i am the church // i am the family

Tag Archives: communication

I’m so excited to be sharing about the Orange Tour. Well, even more than talking ABOUT the Orange Tour, I’m pumped about going with my TEAM (we’re going to San Jose this year!). Last year was a blast.

I went into last year feeling weighed down by a bunch of things that had been going on in my life and church. I remember feeling a little disillusioned about church and ministry. Although, on paper, I knew I was excited to be going on a trip with my awesome teammates, I don’t think I realized what was in store.

We went to the one down near Los Angeles (Glendora, if you want to be specific). Even the drive down was rewarding, since I won our team car game. :-) The first thing we did is a “Meet Me at Chick-Fil-A” close to the Tour venue. There, we were able to interact with family ministry workers from a variety of churches and hear a bunch of insights from peers about how they’re being orange (leaning into that partnership between the “yellow” church and “red” home). Also, it was great to meet with Orange thinkers like Matt McKee (who really challenged me with some ways to partner with parents), Jeremy Zach (whose enthusiasm is contagious), Stephanie Porter (who makes everything more fun), and Sue Miller (who “wrote the book” on children’s ministry). It probably could have been just that lunch at Chick-Fil-A; but, thankfully, there was more.

That night, our team took advantage of the time together to build unity through talking through some of the tough stuff that we had been dealing with as a church. This wasn’t a complaint session. Instead, it really became one of those conversations where each of us stuck his/her hand in the middle of the circle pumped because we knew what we were about and that we had each other’s backs to do what was right.

The next day was the Tour, and it was great. Reggie Joiner shared for most of the day (with a few breakouts) about the importance of what we are doing. This partnership between the church and family is so important. I wouldn’t even try to recapture what he said. I would just say that it was inspirational and informational– and I think that’s what you hope for from these kinds of things.

I don’t know what to tell you beyond that. All I know is that, as a student ministries guy, it’s really easy to concentrate solely on the kids– only talking to the parents when you “have to” (discipline issues, answering questions, or having parent meetings to launch new programs, trips, etc.) To be intentional about partnering with parents is more work. It doubles your “target groups.” But…at the same time, it’s what we are called to do. We’re called to help parents take that next step in owning the responsibilities that God has bestowed upon them as parents.

The ride back from this trip was invaluable as well, as we began to bounce ideas back and forth about implementation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that radical things are happening in orangeness since that trip.

* Our family ministry team meets every week now to talk about our priorities and about how we can synchronize our messages.

* Our childcare center is partnering with our family ministry team on how they can be orange, better equipping the parents of preschoolers who they serve every day.

* Our youth ministry has invited parents to participate even more in our Sunday night program and taken the time to be intentional about helping them with monthly “parent cue” videos

* Our preschool ministry is revolutionizing how we do baby dedications to get our parents started off right

* Our children’s ministry team has rededicated itself to training small group leaders to understand the importance of communication with parents

* Our senior pastor did a six-week series called “Orange”– so our WHOLE CHURCH could understand what us family ministry wackos were so excited about

* This blog was born. I wanted to create a place where I could bounce ideas around to my own church family and whoever else may see this– to hammer home the importance of orange as a lifestyle.

* My baby (Evie) was born. I’m in the “parent” club now. I’ve been with the “church” folks since I gave my life to Christ; but now I wear both hats.

Raising the next generation to follow Jesus is always going to be “important but not urgent.” There will be other things that compete with this grand task. I’m glad that the Orange Tour is in place to smack some sense into church leaders; and that’s why I’m fully expecting to be blown away this year as well!

So…which one are you going to?

First off, I am completely aware that I am posting something about Father’s day September.  That may be an indication of how crazy my summer has been…

This past Father’s Day, my church had father’s come up on stage with one of their kids and a little cardboard sign.  On the cardboard sign was a number– a number signifying how many more weekends that dad had left to be the primary influence in his kid’s life (before they went off to college).  It was a powerful moment.  I’ve written about the concept before here.  Also, my header (for now) on my FB fan page is a picture of all the dads.

This video followed.  These are the dads who were “at zero.”  In other words, these were the dads whose sons and daughters were graduating and heading off to community college or college.  Just being a part of the filming process with these men was humbling, and it really made me think about the time that I have with Evie.  Thank you Jon, Mark, Paul, and Brian for sharing you heart in this:

On first blush, this concept of branding may seem to have very little to do with being “orange.” I mean, isn’t this what all churches are trying to do: get people to recognize them and show up?

But I think it’s in the midst of realizing that it is the church (“yellow,” shining the light of Christ) that needs to pursue a partnership with families (“red,” warm love of the home) to create “Orange.” The church has to step up her game when it comes to partnering with families– and what you’re putting out there is a big part of that partnership.

So…Matt McKee‘s breakout was thought-provoking. The over-arching question was, “How can we take OUR story about OUR community and share it with our neighbors?”

Pop quiz (don’t cheat). Who has the most followers on Facebook?

a) Nike
b) Adidas
c) Toms
d) Converse

Answer at the bottom.

Here’s what I can tell you about the company that has the other three licked in this category. The company that is smoking their competitors tapped into a need that the community had (in this case, the need to discover and share new music) and capitalized on it. This particular company built a recording studio where brand-new artists could come and perform. These videos were then put up on the fan page, and people started sharing those videos all over Facebook. In the process, that company got more and more followers.

This company was in touch with their customer base. They listened well, had their finger on the pulse. So…the question is, “How do we listen better?”

Matt said that we want to have a presence in our community that has the same kind of response of a Disney, Zappos, or Starbucks. Think about it, Disney just makes you feel happy feelings. Zappos makes you think about great customer service. Starbucks doesn’t even have words in its logo, but it makes you think about being in a field of daisies sipping on a chai tea latte (oh…was that just me?).

Here are some characteristic of great “brands” that I gleaned from Matt:

* Longevity (changing with the community over time)

But did you know that the average church worker’s lifespan is 1 1/2 years? People aren’t around long enough to really make a difference!

* Being Self-Aware (paying attention to yourself and what you’re communicating)

Check out your church’s web site. What are you saying about yourself?

* Complexity to Simplicity (eliminating obstacles)

How hard do we make it on parents to succeed? Can we create tools that they can have readily available (like the Parent Cue App) to develop them as disciplers of kids?

* Relevance (helping to solve an actual problem in the community)

What problems do families actually have that the church can help solve? Think about it. If you have chapped lips, you think of Chapstick. If you have a cut, you think of Band-Aid. Are people in the community thinking about your church as a place that solves any problem?

* Narrative (telling a story)

The goal is not just to tell any story. The goal is to bring the surrounding community into the story. Fun little factoid, “Did you know that Obama’s famous poster a few years ago was the first presidential poster to include the word ‘we’?” The idea behind it was that people could feel they were a part in making this “change” happen. We want to include people into the mission of the church. We need to think about what we’re community to our community (our “branding”).

Thanks, Matt McKee. You can check out his awesome multimedia presentation here. My next post on Matt will be, “Why Matt McKee thinks Pinterest is for girls, and why RoarPro hasn’t developed Manterest yet.”

The answer is d) Converse. Pretty clever, huh? An actual recording studio. And they would have all the bands rock their shoes as a bonus. Clever, clever. Yeah, I know, we all wanted Toms to win. “Like” them on FB!

Check that orange tie.

I have a tradition that was kind of passed down to me from one of my former pastors. He once said that the Christmas season is so cluttered that it can be hard to concentrate on coming up with good resolutions by the time that New Years hits. I agree. Sometimes I feel like someone could ask, “Do you have any resolutions?” And I feel about as unprepared to answer as the night who can’t even remember his favorite color in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”: “Blue. No, yellow…” [as I am hurled off a cliff]. Ok…a bit melodramatic. But fitting nonetheless because we seem to rush our resolutions, and they are mostly related to how fat we feel after eating all those holiday goodies.

So the antidote from my old pastor was to take the whole month of January to think about your resolutions. Work them out. Pray about them. And then, starting in February, you go full speed ahead.

So, I may seem a little late to the party on this resolution talk; but I’m actually right on time. :-)

Here are my two (and I challenge you to join the charge):

1. Pray with my wife, Mary Kate, every single night (no exceptions). If we are not together at night, we pray on the phone. If we can’t talk on the phone (like when she was in Kenya), we write out letters of prayers that we read before going to bed. The bottom line is that we become one as we place our marriage at Jesus’ feet. Last night was night #1, and I already feel like I’m understanding where she is and how I can be praying for her throughout the day. I also feel like she was listening to me on a level that we just don’t normally do. Healthy marriage definitely helps in healthy parenting.

2. Pray for the salvation of my daughter, Evie, every single night with Mary Kate (no exceptions). We did last night. I want Evie to be a lot of things. The list in my head is getting longer every day. I’d love for her to love singing. I’d love for her to have a sense of humor. I’d love for her to prefer the 4-3 defense. But, more than anything, I want her to come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. I want that more than her being “well-rounded,” “well-adjusted,” “well-taken-care-of,” or “well-thought-of.” And so, for that, we will pray every night. And, as the influences in her life begin to evolve around her life, we will pray that those things will bring her closer to Jesus.

Anyway, those are my two resolutions. I will pray with Mary Kate (something I have sucked at for about 8 1/2 years), and I will pray for Evie (something that I have done, but not with much intentionality–and not with my wife).

So…who will join me in the Year of Prayer?

When I was in high school, I worked the triple crown of fast food restaurants. I worked at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Subway. So I am going to say what I’m about to say with a little bit of fast food credibility. Very few (except for Chick-Fil-A) workers at fast food restaurants actually greet anymore. I used to do this as a social experiment (and don’t recommend it for mature Christians). I would walk into a fast food restaurant and stare at the person working there until they greeted me. Sometimes it would be an awkward few seconds, and they would impatiently look at me as if I was doing something wrong. I just remember in all the training videos that they used to tell you that you were supposed to welcome someone to the restaurant and ask, “How can I help you?”

This might not be a dad issue, per se; but I think one of the greatest things a dad can do is love his wife. And, in that vein, I have to wonder, “Do we really ask our wives ‘how can I help you’ enough?”

I had one of these tough conversations recently. This may be a semi-universal issue in that we all want people to know what we want without having to say it, but we also wish that people would tip us off on what they want. And this isn’t a selfish thing– it’s just literally that I think we sometimes forget how limited our point-of-view really is.

So…when was the last time you, husband dad-type, have asked how you can help your wife? I’m not talking about the “ok-do-I-have-all-my-bases-covered-so-I-can-watch-the-game-in-peace” kind of asking, but the “I-value-you-so-much-that-I-want-to-make-sure-that-you’re-doing-ok” kind. The second kind is a lot more difficult, but it goes a long way. This may affect things that you enjoy. This may affect how you go about doing something. You might not “like” the answer. Chances are, since you defaulted to doing something else in the first place, your wife’s answer might not even seem natural for you to do or against your nature. But here’s what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:3-5 (in the Bible):

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”

Paul goes on to explain that Jesus was able to take on the nature of a servant when He deserved so much more. Maybe we feel like we “deserve” our me-time around the house when we’ve had a hard day of solving the world’s problems, but our “deserving” doesn’t even compare to Jesus’ deserving. He served. We should too. The wife. The kids. Others. Orange Dad’s serve. We are called to be servant-leaders.

Back to the main point– I’ve also found that the more “how-can-I-help-you” conversations that I have with Mary Kate, the more I can sense what she wants without even asking. When you’re not asking those questions regularly, that may sound like an impossible mind-game. When you are, though, I think you become in step with her heart. There’s honor in that.

You’ve heard it said a million times: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” So be like a Chick-Fil-A employee and ask, “How can I help you?” And when she thanks you, say, “My pleasure.”

I’m trying to figure out how to get traction in the Orange Dad community. It’s not so much that I’m concerned about whether or not I’ve got a high readership, etc. I am more concerned with the fact that I’ve been writing but there hasn’t been much interaction, discussion, or even pushback with the dads out there.

Am I just coming up against years and years of conditioning that tells dads that the best way to be a parent is to be a “provider”? Although being a provider is important, that’s certainly not the only thing. But I feel like a lot of guys have more to say about sports, their fantasy teams, their jobs, politics, etc. than they do about one of the most important roles they will ever play: being a father.

Is it that we spend too much time fantasizing about other things on the internet when we could get serious about the reality of our roles as dads:

Is the internet just a place to act like a hotshot by talking junk about political things or being the most sarcastic guy in the world?

Is it merely a place that men go to check the stats of their players so they can feel like they are a GM of a pro team?

Is it a place to become a hero in a fake world by playing hours of video games that won’t contribute at all to our “hero” status on this earth?

Is it a place to objectify women and steal away our hearts?

Is it a place to acquire more stuff to keep up with those fictional Joneses?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I feel like this issue is an important one. I guess that if I felt that there was an outlet or regular “real life” forum for men to discuss these issues I wouldn’t be so frustrated about this community’s failure to launch. But is there? Where are the men talking about these things?

I want to be a part of changing this culture.

If you disagree with me, fine. Tell me. Let’s get into some serious discussion.

If you’re skeptical about what all this “God stuff” has to do with being a good dad. Fine, let’s talk about it here.

If you’re embarrassed because you know you’re dropping the ball, should we let the fear of people knowing we’re flawed (just like everyone else) be the reason why we don’t participate in the iron sharpening ability of community.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This can’t happen if I’m talking to myself all day. I’ll be about as sharp as one of those pool noodles.

So…what’s relevant to you? Pitch ideas. Let’s explore the tough stuff. If you want to anonymously propose topics that are kicking your butt right now, do it.

Let’s leave it all out on the field when it comes to being a dad.

After all, being a dad is kind of a big deal.

I’ve been wrestling with the idea of what is REALLY looks like for the church to partner with the family, and a wise man gave me a great idea. I asked this guy, who is a ministry vet and a guy who really “gets” the orange philosophy what was the best thing he did to grow in his relationships with entire families in his ministry– and I’m not sure what I expected to be his response– but sometimes the simplest answers are the ones that make the most sense.

“Have a Bible study for dads of teenagers.”

I remember already having pushback in my mind, “Wait, no, I’m the ‘student’ ministries director. Could or should I be spending that much time with grown men?” Yes, I know, I laugh at myself sometimes too. But, hey, I’m being honest.

I want to grow alongside other dads. I think that’s the stance that I want to take. I know that I am way, way behind them as far as being a dad goes. I have a six-WEEK-old. They would at least have a twelve-YEAR-old. But experience or even having something to bring to the table isn’t really the issue.

Then my friend when totally counter-intuitive on me and told me to resist the temptation to make the Bible study a topical one about parenting. Instead, he said to just go through a book of the Bible. Again, my mind is thinking, “What, no, I need to be a better ‘steward’ of the time that we would have together.” Actually, what would be better than to go through the Gospel of John, grow in WONDER at who God is, DISCOVER who we are in Christ (and as dads, husbands, etc.), and develop PASSION for others (the world, our family, our co-workers). I think the Bible can do that on its own. So I am going to trust God in this one.

It’s going to be an interesting journey. Something I’ve never really tried before. I’m just the assembler, not the teacher. Something tells me that I am going to learn so much and be blessed on Wednesday mornings at Denny’s.

The joke around New Harvest is that my nickname “PM” is an indication of when I do all my ministry. Some weeks, that’s the way it feels (with an event or meeting nearly every night). Rarely, do I use the AM as a time to do anything productive (I’m recovering). But this is a priority to me, so I am getting up early enough so that almost no one would have an excuse for why they’d miss: 6 AM – 8 AM. I hope that, by creating a middle, dads will meet me there.

…”Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” by Reggie Joiner & Carey Nieuwhof. You can do it here.

No, seriously. You could buy four Starbucks drinks with the amount of money it costs and watch a week’s worth of Wheel of Fortune in the time that it would probably take to read it and realign your gauges for what’s important as a parent.

I am the skeptic of all skeptics. I don’t drink anyone’s Kool-Aid, even if it’s “orange” Kool-Aid. When I read a book, I think the burden of proof is always on the author to show me that what he/she is saying is the real deal.

That’s why it’s so remarkable that, when I read “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity,” I literally would get so excited about sections that I would have to tell my wife, “Hey, listen to this!”

The book is organized in a conversational tone from both authors to discuss ideas such as:

* A parent’s influence is best realized in partnership with the church.
[Orange 101]

* God isn’t holding up a perfect picture; He’s writing a bigger story.
[So stop trying to appear "perfect."]

* Pursue strategic relationships for your kids.
[You can't do this by yourself! No one can or should.]

* Focus your priorities on what matters most.
[Imagine the end. WHO do we want our kids to become?]

* Communicate in a style that gives the relationship value.
[Fight for the heart!]

* Increase the quantity of quality time you spend together.
[How do you interact with your kid? Is there a rhythm?]

* Put yourself first when it comes to personal growth.
[Does your faith make your kids believe more or less in God?]

* You can mobilize your family to demonstrate God’s love in a broken world.
[Focus the family.]

I’m on the early, early end of the parenting spectrum. Shoot, my baby is like, what, seventeen days old. But I’m hoping that I will still be implementing the strategies and ideas from this book when Evie is seventeen years old.

This is a resource that I can literally put in any parent’s hands if they are humble enough to ask for help!

I will hit more of this book as I continue to write on this blog because I’m now fully wrapped up in “Think Orange” (the mothership of Orange books– aimed at church leaders). What makes this book great, though, is that it speaks directly to the parent side of the equation. Good, good stuff.

I’m not saying this book is the end all be all, though. With that being said…

Are their any other parenting resources that you have read (or would like to share with me) that have really helped you as a parent (or you as a family ministry person) to grow up your kids in their faith?

The nursery is starting to take shape. There are less than twenty days till the due date. Evie’s name is all over it. Literally. Others definitely have chipped in to set the room up. The lamp. The table. The rocker. The blanket. The monkey doll. And I just think of this room. More than anything, this is an invitation to CONNECTION.

Ultimately, this room says that “my mom and my dad want to be in a relationship with me.” It’s for her, but really it’s for us together. I can’t wait to sit in that rocker and read with her. I can’t to sing to her. I can’t wait to teach her how to pray.

As parents we need to remember our role in inviting our kids into a relationship with God. A friend reminded me of this Sunday evening while I was with a group of parents, praying for this generation of teenagers. He pointed out Psalm 78, a song by Asaph [please allow my paraphrasing for the purpose of clarifying]:

4 We will not hide [the things of God] from [the next generation];
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
His power, and the wonders He has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded [those who had faith in the past]
to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know [who God is and what He expects of us],
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then [our children] would put their trust in God
and would not forget [all that God has done]
but would keep His commands.

Asaph’s reminding the followers of God in his time to not forget who God is and what He expects. I am so glad that God has revealed Himself in Jesus. We can be adopted into God’s family by His sacrifice on the Cross. He doesn’t lower God’s expectations by any stretch– He raises the expectation that there can be genuine intimacy with Him.

I think it’s similar to the feelings that I’m having toward Evie. I want her to be “good,” but I want to be close to her first. I want her “goodness” to be motivated from the relationship. Ultimately, we have to invite our kid(s) to make that kind of connection with God.

Question: How do you show your kid that you care more about the relationship than the rules?

I am reading “Right Relationships” by Tom Marshall right now; and, in it, he talks about the foundations of relationships. One of those is honor (or “honour” if you are a British guy). About “honour,” Marshall writes:

“Parents need to remember this. Children are born with just two basic needs, the need for love and the need for significance, or the need to feel good about themselves. This latter need has to do with honour and it is not the same as the need for love. True, the child who is loved has a better chance of also feeling honoured, but not necessarily, and certainly the child who is not loved loses on both scores. When honour is lacking a child will suffer even if love is sufficient. The commonest consequence is an inferiority complex or even worse the lack of hope, the lack of the very courage to be. The critical role in this is the father’s. Fathering is giving the child his sense of identity and his sense of self-worth. It is instructive to read about the fathering Jesus received. It gave him his identity, ‘You are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased‘ and honour ‘That all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father.’”

Question: How can a father give honor to his children?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,117 other followers