Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HomeFront Groups: The Environment of Responsibility

We are testing a new small group concept for young families.  These specific small groups (part of the CARE Groups at VCC) include the entire family in the faith and fellowship building inherent in a good small group.  But the kids are brought into the circle with this model.  The faith of the whole family is challenged and cultivated, together.
Would you like to hear more?

This is the remarkable free monthly HomeFront magazine we use as curriculum:

Each month the HomeFront magazine covers one of ten foundational environments (or atmospheres) that a spiritually awakened family might want to foster in their homes.
Last month we celebrated the environment of Responsibility.
The Environment of Responsibility teaches us that:

God has entrusted me with the things 
and people He created around me.

Here's how we explored the environment of Responsibility:  The families in our group each brought something to put inside of a host of "blessing bags".  The kids chose a gift bag, filled with nice things and finished with a flourish of tissue paper and a simple handmade card.
Then they got to take home their completed bags to keep handy in the car for the next time they see someone on the street corner, asking for help. 

These would be great to create every so often and to keep handy in your car.  
Putting them together as a family can lead to conversations with your kids 
about how God has entrusted us with the people around us.  And . . .  Viola!   
You have just allowed the environment of Responsibility to grow in your home.

First, we made cards with scriptures pasted inside, decorated with stickers, and signed in crayon.

Then, each child grabbed a gift bag and picked what items they wanted to put inside of it.

There were crackers, juice boxes, water bottles, cookies, band-aids, socks, Bibles, trail mix, 
and other treats.  (It was serious business as maybe you can tell!)

When we were all finished this was the happy group:

This is an example of a shared spiritual experience you can do with your kids to foster the monthly Spiritual environment in your family's life.  The idea for the blessing bags came right out of                            September's HomeFront monthly magazine.

Kid's Church: God Is Sovereign

This Sunday we continued in the environment of Out of the Comfort Zone, the Spiritual Environment for the month of October.  Every lesson this month has something to do with how God helps us grow by stretching us out of our comfort zones.

We were following the Israelites this week, as they camped at Mt. Sinai and then went all the way to the edge of the Promised Land. . . and back again!   They had to turn around to wander in the desert for 40 years, all because they didn't believe God!  Instead they complained, whined and didn't trust God when things got hard.  . . . hhmm. . . has that ever happened in your family?  

This part of the Big God Story shows us that : 
God is Sovereign

That just means God is all powerful and He's in charge.  What that boils down to is that even when He stretches us into places that are hard, we can trust Him.

After our lesson (which for the 10:30 class involved a hillbilly named Linda-Lou who kept talking about possum hunting), we always end with response time.  This is a time when our kids are given a chance to spend a moment alone with God and to listen and respond to His voice in some tangible way.

This week we asked them to think of something they have been complaining about lately.  We all sat quietly before the Lord and asked Him to bring something to mind.  Once He did, they were to write or draw this complaint on a piece of paper and carry it to the foot of the cross.

   They solemnly laid their complaints down at the foot of the cross.

And left them there; trading their complaints and whining for . . .

                               One of the promises of God.

They reverently carried these promise scrolls back to the worship area, grasping them tightly in their determined hands.   . . . Because these kids know about the promises of God.   They know they just got the better end of this deal.  They know that trading their complaints for the promises of God is trading UP.   And together, we all hold up our promises to heaven, shakily at first, and then more boldly, as a prayer of blessing is prayed over every child, that God's Spirit will remind them always to hold onto the promises of God. 

Because now we know that God is Sovereign.  
And if He is in charge, then we are in good hands.

When we are holding onto God's Word - our hands are never left empty, 
and our lives are always full.

The Environment of Out of The Comfort Zone reminds us that:
God transforms me when I step out in faith.

Don't forget to check out the site below for this month's HomeFront magazine
 full of great ideas to do at home with your kids, 
so you can create the environment of "Out of the Comfort Zone" in your family.

How is God asking you to step out in faith and trust Him this month?

Spiritual Parenting, part 3

In this third and final Spiritual Parenting Intro post, we promised to define the 10 environments and how to cultivate them in your home.

First, let me say that both the Spiritual Parenting book and course go through each environment in a much more in-depth way than I can here.   They will give you lots of examples and explanations of what it looks like to live in this way in your real life.

Below is a brief descriptions of each of these environments you can create in your family :

1. Storytelling- God has a BIG story and I can be apart of it.
2. Identity- I belong to God and He loves me.
3. Faith Community- God's family cares for each other and worships God together.
4. Serving- Asks the questions: “what needs to be done?”
5. Out of the Comfort Zone- God transforms me when I step out in faith.
6. Responsibility- God has entrusted me with the things and people around me that He has created.
7. Course Correction- When I get off track God offers me the path of healing.
8. Love and Respect- God fills me with love and I can give it away.
9. Knowing- God knows me and I can know him.
10. Modeling- I see Christ in others and they see Christ in me.

Cool, huh?

In our experience, teaching and living these concepts can be truly life-changing!  But how are these environments created in your every day life?  They are created mostly through shared spiritual experiences and teachable moments, both at church and home.  Let me explain:

As a church, Valley Christian Center is partnering with families to create these environments in Kid's Church every week and to resource and inspire families to create them at home.  Every month we will focus on one of the 10 environments.  Future VCC Kids blog posts will document and display what we are doing in Kid's Church to foster the environment-of-the-month at church.  

Each week we send home with your kids a "HomeFront Weekly" page.  This resource is to help you set up experiences and teachable moments with your child to prepare them for the upcoming weekly lesson at church.  In this way, we are a team : church and home make a strong partnership.

But there is much more : you can download an incredible magazine, called HomeFront monthly, every month at the site linked below -FOR FREE! :

This beautiful magazine was created to inspire, equip and support you in this process of creating spiritual environments in your own family's life.  It is full of ideas and resources for how you can create shared experiences with your kids around the "environment-of-the-month" at home :

One way to use this resource is to help equip you in a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly family night.  A Family Night is an awesome way we can invite God into our homes and schedules.   You'll find the HomeFront magazine full of ideas for games, crafts, projects, and recipes planned around each environment.

In addition, we are preparing to launch HomeFront small groups early next year.  These HomeFront groups will be a fun, kid-friendly, small group where you can walk this road of Spiritual Parenting with other families.  This blog will have more information about these groups soon.

So, if all of this sounds intriguing to you and you'd like to learn more, you are invited to sign up for the next Spiritual Parenting class at VCC, or drop by the Courtyard Cafe on Sunday to purchase the Spiritual Parenting book by Dr. Michelle Anthony.  

Spiritual Parenting, part 2

So what does Spiritual Parenting look like anyway?

First, ask yourself these two questions:

Do you believe God's Spirit wants to captivate the hearts of your kids?

But do you also feel exhausted simply getting through the day, just to wake up and do it all again?

Parenting is hard work.  From potty training to drivers' licenses, it never ends.
That is why the goal of Spiritual Parenting is simple   . . . and so profound.

Dr. Michelle Anthony shares the goal with us:

"Parents can move beyond merely managing their child's behavior and choose to partner with God's Spirit in order to create environments in their home that will encourage children to know God's voice, desire to obey Him, and obey Him in the power of the Holy Spirit for a lifetime."

WOW !!!

The goal of Spiritual Parenting is to be Holy Spirit led 
and to teach our kids to be Holy Spirit led also.

Aahh...  take a deep breath.  Can you smell freedom in the air?  Parenting in the power of the Holy Spirit means that we aren't parenting on our own.  It means we aren't the "Behavior Factory" general managers, controlling our children's every thought or step.  It means we can rely on God's Spirit to show us how to create proper boundaries and powerful environments and then believe Him to do the impossible :   change them from the inside out.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom."  2 Corinthians 3:17

Are you captivated yet?  Are you wondering how do we DO that in everyday life?  In the next post, Spiritual Parenting, part 3, we will introduce the Spiritual Parenting concept of creating environments for the Holy Spirit to move in our kids' lives.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spiritual Parenting, part 1

This Summer we went through Dr. Michelle Anthony's revolutionary class, Spiritual Parenting, to get ready to share it with the rest of our church families.  

I'd like to share with you why I believe this course is such a parenting game changer.

To begin at the beginning, I think we can all agree that parenting is a job of training, protecting and nurturing our kids.    Every parent should be doing these 3 essentials, regardless of their background, faith, nationality or character.    We feed, clothe, bathe, and train our children to be healthy and successful participants in their world.

This kind of parenting is essential.  And yet this parenting role is just the beginning.    If we do this first role well, we hope to end up with kids that are kind, healthy and productive.    That sounds great,  doesn't it?   But we all sense that there is something more to parenting, don't we?    This first parenting role focuses on the outward nature of a child.    But there's more to a person.  So let's wade deeper...

Many Christian parenting experts have been calling for godly parents to focus on the heart of their child.  What are the heart issues in them: the motivations, attitudes, and thoughts that lead to their outward actions?    These are the hidden things that guide and direct your child's behavior -both good and bad.    With this deeper look at parenting, parents are asked to shepherd their children's hearts: to discern and direct their inner motivations, attitudes and thoughts.  This parenting perspective has been a blessing to God's people.  We are doing more.  We are going deeper.

Yet something in us can't help but wonder if there might be even more still; because no matter how much we address the heart of the matter, each of our kids still has a sin nature   . . . and sin management is such a tiresome chore.    But what else can we do?

Let me answer that question with another question:

Are your kids being totally transformed?

Whatever your answer to that question, don't fear, because the only One that can transform a person from the inside out, is God.  That is not your role.

But that does bring us directly to the concept of Spiritual Parenting.

Holy Spirit
Spiritual Parenting takes us the last step... right to the core of who we are as people.  Spiritual Parenting doesn't stop with the physical life of your child, or even with what is hidden inside their hearts.  Spiritual Parenting goes way beyond controlling the behavior; even past their inner attitudes.

Spiritual Parenting takes the parent into the deepest waters of all: into the spirit of their child.

But don't freak out!  The liberating truth is that there is no way we can control the spiritual part of another person's life.       . . .Thankfully we were never meant to.

That is why Spiritual Parenting:

Depends on the Holy Spirit to direct our parenting as we humble ourselves before God, relying on HIS transformative power to change our kid's hearts and lives. 

Believes that our ultimate goal is to see our children transformed, from the inside out, into the likeness of Christ.

Trusts that the Holy Spirit knows our kids intimately, and will always parent them better than we ever could on our own.

Expects that God will speak to our kids, and that they can experience Him for themselves.

Rests in the knowledge that our ultimate job as spiritual parents is to set up environments in which our kids can encounter God.

Makes space for the Holy Spirit to show up in every day life.

Takes our parenting to the next level, by introducing our kids to what it means to live in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

In the next post, Spiritual Parenting Part 2, we'll see what that means.