Category Archives: Family

4 Reasons Why Parents and Kids need to be on the Same Page…literally.

bonding-1407833_640For years, I have been an advocate of families studying the same concepts while in their bible study. Thankfully, I am a part of an awesome organization (LifeWay) which supplies three avenues of synchronous activity across all age groups (some more than others, but see it here or here or here). And while there are a few resources from other publishers that might appeal to one age group or another, there’s few that specifically unite the family in this way.  Now imagine this: mom and dad can have a conversation on the same topic or scripture verse or even theological truth to reinforce biblical teaching- now that’s exciting!

But just in case you don’t think that having some sort of link between age is a big deal, here are five reasons that it is:

  1. It places the parents in their proper role as teachers. Parents are able to take the reigns and expand on what their kids and students have been taught, and a great conversation can develop as soon as the ride home.
  2. It utilizes the learning tool of repetition. As each family member talks about the lesson, the concepts are reinforced. Repetition can do that.
  3. It encourages bible conversations. Families might talk about sports, TV, or other inconsequential things. Having similar lessons will encourage real talk about real things.
  4. It moves “Sunday” to “every” day. Talking about the lesson on other days will de-compartmentalize the faith walk that many are accustomed to. Even more, having resources such as a Daily Discipleship Guide (coming this fall to Explore the Bible users) will give the parents tools to have family devotions for any age.

I am all for parents and their families to be on the same page. I am even more for parents to be the lead disciplers. If you aren’t using your bible study as a tool to train your children, think about doing it. After all, the study will be fresh in your mind and the effort will do nothing but pay dividends for years to come.

In Jesus,

Pastor Fran

5 Principles to Follow Before You Overhaul Your Children’s Ministry 

Throughout my years of ministry on a church staff and as a senior pastor, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for children. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing young children come to faith in Christ and grow up as amazing, godly, adults. 

Years ago, I took on a task of developing a children’s ministry in a suburban church. There was great potential, but the children’s ministry at the time was not meeting the needs of the families. After years of hard work and perseverance, I can now see its fruit. What were once children in our church are now moms and missionaries, husbands and ministers, teachers who are passionate for their world and the people in it. The gospel, alive in this ministry then, in still alive in their hearts now. It’s just so encouraging to recall!

Above all, what I learned from this experience and more has been very, very valuable. Some of the principles below might not be needed, but in case your children’s ministry needs an overhaul, here are some of a few principles for you:

  1. The Gospel comes first. There is no compromise on the need for the gospel in any ministry, but in both children’s and youth ministries, there is often a temptation to focus on the fun. Fun is, well, fun, but don’t miss why you’re there in the first place: to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
  2. The parents are the teachers. Deut 6 and Eph 6:4 are both very clear passages as to the role of the parents. Church leaders need to remember that their role is to help the parents fulfill that role, not take over for them. In other words, when planning on teaching children, don’t forget that parents need instruction as well. 
  3. Train your leaders. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a task to do and feeling completely inadequate for it. Leaders need training, and a leader who refuses to be trained is probably not a leader you should have on your team. Blunt words, but true. Plan on supplying plenty of training and encouragement for your leaders in all areas of the ministry. 
  4. Bring joy wherever you go. Ministry is challenging but it needs to be fun. Do a heart check and make sure that you are truly enjoying the ministry. A joyful heart will be contagious to others, so be willing to have fun with the families and celebrate life and the Lord with them!  
  5. Find good partners in ministry. There are tons of resources, curricula, and experts that would love to help you with your ministry. I am excited to be a church partner for LifeWay because I get to go into churches and help them reach more people than ever before. No leader should ever feel alone, because God has plenty of workers for His harvest. Get help, and be happy that God gave you these resources! 

There you have it. Many of the principles can be applied across to other ministries, but all of them should be considered before getting into the structure of a ministry. Hope these principles helped you as they have helped me. 

In Christ, 

Pastor Fran 

Seven Seconds

I played a recording of my dad today on my phone, an old voicemail that I have saved all this time. Even six years after he made it, I’ve kept it. It’s only seven seconds long, but to hear his voice, even for that short bit, well, it’s soothing and encouraging on occasions like seconds-droste-clock-time-minutes-hours-spiral-1752164today. Today would have been his 76th birthday and on some days (like today), I miss him more than others. He was my father, yes, but as we got older, he became my counselor, my friend, and especially my hero.

My dad was a hero when this former tough guy walked forward down the aisle one day in his church to receive Christ, got baptized immediately, and then served the Lord the rest of his life without ever looking back. He was a hero when, with tears of joy in his eyes, he walked my sister down that same church aisle to be joined to her groom. He was a hero when he preached only twice, and both times doing a horrible, awful exegesis but gave a message that was forever memorable because of his uncontrollable sobbing out of gratitude towards his Savior. He was a hero when he sang a solo with all his heart the simple words to “It is Well With My Soul.” And he remains a hero in my last memory of him sitting in his wheelchair scooter waving goodbye as I looked through my rearview mirror as I left in my rental car to the airport.

What’s amazing is how precious that seven-second recording is to me. A couple of times a year, I play that voicemail recording, a simple “hey Fran, this is your dad, call me when you can, bye-bye.” Over and over again, I play it just to hear his voice, his familiar intonation that reminds me of the many conversations we had from a distance. It’s that same soothing voice that had reminded me through the years of his favorite Scripture verses of Philippians 4:8 and Isaiah 40:31, words of wisdom when I saw how tough life could be. It’s that voice I miss.

Seven seconds is all I have, but I praise God that I even have that. Even more, I praise God that in the big picture, seven seconds is nothing compared to the eternity that he is spending with his Savior right now, an eternity that I will one day enjoy with him as well. After all, seven seconds is nothing compared to the eternity of God’s glory, because it will be well with our souls.

Happy Birthday, dad. I love you and miss you.

Your son,

Fran

The Need for Rest

Hebrews 4:9, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”

Ironically, I am writing this as I am heading on a plane for a much needed vacation. Yet as I tried to sleep on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic with my internal time clock already out of sync, I couldn’t help but think about this passage and its application and just had to write.

Let me admit that going on vacation this time around was not an easy thing for me. I avoided telling people about it out of guilt. I even hesitated telling people where I was going in fear that some might think that I wouldn’t be able to be around in the event of an emergency. I also didn’t want to give fuel to the fire for those who consistently spew hateful, negative things. On top of that, I used to pride myself on not taking vacations, days off, or by working all hours of the day and night. “No one can out work me,” I used to think to myself with pride in my heart. A man who took time off was lazy, even soft, and I didn’t want to be one of those guys who were just flat out weak. That certainly has something to do with my struggle to take time to rest.

Well, let me be even more frank: that thinking is completely man centered, sinful garbage. True, God values work. He has shown this by His six days of creation. He has worked throughout history, interacting with His people and leading them to great testimonies of faith in Him. He even did the greatest work of all on the cross willingly and unselfishly. He is a God who works.

However, God also rested. He also wants His servants to rest. In fact, His creation wasn’t complete without that seventh day of rest. Even Jesus took time to rest, going off to refresh and renew Himself with people, places of solitude, and time with His Father. Rest isn’t weak, lazy, or soft- rest, properly done, is a good thing and will make us more effective for Christ’s service.

I look forward to this time with my wife. We are going to enjoy this great creation that God made, taking time to rest and getting revived so we can serve Christ even more as we head into a busy season. Please pray for us, and learn from my own confession: take some time to rest!

Pastor Fran

P.S.: see you after my vacation  😉

Five Reasons Why Families Should Worship Together

Whether called Kid’s Own Worship, Kid’s Church, or just simply children’s church, a great12888757_10153621814759611_556307441460214700_o many churches have a separate worship option for children apart from their families. Having this time of worship separate from the children offers mom and dad a chance to worship, grow, and focus on the message without distraction. And though we currently have a Kid’s Own Worship at First Baptist, I see the need for our church family to have a more integrated approach to have worship together.

There are some very, very good reasons to for a family to worship together. For example, though there are some benefits in having children’s church, it’s also vitally important for children to see, hear, and experience worship with their family. And, with the right planning and attitude towards worship, mom and dad can manage their children and benefit from a dedicated time of worship with them. Of course, it’s not easy, but it can indeed be done, and I believe that it will provide fruit in the long run.

That said, here are some reasons families should worship together regularly:

  1. The children will see their parents worship. Worship is caught more than taught. We cannot delegate this responsibility. In fact, when a parent takes worship seriously, the children will follow. When they don’t, well…
  2. The children will hear their pastor’s message. Most pastors study, prepare, and pray over the message for many hours prior to the Sunday service. A life long diet of God’s Word is encouraged from the pulpit as the Word is taught and applied to their lives as well as to others.
  3. The children will see the response to the Word. For those churches that offer a time of response to the Word (or invitation), I see this as a treasured, precious moment for people to pray, seek, and connect with Christ after the Word has been preached. What better time, then, for the children to see faith and life intersecting as people share their victories, struggles, tears, and joys with their church family?
  4. The children will gain insights and have questions. Children have the opportunity to ask questions and receive insights on a pastor’s message or other aspects of the worship service. A family experiencing this time together can easily have these conversations on the way home, at lunch after church, or even during family worship times. Almost a Deut 6:7 moment, right?
  5. The children will be stretched in their spiritual walk. We have been guilty in the past of setting the bar too low for our children, thinking that they can’t handle sitting still for a period of time or unable to handle conversations.  In some cases, this is possible, yet it is up to the parents to help them to grow into this period of worship and learning. It’s not going to be easy, but in the long run, they can and will grow.

These are some of the reasons, and I think, very good ones. Our hope is always that we will see the fruit over the long run in our children, and this is but one of the ways to accomplish that.

Any additional reasons or thoughts on this topic?

In Him,

Pastor Fran

Five Ways to Enjoy Life…Today

Often, we are so forward thinking, we forget to live in the present. Ponder on that for a minute.

How often have you waited for that next job, that next house, that next car, or that next life event, only to ignore what’s really alongside you today? Jesus said, “so do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will bring its own worries” (Mt. 6:31). In other words and in the context of Jesus’ teaching, stop worrying about the things that don’t matter, but worry about the Kingdom today!

That said, God brings many blessings all around you, and you need to enjoy them now. Here are five ways that you can stop and smell the proverbial roses, praising God for the gifts that He has given you:

  1. Spend some time alone with God. Admittedly, it’s been a while, but I used to take overnight trips to a state park to reconnect with God. I’d unplug: no internet, phone, or TV, and take walks while memorizing Scripture and praying. This time with the Lord helped me to engage Him in a distraction free, focused environment.
  2. Spend some time with your spouse. If you are married, go somewhere different with your spouse where you can talk (this rules out the movies). Talk about your life together, remember the past, and count your blessings with your spouse.
  3. Spend some time with a small child. If you have a child or
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    photo by M. Teresa Trascritti

    grandchild, spend the day or even an afternoon with himor her in an activity in which you can interact. If you don’t have a child, then take out a nephew, niece, cousin, or other relative. You can go to the park, a playground, or go to a restaurant where they can enjoy a kid’s meal. By seeing the world through little eyes, you can see how big of a God we have.

  4. Spend some time with an elderly person from church. Some of my fondest memories of saints who have passed on have been the Christ-centered conversations that I enjoyed with them. They shared their lives, their adventures, and their dreams of old. It caused me to appreciate their story…and to look at my life as a joyful adventure in Christ.
  5. Spend some time with your church family. Much has been made in our culture to be efficient and cover as much territory as possible by multitasking, even when it comes to relationships. But is this how relationships are supposed to be? As God knew you, formed you, saved you, and grew you, He gave you a wonderful gift that you also need to enjoy at this moment in time: His church. Stop trying to make the church what you want it to be and instead enjoy the church as God meant it to be.

Of course, change is inevitable, and we will see change occur whether we want to or not. However, this doesn’t mean that we need to center ourselves on the future. For now, let’s enjoy today, enjoying every moment, enjoying every gift that our Father has given us!

Pastor Fran

5 Ways to Grow Your Family Spiritually…

As a husband, father, and grandfather, I have had my shares of ups and downs in trying to disciple those whom I love the most. Check out this short list of actions that you can take to help feed your loved ones spiritually and develop habits within them which can stick with them for life:December_15__2015_at_0441PM_-

  1. Read in front of them. For example, would it be unusual for your spouse or children to see you reading the Word of God rather than sitting in front of the TV with a remote in your hand? If so, maybe some changes need to be made.
  2. Pray with them. Not just pray for them, but pray with them. Not just before meals, but at devotions and whenever other life opportunities arise.
  3. Serve with them. Be involved in a ministry that your family can do. It can be inside the church, out on a family mission trip, or a special moment such as speaking to and praying with a person in need.
  4. Love with them. How you treat (and pray for) servers at a restaurant, interact with workers doing a job for you, or even how you treat the homeless matters. Those who are close to you will see your example and will likely respond in a similar way- love people and your children will learn from this valuable example.
  5. Talk with them. Your spouse and family desperately want you to talk with them, and specifically, to listen to them. As children become teens and teens become adults, communication that’s open, loving, and truth filled will have a incredibly valuable, life long effect that’s contagious for others.

Try these actions. I’m sure that you will be blessed as you care for those you love in a real and practical way.

Pastor Fran