of the reason Jewish school never made it onto my life’s resume was mainly due to the fact that…well, I’m not Jewish!
My desire is not fueled by anyunderlying wishes to restrict my meat intake, wear a yamaka, celebrate three timesas many religious holidays or even spin a dreidel I made out of clay…as tempting as that sounds. Rather, it comes from wanting to learn the traditions that form the foundation to my own faith.
One such tradition I may have learned earlier would be that of coming of age in the Jewish faith. In Old Testament days, young boys studied the Torah and the Hebrew language among other things until their early teen years. At this point, if a rabbi found them worthy of learning and spreading or carrying their yoke (fancy word for teachings), the rabbi would invite the young boys to follow him. Otherwise, the boys who were passed over by the rabbis would be expected to take up the family trade (e.g. fishing, tent making, farming, etc). This magnifies the scenario when Christ calls his first disciples. They are each in different trades, which tells me they have probably already been overlooked and seemingly deemed unworthy. Here in 2 words Christ redefines their lives when he proclaims, “follow me”. Wow, what an opportunity!! They’ve been invited to carry someone’s yoke which, I imagine, in Jewish tradition rarely if ever was declined. Apart from this information, it may seem Christ was being bossy (by all means he has the right to be) or demanding, but in reality he was extremely gracious. Thousands of years later, Christ beckons us with that same invitation. He entrusts us with the responsibility of spreading his message of grace and salvation.
Perhaps we, as Christians, should all go to “Jewish school” and dig to uncover the culture on which our beliefs are founded. After all, I’m gonna need a Vice Presidentwhen I turn back time! Enroll today!