Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Importance of Good Advertising

My husband and I love our TV shows. Which is why our evening life has been somewhat sad since the writers' strike postponed all hope of new episodes after the Christmas break. So this evening, after finishing a movie (Netflix is now our best friend), we were scrolling through the channels and noticed Chuck was scheduled to play after Celebrity Apprentice. Last time we'd seen our favorite Buy More employee we were told Chuck may or may not be around in 2008. So we checked the info on the show to find out which episode would re-run. Imagine our surprise upon reading that it was brand new!

We've watched commercial after commercial introducing new sitcoms, dramas and game shows. We've watched movies to avoid the sadness felt from not seeing our favorite friends of TV land. And we've even ventured as far as playing board games and trying something old fashioned called "talking." Wouldn't you think at some point in the midst of our desperate search for new episodes, NBC and the producers of Chuck would have promoted a new episode non stop? We're so glad to have happened upon a random listing (and I just discovered there was another episode even earlier) allowing a reunion.

And as commonly happens, a TV show I enjoy got me thinking about ministry. How often do we have something great to offer, an event we've intensely invested in, or a valuable thing to share, yet neglect the important aspect of good advertising? How many times are we saddened by poor results, while parents, children, families are sitting at home, finding other things to fill their time, all the while unaware that they're missing what they've been waiting and hoping for?

And a final thought (as the episode of Chuck just came to a close with the statement of "new episodes coming soon")... when you do satisfy that need/hope of the people, make sure that you offer concrete, upcoming options. We must be careful not to excite and give hope, yet lack future follow through.

I'm happy to have unexpectedly spent an hour with our television friend, and I look forward to seeing him again. And while I watch carefully for upcoming episodes, may it be a reminder and a caution to make sure the families in my ministry don't have to be so attentive.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

We Survived!

Tonight was our first Saturday evening service. Considering we just announced it to the church last Sunday (by the way, if you weren't there, we now have a Saturday evening service), the response was incredible! Attending adults, children, and volunteers totaled about 525, almost three times what was anticipated. While our classes were over crowded and under staffed, the evening lacked the chaos that could have easily ensued. Clearly, we were covered by God's grace. I also know there were several things that helped us in the process. So what helped tonight go so well?

-While this addition has been a topic of discussion for a few years, three months ago we were warned of the possibility of a Saturday evening service in the near future. We began researching like crazy! Thanks to some wonderful, helpful Children's Ministry leaders on Kidology (a forum I'm a part of) we had a rough idea of what to expect--volunteer response, possible attendance, and even advice for avoiding burn out. Without their words of wisdom and experience our team would have been lost.

-After researching, we had a long meeting to hash out what was needed, expected, to be avoided, and much much more. We talked through the pros and cons of starting such a service, and methods for simplifying our program on Saturdays.

-We were told to wait. We thought a Saturday service had become a distant dream. But then, when it was put on the calendar with only a few weeks notice (with Christmas in the middle of those weeks), we were ready to go with our notes from before.

-We held things loosely. We accepted that flexibility would be our motto. We planned well but were prepared to change.

-And finally, we trusted. Trusted that God was guiding our executive staff. Trusted that God would bring the volunteers. And trusted the Lord would bless our efforts.

I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Geary Furukawa, Molly Cotter, and Nolan Nelson. Three volunteers who came tonight and will return in the morning. Thank you for your willingness to help us get this new ministry up and running.

So here we are, one Saturday service down... countless to go!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Honoring God's House

So many of my childhood memories took place at church. I can still picture rehearsals for a Christmas musical and being told that our choir’s stage laugh sounded like a bunch of machine guns. Or singing “Our God is an Awesome God” and doing sign language to accompany it. Or playing hide-and-seek in the large cupboards that held folding chairs. My best friend and I (probably in third grade at the time) even fought over a toy in the preschool class once after an evening service. I look back fondly on my early days of serving—starting in the 4’s and 5’s class, then the nursery and toddler rooms, and finally leading a 3rd grade small group. But even more lasting than these memories were the lessons taught by my parents through our presence at church.

I can’t name which creative method was used to first communicate the story of David and Goliath, and the words to the song, “The Perfect Ten” (about the Ten Commandments), now escape me. But I weekly live according to the example set by my parents. Church was a priority. Any time a service or program was offered, we were there. Even when invited to a sleep-over on Saturday night, I only stayed for the evening. After all, we had church in the morning. For the most part, my brothers didn’t participate in sports that required Sunday involvement, but, for the occasional church-conflicting game, my brother went with a friend, and the rest of our family filled the stands once church was over.

Sure, there were Sundays when we were tired, the house was a mess and company was coming soon, or life had been busy. But honoring God through our attendance at church—being a part of the church—was a priority.

2008 is a year for Morning Star to remember the point that rang so clear in my house growing up. The leadership has chosen Nehemiah 10:39 as a theme verse for the year—“We will not neglect the house of our God.” While it’s a valuable and important verse to put at the forefront of our minds when coming and going through the doors of the church, isn’t it even more essential to be teaching this within our own homes? So how can you teach the lesson of not neglecting the house of God to your children?

--Place church attendance as a priority. As a family, look at what distracts you from attending each week. A scheduling conflict? Filling your weeks with so many activities that you’re too tired to show up on the weekend? Is it just hard to wake up? As a family, talk about how you can change priorities. Ask your kids to keep you accountable by being enthusiastic about church attendance.

--Place serving as a priority. By modeling service within the church, your actions will speak louder than any lesson we could teach in any of the Zones. Service could be anything from teaching a small group, manning the Information Center once a month, or making photo copies mid-week.

--Place giving as a priority. Tell your children why you give to the church, and then teach them to tithe their allowances.

While the lessons we teach here at church from week to week are valuable and can help shape a child’s relationship with the Lord, they pale in comparison to the impact of a parent’s example. As a family, do not neglect the house of God. Honor it. Follow Joshua 24:15, “Choose you today whom you will serve… but as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

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