Are We So Focused on The “Doing” at Church That We’re Losing Sight of The Real Meaning of Fellowship?

church1

One of the biggest blessings of being a member of a church is serving. Serving your brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful way to express your love and respect for your relationship that is rooted in the foundation of Christ. Depending on the size of your church there may be no shortage of volunteer opportunities and that is wonderful. Church events play an important role in the life of its members and the community at large so these activities are an important bonding and even an evangelical opportunity. I’ve attended church events of all sizes and have participated and served in my fair share of activities. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how these activities are connecting and engaging church members. When we serve through a church event we are also meant to be in fellowship. These events are supposed to edify us, glorify God and  help us to create stronger and more intimate bonds with one another. My question is are we becoming to focused on the doing, the performance and the busyness of it all that we’re losing sight of the actual meaning and Christian experience of serving?

We are all too familiar with rushing through our days and muddling  through the motions and I’m wondering if this mindset is carrying over into our service at church.  Are we putting too much emphasis on the perfect event and not enough emphasis on relationship building? When we serve with our church family we are given a unique opportunity to share our ideas, gifts,  and encouragement. We’re given a chance to interact on a deeper level than just a quick hug on Sunday. If we use the opportunity to serve wisely it can lead to the enriched experience that serving was originally intended to do in the family of Christ. We live in a world where bigger is better and that notion has trickled into our churches. I’m not speaking about mega churches, but churches in general. For example, growing up I remember a church picnic being simply a picnic where everyone brought a dish, played games, sang and had fun. Now, some church picnics have become a big production with catering, moon bounces, bands, the works! Do people enjoy this type of picnic? Absolutely, but is our focus remaining on God and fellowship or has it shifted to the event itself?

There is so much work required behind the scenes involving committees, budgets,  and event planning that it seems as though we’ve lost the simplistic nature of pure fellowship. I have nothing against hosting a large event, but if you find yourself becoming agitated with your brother or sister in Christ on a committee call, or tensions are high,  and feelings are hurt I think it is time to rethink if these events are building up our family or tearing it down. Too often, I’ve witnessed relationships become fractured when there is a church activity. Someone feels as though they are overworked, another person feels excluded, another feels taken for granted and in the end the event that was supposed to bring unity has brought dissension.

Is the performance factor slipping its way into the Lord’s house? I don’t know, but I do have a sense that church members are becoming overwhelmed (I’ll admit I’ve been there).  When we’re overwhelmed we become stressed and that energy has the potential to  manifest in some not so loving ways. Am I saying stop serving or the church shouldn’t host events? Absolutely not! We would do our church family a disservice if we had the ability to serve and use our gifts and decided to hold back. However, instead of getting caught up in the performance factor and the outcome let’s get caught up in glorifying the Lord. Let’s encourage one another, use our gifts, give one another grace, prayerfully determine how we can contribute, and know that it isn’t the event it is the relationship and the fellowship for the glory of God that should be our focus and our goal.

Why Vacation Bible School Matters

vbs

I’m just coming off a very fun and exhausting week of Vacation Bible School with my church. Every summer Anya looks forward to attending VBS and has become one of the highlights of her summer and I’m grateful for her excitement. I volunteer each year, but this year I stretched myself and taught the 2-3 year olds. Wow! Now that was an experience! The kids are adorable, but they are 2 and 3 years old and their attention span is …well that of a 2-3 year old! Although at times difficult it was  rewarding and I have a new appreciation for what our teachers at church do for our children.

Here’s the thing… VBS is a long week and it is fun, but it is hard too! Most people work so they coming straight from work to church from around 5:45 until 9:00 at night it is a long day. Our church offers dinner and snacks and everyone appreciates their thoughtfulness and the people who are in the kitchen on a 96 degree day! Then we celebrate with a party for the kids on Saturday. It is a full week! But, VBS is  worth it because it is a consecutive period of time where brothers, sisters and children of the church serve together.

VBS is more than fun games, it is a week of unique fellowship with one another.  At the end of this past week I left with a deep sense of gratitude for how our church serves us and how every member makes a difference. I was thankful that my church invited everyone in member or not and treated them with love and respect. Not to mention how it gives our kids the opportunity  to learn valuable biblical lessons, they have wholesome fun, develop closer relationships to their peers and they witness you serving your church family. VBS is the kind of work that is fruitful.

Then there are the memories… If you’ve attended a VBS you know that the memories you create are going to last way past that week. Isn’t that what we are trying to do for our kids, create memories? Warm memories that will remind them later when they may be tempted not to attend church of how fun it was, how people cared about them and how every summer VBS was a highlight. Don’t underestimate the power of these memories they are so meaningful to your children and are planting the seeds.

So with all that said… I encourage you to attend VBS! Volunteer, serve, step outside your comfort zone and when you are exhausted after a long night try to remember that this exhaustion is a good type because it is for serving the Lord! I hope if you went to VBS you had a wonderful time and it becomes a highlight of your summer!

Are We Prioritizing Our Church Family in Our Prayer Lives?

A few nights ago I had a lovely dinner at my home with a friend from church. It was so engaging that she stayed until 3:00 am! We sat on the porch and talked about everything. We also discussed prayer and how we really need to be praying not only for our families, but our church family… our sisters and brothers in Christ. I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend praying for my minister, the elders, deacons, our church members and I realized I don’t spend nearly enough time in prayer over them. Praying for our brothers and sisters is fundamental to our spiritual growth individually and collectively. I pray for my family every day, but those relationships in church are just as important and are in need of prayer.

When I joined a church I quickly realized that it is much like my own family. There are complex relationships, disagreements, lots of love, and we have to be intentional about the bonds we create. These relationships are in need of prayer! Think about your minister for example. Ministers are under so much pressure and are being pulled in a hundred different directions, all while trying to preach the word of God. They have a huge responsibility and pleasing everyone as we know is pretty much impossible, they need our prayers consistently and not just in church. When I look at the prayer list I’m always taken aback by how many people are going through a serious crisis  and then I think about how many more people just don’t talk about what is occurring in their lives they need prayer too.

Romans 12:4-5 “Just as each of us has one body with many members, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to the others.”We are not on an island alone, we belong to one another and should be lifting each other up in prayer, love and compassion. Church is more than a routine activity on Sunday mornings. It is where we fellowship, share in one another’s joys and burdens, encourage one another and when the service is over our prayers and concern for our church family shouldn’t be neglected, but prioritized in our spiritual life.

Here are 5 things I plan on doing to make my church family a priority:

  1. Be intentional about setting at least one day a week aside to pray for my church family throughout the day.
  2. Pray for specific needs of those on the prayer list. Too often, I don’t utilize my church bulletin in the way I should be to pray for those who have specific requests. I want to set apart time to pray for those needs listed.
  3. Reach out. I want to strive to spend more time in fellowship and engaging my sisters and brothers so that I can be more in tune with their prayer needs.
  4. Checking up on people. If I don’t see someone in church who has attended regularly, it takes just a minute to call them or even text to see if they are okay.
  5. Let them know I care. I want to be more intentional about sending cards and notes of encouragement to my church family and especially our leadership.
There's a lot of love in the house!

There’s a lot of love in the house!

My First Church Home…Precious Memories

When  I come home there are a number of things I make certain to do, for example I ride by my grandma’s old house, I get a hoagie from a store called Fuzzies, I sleep in my momma’s and bed and one of the most precious things I do is going to church at my first church home. My memories of attending church go way back. I can still recall going to Wednesday night bible study in the bottom of the church and sitting with the other kids. I can still see my gram and my Aunt Dee taking notes. I have fond memories of the bookmarks and chocolate I would get every Christmas along with the other kids and most of all I loved sitting next my grandma in the pews. I have a long history a the The Gospel of Jesus Church. These are the people who loved  and prayed for me since I was a little girl and saw me through some tough times. I laughed and played as a child in the front lawn and I broke down as adult walking up the aisle when I had to say my final goodbye to my grandparents as an adult. It was where my uncles and grandfather were ministers, where my mom was baptized and where my grandmother and grandfather’s funeral took place, it has always been in my life.

Today, as I sat there on Easter Sunday with my mom and daughter, I was overcome with emotion as my mind went back to those days of yesteryear that now seem so distant. Listening to the sermon I couldn’t help thinking about how time is fleeting time and in that time how so many of the people I loved are no longer there and how we are all getting older. I had to smile when brother Ed said he had candy for all the kids and my daughter’s eyes lit up just like mine did at 9. Gratitude washed over me because I know that I am immensely blessed. Blessed to have grown up in this church that held me, loved me, didn’t judge me, supported me  and prayed over me all my life. I would do anything to sit next to my grandma in pew, or to hear my pap preach and although I can no longer do that I hold the memories dear in my heart and regardless of how life evolves that will never change.

Happy Easter! I hope you have a church home you love and if you do cherish it with all your heart!

I love that stain glass. When I was around 8 I remember staring at it all the time, I used to swear I saw a figure of a man in the glass. Funny thing is that was never there... or maybe it was.

I love that stain glass. When I was around 8 I remember staring at it all the time, I used to swear I saw a figure of a man in the glass. Funny thing is that was never there… or maybe it was.

Keeping Our Kids in Church After They Leave the Nest: 4 Ways to Build A Connection

Vacation bible study last year

Vacation bible study last year

Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I was reading some statistics awhile back about how once children leave their parent’s house many of them also leave behind church, which is unfortunate since we know that once they’re out there in the world they really need to rely on that spiritual foundation and  fellowship that comes with attending church. Right now, Anya is 9 and she loves church, but will it be the same when she is 16 or 18? I hope so, but I’m not naieve to the reality that kids change and outside social factors can be a big influence on our kids once mom isn’t waking them up on Sunday morning. So what do we do?

I think we need to make church more than an obligation on Sundays. Our kids need to feel intimately connected with church if we expect them to continue going without our prompting.  Church is a blessing because it is there we can learn about scripture, fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and  serve as the body of Christ. These three things are key to connecting to the church. Here are some ideas on how to get your kids connected to the church:

1)  Take them to church joyfully!-Okay this seems like a no brainer, but think about what your attitude about going to church says to you kids. Are Sunday mornings a mad rush with everyone screaming and hurried? Or do you plan for Sunday and look forward to church? When you’re attitude is one of care and joy about  attending church, you’re teaching them to prepare their hearts and minds for a special day. You’re creating good memories associated with church that will last beyond the 18 years you have them at home.

2) Find ways for them to serve the church– Our church will sometimes ask for help cleaning previously, I’ve volunteered and took Anya with me to help clean the pews. This was a great experience for both of us. She’s also helped me decorate for the Teacher’s Appreciation Dinner.  Teaching our kids to take care of the place they worship shows respect and love through their service. In serving the church they serve the body of Christ and it becomes more clear to them on how they are connected and the importance of working together as members of the church.

3) Get involved in church- Youth programs in church are such a blessing and is one of the easiest ways your children can connect with the church, fellowship and make friends. Look into the youth programs at your church and if there isn’t one talk to your pastor and other members of the congregation who have kids to get one started. For example, my church has a bible bowl, a vacation bible study and kids classes on Wednesday and Sunday all of which really promote not only bonds but a love for church.

4) Develop and nurture mentoring in kids at church- Encourage your kids to mentor other children in church and keep an eye open for older kids that can be a mentor to your kids. Anya has been helping the 2-3 year old’s teacher in her Wednesday bible study class and I can tell she really feels like she’s participating and has a responsibility to be a role model to the younger kids. Building these strong bonds encourage them to seek that later in life.

Church is personal and I’m not saying if your child decides not to go to church when they are older that they don’t love God. But, being part of a community and the body of Christ is a blessing that I want my daughter to experience even if she’s miles away. It is that community that can support her, give her godly advice, and a place to be when home is far away. When kids view church as more than a building or an obligation they develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of how church is a home to them and hopefully they continue to go because the desire to go resides in their heart.

Sunday Mornings Don’t Have to Be Hectic and You Don’t Have to Be Late Church!

Sunday mornings are always sweet to me, they always have been. There is something so cozy and peaceful about Sundays, especially when you attend church. But that mood can quickly change if you’re running late and trying to get everyone ready. We’ve all had those Sundays when were scrambling to find something to wear, trying to feed the kids breakfast while gulping down a cup of coffee. Getting to church on time can be a serious challenge especially with kids. I have one kid and I’m ashamed to say how often I’ve been late to church. Don’t get me wrong the important thing is that you made it there! I don’t believe God is marking you tardy, but it is nice to not be rushed and to be on time, it shows your kids that you put just as much importance on church as you do on other things in your life. Church is a priority.

When we arrive at church we should want to be in a cheerful spirit ready to worship and fellowship and not it a cranky mood.  Here are a few things I suggest doing to make your Sunday mornings easier:

  • Lay out your clothes and your kid’s clothes the night before. If they are old enough to do this themselves, make it a must do for them. This includes everything your outfits require. If they need ironed doing it on Saturday will give you those few extra minutes to get out the house.
  • If you have small children get them prepared the night before and make sure they get enough sleep so they aren’t cranky. Pack toys, diapers, bottles, snacks and anything else you need Saturday evening.
  • Have Bibles, journals if you carry one,  ready to go or at least all in one place so you can grab it and leave. This goes for your kids too!
  • If you tithe, have it ready to go whether it is a check or cash. Anya likes to give some money of her own, so I make sure she has it in my purse on Saturday night or an envelope.
  • Set your alarm. Ok, this is kind of silly but unless you have that internal alarm clock don’t forget to set your alarm. My internal alarm only works on vacation so I’m waking up to the buzz of my cell phone between 8:15 and 8:30 since my church starts at 9:30. (I also set my coffee maker to automatically brew at that time)
  • Make a simple breakfast. Sunday may not be the time to make a huge breakfast depending on what time your church starts. Also if you have your table set the night before you don’t have to worry about it in the am. Try breakfast casseroles they can be prepared in advance an are usually delicious! Check out these recipes http://allrecipes.com/recipes/breakfast-and-brunch/breakfast-casseroles/

Set a tone of excitement for Sundays and for church! Getting prepared for church shouldn’t be a chore it should be something we are excited about and if you can convey that to your kids they will be more likely to get it moving on Sunday morning. Throughout the week, talk about something your excited about for Sunday. Maybe it is the sermon, the songs, or seeing your church family. Ask them what they are looking forward to on Sunday and build a sense of anticipation. Get a routine going and Sunday mornings can be a time for your family to bond and have fun while worshipping!

VBS is an Important Part of Fellowshipping for Kids and Adults!

1st Day of VBS

VBS aka Vacation Bible School was a blast this summer. It is 7 days of non-stop learning, having fun, being busy and kind of exhausting but it is so meaningful and important to our kids and for us adults also. Our VBS was a couple weeks ago and Anya looked forward to it every single night. After her theater camp ended at 4pm she was rearing to go to VBS at 6:45. I loved seeing her excited not to just to hang out with her friends at church but to learn about God. The fact that my daughter enjoys learning abut  the scriptures makes my heart content. More than anything I can ever give her whether it is education, extracurricular lessons, trips, nothing will ever compare to the spiritual foundation I hope forms in her childhood and carries on throughout her life. I believe that VBS is an important part of the foundation.

If your church has a VBS do your kids a favor and let them go! They will love it and so will you! Our church has adult VBS during the same time, but what is really wonderful for adults is the fellowship they experience as brothers and sisters in Christ. VBS gives you the opportunity to learn, teach, volunteer and really be involved with your church family. It is a gift not only for our kids but for ourselves as well. Belonging to a church means more than just going on Sunday. It  means being involved, sharing your gifts and being open to learning about one another. It is an opportune time to talk to that person you normally just say hello to and dig a little deeper. This year I worked with a few other women serving snacks and had a great time just chatting and getting to know them a little better. It was a sweet fellowship that I felt grateful for and blessed to experience.

VBS connects children and adults. It is more than just games and giggles, it is about lovingly serving and fellowshipping with the body of Christ. My heart was full every time I delivered snacks in a room and saw children from age 2 to age 17 engaged in the word of God. I felt especially grateful for the teachers who decorated their rooms, prepared their lessons, and went above and beyond to ensure their students had a memorable time. I was in awe of the man who prepared dinner every night and those who helped him, believe me that is a lot of work and responsibility. Overall, I was blown away  by the enthusiasm for VBS and the love I felt for 7 days straight.

As a single mom and just speaking to all moms out there, get involved in VBS and really enjoy your church community and be open to building and developing the relationships that can evolve. Plus, these early memories of church stay with our kids way beyond the summer. Get excited and take some time to serve and to fellowship with your church family it is an invaluable experience!

Fun Day! The Last day of VBS! Look at that smile :) Priceless!

A special thank you to my church family at the Silver Spring Church of Christ who made this year’s VBS fantastic!!! We love and appreciate all you :)

Listen to 10 Reasons Why Bringing Your Kids to Church Matters on Blog Radio!

Okay so I had so much fun yesterday that I decided to do another broadcast today! Today’s Broadcast is 10 Reasons Why Bringing Your Kids to Church Matters. Just click on this link and you can listen into what I had to say. For some reason, I had less time today so it is a bit rushed in the end, but hope you still  like it!!

Thanks for listening!!! Let me know your thoughts!

10 Reasons Why Bringing Our Kids to Church Matters

Anya Enjoying Vacation Bible School


1. Learn About God. I want to be clear that I believe parents should introduce God into their children’s lives. Our homes are the domestic church. However, church is the other side of the connecting bridge that gives them the resources they need to learn about God’s word. Church is where our kids can age appropriately start diving deeper into the scriptures and stories of the bible that will give them the wisdom they need to navigate in a culture that provides temptation around every corner.

2. Creates a Spiritual Foundation. We have a responsibility to give our children a spiritual foundation and the church helps to build that foundation in conjunction with what we instill at home. When we bring our children to church on Sundays, for bible study, for youth group, VBS we are building up their foundation rock by rock and fostering a love for God.

3. Fellowship with Peers. Church is a wonderful place for our children to meet friends whose families share the same belief and similar values. It is spiritually healthy for our kids to be around other children who display a love and excitement for God. They can encourage one another in their spiritual walk which is a blessing in a world where we are getting further and further away from God. This is their time to praise and worship with kids their age who want to glorify God. In a culture where kids are face an enormous amount of temptation, having friends they can talk to that have the same belief system is going to help them make wiser decisions and not to feel bad about them!

4. Role Models and Mentors. In today kids are starving for good role models. Now, I’m not saying that everyone in the church is perfect, none of us are we are all sinners right! Let’s give them other role models that aren’t on television getting famous for bad behavior. But, in church our children can find godly examples of how men and women who love God behave. Many of our brothers around sisters in Christ can become wonderful mentors for our children. Sure our kids love us and hopefully they will comfortable to come to us with any issue, but we always want them to have another adult that can provide sound guidance for them and that they can count on.

5. Church is a Safe Haven. In a world that is so opposed to God, our children are spiritually challenged every day and need an earthly refuge.Yes, our home is a safe haven, but giving our children a place to go to worship, be loved  and to participate in a community of believers is a gift. At church they can let their guard down and feel supported and loved by the body of Christ.

6.  Develops a Life Long Discipline. Church shouldn’t be something we legalistically do every Sunday, if we make it just a routine our kids will pick that up and to them church will have very little meaning except an early wake up call on Sunday. This is a discipline we should do with joy and sincere love and our attitude will make all the difference. When we take our children to church every Sunday and we show enthusiasm, and prepare the night before, and not make it a chore but a privilege and something to look forward to our children will most likely continue to go to church long after they leave our nest.

7. Church is Inspiring. Nothing compares to going to church on Sunday morning and hearing a beautiful sermon. When our children go to Sunday school or bible study they are reading and learning about godly men and women who were faithful and they are hearing a testimony that they can apply to their own lives. They can be inspired of how God can work in their life which builds up their faith!

8. Spiritual Formation. We were babes  craving milk, just as our children are starting out on their journey into their own spiritual maturation. The more we take them to hear the word the more they internalize it and begin to develop their own spiritual formation. When they are surrounded by followers of Christ they are observing and learning. Even if sometimes it may not seem like it when they are swarming in their seat. Kids are sponges so remember they are soaking it in even when we don’t think they are.

9. Helps to Develop Their Spiritual Potential. I am amazed at the spiritual potential in our children. Anya leaves me in awe at the things she will say or do that just shows her incredible spiritual potential to do God’s work. I have no doubt that attending church has contributed to this blessing. It is never to early to develop your child’s spiritual potential and I believe the church can help us do this. Even if your kid is 2 bring them. My friend’s son who is 3 gave his brother who was ill a “helmet of protection,” he made at church so he could feel better. Don’t tell me God’s word doesn’t seep into the hearts of our little ones!!!

10. Families Need the Church. Mommas we need to be worshipping God together with our children. We need to show our children not only through words but through actions that we are serious in our walk with the Lord and our faith. Going to church as a family is a bonding experience that brings us closer together. When we fellowship with our children we are strengthening our relationship with them through Christ. Not to mention that we are developing meaningful traditions that can be passed on through generations that can nurture and create spiritually strong and stable families.

Does Your Church Have A Single Mom Ministry?

I’m curious to know if your church has a Single Mom Ministry. I posted a poll on the side of the blog, so if you have a minute to answer please do so! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I believe that single Christian moms need to be supporting one another and church should be one of the main places this happens. It could be that there aren’t many single moms in your church, but if there are, I would love to hear your comments on some of these questions:

-Would you start a ministry or a single Christian mom group?
– If you did what are the kind of topics you’d discuss?
-Do you believe you’d face resistance to starting a single mom ministry?
-How would you get moms interested?
-What type of events would you have? For example, bible studies, outings, speakers, etc. 

Thanks so much and have a great evening!