Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

We hear a lot at this time of year about the "Christmas spirit". Charles Dickens pledged to "[H]onor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." Some songs express the wish that the Christmas spirit would last all year.

What is this "Christmas spirit", and how can we harness it?

Sometimes when we talk about "spirit", we are talking about a feeling, an ambiance, an idea. Examples would be "school spirit" or "That's the spirit!" or "the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law."

But you can also speak of "spirits" as living entities. The original Christmas story is full of this kind of spirit. Start in Luke chapter 1 and count the miracles. Between there and the birth of Jesus, I count eight:
  1. An angel appears to Zechariah and prophesies to him that his wife, who was too old to conceive a child, will give birth to a son.
  2. Elizabeth, Zechariah's wife, conceives.
  3. Zechariah is struck deaf and mute when he disbelieves.
  4. An angel appears to Mary.
  5. Mary, though a virgin, conceives a son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  6. God communicates to Elizabeth and the baby inside her "leaps" when Mary shows up at her door with the news that she is pregnant.
  7. The Holy Spirit fills Zechariah and he prophesies after his son is born (and, God keeps his word that Zechariah regains his speech).
  8. God himself steps into space-time history.

Miracles are supernatural. At times the Bible is explicit, that the Holy Spirit does such-and-such. But other times it just indicates the miracle happened by God's hand. In any case, miracles are supernatural events authored by God; and since God Himself is a spirit, miracles are inherently spiritual.

There's a difference, then, between celebrating the "spirit" of the season and the "Spirit" that caused the season. The Christmas story, which begins in Luke 1 (not Luke 2) is a supernatural story. The (Holy) Spirit was at work then, and the Spirit is at work today.

If God the Holy Spirit wasn't needed for the first Christmas, then He isn't needed today. All we would need to do is combine the right elements - snowfall, trees & lights, winter-themed songs, Hallmark Channel movies - and take a few days off of work and school, and we'd have Christmas. On the other hand, if God's hand was essential for the first Christmas to happen (which is of course the case), then the true "Spirit of Christmas" is nothing less than Him - the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Is busyness the enemy of our souls?

I recently got back from two weeks off (honeymoon!). It's amazing what time away does to the way you think, and the things you notice. You experience life in a whole different way. You come to understand that a lot of the things you've convinced yourself matter, don't matter as much. And you have time for simple pleasures you've been missing.

By coincidence, about six weeks ago, I started reading a book called Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. The book's subtitle is "A (Mercifully) short book about a (Really) big problem." Here are some highlights:
  • Physically demanding work can take a toll on our bodies, but it can also make us healthier. By contrast, mental strain takes a toll that can be mental and physical.
  • Being extremely busy might be a sign of a bigger problem. It could mean that you secretly believe your life is meaningless; staying busy convinces you otherwise.
  • Being busy doesn't equate to faithfulness or fruitfulness as a Christian.
  • Pride could be driving our urge to stay busy, as we enjoy pleasing other people and the praise that comes with it.
  • Saying yes to one more thing might appear noble, but deep down, the ambition might be to appear good or helpful in the eyes of others. In that case, you're not really serving others, you're serving yourself.
  • Most Christians live with a low-level guilt that they are not "doing enough" to meet the needs of the world. "We know we can always pray more and give more and evangelize more, so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves."
  • When we try to be good and helpful in meeting the needs right in front of us, we are often breaking a commitment we'd previously made. So no, it's not always noble to set everything aside to attend to the urgent; why should people you've previously committed to have to wait?
  • We probably worry too much about our kids; the kind of person they turn out to be is probably more tied to their wiring than we want to admit. Yet we act as if parenting makes the child.

The bottom line of this book, and the reason I would blog about it on a site about ministry to kids, is that being busy threatens the health of our souls. While God is real and isn't going anywhere, he doesn't scream for our attention the way that TV and e-mail and social media and phone calls and marketing do.

And so that leads me to two questions:
  1. Are we modeling a pace of life for kids that practically excludes God? Are we teaching by example that to be an adult is to overpack your schedule, enjoying downtime only every few months or when another appointment miraculously gets cancelled? Are we setting them up to be blind to God's presence once they get older?
  2. Are we pushing them so hard now, as kids, that we're robbing them of opportunities to experience God and be in his presence?
Archibald Hart says don't be afraid of your kids being bored. It's during times of deadness that great inspiration has been born. Our brains weren't meant to operate on hyperspeed all the time. There are seasons of life where that's appropriate: finals week, meeting a really important deadline, making last-minute preparations for an event you're hosting. But when life becomes an endless series of deadlines? That's dangerous, because it overloads our body's ability to manage stress.

One thing Carlsbad did really well was to plan for open spaces. There's lots going on in our city - neighborhoods, businesses, parks, schools, and more and more traffic - but there are also vast tracts of undeveloped land scattered throughout. And if the plan holds, it'll be that way forever. Why? Because it helps bring calm to what could otherwise turn overwhelming. Business is good, but that doesn't mean there isn't a limit. New homes are good, but that doesn't mean they belong everywhere.

In the same way, all of the things that constitute busyness in our lives are good things - within limits. Overdone, we miss out on what should be filling the "nothingness". Which seems like an oxymoron; in fact, because God is always with us, He's the one thing that's still there when everything else fades away. If we never carve out spaces for that nothing, how will kids encounter the God who lives there?

Meet Lauren Andriany, K/1 Coordinator

Hi! My name is Lauren Andriany. That's me with my favorite 3 people: my husband Mark, our 1st grader Annabelle, and our new baby Teddie (Theodora).

I've been attending and volunteering at NCCC for about 8 years, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to be more involved in children's ministry.

I love learning new ways to share the hope and love of Jesus with children. They are the future church, and I strive to help create a place where they feel safe, loved, and valued as they learn about their maker and His Great Love for them. NCCC has been that kind of place for the Andriany family, and we all hope to pass the blessing on, and on and on!

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.