Playground Prayers

Playground Prayers

Most Christians parents know that they should spend time talking with their kids about God. But when you have small children sometimes just getting through the day without pulling your hair out is an accomplishment. So here are a couple of ideas that you can add to your next trip to the playground to help open up a spiritual conversation between you and your children.

 

The Idea

Use your time playing on the playground (or your backyard swing set) as a time for prayer.

Before you start

Tell your children that as you play today you are going to come up with new ways to pray. This would be a good time to explain that prayer doesn’t always mean that we have to bow our heads. It is important for children to learn that God is always with them and they can pray wherever they are.

How it Works

Swings:

  • As you get on the swings ask your child about what happens when they swing. Keep asking different questions until they say that the swings help them to get high up in the air. Point out that God lifts us up high sort of like a swing does. Say that as you swing you are going to come up with ways in your life that God has helped you or lifted you up.
  • Give your child a push and tell him/her to say something that he/she is thankful for each time that you push him/her. After your child runs out of things that they are thankful for add a few of your own to the list.
  • When you finish swinging pause for a short moment, bow your head, and pray. Thank God for all of the things that you listed while swinging.

Slide:

  • Say: Just like you slide down this slide some times in life there are things that drag us down. But even when things are going rough God is always with us waiting to catch us before we fall.
  • Stand at the end of the slide. As your child sits on the top ask him if he has anything that he would like for you to pray about. Let your child slide down then and catch him at the bottom. Hug him close and whisper in his ear. “God loves you and will always be there to catch you”. Repeat the processes for as long as you want to play.
  • Your child will quickly run out of things to pray about, but you probably have a list a mile long. Each time your child slides pray silently for one of the needs on your list.

Monkey Bars:

  • Ask your child what would happen if one of the rungs were missing. She may still be able to get across, but it would be more difficult. Then ask what would happen if more than one were missing. Eventually she would not be able to cross.
  • Point out that in our church there are many people doing many different jobs, and if any one of them left it would effect her. So as she crosses the bars encourage her to pray for her church and the leaders in it. Let one rug be the pastor, another her age group specific pastor and another to be her Sunday school teacher. Then ask her to think of other people in the church who have an impact on her. (You may be surprised at the answers).
  • As she crosses encourage her to pray for each person. While she is praying you can pray for her leaders too.

Family Ministry Field Guide

Family Ministry Field Guide

During this interim (read unemployed) time I have been doing a great deal of praying and thinking about ministry. One of the things that I keep coming back to is the notion of family based student ministry. A few weeks ago I was sitting in church and had this thought

As a youth pastor I spend a great deal of effort trying to help students from broken homes. Why not put some of that effort towards fixing broken homes, or helping them not to become broken. 

That thought has been running through my head now along with several others. One of the things that I love about Lifeway and writing for the KNOWN curriculum from time to time is their understanding that parents are vital to student ministry. The primary spiritual caregiver of a student is the parent. That is their Biblical role and it is against the ordained plan of God if the church steps in and tries to take over that role.

Anyway, I could ramble on about ministry to parents for a while. This is a realization that has been building in me for some time, but only just recently has gelled into a complete thought and mindset change. In the future I will be talking more about ways to help parents to be invested in the spiritual lives of their students (I love the thought of parent/child mission trips for starters) but like I said this is all just starting to come together in my head.

So with that stuff moving around in my mind and some free time on my hands I went to the local Lifeway store looking for a book on Children’s ministry. The first thing that jumped out at me with this book Family Ministry Field Guide. I was intrigued by the title and blown away after looking at just a few pages. I am just a couple of chapter in, and I am already learning a great deal.

But the whole point of this entry was to give a quote from the foreword by Mark DeVries. Speaking about his church and the changes that they have made towards a family based approached to ministry he said,

“What we did get right was the almost magical alchemy of a church that empowers parents and stands in the gap when they don’t feel so powerful.”

What a great idea. That is the type of student ministry (to both children and youth) that I want to be a part of–one that empowers parents and helps them when they don’t feel powerful. I want to be a part of a ministry that helps parents take on the mantle of spiritual leaders without adding one more meeting or another pile of guilt or shame on top of their shoulders.

I am still early in my family ministry journey, so keep checking back for the next few weeks and months as I share where God is leading me.

Outposts of God’s Mission

Outposts of God’s Mission

I am reading through Timothy Paul Jones’ book Family Ministry: a field guide and this quote really jumped out at me.

The king of family ministry I’m envisioning is a movement towards equipping Christian households to function as outposts of God’s mission in the world.

See, you like it too don’t you. The idea that the church should be equipping saints to go out into the world is one that many people have been espousing  for many years (probably right after they formed the first protestant church a pastor said, “my job isn’t to do the ministry, but to equip you to do ministry”). But to turn that concept into a strategy for ministering to children and youth and helping them grow in the context of a family sounds amazing. In fact it sounds like something we should have been doing all along.

Think about it. It our churches can embrace this idea instead of having one place where ministry happens (or originates from) you would have dozens, hundreds even. Families are where people are. Families are already in their communities. Families are already relevant. Families are already connected. If we as the church can equip those family units to be outposts of God’s mission just think about the impact God could make through us.