Never Too Young to Start

The beauty of the discipleship path is that anyone of any age can begin at any time. Ideally, the discipleship path starts early in life. Such is the case with one of our 4th graders. Typically our 5th graders take the “up front” lead of songs, prayers, and coordinating younger kids for group activities. However, as soon as the last class of 5th graders moved up to 6th grade leaving a worship leader spot vacated, Luke Lusk jumped at the chance to lead worship.

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He not only knew all the songs, he was unafraid to sing in front of a crowd. How many adults hesitate to even stand in front of an audience much less sing with confidence? Of course, the old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” may come in to play. If you know his dad or his grandfather, then his willingness to be a leader is not surprising.

I guess the lesson for all of us is that God gives us talents and it’s up to us to use them or ignore them. I know He is pleased when the gifts He has put in one of His children are used for the purpose He intended. Way to teach us all, Luke!

 

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Facing Our Fears

12065-MMS-1554836999907-attachment1-FB_IMG_1554836952305We all, adults and children alike, have fears. Some fears are understandable like the fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of mice, fear of speaking in public, fear of the dark, and the list is endless. Some fears are overcome with age and experience and some are even developed with age and experience. Fears are not universal but pretty much personal to each individual.

Fears are usually not debilitating but, rather a nuisance for most of us. They are usually things we can avoid. This is not the case for one of Evan Bain’s fears, however. You see, Evan is deathly afraid of water. He doesn’t like water in his face, doesn’t like to be splashed and won’t go swimming. You might be thinking, “okay, why be telling everyone this?”

Evan decided he wanted to claim Jesus as his Lord and Savior but knew a big part of that was to be baptized. Being immersed under the water was not something small to him. It was HUGE! He thought long and hard about whether or not his salvation was really worth getting in the water up to his chest and allowing his dad to take him under. And he decided that, YES, a brief time of discomfort and fear was indeed worth a lifetime of relationship with Jesus!

Praise God for Evan and his willingness to look fear in the face and put on Christ! What fears do we need to face in order to be a Christ follower? Let’s all determine to be more like Evan.

 

Now That’s What I’m Talking About

Who do athletes listen to more than their coaches? Probably no one… sorry parents. But that gives their coaches a great opportunity to reinforce what parents have been teaching kids their entire lives (and for the kids to discover that parents may know something about life after all). Several of our parents volunteer to coach various sports. In their unique position with the team, some often invite kids without a church home to visit Clear Creek with them. As a result we have teammates attending regularly, some with their entire family and some even without parents.

Some of our other parents coach travel teams who are out of town many Sundays. At least one couple, George and Rachel Oleksik, have a Sunday morning Bible study and devotional. Almost the entire team participates and learns that you may leave town, but Jesus never leaves you— even on the ball field. That’s using your position to share faith as well as sport skills. That’s helping kids start down the path of a disciple and parents to mature in their faith.

 

These Folks are Good

The teachers of our Pre-School and Elementary never cease to amaze me. Their passion for teaching, creativity, and love for the kids shines through constantly. It could be the Toddlers learning to appreciate Jesus’ birth in a stable with the animals looking on or them having a Clear Creek “church building” in which to play. Or maybe it’s a scientist demonstrating a Tesla coil to the Elementary as he illuminates a light bulb wirelessly to emphasize that just as the light bulb cannot achieve its purpose without power, we cannot achieve our purpose without God’s power. It could be an Entomologist with cases of mounted insects displaying the diversity of God’s creation. Whatever effort it involves or brain storming it takes, our teachers go to great lengths to share the ultimate lesson, God’s love for mankind and how to become one of his disciples.

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Families Growing in Discipleship Together

Everyone knows how important it is to train your children to be lawful citizens and obedient, respectful individuals. We all want our children to grow up to be good Christian Disciples who love God and strive to serve Him as well. In order to accomplish all that, we make rules and do our best to enforce them and give our kids good examples to follow. We follow laws, speak with respect toward others and make sure they attend church regularly.

8092-mms-1545923247000-attachment1-outputBut we all know that doing all those things doesn’t guarantee the favorable outcome we are seeking for our children. We must have intentional conversations and lead by example. If we want law-abiding children, we must be law-abiding parents. If we want respectful children, we must demonstrate respectfulness in our own lives. The same concept holds true in the spiritual realm as well. If we want to raise up children striving to be disciples of Christ, we must show them that their parents are striving for the same thing; they are just farther along the path.

It is common sense that to get someplace we must choose a path and follow it. Our leadership has laid out a clear path of discipleship for us to follow and many of our parents are taking seriously their God-given roles as parents to guide their children on the path as well. Our Children’s Ministry parents do a good job bringing their children to Bible Class and Worship, as well as guiding them in their own devotionals, Bible reading and prayer.

Moreover, several of our parents are leading their children into lives of serving in the Body by their own examples of service. It is not unusual to see Scout Jolley ushering right alongside his dad, Jason. Or to see Lauren and Brianna hand-stamping the preschoolers alongside their mom, Sara Reel. Or to see Abel Shepherd hand-stamping his friends because he sees his parents, Andrew and Megan doing that once a month. It is not uncommon to see Hudson Mynatt greeting people alongside his great-grandfather Charlie Carnes. Or to see Tré Phillips greeting with his parents, Mark and Meghan.

All these youngsters have begun their journey to becoming a mature disciple of Christ through their eagerness to serve in His Body. We commend our parents who are taking their next steps on their Discipleship Path by investing in the lives of their own children by showing them the right path to follow.

 

 

Kids’ Notes

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“Mommy, I Didn’t Cry Today”      

The beginning of the trek on the Discipleship Path can come at any age. There are unique challenges at any point of life, however, for three year olds the challenges are a little different than for adults. Dealing with separation anxiety can be the first hurdle to learning about Jesus and initiating that trek.  Recently, one of our three year olds proudly announced to his mom that, “I didn’t cry today in Wee Worship. I got sad and thought about it but remembered the fun that we had last week and didn’t cry.” Caring Wee Worship Leaders help our youngest searchers begin the journey from learning about Jesus to following him.

CLASS TIME 4Bet You Can’t Catch Me

When you’re really excited about something, you can’t hardly wait to get there. One of our four year olds regularly leaves her parents far behind as she races down the back hallway toward her classroom. She can hardly contain her excitement and the smile on her face says it all as she sprints toward the loving, Christ-centered environment of her Bible class. Knowing her teachers, I’m not sure who’s more excited, her or them.

CLASS TIME 7Boy, That Looks Fun

Those of us in the Elementary Wing always know when one of our Kindergartners is about to arrive. His three year old little brother regularly beats the rest of the family to the Elementary area to check out what is going on prior to our Praise and Worship. He knows that the older kids are having a great time and is “all ears” as his older brother describes everything that took place. Heart-felt worship sets the tone. Loving and engaging teachers and small group leaders make sure each child feels important and included.
Lead-in activities that range from wacky games to TV game show style reviews introduce the lesson of the day. No wonder little brothers can’t wait to get in on the fun.

 

See Goodness

Clear Creek’s children are surrounded by influences that are showing them how to disciple. Volunteers, like Dan and Helen Cothron, are setting examples for our children that are not going unnoticed. Houston Hicks, Ethan Lane, and Sadie Reynolds come to mind when I think of children who are using their abilities to disciple other children. Houston and Ethan both volunteer to pray and greet in the children’s wing as often as they can. Sadie is consistently the first to volunteer every time I have asked and encourages others to do the same.

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This summer, I have seen goodness in our children. It has been a joy for me to witness the Lord shine through them. A few instances that quickly come to mind are the fifth graders on the mission trip to Atlanta, the inclusion of the visitors at music camp, and the joy they found at Summer J.A.M. Among all of those, one instance stands out in my mind the most.

Sundays in the three-year-old class are fun, joyful and chaotic. There are several children in that class and one of them loves to be read to at the end of class. One Sunday, she had a roughmorning and she needed the routine to make her feel better. The teacher who had been reading to her had to talk to a parent at the door and I was working on a project with some kids at the table, leaving her without someone to read her book. One of the children, Alexia Rodger, walked over and “read” the rest of the book to her. It was a beautiful thing to witness a child, who cannot even read, doing what she can to make a friend feel better. She let her light shine that day.

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Student Teachers

When given the opportunity to teach younger students on a couple of Wednesday nights, the 3rd-5th grade girls Small Group jumped at the chance! They were given the choice of teaching a lesson, presenting a puppet play, facilitating a warm up activity or leading a craft activity to a group of 3 year olds or 4 year olds.

Each girl quickly inventoried her own strengths and weaknesses and signed up for her task. They each then grouped together according to their tasks to plan, coordinate, gather supplies and practice what they would present to the younger students.

IMG_8603These girls were beyond excited for the opportunity to go deeper in their discipleship journey by actually serving in the classroom like grown-ups do. The young 3’s and 4’s were also very excited and were almost in awe of the older girls coming in to share Jesus with them.

Although the girls knew they were not as polished as veteran teachers, the joy on their faces as they interacted with the children made them feel like pros. And, who knows, but that this experience has sparked a passion for sharing God’s Truths in these young ladies which will set the course of their spiritual life for decades?!

 

It’s a Spectrum Thing

Many things register on a spectrum – things like colors, disorders, and even discipleship. During a recent week in Children’s Ministry, such a spectrum of discipleship was observed. Look at this list of different ways the children were observed growing in their discipleship:

  1. One group of students was bonding with their small group leader as they
    laughed and shared in the midst of creative projects associated with their Bible
    lesson.
  2. Another group had a quality discussion surrounding real life applications based on the story in a recent Bible lesson.
  3. A third group laughed and energetically discussed answers to a Bible lesson
    reinforcement activity as the boys tried to beat the girls by answering more
    questions correctly.
  4. Still another group had an in-depth discussion with lots of thought provoking
    questions regarding the dangers of being a Christian today in certain parts of the
    world.

 

All of these discipling opportunities were covered in prayer and love by their leaders.
There is nothing like the joy of teaching and serving children as they learn to trust the caring adults ministering to them, as they learn to appreciate the Bible’s truths being conveyed in creative ways, as they experience the joy of serving others and as they feel the compassion modeled by mentors.

One can certainly see the spectrum of discipleship as children progress down the path
to mature Christianity. What’s better than being a part of helping “the light come on” and
then having a front row seat as God amps it into a beacon for all to see?

Opportunities Abound

In Children’s Ministry we believe that you are never too young to learn to lead. We provide many opportunities for our children to learn from adults, then put various aspects of leadership into practice. If they are willing, we will find a place for them to serve no matter their age. Of course, the older they are, the more opportunities they may have. Third graders have led outstanding worship songs. First graders have volunteered surprisingly knowledgeable and detailed answers as they represented their class in large group lesson reviews. Fifth graders greet the other children at the door each week and welcome them in. Our older elementary students frequently serve as Team Leaders for games and Bible learning activities.

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In addition to Bible knowledge, our goal is to develop Christ followers that aren’t afraid to stand up, speak up, and take a lead. When they put themselves out there, they grow, gain confidence, and provide an excellent example for everyone else. More than once, we have been amazed at their eagerness and effectiveness serving when offered the opportunity. It’s refreshing to see a group that is genuinely concerned about others without being overly concerned about how they are perceived. It’s reminiscent of the old catch phrase about JOY: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third.