Tag Archives: learning

A little child shall lead them

We know little about the childhood of Jesus. What we do know comes from Dr. Luke, who probably heard stories from Mary when he interviewed her late in her life. She had to be the source of the account of 12 year-old Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:41-50).

Jewish boys of his age were required to attend the three great feasts of  Jewish custom and law. Twelve years of age marked a boy’s emergence as a man, a son of the law. It was likely his first appearance in Jerusalem since he was dedicated at the Temple when he was eight days old (Luke 2:21-24).

The narrative describes a young boy of 12 conversing with the rabbis and their students in the Temple courtyard, listening and asking questions. While he was absorbed in the experience, his frantic parents were searching for him. The caravan of friends and neighbors were traveling back to Nazareth but Jesus wasn’t among the crowd (Luke 2:43-45). We can imagine the growing concern of Mary and Joseph when they couldn’t find Jesus. Most parents have known desperate moments when a child is missing, if but for a while. Take it up more than a few notches – the missing child was the Son of God!

Mary and Joseph were relieved (also a bit annoyed) when they found Jesus. He was surprised at their surprise. “Where else would I be except in my Father’s house?”

For Jesus, it just seemed natural to be learning about the things of God. Perhaps as Mary was relaying this story, she reflected on the things she had pondered in her heart her entire life. Her son was indeed God’s Son. His time in the Temple at 12 years of age marked a new chapter in his self-discovery.

Good things, God things, happen when our children are given opportunities to learn about God and His love. No, it shouldn’t happen just at church. Our homes should be the primary place where our children hear and see what it means to follow God.

This weekend, our children are on an adventure. Make sure your kids are participating. Invite a neighbor. Come and support this great experience. Who knows? Our kids might teach us something.

 

 

“I’m old enough”

“I’m old enough” isn’t a complete sentence. There are always qualifiers:

  • “I’m old enough to tie my shoes.”
  • “I’m old enough to sleep without the light on.”
  • “I’m old enough to drive a car.”
  • “I’m old enough to make my own decisions.

Sometimes the sentence changes – “You’re old enough.”

  • “You’re old enough to sit there and be quiet.”
  • “You’re old enough to mow the grass.”
  • “You’re old enough to stop acting like a baby.”
  • “You’re old enough to know better.”
  • “You’re old enough to do this yourself.”

It seems like there are two notions to “old enough.” The first is on the way up as you develop, grow, and develop. As you move through childhood and adolescence toward adulthood, you learn lessons, achieve milestones, and become your own person.

Then there is that second. You are not going up anymore; heck, you’re heading downhill and you notice you are picking up speed!

  • “You’re old enough not to try to do that anymore.”
  • “You’re old enough to not be able to do that anymore.”
  • “You’re old enough to know that there are a lot of things you don’t know.”
  • “You’re old enough to talk about events and people from the distant past.”
  • “You’re old enough to appreciate things you used to take for granted.”
  • “You’re old enough to understand there are more years behind you than in front of you.”
  • “You’re old enough to treasure relationships and cherish time with people you love.”

I know I’m old enough to be grateful for blessings. In a week, Kim and I celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary. We’ve had the privilege of raising two fine sons who have become really good men. We’ve become grandparents to three amazing kids. I was called into the ministry as a senior in high school at a church camp. For over 40 years, I have had the privilege to serve with some of the most dedicated Christians around. I’m old enough to know the road can get rocky and life can be painful, but I’m also old enough to believe that God goes before me, stands beside me, follows after me, and loves me always. I’m old enough.

Love. Learn. Live. Evaluate.

40 Days HERO

From February 2nd-March 9th, Wieucans of all ages met once a week in homes scattered all over North Atlanta for fellowship and Bible study. Our six-week, in-home Bible study experiment used a study called 40 Days in the Word. We asked our 40 Days participants to fill out a short response form at the conclusion of our experiment. Since then, we’ve been pouring over the responses, and this is what your fellow church members had to say.

On a scale of 1 to 10, participants rated their overall experience as a 9, with the vast majority of responses clustered in the 8-10 range. Overall, 40 Days was a VERY positive experience for our members.

Similarly, with only one or two exceptions, all of our participants expressed an interest in participating in another small group study in the future.

When asked, “Was your 40 Days experience different from your Sunday morning Covenant Group experience? If so, how?” our participants shared some great positives from our experiment. Here’s a sampling:

“More intimate.”
“More structured.”
“More good, open discussion.”
“More time for visiting and more time for discussion.”
“Smaller, more intimate environment.”
“More personal. I felt more comfortable sharing.”
“More intimacy, and that’s GREAT!”
“Share lives more closely in small group.”
“More focused.”
“Discussion easier to understand, no ‘right and wrong’ answers.”
More engaging. I wish more people could have participated.”

When we asked what we could have done differently to improve the experience, we also got some great feedback. Participants wanted:

  1. More training for group leaders/moderators.
  2. A better sign up process.
  3. More varied meeting times.
  4. A choice in what to study.
  5. Smaller groups. More than 10 people is too many.
  6. Flexibility in scheduling. Every week is too much with everything else we have going on.
  7. More focused groupings by age/life stage.

We also asked whether the 40 Days experiment was an effective way to build and strengthen relationships with other Wieucans. Our participants’ responses were overwhelmingly positive. They used phrases like:

“YES!”
“Christian intimacy.”
“More personal relationships.”
“Stronger relationships.”
“Better acquainted.”
“Made new friends.”
“Rewarding.”
“Loving and caring people.”
“Bonding.”
“LOVE my small group.”

As we continue to evaluate our 40 Days experiment as a staff, we’re starting to develop a few takeaways based on the totality of these responses. Here are four.

Comfortable Communities

40 Days participants responded with a great hunger for intimate, personal relationships with one another that our current structure isn’t meeting. If one sentiment came through loud and clear from our participants, it was that Wieucans are craving more comfortable settings to build relationships. Small groups and living room environments have the potential to meet that need.

Scriptural Engagement

Almost without exception, Wieucans are looking for more opportunities to engage scripture as a community. Irrespective of age, Wieucans are craving more comfortable settings to take part in practical, Bible-based discussion and instruction. Their responses show that open, relaxed and easy environments foster discussion and encourage greater individual–and group–engagement with scripture and Bible study materials.

Better Organization

We can get better at organizing small group opportunities. Communication can be clearer. Registration can be more user-friendly. Facilitators and hosts could use more up front support. Variety of meeting times and study materials is important. Keeping small groups small is also important.  Now that you’ve told us what we can do better, we’re working on how we can do it.

Clear Priorities

We need to prioritize experiences that better grow disciples over experiences that don’t have discipleship as a priority or that are less effective as discipleship builders. If we value Christian community, growing relationships, and making disciples, our church calendar ought to reflect it.  If small groups are an effective way to do those things, we shouldn’t be trying to shoehorn them into an already full calendar. Instead we should be creative about making room for groups to grow and flourish.

So there’s a summary of our first level of analysis. Our goal is to continue to find creative ways to improve connection and community at Wieuca. As we digest this feedback and continue to ask for more, we hope to improve and expand our experiment. As we do so, we covet your prayers that God will continue to bless our community.  Your first chance to provide additional feedback is in the comments section!

See you Sunday.

A Minute with Mark – Learning to Crawl

970757_10100888142597017_161276303_nFor the past few days, I was able to spend time with our grandchildren in the rain-soaked North Carolina mountains. There was plenty of inside time with three preschoolers in a cabin that got a little smaller as the week went by!

I was fascinated watching our 9 month old grandson.  He is discovering how to propel himself along the floor. Two things came to mind – 1. It’s amazing what you find that close to the floor and 2. If we had strapped some Velcro to his belly, we wouldn’t need the vacuum cleaner.

He drags with his arms and pushes with his feet. One day soon he’ll figure out how to lift himself onto his knees. Then he’ll go even faster and get into more stuff. Then I’ll turn around and he’s playing T-ball, driving a car, graduating from college. It goes by so fast.

I think about the world he will encounter. He will face things I could never have imagined. He will need a strong foundation of faith and vibrant relationships with godly people. He will a need a healthy self-awareness and confidence in his skills and knowledge. He will need people around him who believe in him, pull for him, hold him accountable, and love him no matter what.

Right now, he’s learning to crawl. I want his life to be full of simple pleasures and the wonder of learning. When we knew he was on the way, we started praying for him, That will always be our greatest gift to him. Too soon, he’ll be walking and running, growing up before our eyes. We’ll pray even more for God’s grace, protection, and wisdom in his life.

Along the Journey – VBS

24237-hd-face-paint-childrenWhen you are in the ministry, you get to do some very different things. Some are fun, like having to dress in weird costumes. Some are gross, like participating in a pudding drenching contest. Some are necessary, like cleaning up after a big family event. Some are choices, like driving the church bus around the neighborhood to pick up kids.

All of the above and many others have occurred during Vacation Bible School weeks. I remember the last one with fondness. My dad drove the bus through the neighborhoods behind Second Ponce de Leon Baptist church so that children would have a safe way to VBS. Not too long ago, I met an old friend who told me that he used to ride that bus. During those days, we had two weeks of VBS. I think our volunteers might revolt if we did two weeks these days. They put in a great deal of work and invest a tremendous amount of energy and creativity so that VBS will provide an environment of fun activity and learning.

Vacation Bible School starts next Monday. I hope you have volunteered to help, even if it is just for a few hours. Pray for this week and for our workers and children. Good things happen at VBS. God things happen at VBS.

God is working at Wieuca among our young people and children. In recent weeks, Rebecca, Josh, Joseph, and John have either made decisions for Christ or are under watch care as we talk to them about their relationship with the Lord. Aimee Yeager, our new Children’s Ministry Intern, begins this week. A student at McAfee Seminary, she brings wonderful talent and spirit to our ministry to children and their families.

We want to help our boys and girls to learn how much God loves them. We desire to partner with parents as they go about the most important job an adult can have – raising a child. Many of our kids have wonderful insights about God, about the Bible, and about the church. Some need a little help:

Why did God create Eve after Adam? “God had to wait for her because He hadn’t invented make-up yet.”

How did David prepare to fight Goliath? “David probably carried a spare slingshot. You can never tell when you might get in an accident and sit on your good one.”

Well, that’s better than the adults who answered a Bible survey question with this interesting choice: Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.