Taking Attendance

I recently heard someone say the average Christian family attends a Sunday worship service 1.5 times a month. A regular attender is someone who attends a worship service 2 times a month.
 
Do you agree with that stat? I hate stats, but I think this tells us something about the priorities of many Christians, even myself. 
 
If we attend a worship service once a week, that would basically be 1 hour out of 168 hours in a week = 1/168. So 2/672 would be how much time an average Christian family attends church in a month. 
 

If you sat down and plotted your attendance, what would it honestly be? Are you happy with that?

 
As I ponder these thoughts, there are two things that come to mind:
 
1) God Doesn’t Take Attendance
 
He doesn’t take attendance like a teacher who is looking for who is present. He doesn’t take attendance in such a way  that we would get a  credit or a grade for showing up. God desires us to follow him with out whole heart.
 
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37
 
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1

Our lives, lived out as a living sacrifice for God’s glory, is also extremely important was we aim to disciple our children and instruct them in the ways in which they can follow God. 

You are the primary influence in your child’s life.

 
2) What’s the Point of a Church Worship Service?
I believe, first and foremost, we gather together on Sundays to worship the Lord God together. I can sit on my couch, turn up the Rend Collective and enjoy the Word of God. However, there is something special about meeting together to worship God. I think this might be the focus of my next post, but in the mean time, consider Hebrews 10:19-25:
 
19″Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
 
Personally, for my own life, 1/168 is not enough! 4/672 is not enough either. 
 
God fill me with your Holy Spirit today that I may walk with you, love my neighbours, and make disciples wherever you send me.

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What a Mess!

Let’s just say that more than once I’ve looked around my house and thought – what a mess! How did it get so messy? And some days it seriously feels like I spend all day cleaning up after my boys. I know my house isn’t spotless, but I really like it when it’s close to tidy and the floor is clean. I know we should train our kids to clean up after themselves, but I’m still working on that and that will have to be a post for another day.
 
But there are some thing you should leave lying around. In many relationships, spouses may leave things lying around as hints for one another. What I’m talking about is what you should leave lying around for your kids or grandkids.
 
You should leave your Bible and Christian books lying around house. I don’t mean on the floor or stairs or right beside the stove; I mean you should leave these books in convenient spots.
 
1) When you keep their Bible and Christian books in convenient spots, it can make it easier to find and read at a moments notice. I’ve seen my boys just grab the closes book and ask, “Dad can you read this?” It almost doesn’t matter what the book is, they just grabbed it because it’s close.
 
2) When you keep your Bible in convenient spots, you are often more likely to read it. Plus, kids may also notice that you’re Bible is out and assume you’ve been reading it.
 
This is important because when parents read their Bibles kids are likely to follow your example. Not all the time, not every time, but there’s a reason my kids like to make coffee and donuts any time they’re near a play kitchen. 
 
Modelling authentic faith is one of the most important things a parent can do to help their children discover faith for themselves. 
 
There is one thing that is assumed in this post – that you have Christian books. If you don’t have much of a Christian book library for your kids, now is the time to start one. 
 
a) Ask your friends what they recommend
b) Head to Kennedy’s Parable and let your kids pick a book. We do this during the Book Fair and I let them pick any book they want. I honestly don’t care if it’s a Berenstain Bears Christian book for $4.99 or the Indescribable Devotional Book for $21.99. It’s a wise investment – seriously!

Wondering what to read in the Bible?

Check out the F-110 New Testament Reading Plan for Kids or the F-260 Bible Reading Plan for Busy Believers – and keep a copy in your Bible so you can easily access it and post a copy on your fridge and in your reading spot


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Memorizing the Map

This morning I took a quick glance at the map on my phone, then started driving towards Victoria Ave and then Living 
Hope Alliance Church in Regina. Then I used Siri and bluetooth to call home to my family. As I started to get closer to LHAC, I realized I’m not sure I’m on the right road, maybe I should pull over and end the phone call. Then I realized I was actually taking a shorter and more direct rout to LHAC. It’s amazing how God takes us where we need to be, even when we don’t realize it.
 

So where are you headed this summer in faith?

If you have a map and God’s help, it’s a whole lot easier to get to where you’re going!

Here’s a plan that my oldest son and I are journeying on for the summer – It’s the NT portion of the Foundations 260 Bible Reading Plan from Robby Gallaty and it includes memory verses. Jari and I usually read the passage after breakfast, before he goes to school and before I go to work and then we pray for friends who we can invite to Fun Camp and/or who need Jesus.
 
Now what do you do with the passage you’ve just read? Here’s a free download of what I call the Discovering the Bible Bookmark to guide you through some reflections you can use for many passages, especially narratives (stories).
 
On another note, we’ve started implementing a rule in our house, BEFORE summer his – No screens until cloths are on, teeth are brushed, you’ve read for at least 10 minutes (preferably the Bible), and you pick up toys. So far, it’s a bit of a battle, but a necessary one. 

17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17

 

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Too many Bibles?

 
When I stated parenting, I faced an internal conundrum… how many children’s Bibles to I really want on my shelf? Do I want to buy my son a Bible at every stage of his life? If I purchase one every 2-3 years, that could get expensive.
 
As we started reading to our son, two things became apparent. 1) Different Bible have different vocabulary, reading levels, and pictures. 2) Any money spent on a Bible or faith books is money WELL spent. If parents are willing to read the Bible to and with their kids, I’m not sure we can have too many Bibles.
 
So on our shelf we have 5 different children’s Bibles, along with a bunch of other good Christian books. Every child is different and he/she may enjoy different Bibles and books at different levels of their understanding. Here’s a list of some we like and which age they’re best for from our experience:
 
We use this Bible in our younger KidZone classes. It has pictures that are easy to see and short chapters that are great for their attention spans. The only down side to this Bible is that it’s kind thick and doesn’t really hold up to kids tossing it around.
 
The artwork in this Bible is very creative and I love how every chapter accurately points to Jesus.
 
The Story for Kids – Age 6-10 
This Bible uses large selections from the NIrV to cover the the overarching story of the entire Bible.
 
Hands On Bible NLT – Ages 7-12
Once kids are able to read on their own, they can spend time in this complete Bible and continue to enjoy the Word.
 
These Bibles look great, are well used around the globe, and are also relatively affordable. 
 
NIV Student or Study Bible
The Student Bible a lot of study notes that can help a person understand more of the content and important thoughts that are going on. The Study Bible is almost the same, but has more study notes and is a little bigger. 
 
Other notes: I always keep an eye on how big a Bible is. These dimensions are idea: 14.3 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm. We also like the Berenstain Bears Storybook Bible. My personal favourite is the CSB translation, but it’s not very common, my next go-2 is ESV.

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The Number One Thing

What has the BIGGEST Impact on influencing a Child’s Life?

Janna Magruder published the book Nothing Less – Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith – It is a survey of 2000 parents of young adults by Lifeway. In it she discovers the top ten influencers in children’s lives that develop them into mature believers. Here’s a list of the top 4:

#4 listening primarily to Christian music.
#3 Child regularly served in church – notice it doesn’t limit this to parents who serve, but children who serve.
#2 Child regularly spent time in prayer
And #1 – Child regularly read their Bible while growing up.
 
Where do we start?
I’d suggest starting with the record of Jesus’ life, the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
Another place to start is at the beginning.
 
Foundations 260 Reading Plan (F-260). The F-260 is a two hundred and sixty day reading plan that highlights the foundational passages of Scripture that every disciple should know. Print it out, check off what you’ve read, and read at the pace outlined or at your own pace.
 
Read Scripture App – Bible Reading mixed with introductory videos
 
Don’t Give Up! You may make a plan and then get distracted for a day, week or year. When that happens, pick up the Word and keep on reading.
 
Bibles for Everyone – Get every person in your family their own Bible to read daily.
The Story – Using the clear, accessible text of the NIV Bible, it allows the stories, poems, and teachings of the Bible to read like a novel in 31 chapters. The Story for Kids is also available.
God’s Story for Me – Excellent for toddlers and pre-schoolers
The Jesus Storybook Bible – For preschoolers and early elementary kids
Hands On Bible – A Fun Bible for kids that can read, especially kids that like crafts, experiments and discovery.
NIV Study Bible – Great for anyone that can read, this Bible includes footnotes and helps that can help you dive deeper.
 

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The First Noel

If you could discover what behaviour or practice has the biggest impact on influencing a child’s life, what would you do? Janna Magruder published the book Nothing Less – Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith – It is a survey of 2000 parents of young adults by Lifeway. In it she discovers the top ten influencers in children’s lives that develop them into mature believers.

What has the BIGGEST Impact
We leaned last week in my post that #4 on the list is listening primarily to Christian music.
#3 Child regularly served in church – notice it doesn’t limit this to parents who serve, but children who serve.
#2 Child regularly spent time in prayer
And #1 – Child regularly read their Bible while growing up.
 
So what do you think? Is it that big of a deal? If you ask any teacher, they will confirm that reading 20 minutes a day is the most important thing you can do at home with your children to help them succeed. This can be challenging because not every family has enough time to read for 20 minutes. So it comes down to one thing – will you make time? Will you read to your kids? Will you sit with them while they read? Will you invest in a Bible and Christian books that are consistent with his/her reading level.* A good Bible is cheeper than a family trip to McDonalds. If you don’t know which books and Bibles to buy, talk to me or your other Christian friends.
Some kids just don’t like reading. It’s a fight to get them to read. Here are some specific things you can intentionally do to help them though: 
 
#1 – Model good reading and prayer habits. It’s never too late to start.
 
#2 – Clear they’re busy schedule so they can develop their own good reading habits. Discover when the best time of the day will be to sit and read.
 
#3 – Avoid distractions and journal if that helps
 
#4 – Make it fun! Go shopping at Kennedy’s Parable and let them pick anything they want. Some kids like to have a reading chart.
 
#5 – Keep on keeping on. It might be frustrating, it might be difficult, but keep praying and trying. Not every kid is a reader and some kids have medical challenges that make it difficult, but you can do your best to help them do their best. He/she doesn’t have to read as many books as the next kids, but we can help our kids do their best.
 

So this Christmas – start with the First Noel – the Nativity. Read the book of Luke 1 paragraph at a time until you get to the history of our Saviour’s birth – and then keep on going! It’s never too late to start. 

“Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian” A.W. Tozer
 
Pastor Tyler’s Favourite Christian Books for Kids:
Aventures in Odyssey Imagination Station Ages 5+
 
*There are so many different Bibles, and kids have different levels of understanding at different ages, what should a parent do? Should we buy a different Bible for them at each stage of their life? Sure, why not!
I know I’ve asked these questions as I began parenting. I’ve decided that I would do whatever it takes to get my kids reading the Bible. So this has meant I start with reading it myself, and I make sure they have access to a Bible they can understand. That means we have, so far, at least 5 different Bibles currently. And we’ve read 4/5 of them!
If you don’t want to spend $20 every 2-3 years on a Bible, get grandma or grandpa to do it. If they’re open to faith, something tells me they would love to have their grandchild get into the Word of God.
 
Deuteronomy 6:5-7: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

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