You are not called to do it all!

Watch for the very profound, simple little verse in the middle of 1 Corinthians 12:14-31.
I’ve repeated it in several translations so you’ll get the bigger picture.

14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

19 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. (Message)

19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! (NLT)

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

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When you take on more than what God has designed you to accomplish, you create a lopsided ugly monster that is apart from the body of Christ. You need to prayerfully consider, what part of the body, what gifts he has given to you, and become grounded in that knowledge. It is impossible for an ear to see, and a nose to walk, so take comfort in knowing that if others in the body of Christ are not contributing their part, God does not expect you to morph into the entire body, he didn’t design it that way, he doesn’t want you to do it all.

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Living in the Land of Good Intentions

Broken piles of bricksGood intentions are just that, good intentions. While the intent behind them may be good, they have the ability to do an amazing amount of damage to your character if you’re not careful with them.

Take a look at Luke 14:28-30

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, `There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

When we verbalize our good intentions to others but don’t follow through, we make a mockery of ourselves. We lose face, we lose favor, we lose trust.

It doesn’t matter if your good intention is taking someone to coffee, or launching a bold new campaign, before you verbalize it, you need to commit to it. Plan it out, calendar it in, gather support, protect it at all costs and stick with it til the end.

If you can’t commit to it, can’t follow through with it, then don’t communicate it.

“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away.” – Luke 34-35

Salinas Mission Trip – Monday

Monday we got up and met everyone for Breakfast at Denny’s at 9am. Pastor Shankula shared a really good devotional that reminded us that we don’t need much in order to share Jesus with others. We don’t need money, we don’t need fancy technology, we don’t even need to be a great speaker.

He shared a few passages that reminded us as long as we are present, have our testimony, obey his prompting, and allow his spirit to work through us, we have enough.

When we got to the church in Watsonville it was great reunion to see the Peña family and Alma again. After lot’s of hugs and smiles we all got to work setting up for the day.

3:30pm rolled around and the only kids we had were the Pastor’s. So we decided to wait a little while and by 4:15, twenty-three kiddo’s had arrived.

Our first day’s lessons got off to a rough start. We hadn’t planned to have a translator but added one at the last minute and that takes some getting used to, so it threw the flow of the lesson off a bit. Still, two girls had accepted Christ before the end of the program that day. What an exclamation mark to the message Pastor Shankula had delivered in the morning.

On a personal note, the craft I had agonized over, went really well. We had the kids decorate pillow cases with fabric paint brushed onto large sea shaped stamps. The kids got super creative and they all turned out really cute.

My favorite part of this trip is watching the older boys come and participate. There are six of them between the ages of 14 and 22. They are wearing name tags, listening to the lessons, playing games and yes, working on the crafts. The oldest told one of our team, he doesn’t believe in God. So Luis and Ben chatted with him a while and explained the gospel and who God is. We could tell that he still left uncertain, but curious.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring??

Salinas Mission Trip

This week my family and I are off on a mission trip to Salinas, California to work with local churches who serve many of the migrant workers in the area. Our team will split into three groups and will help host a Vacation Bible School at three local churches serving Salinas, Watsonville, and Hollister.

We left our house this morning at 5:45am. Met the rest of the team at Shadow and got on the road at 7:30am. Robert drove a van full of women, and Hector. And I followed with our boys in the Toyota Tacoma. I think we stopped for potty breaks and stretching at least 5 times.

I have to say, I’m glad we’re finally here, in the hotel, where I can put my feet up and relax a little. All day Saturday, I kept thinking I must be crazy. I just finished Summer Blast and and have put in 60+ hours for the last 3 weeks and now, my first day off, I’m busy packing for a mission trip that leaves tomorrow? What was I thinking when I said yes? Not only did I need to pack myself, but I organized 3 face painting kits and finished getting the rest of the craft supplies ready and samples made.

Today’s drive was tough. I didn’t sleep much last night, and kept getting drowsy, but I pushed through and got here safe and sound.

Tomorrow, I get to leave the hustle and bustle of my everyday life behind and jump into the world of Pastor Fillipe and his congregation. They are loving, relaxed and grateful people. I’ll get work with a small group of 30-50 kids, teaching them crafts and sharing God’s word. It will do my soul good.

A Nervous Choreographer

I feel like one of the choreographers on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

As the Designer of Children’s Outreach and Special Events I just finished the week spearheading our largest outreach event of year. This past week we hosted 1300 kids on campus and 450 volunteers for our annual Summer Blast (VBS) week of fun.

It was an amazing week, but like any event had it’s ups and downs, some brilliant moments and yes, many glitches.

I just finished sending an e-mail to all the parents and all the volunteers asking for their feedback. What they liked, disliked, their ideas and suggestions. It’s almost like getting voted on. Do you love it, or do you not.

Crazy thing is, I really want to know what they think. I want the specifics. I can only improve our event when I have an opportunity to see it through other’s peoples eyes and experiences.

I’m sure some of the feedback will bring much joy, and some much frustration, but each piece is important and I’m ready for honesty.

Bring it all on, I’m ready to hit the ground running for next year.

One Topic

Two weeks ago, I planned to send out an e-mail to our volunteers and families seeking extra help for our Easter services. But, by the time I left our staff meeting the list of information to include in the e-mail had grown to include all of this:

  • Children’s Easter Programs
  • Serving Opportunities for the Easter Programs
  • AWANA Grand Prix – Get your cars now!
  • Indian Hills Summer Camp – Watch for registration soon!
  • Summer Blast (VBS) – Mark you calendar for this fun week!

I included graphics for each area, bulleted all the right items, put the headers in bold and made it very readable considering all the info that it contained. As pretty as I made it, I didn’t get one single response for people to come serve. 

This week I sent out an e-mail and focused only on the serving opportunites for Easter. I highlighted six areas we needed help in, and included the time slots when the help was needed. So far I’ve gotten at least 20 responses of people stepping up to serve.

Our people sent me a pretty strong message this Easter.
“If you want to communicate with me, make it clear, make it concise, and keep it to ONE TOPIC. Especially if you’re expecting me to communicate back with you.”

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Since posting this message 3 days ago, I have now gotten another 8 responses for help. Really, keep it short, cover one-topic at a time. It works.

Nickels and Dimes

Is it just me, or are all parents in America getting nickeled and dimed to death?

I just went through my check book and over the last month, my family has spent an additional $363 in unbudgeted items for my kids. This figure includes money spent on class projects, class parties, baseball banners, silent auction donations, field trip costs, ministry donations, church events and more.

As “good” as all these things are, at some point I’m going to have close the check book and just say, “No, we’re not paying for that. We’re going to have to sit this one out.” It doesn’t take much to break a family budget when you’ve got three kids still at home.

What I’m seeing with many organizations fighting budget cuts and lack of funding, is an assumption that they can continue the same programming and events by passing the burden of cost onto the participants. They do it in such a way, that it’s difficult not to comply. For example: I signed my son up for baseball, but didn’t plan on the extra $50 for a banner, silent auction donation and opening day fundraiser. If I choose not to pay, then the burden falls to our team mates. My child also goes to public school, but I didn’t plan on spending $36 for a field trip that happens during school hours. If I choose not to pay, then he’s given a packet of tedious homework to do instead of getting to experience the trip.

So what is a parent to do? I could stand up, and make a fuss, and refuse to do my part, but I’m not that brave. Instead, I’d like to start an underground movement that would hopefully take the world by storm. It’s a new way of rethinking things with the goal of saving us all a little extra cash. It’ll help us step away from the mind set of doing things bigger and better and push us to get back to the basics. Here are some crazy ideas to get it started:

  • Let kids create their own team banner and skip the end of game snack. Savings: $50
  • Cut the cost of the field trip from $36 to $15 by going to the mission that’s 40 miles closer to home this year. Savings: $21
  • Bring a sack lunch to Big Bear ski trip. Savings: $10
  • Build a California Mission out of recycled goods and scrap paper. Savings: $50
  • Plan a movie night with the youth group at church instead of going bowling. Savings $20

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Let’s get rid of the idea that the basics are boring. We need to learn that fun doesn’t always cost money, and bigger isn’t always better. Really, if you think hard, any great experience you’ve had, happened because of the people you were with, and not the surroundings, or money you spent making it happen.

As a ministry planner, I’m committed to not nickel and dime my families to death by asking them to fund our events. Instead, I’m going to get creative and provide an environment that will allow for tons of fun, excitement and learning on a shoestring budget. If I can’t do it with what I’ve been given by God, through budgets and supplies, then I won’t do it at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of these items used to cost much less, if not be totally free, but with every organizations shrinking budget, the cost of doing business is getting shifted more and more to the participants.

Throw a Glow Party

 

Last fall we tried a new outreach that wasn’t an alternative to Halloween, but rather used Halloween and the events surrounding it to promote our event. 

We threw a huge Glow Party, kind of like a mini-rave for kids with a Christian twist. It was amazing in many ways, and while not all of the ideas I share below will work for everyone, hopefully you can glean just one or two to apply to your next great event.

The Glow Party was designed to be entirely evangelist. Everything we did in promoting and planning was with the purpose of getting kids to come, hear the gospel and respond if God had spoken to their heart.

 

Getting the Word Out

Since this was a new event for us, I knew we would need to promote it like crazy, not only to our unchurched neighbors, but also to our own church family.

Front of the Invitation

We created 15,000 Glow Party Invites, each with a glow stick attached.

Then we contacted our local school PTA’s and asked if we could sponsor a booth at their fall carnival. We told them we would provide the game, the volunteers and the prizes. Thirteen out of the eighteen schools we contacted took us up on the offer. We did take time to make sure that each principal was aware of exactly what the prizes were, as well as the wording on the invitation. We’ve learned that if we don’t use Biblical references, like Bible Stories, Worship, etc., the schools are pretty permissive. Some of the schools were selling glow sticks so we swapped those prizes out for fun dip with the invitation attached. Some of the schools didn’t need more booths or games, but took advantage of the volunteers and prizes. That used up about 6500 of the invitations.

You can only imagine the impact we had on the school community because we supported them with our people.

Since I couldn’t possibly pass out the remaining 8500 invitations myself, we enlisted the help of the entire church. We invited all our MHK families, members of Sunday Schools, Bible Studies, and the general congration to help us spread the word. And we gave them lots of ways to do this:

  • They could pick up a bag of 50 invites and hand them out to friends or neighbors during the two week prior to Halloween.
  • They could pick up a bag of 50 invites and hand them out on Halloween
  • They could take a bag of invites and a carnival game and host a mini carnival in their front on Halloween.

Many people came to us with their own ideas for passing out the invitations. One gal talked her principal into passing them out to the entire school. Another volunteer was able to get her city’s park and recreation department to approve passing them out to the kids in the after school program. Another connected us with all the after school Bible clubs and we were able to pass out 800 invitations that way.

The response was overwhelming. We could have easily given out 20,000-25,000 invites if the budget had allowed for it.

 

Planning the Party

We chose to host the party on the Saturday after Halloween hoping to capitalize on the holiday momentum. We also wanted to intentionally provide an opportunity for the parents to experience our Saturday Night “Live @ 5 Service”. We knew it was risky hosting an event the night after Halloween, but we took the chance anyway.

Because we hosted the event during a regular service time we needed to provide a program for all ages. We created a mini-program for the nursery, and age-appropriate programs for the preschool and elementary kids. All of the areas were decorated with black lights strategically placed to accent the programming. In the nursery and preschool they were placed in corners of the rooms so half the room could be lit with regular lighting and half with the black light. That way it wouldn’t be too dark for any one. In the elementary area, we used the black lights to accent the stage. We also decorated with blinking light balloons, glow spheres and fun shimmery decorations.

 

Age-Appropriate Programming

We adjusted the program for each age-level and added lots of fun glow elements to the activities that were planned.

Nursery Area

  • We provided UV reactive Bubbles for the kids to play with.
  • We had fun, kid friendly glow in the dark tattoos to put on their hands.
  • They had glow-in-the-dark beach balls to toss around and use for games.

Preschool Area

  • Made their own glow gak.
  • Created fun shapes with UV reactive Chenille Sticks
  • Each got a glow necklace at the door.
  • Could get their cheek painted with UV reactive face paint.
  • Had UV reactive bubbles to play with.
  • Played games with a glowing beach ball and glowing hoops.
  • Heard the gospel message using glowsticks to represent the wordless book.

Elementary Area

  • Got to choose 3 Glow items from the “Glow Shop” (necklaces, sticks on lanyards or bracelets).
  • Could get their cheek painted with UV reactive face paint.
  • Made an example of their favorite hobby with UV reactive Chenille Sticks
  • Participated in some awesome worship.
  • Heard a message from Moses’ life of when he came down from the mountain and his face was glowing.
  • The message led into an invitation to accept Christ.
  • Saw a presentation with UV painted props that floated across the stage accenting the words of a song.

 

The Results

The response from the community was more than we hoped for. We had close to 800 kids come that night. Thankfully we planned with flexibility in mind so we were able to adjust.

We know at least 5 kids accepted Christ, but I believe there were many more. There was such a crowd that we weren’t able to capture the numbers like we would have liked. When Pastor Greg, gave the invitation he told the kids to find a leader and squeeze their thumb. There were so many parents that the kids wouldn’t have known who were leaders and who were parents. But one little girl approached my husband who was standing with his hands folded. She grabbed his hands, pried them apart and squeezed his thumb. That made his night.

During the following weekends we recorded at least 4 families who have begun attending our church as a direct result of the Glow Party. One is a grandma who brings 5 grandkids on Saturday night and then the other 4 grandkids on Sunday morning. A month ago, I greeted another family who was just returning to our church and sited the Glow Party as the reason for coming back.

 

My Evaluation

We learned a lot throwing this first Glow Party and I would definitely make a few minor adjustments next time we host one. If you’re interested in those insights send me an e-mail and I’ll go more in-depth.

But here’s what was great about this event and what I’ve worked hard to make happen at our most recent events:

  • Our families and congregation were empowered to invite their neighbors with the creative invitations.
  • We built friendships and made a lasting impact at the local schools.
  • Our team worked hard, utilized their strengths and did an amazing job pulling everything off.
  • We shared the gospel with everyone who came.
  • Families returned and have gotten plugged in to Shadow Mountain as a direct result of this event.

 

Links to Make it Happen

I hope you’re as excited as I was to throw such a fun-themed event. Here are links to the retailers and places that helped make it all happen.

Windy City Novelties
All the glow sticks & balloon lights 

BlackLight.com
UV Reactive Paints, UV Bubbles, UV Chenille Sticks 

Oriental Trading
Glow-in-the-Dark Tattoos 

Silly Farm
UV reactive face paints 

Party City
All the black lights 

Michaels
UV/Glow-in-the-Dark Craft glue used for the Gak 

 

 

 

 

Outside the Church Walls

Tony Morgan posted these thoughts the other day on his blog TonyMorganLive.com

“I’m wondering what would happen if rather than focusing so much on transferring knowledge, we focused on helping people love God, love others and make new disciples. What would happen if we asked people to spend less time at the church and more time in the lives of people who need Jesus? What would happen if we offered fewer gatherings to transfer knowledge and more tools to help people study the Bible on their own? What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?”

The last sentence is what really struck a cord with me. “What would happen if there was less emphasis on church activities and more emphasis on reaching the world for Jesus?”

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It’s easy when you work in ministry to confine your influence and reach inside the church walls. Oh, we might send out fliers and mailers to the community inviting them to the church, for an event, but that’s just an invitation. Some people, no matter how fancy the flier, or how many of their friends invite them, will never step inside a church until they get that nudge from God. And that means we need to bring God to them.

A little more than a year ago, I determined to make this a priority in my life both personally and professionally. 

After all Jesus is the best example of someone who took the gospel beyond the synagogues mentioned in Matthew 9:35. He taught on the Mountain sides, in peoples homes, in the marketplaces, in a cemetary, on a lake, in the grainfields and on the roads. Everywhere Jesus went he was preaching and teaching the gospel. He took every opportunity to share his message with others.

Sometimes I set out intentionally on a mission to share the gospel and other times, like Jesus, I’ve learned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Here are some of the ways over the last year that I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and worked to bring Jesus to the people on the other side of the wall.

Desert Trips (Camping) – In Southern California a popular past time is to take ATV’s out to the desert and ride bikes for the weekend. When we started doing this more than 13 years ago, we never intended for it to be a ministry. But throughout the years we’ve seen at least 3 or 4 people come to know Christ through our influence and we’ve had amazing, deep-rooted Biblical conversations with countless others. 

Way of the Master – I took a Way of the Master class at our church and it has given me a greater understanding and ability to share Jesus with confidence. I’ve used the techniques I’ve learned to share with my children’s friends, and with kids I’ve met through my face painting ministry.

Face Painting (www.whimsicalfaces.com) – I love to be creative, so I taught myself how to face paint and I do it for free at local events. I’ve painted at the Mother Goose and the Rose parades. I partnered with Child Evangelism Fellowship for Octoberfest and Way of the Master Ministry for the car show. I’ve painted on mission trips and I’ve supported local school events. As kids sit in my chair, I talk to them about Jesus, share with them the gospel and tell bible stories related to their painting. If I’m painting in my local area, I then give them an invitation to come visit me at my church. I’ve taken this ministry to a new level by training others to do the same. Now I have a team of 8-10 painters who can come do events with me, which just increases the impact we can have for God.

School Clubs – My latest endeavor has me partnering with Child Evangelism Fellowship so I can bring some Good News Clubs into our local schools. Be praying for this one. We are 75% there to starting our first club at Rios school. I’ve also joined the committee for the local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship and am looking forward to networking with other people who also want to get outside the church walls and reach kids for Christ.

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Face painting is my favorite way to reach people. Being out in the public, with random people is so interesting, informing & thought-provoking. It has helped me understand better where the world is at, what’s important to them, and what they think about spiritually. 

We had a group of teenagers approach us at the Octoberfest for the free painting. While I painted them all up, the CEF ladies talked to them about Christ. These were some rough-edged kids. They all had a goth look to them, and some wore occult like symbols in their jewelry on their t-shirts. They seemed truly engaged with the conversation and asked really good questions. After about 20 minutes of sharing with them 4 of the 9 kids accepted Christ. Amazing!

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I encourage you to find ways to use your gifting and talents to intentionally and unintentionally reach people for Christ outside the church walls. When you figure out what you want to do, or how you are already doing this, leave me a comment so we share our ideas with others.