Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What I've learned from my time in K/1

Guest Post contributed by Tatiana Kildiszew, outgoing Saturday night coordinator for Kindergarten & 1st grade.

It sounds silly but as I took the position of K/1 coordinator I remember assuming that I would be the one blessing others and that I would be the one teaching the children. I never anticipated how much God would bless me and teach me through these kindergarten and first grade children. One thing I came to see quite clearly is that the faith of a child is real. The pure spirituality children contain is beautiful thing, a treasure often hidden by the worries and realities of the harshness of the adult world we live in. Looking back on my time serving in Kindergarten and 1st grade ministry I am reminded of many precious memories when God gave me a glimpse of just how sincere and precious the faith of these little ones is. These memories are just too special to keep to myself, so I will share a few.

One night as parents were picking up their children I was talking to a Kindergarten girl. This little girl regularly attends Saturday night service. She was usually in my small group, so I knew her well. We had played together, prayed together and danced to silly worship songs together. Being the youngest of four she would always tell me stories of her older siblings or what she had done throughout the week. But this day the light in her eyes proved she had something of more value to share with me. She looked up at me and with a big smile, bursting with pure joy, she blurted, “Jesus speaks to me.”

I was surprised at her words but I did not doubt her profession. From knowing this little girl it was obvious to me that she shone with the light of Christ. The presence of Jesus radiated from her. Through her questions and comments during small groups I had already observed the way she lived her life in such awe and wonder of Jesus. Excited to hear more, I began a conversation with the little girl about how Jesus speaks to her. When I asked her what Jesus told her, she replied, “Just things. Important things.” As she shared more throughout the weeks on the topic I saw that this faith she held was genuine. She expressed that Jesus spoke to her through her Spirit and in dreams. What a powerful faith! Over time we talked about listening for Jesus so His voice will not get muted as she grows older, as well as writing or drawing the things He speaks to her. Through all our conversations I discovered what a beautiful relationship she has with Jesus, talking back and forth.

There was one night that we had a guest teacher speaking for the weekend in K/1 ministry. She was demonstrating Old Testament story pointed towards Jesus and the need for a savior. There was this one kid who was very intrigued with the story. He frequently raised his hand to ask questions and make comments. His comments were so insightful. It was apparent that he had heard the story before. He was so bold as to raise his hand and tell the teacher that she had actually forgotten some parts of the story. When he did this he would continue sharing the story in such a way, it appeared as if he was teaching it to us all. Chuckling, the teacher would thank the boy and explain that she had just not gotten to that part yet. One of these times the young boy raised his hand he explained with frustration, “The most important part of the story is that Jesus died for our sins. He died to save us.” A couple of the leaders, including myself giggled in amazement. It was funny but the young boy spoke such truth. The teacher again tried to contain him. He rambled on, “I just do not think you understand. Jesus died and that is the most important thing in the world.” At five or six years old this boy could see the things that mattered in this world clearly. God had revealed His truth to his little spirit. For this young boy the truth was such a pressing matter he had to share it with us all.

One last story. I believe it shows the quiet transformation and the work God is doing in one child. In my first couple of months in K/1 ministry, his mother shared with me that her son had not accepted Christ yet. She was worried about this because her other kids had already done that and were living life for Him. It is true that there are some children who see the truth at a young age and accept Christ. I can’t speak to what was in this particular young boy's heart, but what I do see him seeking to know and learn more about God. Like all five- and six-year-old boys, this young boy likes to “play hard”. You can find him building car ramps or building Lego towers at the start of service. However when worship begins you will find him quietly standing up against a wall with his eyes shut tightly. Sometimes he will sing, other times he will do the hand motions without singing. Sometimes he will neither sing nor do hand motions, but just sit silently with his eyes closed. When asked about this the young boy shared with me, “I am just listening to the words. I like to listen to the words.” During the story this young boy is rarely distracted by his friends or others. He sits and listens throughout the entire story, no matter how long the teacher speaks. He also asks complex questions of how and why. There is no doubt in my mind that the words of worship are piercing his young heart, while the words of truth from Bible stories are flooding his little mind. This young boy is listening, learning, and seeking. I have seen the way God is stirring this young boy. What a beautiful thing that God is working in these little children, revealing himself to them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) After my time in K/1 ministry this verse holds different weight. The faith of a child is so genuine, so meaningful. Children see God with a clear vision. They understand God’s truth and the freedom it gives. They seek with honest hearts. It has been such an honor and true joy to learn from and be blessed by the children of K/1. I hope you, like me, have the opportunity of experiencing the treasure of a child’s faith.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is Your Kid a RICH kid?

Jesus wants your kid to be rich. Did you know?

He wants your kid to be rich in the way that he wants all of us to be rich. Not in earthly possessions, but rich towards God. So how do you develop a kid who is rich in that way?

When Jesus talked about being "rich toward God", he was telling a parable that most Bibles call "The Parable of the Rich Fool". The man doesn't seem foolish by modern standards; he seems wise. He makes plans to build bigger storehouses for his excess crops. With the surplus in storage, he'll quit working and live off the income. Life will be good! But God intervenes, delivering the dire news that the man is about to die. And then God asks to pivotal question: "Who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Luke 12:13-21)

Jesus concludes by saying, "This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." It seems like the man's fatal flaw was that he was preoccupied with his own happiness and comfort. That in essence became his God. Note that the parable doesn't say the man actually did all of this; the plans take place in his mind. What we set our minds on directs our whole life. It dictates how we spend our time and what we consider "success". It defines for us the resting point, the point at which we say, "I've done it! I'm there! I've achieved what I've set out to do!"

With that in mind, here are some ideas on making kids rich:

1. Make God a central "thing" in your family life. Not just one thing among many things, but the central organizing reality. Is the pursuit of God and realizing his will apparent in your own life? Would your kid say that it is?

2. Learn to find satisfaction in God. Evaluate how you set goals and priorities. How do you define "a successful life" when it comes to your child? Is your goal for them that they know Him more, love Him more, serve Him more? Or that they grow up to be happy and comfortable?

3. Teach kids how to rest in God. God isn't something we rest at when we arrive there; the peace of God is a continuous rest that we carry with us along the journey. This is different from earthly rest. We work all week so we can get a break on the weekend. We study hard in school, then celebrate with a graduation party. We plan and carry out detailed weddings, then decompress on a honeymoon. The rest comes at the end of something; we earn it. God's rest isn't like that. Instead, it's the "peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Raise a kid in a cauldron of performance-based standards, and it will be hard for them to imagine rest as anything but something you get after working hard. They will find the idea of God's rest, literally, un-believeable.

4. Build the support infrastructure in your kid's life that will help them become rich. Which is to say, there are supports standing behind kids, nudging them and helping them and guiding them. It doesn't happen by accident. And just like vitamins, if there's a deficiency, your kid will develop a problem. Not right away, but over time. If you want your kid to be rich toward God, remember R.I.C.H.:
  • Relationships - Lots of relationships, and quality relationships. Who knows your kid? Who else besides you has a window into their personality? Who's guiding them? In this world run by grown-ups, who's affirming your kid, letting them know that although they're young and small, they still matter? You love your kid. What message are they receiving from the rest of the world about their worth in the eyes of adults?
  • Identity - We want kids to understand who they are, including what it means to be a created being, wholly dependent on God. They should understand that God has gifted and designed each of us differently, and that understanding that design is key in growing into the role God has for them. Hollywood and Madison Avenue never stop trying to tell your kid who they really are (and as a result, what they should like and what they should do).
  • Christ - Is your kid's faith Christ-centered? Do they understand why Jesus' life and death mattered - really mattered? Do they get that we are dependent on grace, that Jesus was more than a teacher, but the way, the truth, and the life? Most American teenagers believe in God - but what they believe about him doesn't necessarily square with the Bible or historic Christianity. A faith grounded in "God wants me to be good" doesn't cut it. Help your kid develop a deep understanding of Jesus Christ as the absolutely essential element of their Christian faith.
  • Heart & Hands experience - We hope kids will connect faith to life. But let's be honest, they usually don't. Kids need tangible, hands-on experience living out Christ in the world. Is your kid aware of the world, of the needs that exist? Do their hearts hurt when they see injustice? Have they been shown the way Christians are reaching out to the poor, the elderly, the sick? Because faith without works is dead.
If you want to read more about making kids R.I.C.H., check out these posts from last year. (And here for Relationships, Identity, Christ, and Heart & Hands.)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Taking Kids "On Mission"

The church's International Missions Fair was this weekend. If you missed Friday night, don't miss it when it comes around again next year! The Missions team revamped the whole event to make it more interactive and family-friendly. And it worked!

But, if you missed Friday night or this weekend, you're not out of luck either. Not by a long shot. Missions has always been a strong emphasis at our church, and Nic Gilmour (our head missions dude) and I (the head children's guy) are committed to seeing more families catch the missions bug.

Why? Because kids aren't eventual Christians. If we wait for them to get through the toddler stage, the preschool stage, the preteen stage, high school...before we know it, they will end up with lives as busy as ours. And for many of us, missions is an add-on or an if-only: if only I had the money, if only I had the time, if only I wasn't so busy, if only I knew where to go.

The global mission of the church belongs to everyone. It's not the special province of a few super-Christians, and being missions-minded is not a spiritual gift! Missions needs to be woven into the normal Christian life.

One way to do that is to take your entire family on a missions adventure. And we've put together a booklet called "Mission: Possible! Stories of four families who answered the call to GO in 2014" that tells some of those "we did it" stories. I hope you'll pick one up at the church and be inspired by it.

The thing is, not everyone will go on an overseas mission trip with their kids. Some people can't (but - don't dismiss it too quickly; read "Mission: Possible!" first). Maybe you will; maybe you won't. But what if we broadened the definition of "missions work", to create multiple entry points for families who want to engage in service to others? A cross-cultural missions adventure does have some definite advantages, as it takes kids and parents out of their element - a 24/7 eye-opener. But what seems to be true about teenagers and young adults who have embraced missions is that there was a service ethic in their families while growing up. So serving in downtown San Diego isn't "less" than going overseas. What matters is the regularity of commitment. It demonstrates to kids that missions is normal; missions is what Christians do.

Over the next several months, you'll see us dreaming up and promoting these various entry points, because the good news is that there are lots of organizations already doing good work in the community; what they really need is you.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Greetings from new K/1 coordinator Blyth Schmidt

Hi - I'm Blyth Schmidt, and I recently started as the Sunday morning coordinator for Kindergarten & 1st grade at NCCC.

About me: Where to start?! I gave my life to The Lord when I was 13 at a Harvest Crusade my best friend had invited me to. I had just started attending the Jr High Youth Group there at Harvest and it was changing me!

I married my high school sweetheart, and we knew we wanted children right away! Enter this crazy crew! Audrey is 11, and many of you who come into K/1 have met her, as she has a beautiful heart for service and looks forward to the weekends with joy!

Aidan is 8 and is my task master! He likes to make sure we are all on schedule; he always wants to know what is happening next, and I often find him filling out our weekly calendar at home.

And my Ethan, "6 going on 7"! My fun, sweet, generous, crazy one! You will see him 'helping' in K/1 as well, as he has a heart for service like his sister.

Our family has been attending NCCC for almost 5 years now since we moved to this area that many years ago from the Central Valley, and before that from Riverside.  We are So Cal people through and through and love everything the climate here has to offer!

I'm also a Pilates instructor, when I'm not at church, and feel my calling is to encourage and motivate the people around me, as I can feel the Holy Spirit encouraging and motivating me!

I hope you all can stop in soon, say 'hi', and take a minute to visit the super fun Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms! :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meet 2nd & 3rd grade's Nicole Fountas

Hi - My name is Nicole Fountas and that's me on the left with my siblings.  I am thrilled to be joining the children's ministry team at North Coast Calvary Chapel! 

I am from Orange County, but have spent many years in San Diego. I graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University and then spent two years doing AmeriCorps in Boston. I worked with a non-profit doing volunteer management for corporations, youth, and families, and I fell in love with serving and partnering with my community.  I made my way back to San Diego and work at PLNU's Spiritual Development Office, working with students who lead small groups, a mentoring program, and a creative arts event.

I love to read, learn about the stars, and ride my bike.  I'm new to North County and enjoy exploring and finding hole-in-the-wall breakfast places.  I am so excited to get to know the NCCC family, participating in ministry, and learning about and sharing Jesus with the 2nd and 3rd graders.

How the new chapel is like spiritual growth

If you've been on our campus recently, you've seen it go up before our very eyes: the new chapel building, which will grow our capacity to do ministry both on the weekends and during the week. Many people, myself included, have expressed amazement at how quickly it seems to be coming together: first the floor, then the walls, already a roof - and it's becoming easier to imagine what this place will actually look like.

At the same time, they (and I) have been amazed when they hear that the targeted completion date isn't until late March. At the rate they're going, it seems it should be done by Christmas! But it won't be. Once the walls get enclosed, the detail work inside begins.

And that's how the new chapel reminds me of spiritual growth:
  • Spiritual growth is a long-term process.
  • When we're born, we grow rapidly - sometimes so rapidly, that people assume we're more mature than we are. But the real mark of maturity is what's contained on the inside.
  • Spiritual development is careful work that should not be done haphazardly...or you'll do a lot of work later undoing damage caused by bad construction.
  • We often wonder, "What's going on inside?", and we'd give anything to be given a sneak peak.
  • ...And, just as with a building under construction, sometimes you are allowed a sneak peak by the owner, if you ask nicely and are careful not to interfere with what's already in progress.
And, there are other ways in which the chapel is not a good representation of spiritual growth:
  • There's no exact blueprint for spiritual growth.
  • Unlike a building, we're never "done", but always in process, becoming more like our Creator.
  • But also unlike a building, we're not unable to be used as we go through the process of development. Kids aren't "junior believers" who need to reach a certain age before we can consider them real Christians.
Wouldn't you love to see inside your child's soul, to be able to see what God sees? Wouldn't you love to see the plan He's laid out for them? How diligent have you been about teaching kids the language of spiritual growth, both from the inside-out - "This is what's happening inside me" - and from the outside-in - "These are the things God does and that I believe he would like to do in me"?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to talk about God at home

Inspiration for this post came from Jeremy Lee at, a resource site that promotes effective ministry to parents and encourages parental involvement in their kids' spiritual journey.

Want your kid's faith to last? We all do. Otherwise, what good was the time you invested when they were children, reading to them, bringing them to church, answering their questions?

And the old line about "we're just planting seeds" that will bring kids back to the church once they hit their late 20s doesn't work anymore. We do need to be concerned about kids leaving the church (various studies say 70-80% of churched kids will leave after graduating high school) for the same reason we've always been concerned: because ages 15-25 are a critical decade of life. It's when you decide where to go to school, what to do with your life, who to date and possibly marry, where to many decisions did you make between 15 and 25 that dramatically affected the path of your life? (On top of that, people are waiting much longer to get married. By the time they have kids, their lives have already settled into routines that do not include church.)

Now get this: children who have faith-based conversations in their homes are 300% more likely to stay in church after leaving home. (As cited by Jim Burns and Jeremy Lee.)

Not lectures or indoctrination, but conversations.

What do these conversations look like? Jeremy Lee from recently described three different forms these talks might take.

1. "As-you-go" conversations. These are not initiated by your kid, but they're also not planned by you. Instead, you find ways to infuse faith into the conversation. What you're doing here is really "weaving". Just like a single thread can affect or change the look of a piece of woven fabric, when we "weave" allusions to God and spiritual language into our everyday conversation, it gracefully brings spirituality into everyday life. Notice I did not say that it "makes an impact", because it may not - at that moment. Nor is it guaranteed to change your kid's mind, or even launch them into an extended discussion.

But what it does do is make something abstract, concrete. Lee used the example of being at the beach with his sons, and "drifting" down the shore. When they turned around to walk back, and his sons asked him how to know where to get back, Lee told them to look for their beach chairs. Then he said to them:

"Use that as your marker and let's walk back. You know, that kind of reminds me how God is for me, because we kind of drifted away and we needed a center point for where we wanted to be. Do you know that's how God is for me in my life? When I don't know whether something is right or wrong, or if I don't know what I should do, or if I don't know what is true or what is false, God and the Bible and my faith - they're like those beach chairs. They give me something to look at; something to know where I'm supposed to be going in life."

Quick and pithy, as-you-go conversations allow you, as a parent, to talk about your own faith. The fact that waves at the beach could remind you of God's stable presence in your own life demonstrates for your kids that your faith reaches beyond church to touch all of life, that your own relationship with God is an important part of who you are (it's something you think about, even away from church), and that reminders of God at work are all around us.

2. Kid-initiated conversations. Remember that kids' questions aren't a cause for alarm! It means their built-in curiosity is at work. When kids ask, shoot a quick prayer to God, thanking Him that their God-given curiosity has been sparked.

A couple of thoughts:
Don't overwhelm them with your answer. If our answer becomes a lecture, kids will be less likely to ask in the future (because who liked getting lectured?).

Turn the question back on them. If it's bothering them enough to ask you, chances are they've already done some deep thinking of their own, and have come to a tentative conclusion. So it's not a bad idea to let them answer first, because their own answer - while not definitive to them - reveals a lot about what their real question or concern is. For example, if a kid asks, "Did our dog go to heaven when he died?" and you come back with, "What do you think?", your child might say something like, "I think so, because he was a good dog, and I want to see him again." That answer points to their real question, which is, "Am I going to like it in heaven?" If you just answer, "yes" or "no", you'll never get at the underlying issue, which touches on your kid's trust in God, His goodness to us, and why eternal life has value.

Don't be afraid to say "I'm not sure"...even if you are! Admitting you don't know shows humility, and teaches that for a lot of our questions, there aren't simple answers. Then help your kid find the answer. Show them how to use a Bible, a concordance, a commentary, or other source (801 Questions Kids Ask about God is a good one).

Why would I say "I'm not sure" if I already know the answer, instead of just giving them the answer? Because this is also an opportunity to demonstrate for them how to find answers. So you might say, "I'm pretty sure it's ___________, and here's why I think that," or, "Let's look at a couple of things the Bible says about it, and see if we can figure it out."

3. Strategic, parent-planned conversations. These can be family devotions (ooh - big topic for another week), talks centering on a particular issue like bullying or drugs or "The Talk" (here's a great resource for that) or more formal things like a rite of passage. These can be the hardest, because while you're geared up for it, your kid may not be. That's why as-you-go and kid-initiated conversations trump parent-planned ones, because kids are more receptive.

Some thoughts:
Don't make it a lecture... Think dialogue. A give and take.

...but don't start by saying, "What questions do you have?", either. You have to give them something to chew on. You're setting the parameters of the discussion, but you'll probably have to ask them questions at the start before they'll offer some of their own.

Don't let yourself be disappointed with the outcome. Lee says that when it comes to rite of passage talks he's had with his kids, "Sometimes it's fabulous and amazing, and other times, it's like, 'ok, thanks' and there's no real reaction. But you know what? That's not my job. My job is not to determine their reaction; my job is to just show up and be strategic."

Above all, talking about faith and spirituality at home brings the subject out into the open. It normalizes it. It heals the separation we may have introduced between "God stuff" and "the rest of life." And it establishes you, the parent - the most willing, consistent, and persistent influence in a kid's life - as a trustworthy person to consult about all of life.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What we've done with Harvest Party

by Matt & Tammy Gollaher. Note: Matt Gollaher is the pastor to college & young adults at NCCC; he and Tammy have two daughters.
The Harvest Party and Halloween are two great outreach opportunities. We like the fact that NCCC does the Harvest Party on a different night than Halloween. We see the Harvest Party as a great opportunity to invite our neighbors to our church community.

Harvest Party is a great event that is free (except for the food and those booths are fairly cheap). There is a variety of games, rides and shows that are age and theme appropriate and safe.  The campus has a security staff that seeks to ensure families' safety and enjoyment. Having two separate times is helpful in cutting down the crowds and allowing for an earlier time for younger children.

Our girls love it because it's another opportunity to get dressed up and play with their friends. So this outreach event is one where we invite our friends and neighbors in our community to join us. I always bring home a stack of fliers for our girls (four and six years old) to pass out to their neighborhood friends. They take them to their doors as an invite. The majority of invites are for those in our neighborhood that we are already in relationship with and occasionally we invite a new family as an entry point into relationship. We then make plans to meet up with the families we've invited on that night. The kids from a lot of these same families have been involved in Kids Games or Max Sports Camps, and their families have even joined us for Christmas, Easter Sunrise and Freedom Fest services and events.

Halloween is another great - if not greater - outreach opportunity. Just like our Superbowl Sunday night focus at NCCC, where Mark Foreman challenges us to join in our communities outside of church and be “Salt & Light” at Superbowl parties, Halloween can give you that same opportunity.  Your neighborhood and neighbors are alive on this day and night, interacting with one another. On Halloween we usually plan with our neighbors to meet and eat together potluck style before we trick or treat. Then we as families walk the neighborhood together, watching our children and chatting about life. Then we spend more time on our driveway passing out candy to our neighbors and many more visitors. This outreach event is us seeking to use current pathways or opportunities to be Christ.

Be intentional in community in both of these outreach events and seek what God does. In our experience over the last ten years of going to NCCC, He has only blessed our neighborhood relationships.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Do You Really Want Your Kid to be Like Jesus?

Gary Oliver and H. Norman Wright published a book called "Raising Kids to Love Jesus" in 1999. In chapter 3, Norman Wright asks a provocative question: Do You Really Want Your Child to be Like Jesus? At first blush, the answer appears to be yes. After all - What Would Jesus Do? And Christlike attitudes and behaviors - aren't they the point of Christian parenting?

But what does "be like Jesus" really mean?

"If Jesus were here today, who would His followers be? We may not want to consider them. They would probably dress differently from those with whom we worship in church...

Do you know what you are asking your son or daughter to become? You are saying, "Don't fit in! Be different to the extent that others question you, wonder about you, shake their heads about you, aren't sure whether you'll make it in their group, their clique or their organization." You are asking your child to be a nonconformist to the status quo.

You may be uncomfortable reading this right now. Jesus was a man who looked at what was going on in the world - the society, everyday life around Him - and said, "This isn't good." He looked at the way people were living and essentially said, "That's the easy way to live. But it's not good." He confronted the destructiveness of people's lifestyles, which wasn't very popular with the establishment. He encouraged people to live a life that would be very different and contrary to the establishment. He also claimed that only a few would be willing to live that kind of life. Jesus called people to live a risky, different kind of life - one that promised peace, but a peace different from that which the world around us gives.

Do you know what Jesus preached? Nonconformity. He was different. Do you want your child to be seen the same way He was? Others saw Him as an eccentric, which is contrary to our desire for popularity and comfort. He was also seen as a heretic by the religious leaders of that time...

So do you want your child to be like Jesus? I'm sure you want your child to behave in a Christlike manner. We all do. But Jesus wants more than that. He wants us to have His mind in all of its fullness. We may be satisfied with behavioral change, but God wants a mind change. The mind has always been more important to God than our behavior." (H. Norman Wright and Gary Oliver, Raising Kids to Love Jesus, (c) 1999, pp. 41-43)

Compelling stuff. Here's why it matters.

Somewhere along the way, Jesus picked up an undeserved reputation as a mild-mannered lightweight. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. But whether or not Jesus was Mr. Rogers to everyone he met isn't the important thing. What's important was his motivation. Jesus was determined to turn the world away from self and self-reliance, which is sin, to Him and Him-reliance.
Consider the words he spoke to people after personal encounters:
  • "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
  • "Son, your sins are forgiven."
  • "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
  • "Return home and tell how much God has done for you."
  • "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity."
  • "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
  • "Go now and leave your life of sin."
He may have been gentle in his approach to them, but his message was never, "Stay unchanged."

Part of "success" in spiritual training means discerning what direction God is moving, and then joining in step with that. If we try to push against or across the current, we are doomed to frustration.

Our direction is shown by our message. What direction do we perceive God is moving? What is that message?
  • "Retreat"?
  • "Be safe"?
  • "Be nice"?
  • "Seek comfort"?
  • "Fit in"?
Are these "Christian values"? Who says so? I once heard someone tell a group of kids, "Jesus doesn't want us to be angry." Well, I'm not so sure. I think Jesus was plenty angry at some of the things he saw wrong in the world - and it motivated him.

As your kids grow up and discover the problem of homelessness, would you rather that they be angry and unsettled about it, or comfortable with it? When they learn that large numbers of elderly adults are homebound and never get visitors, do you want your kids to be bothered by that, or ok with it? If they hear that in some countries, educating girls is illegal or discouraged, do you want them to be spurred to action, or paralyzed by indifference?

What if we encouraged kids to understand the problems in their school or their community? Then they might appreciate the human predicament and how hard change is, instead of clinging to a shallow understanding that we can change ourselves by willpower. Seems pretty biblical to me. How about urging our kids to speak out against injustice, by standing up for kids who get bullied or excluded? How about taking your kids to "dangerous" places, where they might encounter the kinds of people society left behind? Surely these are the kinds of Christian values we want to instill, right?

If we aren't spending time and money preparing kids to advance into the world, but only to buy into the success-and-performance ethic of our culture, what are we actually asking them to follow?

Meet Jenni Balderson, 2nd & 3rd Grade Coordinator


I'm Jenni Balderson and I feel so privileged to be joining the the Early Elementary Children's Ministry team!

I have been married 11 years to my sweet, spontaneous, John Wayne-ish, surfer husband named Jim. Together we get to care for (and part-time homeschool) the most wonderful little people---Ezra (8), Santiago (6), and Violette (4).

I feel most alive while reading the Word with my morning coffee, running the shoreline on a cloudy day, watching my kids in the waves with their dad, growing with community, and most of all, sharing God's love with your kiddos and mine!

It is a joy to be serving here and I truly can't wait to partner with and build relationships with you and your kids! :)