10 Principles To Help Kids Make WISE Choices

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We all want our kids to be wise.  We train them, talk to them, model for them, do everything we can to instill Godly wisdom and practical intelligence in their minds.  We spend eighteen years (sometimes more) monitoring their every move, correcting when necessary, and preparing for the day we will set them free to go out into the world and make a life of their own.

We hope and trust that the scripture we have quoted numerous times throughout our trials and tribulations of parenthood will come true:

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

But, the question still remains…how do you GUARANTEE that your child will walk in the way they should go?  How do you GUARANTEE that all of the principles, lessons, and wisdom you have poured into them will actually stick with them when they launch out into the world?

After all, we have all seen children who grew up in godly homes, had amazing parents, went to church every single Sunday – and when they left the nest, they ended up walking away from it all – into a lifestyle of sin.

How do you make sure your child doesn’t end up that way?  The truth is – there is no guarantee.  I don’t mean to be a pessimist or to rain on your parade, but it’s true.  There is no guarantee that every child will choose to follow the way that is set before them.  They are individuals.  They make their own decisions.  There is no guarantee in the Scriptures that your child will become a life-long follower of Jesus if only you follow steps 1 thru 3.  It just isn’t in the Bible.

We are a culture obsessed with getting ahead and ensuring a win. We have little tolerance for failure.  We want guarantees on everything – purchases, programs, etc.  We want a 100% money-back guarantee that this will work.  “If you can’t guarantee the weight-loss program, I’m not trying it.”  “If you can’t guarantee that I will get a job on the first interview by using your training program, I am not even giving it an attempt.”  We want guarantees on EVERYTHING – including raising our children to follow Christ and make wise decisions.

It really breaks my heart when I see children raised in Christian families by parents who were desperately trying to raise them the right way – those children walk away from their faith.  In many cases, (though not all) it was the actions and attitudes of the parents that drove their children away from Christ.  The parents’ micromanagement and attempt to control their kid pushed the kid away. In trying to guarantee their child love the Lord and grow up to think exactly like them, the parents became the biggest obstacle in their kids’ spiritual development.

So, now that I have thoroughly depressed you – let me share some things that I have learned.  I want to again remind you that I am NOT an expert.  My children are 14 and 12.  I have SO MUCH still to learn and experience when it comes to parenting.

However, having been a Kids Pastor for 22 years, I have seen a LOT of kids grow up.  I have watched parents train their kids.  I’ve seen kids who have grown into amazing leaders and exemplary Christ followers.  I have also seen many who have fallen away, never to return to faith (not yet anyway).

So, although I cannot make any kind of overarching guarantee about whether or not your child will become the next Billy Graham or Joel Osteen – I do believe there are some basic principles to learn about how to train your children to make wise decisions that will draw them closer to God and help them become life-long followers of Jesus Christ.

In this video, I share 10 principles that will help guide the conversation with our kids when it comes to making decisions that are “in agreement with the Bible, influenced by the Holy Spirit, and promote the spiritual growth of the individual and those they influence.”  

I have included a fill-in-the-blank outline PDF for you – in case you want to play this video for your parents and use it as teaching tool.  How To Talk To Your Kids About Making Wise Choices (OUTLINE)

A Helpful Resource To Help Teach Young Children About Creation

God-Created

 

Throughout their academic life, children will have to face the onslaught of scientific theories, teachers, professors, and peers who will pressure them into leaving behind the “primitive and uneducated” belief that Earth was created by Almighty God.  A recent Gallup poll reveals that over 60% of Americans believe in the theory of evolution – many of them believing that it is the PRIMARY explanation for where life on Earth comes from.  

Earlier this year, Ken Ham, a well-known Christian apologist debated the outspoken evolutionist, Bill Nye (the Science Guy).  It was a classic  (and public) Creation-versus-Evolution debate.  Nye is more than just a former TV personality.  He was also featured in a YouTube video last year titled “Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children.”  Click this link to watch the video.

Nye says, “in another couple centuries,” the creationist worldview “just won’t exist,” saying “there’s no evidence for it.”

The battle for the hearts and minds of the next generation begins long before kids enter a high school or college biology class.

Remember the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes?  It was a small child who saw and pointed out that the king had no clothes on at all.   Kids are not dumb.  Even if parents choose not to discuss it, children will soon recognize that the theory of evolution does contradict the Bible.  So, what can Christian parents do to counteract the push and pull of society to walk away from the Bible and embrace something else as the ultimate authority on the origin of life?

I don’t think it is a simple answer.  It all starts with teaching your children clearly what the Bible says about Creation.  Every once in a while, a tool comes along that helps to aid in that pursuit.  I came across such a tool recently, and wanted to share it with you.

God Created is a short picture book that is aimed at ages 3-8 years old.  It is well done with incredibly vivid illustrations.  It is written by Sarah Evelyn Hodson and illustrated by Jason Platt.  Sarah works as an early intervention speech-language pathologist in addition to writing children’s books.  She is a mom of two children.

You can purchase a copy of this book by clicking here!   Also, Sarah was kind enough to send me a copy to GIVE AWAY for free!  If you would like to be entered into the drawing, please email me at brian@highvoltage-kids.com.  I will announce the winner next week!

How To Handle Parents Who Don’t Attend Your Church

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Some time ago, one of the children who attends our church (but his parents do not) told me, “I didn’t come last week because my dad doesn’t think it’s important.”

I recognized what he was doing.  I asked him, “Did your dad actually say that he doesn’t think church is important?”

The boy said, “Well, no, but since he didn’t bring me, he must have something against me coming.”

I quickly responded, “Wait a minute.  We can’t draw that conclusion.  Give your dad a break.  I’m sure he was just busy and couldn’t make his schedule work out.  After all, you’re here today.”  I’m very careful to avoid relational triangles where two people gang up on another.  In this case, I was not (and AM not) willing to join the child in accusing his dad of wrong motives.  It may seem like a small commitment, but I assure you, it’s huge.

I have made a commitment to ALWAYS honor the parents of every child who comes through our doors.  I tell the kids that our ministry is here to support their parents, and I tell the parents we’re here to serve them in every possible way.  I don’t want there to be any suspicion that we’re trying to take the parents’ role away from them.  The parents who have been part of our church for a long time sometimes take this for granted, but those who are coming for the first time—and especially those who haven’t been part of a church—need to be reassured that we’re committed to serve them.  In a dozen different ways, I tell the kids and the parents, “We’re on the same team and are committed to the same purpose: to support your role as parents and encourage your child’s spiritual growth.”

Just the other day, I got an email from a fellow Kids Minister.  She asked, “How should we specifically minister to those children who come to our church, but whose parents are unbelievers or who do not welcome the teachings promoted through Christian Education?”

If a child’s parents don’t attend our church, come only occasionally, or aren’t believers, we want to accomplish these objectives:

1)  Honor the parents – I always speak worth and honor regarding the parents to the kids.  I will NEVER let them talk their parents down simply because they do not share the faith of the child.  Every time I encounter the parents, I honor them and remind them that we are on the same team.

2)  Remind the child of their duty to be a soul-winner in their home – Our message to the child is clear, intentional, and direct.  I tell the kids, “God has put you in your family for a purpose.  If you want your parents, brothers, and sisters to come to Christ, you have to show them the love of God in your actions as well as your words.  You can’t expect to win them to Jesus if you act like a selfish punk.”  They seem to understand this concept.  Even first graders get the picture that they can be lights in their families.  They can let their light shine so their parents and siblings see Jesus in them.  We never want the kids to use church as leverage to blame and control their parents.  Instead, we want to turn that upside down so they become loving, obedient, joyful lights that show their family members the grace of Christ.

3)  Communicate with the parents – send them emails, letters, Facebook messages, etc.  No, I don’t mean STALK them.  I mean let them know what is going on in your church and ministry.  When their child does something incredible, let them know.  When their child does something that demonstrates the character of Christ, let them know.  When there is a special training for parents at your church, let them know.  As you communicate to them, pray that God will use every communication to help them get closer to crossing that line of faith.

How about you?  How do YOU deal with parents of kids in your ministry but they don’t attend your church?  What approaches have you found to be extremely effective?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the Kidmin Community.

 

What If Your Family Were Shot With 3,192 Paintballs In 5.3 Seconds?

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This would be a ludicrous question – if it hadn’t actually happened to this family!  It was all done to prove a point – a POWERFUL point!  Watch below and you will understand what I mean…

Movies these days are often filled with gratuitous language, violence, nudity, and suggestive material.  It can be almost impossible for the family to sit down and watch a movie together without being subjected to all of this content.  Well, the people over at VidAngel have innovated the Family Movie Night.  They have introduced a streaming service that allows YOU to be in control of what you watch, see, and hear.  You can “turn on” and “turn off” language, violence, and more.  Just head on over to VidAngel.com to see what I am talking about.

**THIS IS NOT A PAID ADVERTISEMENT!  I JUST REALLY BELIEVE IN WHAT VIDANGEL.COM IS TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH!**

If you would like to check out the “Behind The Scenes” video, check this out:

 

 

Talking To Kids About SEX

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There is a long held belief in many circles that there are certain subjects that should not be mentioned at church or from the pulpit.  They are “reserved for the home.”  There are two problems with that whole frame of reference.

Shouldn’t SEX Talk Be Reserved For The Home?

1)     SEX was created by God.

The idea that sex should not be discussed in church flies in the face of the fact that SEX is a beautiful gift, created by God, for the purpose of giving a husband and wife an intimate physical way of connecting and expressing their love for one another.  It is also designed by God as the way for the human race to reproduce.

“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” – Genesis 8:17

In fact, to say that SEX should not be mentioned in church means that you probably haven’t read the BIBLE lately.  SEX and instructions about SEX are all throughout the Bible.  Depending on what translation of the Bible you use, the topic of SEX is addressed between 100 – 137 times.

In fact, the Bible gets pretty graphic at times.  And it’s not relegated simply to a couple of poetic passages in the Song of Solomon.

For too long, the church has been silent on this issue.  For years, children (and adults alike) heard little to nothing on the subject of healthy sexuality from the church.  Part of the reason it is not spoken about from the pulpit is that it makes us uncomfortable.  It makes us uncomfortable because it is rarely brought up in the pulpit.  It is a vicious cycle, so we consider it off-limits.

Sadly, this ends up working against us.   The only time kids or teens ever hear the word SEX brought up in the pulpit, it is only in a negative context.  “DON’T have sex, kids.  It’s bad!  It’s dangerous!  Stay away from SEX!”

There’s a problem with this.  SEX isn’t bad.  It is good.  It is VERY good.  God designed it.  He created it.  We have turned it into a taboo subject for the church, and it is not and should not be.

The other reason that the whole “The topic of SEX should be reserved for the home” is a problem is…

2)     Few parents ever give their kids a healthy, Biblical sex education

If I were to take a quick poll of each of my readers and ask, “How many of you received healthy, value-centered sex education from your parents growing up?”  (not just a superficial one-time and confusing conversation about birds and bees, but a true explanation and education regarding healthy, Bible-centered sexuality) – the number would be next to zero.

It’s sad: Our parents didn’t talk to us about healthy sexuality, and, unfortunately, we’re not doing much better with our own children.  A vast majority of young people say they receive more information about sexuality from their friends, media, and school than from their own home.  This is not good news, especially when all studies show that the more positive, value-centered sex education kids receive in their home, the less promiscuous they will be.

Even though this generation of parents typically wants to do a better job of communicating with their kids, too many well-meaning moms and dads are remaining silent for too long.  We are so paranoid about our kids becoming sexually active, we foolishly think that by not approaching the subject of sex for as long as possible, we will somehow keep them from learning about it and falling into sin.  The typical mindset of a Christian parent is “If I talk to them about it, it will make them more curious.”

Because it so off-limits for their behavior, we’ve made it off-limits for our conversation with our kids.

Many parents are afraid that talking about “it” will rob their children of their sexual innocence, or they are afraid that their children’s sexual desires might be awakened early.  Some parents avoid bringing up the subject because they might be asked about their own experiences, and they aren’t all that proud of how they handled their own sexuality.

I am not suggesting that Kids Pastors have a series in Children’s Church on “God’s View On SEX!”  Not at all!  But, what I am suggesting is that WE must do OUR JOB to train and equip the parents in our church to have these meaningful conversations at home with their kids!

The best place for children to learn about sexuality and relationships is  – AT HOME – from their parents!

A parent is almost always the person who has the best interest of their child in mind when it comes to sexuality.  And you and I have the opportunity to provide our children healthy, Bible-centered sex education that is based on what God values.  He has given us our sexuality.  In the framework of Scripture, sex is not dirty.  In the context of marriage it is beautiful.  The world’s culture has cheapened sex, but God’s view of sexuality is wonderful and magnificent.

In this video, I teach the parents at our church on the topic of “How To Talk To Your Kids About SEX.”  I encourage you to watch it, take notes, and even take the information in order to teach a class just like this at YOUR church.  It’s time the church start talking about God’s plan for the lives of our kids when it comes to building a healthy, Bible-based sexuality.

If you would like to simply use this video at your church with the parents in your ministry, feel free.  Here are the fill in the blank notes:  How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex (OUTLINE) 

How To Talk To Kids About DEATH And TRAGEDY

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I remember exactly where I was the day the Columbine Massacre happened in 1999.  I couldn’t believe the news.  Never before had we seen that kind of devastation and tragedy on a school campus.  Years later, I remember exactly where I was the moment I learned of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  I was shocked at the death toll, rocked by the devastation that had been caused by this killer who took the lives and futures of so many innocent children.

Perhaps you remember the thoughts that went through your mind.  Like many, you might have had the thought, “Wow. That could have happened in my city.”  And, it’s true. Tragedy knows no boundaries.  It does not discriminate between people.  Tragedy can hit any community, any family, any individual, at any time.

Many parents work to shield their children from seeing or hearing about these kinds of events for fear of scaring them.  Rightly so.  Others with older children can’t possibly keep it from them, but they struggle to find the words to explain this kind of degenerate and evil behavior.  I understand.

Aside from mass shootings, terrorist attacks, Earthquakes, and other mass disasters, there are tragedies that eventually strike every family.  The death of a loved one.  The death of a pet.  An accident that permanently injures someone.  The sudden loss of income due to layoffs or being fired.  Divorce.  These are the every-day tragedies and losses that parents struggle to explain and help their children through.

The questions abound…

  • How much do I tell my kids?
  • Do I tell them everything is fine when it isn’t?
  • Do I allow them to be a part of family discussions?
  • Do I let them go to the funeral?
  • Should I let them look at the body in the casket?
  • How do I handle their questions about death?

These are all legitimate questions.  They are all not so easy to answer.  In this video, I share some things that will help you in this process.  Kids Pastors are often in the position of needing to help parents navigate the treacherous waters of grief with their children.  I am providing this video as a resource to you.  Feel free to take the content provided and use it to teach the parents at your church how to better handle conversations with their children about death and tragedy.

These Parents Have A Case Of Brain “Freeze” (FUN FRIDAY)


It’s FUN FRIDAY, everybody! I don’t know about the kids in YOUR community, but all of my kids are obsessed with “FROZEN.” I admit, I liked the movie. I loved the music. I did fall asleep in the middle of it, but that happens to me in just about every movie I see (turn off the lights and I am out).

These parents were on a road trip with their young daughter. What ensues is a definite case of brain “freeze.” They starting enjoying themselves a little too much as they sang “Love Is An Open Door.” Keep a sharp eye on their daughter in the backseat. She couldn’t care less about what her crazy parents were doing in the front seat. Enjoy!

Disney Channel Introduces First Lesbian Couple On A Kids’ Show

image source: Disney Channel

Yesterday, I posted on my Facebook page a link to an article about Disney Channel introducing it’s first lesbian couple on a kids’ show.  My goal was to share something that many may not have been aware of and to see what parents and Kids Ministry leaders thought about this decision by Disney and their show, “Good Luck, Charlie.”  I got a lot of reaction – on both sides of the issue.

Rather than respond to each comment, I thought it would be better if I fleshed out my thoughts here on the blog.  So, here are my random thoughts on the subject:

  • I am not shocked, but I am disappointed. – Disney is not a Christian company, so I certainly NEVER expect them to reflect Christian standards, values, or practices.  Generally, Disney does a great job of providing benign family entertainment.  Sometimes, there are even some good morals and values displayed within their stories and characters.  My main disappointment with this is that Disney made a calculated decision to introduce this controversial adult subject on a show that is aimed at young children.
  • I see it as an opportunity for conversation with your kids. – Disney should not have included this very controversial subject in a show that is targeted to kids.  The issue of same-sex couples is one that is way too complicated and difficult for a six-year-old to comprehend or process.  But, the fact remains – they did include it.  It’s done.  If your kids saw it and had questions, then this is an opportunity for you to talk with them about what the Bible says.  It’s possible that your kids didn’t even notice the “two moms” thing.  If not, then don’t feel pressured to have the conversation.  However, if your kids are in 4th grade or older – it’s definitely something they are already hearing about.  Probably time to address it and help them process from a biblical point of view.
  • Don’t overreact and freak out!  I see too many parents flip out over things like this.  Don’t go on a diatribe about the “liberal agenda” and the “Disney Conspiracy.”  Just calmly share with them how, although some people choose to live their lives in contradiction to what God planned and the Bible teaches (whether that is homosexuality, lying, stealing, or any other sin) – our goal should be to pray for them, show them God’s love, and display God’s character in everything we do.  Don’t flip out!  When you ignore the murder, violence, and harsh language in some shows and then become outraged when a scene that depicts homosexuality appears – I think that sends a message to your kids that some sins are more egregious than others.  That’s not biblical.  Sin is sin.  Let’s not be guilty of elevating ONE sin above others simply because we personally find it more offensive.
  • Be aware of what your kids are watching! – Parents need to KNOW what their kids are watching.  You need to preview things when possible.  Just because something is marketed as a kids show and is on a kids channel does not make it appropriate for your kids.  Cherith and I banned several “kids shows” from our children due to the fact that the subject lines followed YOUNG kids dating and kissing one another.  We felt that it wasn’t the “norm” we wanted our kids to see and accept.  Had we not made a habit of watching the kids shows WITH our kids, we never would have known to do this.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn the channel or turn the TV off! – You don’t have to create a firestorm and go on a rant.  You can simply turn the TV off.  Your kids may not understand why, but you can talk through it and explain the reasons. After all, we are called to be “in the world, but not of it.”  Whether it is this particular subject or another – we can’t hide our heads in the sand and pretend like nothing is happening.  We must be proactive in guarding our hearts and the hearts of our kids.
  • Don’t focus only on the DON’T! – More importantly than what we DON’T allow them to “take in,” we must make sure they ARE taking in God’s Word, His presence, and His Spirit.  If we focus only on what we DON’T want our kids to see or experience and don’t put the same amount of effort into putting the RIGHT things in their lives, I think that is a failure on our part as parents.

So, those are MY thoughts and opinions.  Am I off base here?  Do you agree?  I welcome honest feedback.  (a short clip from the show where the couple is introduced is below; for a full representation of the entire subplot, visit this link http://goo.gl/qSlUCF)

How To Talk To Kids About God

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Recently, I spoke to our entire congregation about “How To Talk To Kids About God.”  It seems that parents and grandparents have mystified the idea of having spiritual conversations about God.  They feel that they must have a Bachelor’s Degree in Children’s Education in order to have the expertise necessary to speak clearly to their children about the things of God.

Unfortunately, we are often to blame.  For too long, the Church (and Children’s Ministry Leaders specifically) has poised itself as “the official spiritual trainer of children.”  This is definite far from the Biblical case that I lay out in the introduction of this message.

I have included a How To Talk To Your Kids About…God (OUTLINE).  Also, you can watch the video of the full teaching below.

Feel free to use this in your church to teach the parents of the children in your ministry  about the importance of having meaningful GOD conversations with their kids.

 

FUN FRIDAY: Coca Cola Parenthood Ad

If you haven’t seen this ad by now, you owe it to yourself to watch!  It’s a very real-to-life portrayal of the unpredictable roller-coaster that is Parenthood.  It will have you laughing and warm your heart all within one minute.

It’s a great reminder to those of us in Kids Ministry as well.  Kids Ministry is not all “neat and tidy.”  Sometimes it can be a really messy job (and not only because of the messes that little ones can make).  In the end, the result is the JOY of knowing that you are affecting a life for eternity.  May that sink in as you serve HIS kids this week!