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Thursday
Apr162009

erikson institute

a couple of years ago I had the privilege of working on my master's degree at the erikson institute located in the heart of downtown chicago. i love erikson's vision statement:

"Our vision is that every adult who works with young children or on their behalf will be knowledgeable, aware, skilled, and alive to the possibilities of each child’s life."

what initially drew me to erikson was their commitment to child development from a wholistic approach - they consistently ask the question, "how does a child develop through his family, community, and culture?"

how often do we ask that question as it pertains to a child's spiritual development?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le0YqEzxFQU]
Wednesday
Apr152009

lakewood church

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recently i had the opportunity to visit lakewood church in houston, texas.

the time i spent with craig johnson and clayton hurst, and the kids' life team was a highlight of my year! i visited the wednesday night program for kids, and was beyond impressed with the depth of the curriculum, the volunteer commitment and competency, and the organization and strategy of the overall leadership.it was honestly like nothing i had seen before.

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the picture to the right is a picture of the small group time for elementary age kids. the volunteers are trained to lead children in conversation as opposed to following a strict lesson plan. it was amazing to watch the leaders connect with the children on a very deep level.

img_0066the most moving part for me came in the middle of the large group worship time. craig encouraged any kid who needed prayer to walk to the back of the room, find a leader and pray together. it was unbelievable to watch so many kids immediately walk to the back of the room and pray with their leaders. i felt so many emotions as I watched adult men kneel on their knees in order to pray with kids who needed prayer. i often look at this picture and remind myself that this is what the church is supposed to look like!

I think the world of this church and am so grateful for all they are doing to spiritually form children for a lifetime.
Monday
Apr132009

what is your security philosophy?

there's a lot of conversation today around security programs for children at church. i love the conversation around the philosophy of implementing security programs. ivy beckwith's book, "postmodern children's ministry" really challenged my thinking about the ways in which security programs often break down community.  after reading her thoughts, i came to my own conclusion that when we offer a safe environment for our children at church - we actually encourage community by engaging our children in a faith experience free from emotional and physical danger.

i'm a volunteer at my own church First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights.  recently, we worked hard to evaluate and implement new security procedures. with the help of the willow creek association, we put together this video series to show our simple journey.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dx_5GhkX86Q&feature=PlayList&p=C69184530D4B7122&index=0]

there's nothing fancy about our security - but i'm convinced that our children will have a fresh faith experience because of the secure environment we implemented.

what is your security philosophy?
Monday
Apr132009

my new adventure

for the past 2 years, I've been working as the executive director of children's ministry for the willow creek association. i've had an absolute blast working on the conspire conference and developing new resources for children's ministry leaders. and the team i've been privileged to work with has been phenomenal! there's nothing like working with a team where passions are aligned and everyone is working in their strengths area.

but now i'm on to new adventures! i'm fully convinced that we need to re-think the ways in which we are modeling and teaching faith to our children. something is not right. children are not choosing faith for a lifetime. i think we desperately need to re-think our curriculum to children on sunday morning, both written and unwritten - and re-focus our leadership efforts as children's leaders. we are doing so many good things on sunday mornings, but the research still continues to show - our kids need something different. i'm currently on a mission to spark new conversation so that together we can offer a fresh faith experience to our children. and i'll be doing this full time with my company lemon lime kids.

won't you join me in this conversation? we need your voice.
Monday
Apr062009

the disappearance of childhood


i'm really enjoying neil postman's book, "the disappearance of childhood." my friend phil vischer referenced the book during his conspire conference message "discipled by culture" so i figured it must be a good and important read! in the first chapter, postman describes the closing gap between adulthood and childhood by using examples of clothing (a rapid change in children's clothing to be more like adult clothing), children's games (children's sports and games are increasingly modeled on big league sports), and crime (the difference between adult crimes and children's crimes is rapidly narrowing).


I believe the theme and direction of this book can best be summarized by postman's statement on page 4:


"Everywhere one looks, it may be seen that behavior, language, attitudes, and desires - even the physical appearance - of adults and children are becoming increasingly indistinguishable."


I know that this bothers me - but I'm still trying to figure out why. Is it because I don't want children to be forced to grow up too quickly? Or because I'm nostalgic for the days of my own carefree childhood? I think it bothers me because I'm fearful that while we are trying to instill values of self-confidence and independence in our children - we are actually unintentionally teaching children to leave behind their childhood ways that include creative thinking, imaginative play, honest speech and ruthless faith.


I actually wish that postman were able to write a book titled "the disappearance of adulthood" so that as adults we were able to embrace our childhood ways that we so long ago left behind.



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