he saw that it was good

Photo courtesy Nasa.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). For six days he created. He spoke and there was light. He separated the waters from the land. Plant life and creatures filled the earth and waters. And then on the sixth day he created humans, first the man, Adam; then Eve from Adam’s rib. At the close of each day of creation he saw that his work and his creation was good. On the seventh day he rested.

I introduced my young friends in kids church to the account this morning. For many of them it was their first time reading and hearing it. They looked up the text for themselves in the Bible. I pointed out to them that God created, but that he himself was not created. Several looked at me in amazement.

God, the all-powerful, loving, good, creative One created all of this out of his goodness and love.

Next week they learn more in detail about how God created the first man and woman, and why.

Because he is loving and good.

He created you out of his love and with his breath brushing your innermost being he affirmed, “It is good.” Even now his thoughts toward you are for your edification and well-being. He remembers your first wiggle in your mother’s womb, your birth, your first steps, your first words, your first prayers, your first hopes, your first failures, every detail, every moment of your life to the present and into the future for all eternity.

He knows all your days from before the foundation of the world. And he loves you. Because he is infinitely good.

Now then, how will you respond?


engaging elders through children’s ministry


They sat in the back. A mother, a grandmother, and two grandfathers. As 180 neared its conclusion today I keyed in on the two elderly men, one at a time. The first lives several miles away in inner SE Portland. He was visiting his grandchildren in the neighborhood. Happy to see them going to church, he beamed at their joy. He was raised in the church, but has not attended in a very long time. I invited him to come. Turns out he has no reliable transportation due to his age and disability. We will be working on figuring out how to help him get here. Because he matters. I told him so. He teared up. In Christ our hearts bonded during our brief conversation.

And then a similar conversation with the other grandfather. He does live in the neighborhood. I invited him to church as well. I think he was surprised; not in a bad way. Although language was a bit of a barrier with him, I made it clear that we want him here. That we care about him and his family.

Both of these men are the elder statesmen of their families. I include immediate and extended households in that statement. As someone who primarily ministers among youth and children, I understand that I must intentionally engage and honor their elders at home and in the neighborhood.

What a privilege. A handshake and arm around the shoulder as a sign of respect for the first gentleman. A handshake and bow of the head for the second. Both from different cultural backgrounds than mine and each other.

Urban mission to youth and children must include whole families. If it doesn’t, then all we are doing is offering seasonal activities with no incarnational relationships which provide common conduits for doing life together in the daily routines of community. So, with the unabashed faith of my young friends in the neighborhood in the photo below, I pray that God will grant us wisdom to break down walls of our own construction and those of the culture so that Christ may help us to learn to love each other as he commanded in Scripture.


redeeming the fence

Last night I hung out with a large group of neighbor youth and kids, about 25 to 30 in all. The older boys played basketball. The younger kids mostly played on the swings and jungle gym. Two girls dressed in traditional Muslim head coverings invited me to play volleyball with them. I took my place alongside one of them. The other girl stood on the opposite side of a chain link fence. We bounced a small beach ball back and forth. I bumped the ball to my partner and she hit it over the fence. Most of the time. We smiled and laughed a lot.

The fence which was intended to distinguish boundaries and separate has become a tool for bringing very different people together for common purpose: doing life together as fellow humans. Relationships forged in the crucible of time spent together.

It takes time and proximity, this endeavor to build community and melt cross-cultural chasms. It takes love and humility, a willingness to listen well and open our hearts to others, especially when they ignore or hate us.

Often the gains are small and can even seem like failures. But press on. As if loving the Lord, himself. Because that is the reality (Matthew 25:34-46).

Five Kidmin Games Which Risk Injury

In my years of children’s ministry experience, I have learned that there are some games which run a higher risk of causing injury to participants. I list below five games which tend to be the most problematic. No doubt, you will be able to think of others, and you may disagree with my chosen culprits. Here they are:

1. Red Rover: Years ago, I stopped allowing this game to be played. Why? Each and every time someone would get hurt, usually one of the smaller children. Their wrists would get injured, their arms bruised, and sometimes there were knots on foreheads. So finally I wised up and stopped it. Funny thing is, the kids did not seem to mind.

2. Tug-of-war: This can be a fun game if properly supervised. You don’t want too many kids on either side. You have to take into account whether you intend to play inside or outside. If inside, do you allow them to wear socks rather than shoes. If outside, what kind of surface is it? Grass? Dirt? Pavement? Ahem, gravel? Too often, wisdom does not prevail when stared down by fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fun…. Thus, I let this one wander off into obscurity.

3. Dodge Ball: No matter how many times you warn offenders, someone will always get nailed in the face. There are rule options, such as requiring kids to roll a ball to hit the legs or feet of opponents. Yet, I nixed this one too by means of providing more entertaining games.

4. Tag: Who doesn’t love a rousing game of tag, or one of its many variations of freeze tag? Great game. That is, until two or more kids smack into each other, dropping in a heap of tears or even blood. Ugh. The key to a safe game of tag is thorough adult supervision. At least one adult per five children with each adult fully engaged in monitoring the activity. In other words, no discussing irrelevant stuff off in the corner while the children create their own fun. Be involved and you will minimize the risk of injuries or other problems!

5. Jump the River: This game may be less well-known to some readers. The concept is simple. Two lengths of rope or string are placed about one foot apart. Each child individually runs and jumps across it. When it is the original child’s turn again the pieces are placed farther apart, usually an additional foot or so. Eventually it becomes a large span and children begin to lose their ability to jump far enough to reach the opposite side. When they miss, they sit out. Last child jumping wins and the game is over, or can be repeated. Injuries can happen in latter stages of the game if children are not wearing appropriate attire or footwear, and if there are objects nearby which could provide unintended obstacles. Just make sure there is plenty of room and the children are properly dressed for the game, plus provide good supervision.

So, there you have it! Five games which can pose a risk of injury, especially if not properly supervised. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off about it! Tell me how you really feel….

re-engaging the kidmin conversation

Yes, it’s true. I am wading back in to the children’s ministry conversation. The venues are the same, but the perspective is different. I am in the process of developing articles for ministry-to-children.com and new content for kidology.org.  As always, I may post content related to children’s ministry on this blog, too. Whereas before I wrote from the perspective of an ordained children’s pastor in a local church, I will now be writing as a missionary to my city and a volunteer in my church. Yet, I am sure I will access my background of practical and academic learning experiences. So I invite you to look for my articles and content and to interact with me here and in those venues. The two websites offer unique and outstanding resources. I am privileged to contribute in a small way in the days to come. And watch out, you will probably be encouraged, inspired, and energized by accessing the resources on both websites.