Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An old tradition with a new spin...

I'm not sure about your family but mine loves the movies.  In fact, many of my close friends know that the Academy Awards are as big a deal in my family as most folks treat the Super Bowl.  Case in point: my mom and oldest sister get together each year and watch all the 'best picture nominations' the night before the "Oscars"... I told you it was a big deal!!  Needless to say I was way pumped when during our first Thanksgiving with Courtney's family I heard about one of their biggest "Little Traditions": Going to the movies Thanksgiving Day!!  Since we have a large family we are typically nailed down to a family film and most of the time I've been able to steer us in a positive direction.  Thus, I'm assuming tomorrow we are going to Disney's 'Frozen' (which opened today)... And I have a plan to take it up a notch!!

So here's what I was thinking and where this ties into the point of this blog.  Over the last several weeks I have been spending time with over a dozen families and discussing the different hopes and dreams of the New Beginnings' Faith Map.  One of these steps is called theFaith Talk.  This is where you as a family set a goal to meet for just a couple handful of minutes each week.  In this time you shoot to be intentional in talking about the Bible and asking questions to engage your family.  What I've personally seen recently is how easy this can be when you have kids in elementary school (See some examples of "Berg Family Fun Nights" click here) and how much more challenging it becomes when they become teenagers.  One of the tools we've been equipping parents with recently is a combination of reviews from Plugged-In and The Source for Parents of new and upcoming movies.  One of the coolest things even most recently by Plugged-In has be a specific resource they call "Movie Nights" which is a catalogue of movies with detailed reviews AND not only great discussion questions but biblical teaching points tied to the movie.  Just to give you an example I attached a great one from 'The Count of Monte Cristo' (not a new movie but it is dynamite).

 So this week (and really this month) I have a Holiday Challenge... Will you take 10-20 minutes and have a faith talk with your family (get the aunts, uncles and cousins in on it!!)?  I've given you a really easy way to start this tradition: take something you probably already do, watching movies, and just prep for a couple minutes to discuss what faith principles you saw in the film.

Please comment below if you are committing to The Holiday Challenge
Two Faith Talks over the Holidays (Thanksgiving & Christmas)!!

*Also, we as the NBFamily Pastors' have been working on a 15-week Faith Talk series to walk you through the major events of the Bible from cover to cover.  Each 'Week' has a: theme, bible reading (or Action Bible reading), key verse, teaching points, discussion questions, a prayer and an activity to tie it all together!!  So what's your excuse :)  Click herefor those

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Family Ministry = Healthy Relationships

Recently I read an article that was titled: "Three Common Traits of Youth who DON'T Leave the Church" (Read the whole article here).  The list seemed pretty simple and what was funny to me is that when I read it a thread popped out in my mind (I shared them with you below):

  1. They are converted (Real Relationship with Jesus)
  2. They have been equipped, not entertained (Real Relationships with the Church)
  3. Their parents preached the gospel to them (Real Relationship with Parents)


Relationships are so crucial to our growth at church and in the Church.  If we do not have a relationship with Jesus, we won't see a need to come, if we do not have a relationship with others we won't want to come and if we don't have a relationship with our parents we won't be expected to come!!

Though the first two are very important you (the reader, I'm assuming most are parents) have little to zero effect on them.  A relationship with Jesus is two ways: the Holy Spirit and the Soul (we as individuals make this decision and literally live with it for eternity)!  As for the relationship with others, as much as I want to have influence here (and I'm sure you do as well) I do not.  I cannot force students to engage other students or even make them continue coming and I definitely cannot make a student learn when he/she arrives.  Intentionally, we have created an atmosphere that is safe and are relentlessly teaching God's Word, praying it does not return void but no promises can be made that teens "get it."  However, it's in the third "trait" that we, Family Pastors at New Beginnings, believe can help and even equip parents (married, single, divorced, step, etc.) to proclaim the gospel in the home, just like in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

This past Sunday was another big moment for NBFamilies at New Beginnings.  We launched our first "Family Equipping Class" during first service (9:30a) in W301.  This month, Matt will be walking Wired (Middle School) parents through the basics of 'Preparing your son/daughter for adolescence.'  We are so excited about this discussion getting kick started and setting the stage for next month (November) when I will be hosting a series of Family Equipping times on the 'Rite of Passage.'  At these times parents of freshmen and sophomores will engage the principles of being a Biblical man or woman and preparing for the experience at the end of the month (See Faith Map for more information)!

Family Equipping each month for specific NBFamilies ministries is just another way we are wanting to come alongside parents and help the gospel to be presented and effective in your son or daughters life.

But before you leave today, I wanted to ask a quick question and give a couple thoughts...How is your relationship with your son or daughter?  I'm guessing that if they're a teenager, there's probably a little tension if not some outright fighting going on.  That's okay, it's even normal!!  Some distance and conflict happens while teens develop their autonomy outside of mom and dad.  But how do we choose to respond to this distancing can be the difference of communicating the gospel effectively or just flexing our rule and reign.  

What do you think about these steps for parents after conflict has arisen:

1. Win the Apology Race.  This can be so difficult, especially when your teen started it.  But once both sides are raising voices and rolling eyes, apologies are going to need to go around.
*A good friend of mine always says "you can always own up to, at least, 3% of any situation"... even if you were minding your own business reading when a little girl, we'll call her: Charleigh (hypothetically speaking), overflows the bathtub when you thought someone else was taking care of bath time.  No pointing fingers, this was hypothetical, but if it was real, I still could have done a better job at communicating my intentions.

2. Listen and Respond don't React. Do you listen to your teens heart or are you just waiting for your turn to speak?  Ask open-ended questions and don't be afraid of honest feelings.  
*Court always says "respond don't react to the ball" (when coaching volleyball), which means if you react you are often hiding your face or just throwing up your hands as a reflex.  But if you are responding to the ball you are thinking about what & why the other play is going to do and responding with intention and thought.  

 Prayerfully Answer with Truth and Love.  If the situation is going to call for punishment, then do it with love and with your teen’s best interest at heart (also, let the punishment fit the crime).  Don’t punish because you are angry or to get the conversation over.  In my opinion, the only way this can happen is with adequate "downtime" and prayer.
*We have a calendar-like-thing on our refrigerator that gives you specific Bible verses and Christ-Centered thoughts for different "Punishment-Worthy" scenarios.  I have often used our "downtime" to be a few moments for everyone to collect their thoughts, allow the tempers to lower and read some focused answers from Truth and then share them with Love.

For most of us conflict resolution is done by either the way our parents did it or the exact opposite (so as to "never put my kids in what I had to put up with").  But if our common goal was for our sons and daughters to see, hear and feel the gospel in our home... Maybe we will have to find more ways were the whole family wins!?