High Voltage Curriculum Review and Giveaway

Do you love your midweek curriculum? Do your kids? About three and a half years ago, we evaluated our midweek children’s program and realized we needed to make a change. One big change came through our choice of curriculum. We wanted something that captured the attention of our kids, could easily be taught by volunteers, and apply to both the first timer as well as every time the doors are open kids.

After thorough research, we gave High Voltage a try and have been using it ever since. Like all curriculum, we make some edits to fit our culture but over the years our students have both fallen in love with Skittles as we learned Biblical throughs.

“Jesus is for Everyone” taught our kids to be evangelists. Jesus spent His time ministering to the hurting, the sick, the lost, and the poor. Jesus was willing to spend time with ANYONE who would listen to His message.

“Joseph: Living the Dream” helped out kids understand how God can work through even life’s toughest circumstances. Though a 10-week view of the life of Joseph, we learned how to respond to failure, success, and even temptation.

And in “Questions, Questions, Questions” we were learning from six of the questions Jesus asked. Jesus used questions as a powerful tool and the kids, as well as the leaders, were challenged by these teachings.

If you’re looking for an easy to use curriculum packed with practical application, then give High Voltage Kids a try!

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be giving away some of our pasts High Voltage series. Sign up to follow my blog via email or share this post and you will be entered to win!

3 Helpful Questions To Improve Your Workday

Of the 31,102 verses found in the Bible, which verse comes to your mind more than any other?

For some people, it might be John 3:16 as a reminder that God loves us and has a plan. For others, it might be Psalm 23 as they look to God as their shepherd and provider. Or maybe it’s Philippians 4:13 as you lean into God as your strength.

For me, Colossians 3:23 seems to be a constant reminder that I live and work for God:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

This verse impacts not only my workweek but also reminds me to offer the little daily tasks up to the Lord.

A similar is found in 2 Timothy 2:15-16 where Paul writes

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.

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Here are three practical challenges from these truths.

1. Work for your True Boss. You probably have a boss or board to which you are held accountable. Ultimately, our authority is not our employer who gave us a job but the One who gave us life. If we work hard and gain the approval of our boss at the expense of our True Boss, then we have missed the mark completely. Ask yourself, “Am I more worried about the approval of my boss or my Savior?”

2. Be an approved worker. Do work you would be proud to show off to God with an attitude to match. Work on projects that are rooted in what is true and find ways to give God glory through your tasks. Be a positive light in a world full of darkness. Lift others up, don’t look for credit, and be humble. Don’t complain and finish mundane tasks with joy. Ask yourself this question, “Is God proud of my work?”

3. Work on what’s right. If you are given a task that goes against God, remember who your True Boss is and do what is right. Work in such a way that people see you are made in the image of God. Work hard and diligently and be known as someone who avoids worthless and foolish talk; someone who actually gets the job done. Ask yourself, “Am I working on what’s right or just engaged in mindless talk?”

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord!

Waiting with Great Anticipation For The Savior

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Can you remember the anticipation and excitement you felt as a child waiting for Christmas? You saw Christmas lights popping up around town, you heard parents whispering about gifts to come, and you counted down the days until Christmas morning would finally arrive. This nervous anticipation caused you to be on your best behavior as you yearned for Christmas day.

Before the birth of Jesus, mankind was waiting for the Messiah or promised anointed one to come and save them from their sins. Prophecies were written 200 to 1000 years before Jesus was born and the people anxiously anticipated His arrival.

They knew prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14, “All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” Because of Micah 5:2, they knew the Christ would come from Bethlehem; “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” And they understood that Jesus would come through the bloodline of David from Isaiah 9:7, “His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.”

There are over fifty predictions specifically about the Messiah’s birth which Jesus fulfilled.Peter Stoner, a professor of mathematics, helps illustrate the improbability of one man fulfilling these predictions by looking at the odds of one simply fulfilling eight prophecies. Stoner’s conservative estimate is one in 10^28. That’s 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000! To make an even more conservative number, if you were to divide it by the estimated number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies (88 billion) the odds decrease to “only” one in 10^17, or 1 in one hundred quadrillion.

Peter Stoner helps us understand the magnitude of this number by writing:

Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up the one silver dollar that has the special mark on it. What chance would he have of getting the right one?” – Science Speaks: An Evaluation of Certain Christian Evidences

And that’s just eight prophesies!

These prophecies all came true through one man, Jesus. God’s plan for mankind was to send His son to save the world. As you anticipate this coming Christmas, remember the anticipation people felt for a thousand years before the coming Messiah. Set aside time to read through Luke chapters 1 and 2 to remember the coming of the promised Messiah.

The Tangibles and Intangibles of an Excellent Preteen Environment​

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The moment you walk in the door you begin to judge the atmosphere of any business. If you walk into a coffee shop you are trying to find where you place your order and what coffee options are available. You begin judging whether or not you will ever return based on the tangible things you see, taste, and experience as well as the intangible things you feel, smell, and hear. The same is true with the preteens that walk in our preteen environments. We might not have full control over the smells in the room, but we must do our part to create an engaging, affirming, and irresistible preteen environment.

Think About Your First Impression

As a preteen navigates your church, are you helping them find where to go with clear signage? And as they walk into your preteen environment, does the atmosphere communicate that you were expecting them? Walk through your environment and think about the seen and unseen obstacles a ten-year-old will be experiencing. Or better yet, talk with one and ask them about what they saw and felt. First impressions go beyond the first moment that someone walks through your doors. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a great experience up until the point the food was served? Think through how you cue a preteen throughout the service and help them understand what is about to happen. Do your part to help them feel comfortable as a visitor from the moment they pull onto campus until they are talking with their parents on the way home.

Create a Safe Place

Look around your preteen area to see if there is anything broken, outdated, or out of place and do your part to clean it up and keep it safe. When you walk into a department store and see the merchandise scattered on the shelves or a drink spilled in the aisle, you might turn around and walk out. Deep down you know it was a customer that made the mess, but you still wonder why the workers have failed to create an excellent environment for shopping. Your preteens might not ever need policies and procedures for things like an active intruder, but these must still be outlined and explained to leaders. The students might not see everything that has happened behind the scenes to keep them safe, but they will surely find out if it’s missing.

Design an Atmosphere That Lends Itself to Returning

Early every morning people faithfully return to their fitness center because they know that it’s both helpful and healthy. Are you communicating to preteens and their families the benefits of regularly attending church? And when they show up, are you helping them take their next step or are you trying to pile on too much and making them feel overwhelmed? In a fitness center there are people of varying degrees of health, but yet they all come to the same place to take their next step. In our preteen environments, we must realize we have different levels of health and lead small in such a way that we help each preteen continue to grow. We can do this through sharing a gospel truth through a game or fun illustration, by asking compelling questions, or by coming alongside preteens to help them discover the truth on their own.

The tangible and intangible environment you are creating for preteens will determine the success of your preteen ministry. Work at creating an excellent environment that preteens will come back to week after week.

(Originally posted the Orange 252 Kids blog at http://orangeblogs.org/252basics/the-tangibles-and-intangibles-of-an-excellent-preteen-enviornment/)

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Helping a Family Through the Salvation Discussion

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Don’t you just love seeing a family come together around Jesus? I love seeing a family take the time to sit together, open up their bible and have a spiritual conversation. And this is God’s intent. God established the family as the primary spiritual leader for children, 1400 years before the church was ever established.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Parents are to be the primary spiritual leaders of their children. Impressing the love of the Lord into their hearts every day of the week. But then when it comes to one of the biggest milestones of faith, the salvation discussion, what most pastors do…is grab hold of the reigns and take over. But why? It’s not our role. And we will never know the heart of a child better than their parents.

What could happen spiritually for a family, if instead of a pastor taking over and leading their child to Christ, we empowered the parents in this faith milestone? This could truly change the culture of a family and be a moment that brings them together focused on God.

Many people grow up and doubt the decision they made for Christ as a child. What if that’s our fault? And what if we could do something about that today to change the lives of those in our church, forever?

So how do we do that? How do you help a family through the salvation discussion?

First: Identify conversation triggers
What happens in the life of a child that triggers a spiritual conversation or the desire to give their life to Christ? Ofen times we see kids begin to ask questions through communion. When they see someone take the Lord’s supper it sparks questions. Another trigger can be the baptism of friends. They wonder why their friend is making such a big deal of getting dunked. They begin to ask why and this can lead to many more questions. Another trigger is definitely the death of a loved one. They begin to grapple with the brevity of life and wonder what exactly happens when we die. After you have identified triggers, it’s time to do something about it.

Next: Help parents leverage these triggers for a family discussion.
Resource your parents with scriptures to read with their children and consider even making them an easy to follow guide. Provide questions for parents to ask their kids to further the conversation. Find resources like “The Baptism Book” and make these resources easily accessible.

Third: Help parents share their own salvation story.
Encourage parents to make their faith journey visual. Challenge parents to take their kids to the church or place where they accept Jesus as their personal savior. Motivate parents to bring in other people who were influential in their faith journey. And if going some on a trip or bringing people into the conversation is not an option then at least encourage the parents to bring a prop that helps share their story.

Fourth: Make the salvation discussion easy for families.
In your ministry, there are many different backgrounds and different depth of conversations. Consider creating different on-ramps for families to have an in-depth conversation. At our church, we have Family Baptism Classes. These classes create a family-centered structure where we help parents win by creating a user-friendly discussion guide. We provide everything a family will need from scripture, questions, and answers, to supplies, food, and props to keep the conversation flowing. Make sure you end the class by providing the next steps and give the family an easy on-ramp to the next thing.

Fifth: Encourage them to widen the circle.
Help families take full advantage of the people they have around them who are willing to help disciple their children. Bring in the outside voices to speak the truth. Point to different voices such as a small group leader, coaches, grandparents, and even other staff members.

Sixth: Make it memorable.
This is the biggest decision a person will ever make but we often fail to make it memorable. Consider recording a video testimony of the student and give gifts or keepsakes they can hold onto. Provide a new bible or devotional book. Print off a baptism certificate marking the date. Record the baptism and make a baptism video available for the family. Encourage families to save cards, write notes, record the moment. Find ways to capture the moment and share these moments with the family.

Finally: Follow up
Does your church offer a Next Steps class? Is this something that a family could go to together to learn more? Mark your calendar to celebrate spiritual birthdays year after year. And maybe even follow up with more Scripture verses for them to look at to continue growing and learning.

Salvation is why we do what we do. This is making disciples, who will go and make more disciples. So let do our part in ”Helping a Family Through the Salvation Discussion”. Let’s make this the priority it truly is.

For additional resources check out the following:

Baptism Guide

Baptism Scripture List

Baptism Certificate

10 Questions for a Child Who Wants to be Baptized

 

How to Host an Innovative Silent Event

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Are you looking for an event to draw students in and build momentum for your ministry? A silent event is a one of a kind event mixing technology and music to create a high energy atmosphere of community. Students wear wireless headphones and tune into their preferred channel, so at one venue there can be multiple styles of music being enjoyed simultaneously. Even if some of your students don’t enjoy dancing, they might really enjoy people watching and just singing along. With a little research and planning, a silent event might just be the next big event for your youth ministry!

RESEARCH EQUIPMENT

Not all headphones are created equal. With a tech-dependent event, failing to research the rental companies can make or break the entire night. When we hosted our Silent Event we used the highly recommended Silent Events® Company (HTTPS://WWW.SILENTEVENTS.COM) and were blown away by their plug & play ease of use and attention to detail. We rented light-up headphones with 3 channels so students could choose which of 3 songs they wanted to listen to. Our students enjoyed controlling the volume of their headphones and it was crazy to see the wave of color change in the headphones as a song grew in popularity.

If renting the complete system is out of your budget, consider renting headphones that do not light up with only one channel or wireless receivers where students can plug in their own headphones.

Watch the videos and read the tutorials to fully understand how the equipment can work for your event.

PLAN YOUR VENUE

Does your regular meeting space create the environment for which you are striving? Maybe you need to switch things up and add special lighting or decorations to your room. Or maybe you can take this event off campus and bring your students to a unique venue for their unique event. You might also consider hosting two events in one night to get the most use out of your equipment rental.

For our junior high students, we hosted a blacklight rave in a large, dimly lit room in the church and asked everyone to wear white. The students showed up to a room filled with black lights, optional blacklight face paint they all took advantage of, and the glowing LED lights on each individual’s headphones. Later that night, for our high school students we threw a throwback party in an old mansion downtown and asked the students to wear their best throwback outfit. Having two events in one day allowed us to rent a smaller number of headphones, keeping the cost down.

Bring your best party planners into the making of this event to ensure your venue adds to the fun.

CREATE MULTIPLE PLAYLISTS

Renting the highest tier headphones, the unique technology allows for your students to listen to one of three channels. If you want your event to flop, only pick songs that you enjoy. If you want success, get help in creating your playlists. Ask students for input and research lyrics to avoid embarrassment. You have so many options to choose from so you might want to create a theme for your playlists.

At our silent event, we had these three playlists:

Party

Random

Throwback

If you click: The Party Playlist you will see these are generic songs with more modern dance options.

The Random Playlist is weird and fun songs to switch things up.

The Throwback Playlist includes popular songs from past decades.

Let your students know that if they don’t like a certain song they can change to another station on their headphones. Pay attention to how the songs will flow through the night and make sure you save a crowd favorite to end the night on a good note. Our last song for our high schoolers was “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and the entire group sang it together at the top of their lungs!

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Reach Your Goal

In youth ministry, there is always a goal behind your events. If you are using a silent event to bring in new students, how are you going to collect their information and get them plugged into your youth ministry after the event? If your silent event is to build community, how will you further leverage this technology to bring people together and how will you measure if it was successful?

The goal of our silent event was to unite and build up life groups, so in order to attend students had to be involved in one of these faith communities. At the event, we leveraged the technology by creating a Mp3 Experiment where students participated together in their small groups in an audio adventure. Students listened to synchronized instructions to complete humorous coordinated tasks. We started the night with the Mp3 Experiment, which made for an easy transition into the dance music. For ideas on creating your own Mp3 Experiment check out the amazing work of Improv Everywhere.

A silent event might just be the innovative event you have been looking for in your youth ministry. Take the necessary time to research and plan to ensure this event is something your students will love. If you’ve seen a fresh event that you would like to share with our readers, let us know in the comments!

(Originally shared to the Youth Specialties Blog at https://youthspecialties.com/blog/host-innovative-silent-event/)

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5 Reasons Why The Star Is a Must-See Movie

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Can you remember the last faith-based animated film that you enjoyed in the theater? Yeah, me neither. That’s because the last major release animate faith-based film was the Prince of Egypt in 1998! But that’s about to change because, on November 17th, The Star will be released nationwide!

The Star is an inspiring and uplifting story of the birth of Jesus, told from the animal’s point of view. My wife and I had the opportunity to prescreen this movie and were pleasantly surprised by how funny the whole film was. You will enjoy The Star just as much as your kids so buy your tickets now.

Here are 5 Reasons Why The Star Is a Must-See Movie:

1. The Star can bring the story of Jesus to people who will never enter the doors of a church.

2. When we purchase a ticket, we are voting for what we want Hollywood to produce more of and we need more animated Bible stories for our kids.

3. The Star has the potential to positively impact your church, your community, and our society.

4. The Star will help you organically return to the reason for the season.

5. When a little girl cheers, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” after The Star Movie, you know it’s an inspiring story the whole family will enjoy.

In Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a lovable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become accidental heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

Get your tickets here: http://www.thestarmovie-tickets.com

Book Review & 4 Book Giveaway: The Impossible by Joyce Smith

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There is no denying the power of story. When you read a story of amazing faith, it captures your attention. You lean in and begin putting yourself in the shoes of the author. The Impossible: The Miraculous Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection by Joyce Smith shows readers the power of prayer as a mother pleads with God to save her son.

The Impossible pulls readers in by reminding us that our lives can change in a moment. Joyce Smith writes, “I’ve heard about these scenes. I’ve seen them in plenty of movies. But never would I have imagined that the one sitting in a hospital waiting room and needing consolation would be me. I didn’t want their pity, I didn’t even want their words of comfort. I yearned for—I needed—their prayers.”

As Joyce approached her lifeless son, she pleaded with God. “All of a sudden, everyone and everything in that room faded away and it was just me and John and God. With a voice that I thought was quiet, but that actually bellowed through the room, down the hallway, and throughout the entire emergency room, I declared, ‘I believe in a God who can do miracles! Holy Spirit, I need you right now to come and breathe life back into my son!’ I sobbed an exhale and closed my eyes. And in that instant, I heard the sound of a miracle. Beep…beep…beep…John’s heart monitor—and John’s heart—sprang back to life.”

This moment in time will impact everyone who comes in contact with John Smith. Pediatric critical care physician Jeremy Garrett said it best when he explained, “There was no controversy in the sequence of events. If we put it into a medical algorithm, we’d say, ‘Patient’s dead. Mother prayed. Patient came back to life.’”

This book will be available beginning November 7th and you can find it on Amazon.
For more information, please visit: www.theimpossiblebook.com

To be entered into the drawing for one of these 4 books: Share this post to social media!

 

Valuable Life Lessons from Mom: Yes Be Yes

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Did your mom say short repeatable statements that have stuck with you through the years? Maybe they were just silly little phrases like, “Someday your face will freeze like that,” or  “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Growing up my mom quoted either the Bible or Benjamin Franklin. She would quote Franklin saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” “A place for everything, everything in its place,” “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” And she would quote the Bible saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” These were simple phrases, but over time they shaped my character.

James 5:12 says, “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.” This verse teaches the value of our words and from it, we can draw a few life-changing principles.

When you say you are going to do something, do it. 

Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” If we want to resemble our Father, we must keep our word.

As a Christ follower, we are called to honor our commitments so never make a promise you can’t keep. If you forgot about an important meeting, don’t promise to remember in the future because your memory will let you down and mistakes will happen. Instead, repent and determine steps you can take and systems you can put in place to plan better for your next meeting.

When you give your word, keep it. 

James 1:26, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” Keeping your word matters in both the big things as well as the small. If you commit to selling a phone online for one hundred dollars but then someone offers to pay more, do you fulfill your commitment to the first buyer or do you try to make a little extra cash? Your integrity and honesty matter more than any amount of money.

To be a high-level leader you must be trusted. And to be trusted, you must have integrity. When you say “yes” to something, this will most likely mean “no” to something else down the road. Be ready to keep your word even if it might cost you something later.

When you speak, speak truth.

Proverbs 12:22 says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.” When you are telling the truth or making a promise, avoid the extra jargon and simply let your words be true. When you are a person of integrity, you don’t need to swear by anything or make an oath, you just give a straightforward answer. James 5:12 says, “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.”

My mom was wise to teach me to “let my ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and my ‘No,’ ‘No’” because it set me on the path of integrity. Is there a verse you are repeating over and over to your kids to set them down the right path? If not, consider adding James 5:12 to challenge them in their honesty and integrity.

Why Your Team Needs to Break Away From the Daily Grind

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With so many pressures all weighing in on you at the same time, how could it be even possible to break away? It might seem like taking a few days away from the office would cause everything to crash down, but maybe this time is exactly what you need for your team to reach the next level. When you understand the benefits of time away with your team, it will be easy to see why you need to make this a priority.

When you get away, you connect with each other.

Deeper relationships are formed through extended connections and shared experiences. The moment you and your team break away from the office you begin a shared experience. The travel along the destination can lead you to new discoveries about your team. You will see how your team reacts during detours or when you are deciding what to eat for dinner. Something as simple as seeing who drives the van and how that decision is made can provide insight into your team. As you sit around the dinner table, your conversations can move past the superficial to gain a better understanding of what motivates each member of your team. These connections will transition into the office, break down silos, and propel your team forward.

When you get away, you connect ideas. 

In the office, most members of the team are doing their own work. Breaking away brings people together who each have different points of view and life experiences. As you work through topics or as you sit through a teaching session, each member of your team will hear things from their own unique perspective. When you begin to brainstorm or talk through takeaways, your team can connect ideas in a way that works best for your organization. As you dream through possible futures your unique backgrounds can connect ideas that would have otherwise never fallen in line. Time away can really put legs on a dream and take your team to the next level.

When you get away, you connect with God.

Maybe you’re like me, and for some reason, you see God in a new perspective when you are in a new environment. Maybe your team gets away to the mountains and you gain a deeper appreciation for the magnitude and majesty of our Creator. Maybe your team gets away to the lake and you see how God is peaceful and His burden is light. Or maybe your team gets away to the city and you see how God is at work in so many different lives and that He has a big plan. You might also be like me and enjoy the change of pace where time away seems to bring about a revival in your soul. Simply being in a new environment with your team may allow you to hear from God in a new way. Maybe a speaker at a conference says something that captures your heart, or maybe just sitting on the porch swing with your team helps you see that the pace of your life needs to change. Time away might just be what your team needs to get away from the busy and hear from God.

Without intentionality, breaking away with your team will never just happen. Look at your calendar, sit down with a budget, and begin to make a plan. Maybe your team will attend a conference like the D6 Conference for family ministry, or maybe your team will just drive down the road to a coffee shop. Either way, begin making a plan today so that you can connect with each other, connect ideas, and connect with your Lord.

(Originally shared to the D6 Family Blog at https://d6family.com/team-needs-break-away-daily-grind/