"Navigating a Gender-Fluid World" Leader's Intensive

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On Tuesday, October 23rd, I'll be leading a pre-conference intensive at the Sojourn Network Leader's Summit along with Ryan Welsh, Lead Pastor of Redeemer Church Eastside in Bellevue, WA. The goal of this leadership intensive is to help pastors and parents navigate the difficult conversations around gender and sexuality in our culture. Navigating such uncomfortable conversations means exploring emotional, moral, personal, and theological matters. How did our culture get here? What does the Bible teach about gender? In what way is gender a given and in what sense is it a social construct? How has the church sometimes failed in communicating this well? What can the church do to reach and share the gospel with the transgender community? How do we interact with our neighbors? With local schools? With those who visit our churches?

Here's our schedule for the day (Talk titles are subject to change):

10:00 - 10:50 AM - Session 1: Our Gender-Fluid Cultural Climate (Ryan Welsh)

11:00 - 11:50 AM - Session 2: What Does the Bible Teach About Gender? (Jared Kennedy)

11:50 AM - 1:30 PM - Lunch

1:30 - 2:20 PM - Session 3: Sharing the Gospel with the Transgender Community (Ryan Welsh)

2:30 - 3:20 - Session 4: How Should I Teach My Kids About Gender? (Jared Kennedy)

3:30 - 4:00 - Case Study /Final Q & A

Ryan and I want to link arms with you and search the Scriptures together to learn how to respond biblically as we help our people navigate these issues in a broken world. And, as a bonus, those who attend will receive a digital preview from my forthcoming book, Raising Kids in a Gender-Fluid World. Click on the link below to learn more and register to join us!

Family Friday Links 7.13.18

Happy Friday the 13th! Don't freak out, this post is here to help you navigate marriage, parenting, and ministry.

The Atlantic had a helpful reminder of the dangers of too much screen time (both for adults and kids). It reads, "Yet for all the talk about children’s screen time, surprisingly little attention is paid to screen use by parents themselves, who now suffer from what the technology expert Linda Stone more than 20 years ago called “continuous partial attention.” This is dangerous for parents in that when we don't give our kids the kind of attention they need, they will end up looking for it else where. This is especially concerning for those of us who believe that we are primary disciplers of our kids. Parents, yes monitor how much screen time your kids get; but also how much time you give yourself as well. Your screen time could potentially be just as harmful (if not more) than there's.

Ryan Fredrick had a post on his site Fierce Marriage on harmful phrases that married people use. He lists 5 of them and why they are so destructive. Near the end of the post he says, "Be selective with your words. There are two things in this life you can never get back once used, words and time. Use your words to give life." This is important to health of any relationship, but especially in marriage.

The Crossway blog had a post by  Melanie Lacy on teaching kids theology. She simply wrote, "Knowing theology helps kids read their Bibles better." Parents, pastors, and ministry leaders this is an important reminder for us to remember if we desire to see our kids grow spiritually. This will be the fuel that drives them into the depths of faith.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section for us to check out.



Children's Ministry Volunteer Orientation Video

At Sojourn Church Midtown, the church where I serve as a pastor, we're now using a series of training videos both to equip parents as disciple-makers in their homes and to orient and update our children's ministry team on our ministry policies and procedures as well best practices when teaching kids. 

I'm planning to share these videos here at gospelcenteredfamily.com as we release them to our church community. This first video is designed to orient new volunteers in our children's ministry. It outlines three things: (1) a gospel-centered vision for children's ministry, (2) what is required to serve as a volunteer, and (3) what volunteers can expect.

Here's a brief outline of the content:


Jesus said, “When you welcome a child in my name, you welcome me.” That’s why children’s ministry exists. At Sojourn Kids we want to show kids Jesus so that they grow up to be like him and then in turn go to tell others about him.

We are seeking to do this in several ways. Here are two of our goals. (1) We’re striving to create safe and welcoming environments where we can build relationships with kids and their families. (2) Next, we want to connect kids and their families to Christ in the way we sing, teach, and play. 

That’s where you come in. Your faithful service as a member of one of our Sojourn Kids ministry teams makes it possible for us to accomplish this. And as you use your gifts serve children, I believe God will use that to grow you as well.  

Requirements as You Begin Serving

So, where do you begin? All Sojourn Kids ministry team members must be Sojourn members or members in process. In addition, middle and high school students who are involved in Sojourn’s student ministry can serve as a third person assistant in classrooms alongside an assigned mentor. You must complete the volunteer application that you can find here http://sojournkids.com/get-involved, submit to a thorough criminal background and reference check, and complete the required basic training videos or checklists that cover our ministry philosophy, safety and security policies, and abuse reporting policies. If you’ve already completed the application, you may have an invitation to complete one of these requirements in your e-mail Inbox right now. After these steps are completed, we’ll set up a time for you to observe in a classroom on Sunday to see what role might be the best fit for you.

What You Can Expect from Us

As you are serving in Sojourn Kids, here are six things you can expect from us as your leaders. 

  1. Expect to hear from us every week. We’ll send weekly communication that includes our schedule and the curriculum we’ll be teaching at our upcoming weekend gatherings. That communication will tell you what supplies we’re providing for the weekly lessons and tell you about any additional items you may want to bring as a supplement to your teaching.
  2. Know that we’re praying for you on a weekly basis as you live as you prepare to share Jesus with Sojourn’s kids.
  3. You can also expect that every open classroom will be staffed with at least two fully vetted volunteers.
  4. Then, we will equip you with educationally excellent, biblically faithful curriculum that focuses on Jesus.
  5. And we’ll create training resources like this video and conduct regular formal training meetings to help you grow your skills.
  6. Finally, if there is ever anything you need, please ask us, your Sojourn Kids staffers, as well as the coaches and coordinators that lead in your service areas each week.

What We Expect from You

 Last of all, before you begin serving, it’s important for you to know what we expect from you as well. Here are five quick things.

  1. It is really important that you arrive on time. Volunteer teams huddle before the service begins (times vary by Sojourn location) so that we can open the doors for parents early.
  2. Second, please prepare well. Read the Bible passage for the week. Think about it and pray that God will help you understand it. Even if you are not the primary teacher in the classroom, study the lesson and be ready to help out.
  3. Watch these training videos and read through our policy checklists. But don’t just read them, commit to follow these policies and implement them when you serve.
  4. When, you have to be away, post a request for a substitute in our online group at least two weeks in advance. And if you have to be out at the last minute because you’re sick (It happens. And please don’t show up if you have the flu!), just call or text your service leader.
  5. Finally, after you’ve observed at a gathering and found a volunteer role that seems like a good fit for you, let us know. We ask that all volunteers commit to serve for a covenanted time period (commitment cycles vary by Sojourn church location) This provides stability and continuity for the children in your classroom, and it gives you a season of service to consider whether or not you’d like to make longer-term commitment to children’s ministry or take a look at serving in a different Sojourn ministry area.

This is a 101 walkthrough of what it means to serve as a volunteer with Sojourn Kids. Hope it's helpful as you consider equipping children's teams at your church. Stay tuned for another Sojourn Kids 101 training video next month! 

Family Friday Links 7.6.18

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Tom Pounder at the YM Sidekick Blog had a great post about How to Lead out of Prayer and Boldness. Tom writes, "Prayer is something we talk about all the time in ministry. It is what we are supposed to do. However, one thing I have noticed in my life is that the more experience you get in ministry the more you rely on your skills and experiences and less on God’s guidance and wisdom. It can be true in our personal lives as well. It’s never intended but it seems like it just happens. How do you lead out of prayer and boldness?"

Over at the Children's Ministry Leader Blog, Greg Baird writes about 7 Things Every Ministry Leader Needs to Know. Greg writes, "Our children’s ministries are dependent on volunteer. Without them, children’s ministry – or just about any ministry! – doesn’t happen. Too often, though, when someone says they’ll volunteer, we simply throw them in the room with the kids and that’s the last they hear from us unless there’s an emergency. We can’t do that. If we’re doing ministry on purpose, that means we are communicating effectively with our team. And there are certain things that are critical for them to know."

This is an oldie but a goodie from the 3dm movement's blog. This particular post on Healthy Family Rhythms Sound Great, But How Do We Do It? is from 2014. I came across it looking for something else on the website. Brian Spahr writes, "First, take a deep breath. Be under no delusion that we have it all figured out. We don’t. Our family on mission is a work in progress too, but we are learning some things worth sharing along the way. Like most things worth doing, there is no magic formula. There are some ways all families can take steps toward a healthy rhythm. Here are four questions you can ask your family to help get started:

  • What can we stop?
  • What can we simplify?
  • What can we systematize?
  • What can we share?"

I hope these links are a blessing to you and your ministry. Please comment below some posts that have been an encouragement lately.