Why You Need To Create A Summer Book Club

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What if summertime was a time of growth and renewal in your family? What if instead of putting in those earbuds and dividing around the house, your family was intentional about coming together with God at the center? I believe creating a family devotion time will not only help kids grow in their faith, but also move the entire family’s faith beyond Sunday mornings.

At Southern Hills Christian Church, we have created a summer book club where families join together in developing a habit that will influence their child’s relationship with God. A summer-long commitment might seem like hard work, but families who join the summer book club see how these daily times together impact kids forever.

The format is simple, families sign up on our church web page and pay for the book for their aged kids. When we deliver their book, we give a general outline and suggestions for their family. Then throughout the summer, we provide accountability and encouragement to the families who are participating. All summer long we share stories of success and cheer families on to a successful summer. At the end of the summer, we provide some next steps for families and thank them for being the primary spiritual influence of their kids.

We look for books that will capture the attention of kids with an easy to read format. Here are some of our favorite books so far:

Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel
Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado
The Action Bible Devotional by Jeremy Jones
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Stand Up – Get in the Story by Dan Scott

Will you consider creating an opportunity for your families to come together during the summer to grow closer to one another and God? Is there a book that you would suggest we look into for next summer? And if you are a SoHills family, have you signed up?!?

A Year With Apple Watch. Now What?

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If you’re like most people, when you see someone wearing an apple watch you have a dozen questions pop into your head. What can it do? Is it worth the expense? Should I get one? After a year of wearing one on my wrist, there are a few things leaders need to know about this tool.

Notifications can easily distract you. When your phone buzzes or a little icon flashes across your screen do you instantly begin clicking? With so many distractions in life, it’s convenient to be able to simply glance at your wrist to stay connected. Being able to instantly receive and respond to messages is important for a leader and I have only the important notifications showing up on my watch. No longer am I being distracted by email or Facebook notifications while trying to complete tasks. With apple watch you can receive important notifications through apps like Slack and reminders.

Customized and personal watch face. With a quick glance, I can see not only the date and time but my upcoming calendar events and my physical health and activity for the day. When planning out your day and setting appointments, it’s easy to stay on task by simply spinning the crown to time travel through your day. On days where I want a change of pace, it’s nice to be able to change the face to something relaxing and less busy. Not only does the watch track steps, but with a quick glance, I can also see my daily exercise and activity goals.

Convenience. When you have dirty hands but want to answer a call, an apple watch is convenient. When you want to pause apple tv but can’t find the remote, it’s just a few swipes away. Lose your phone and want to quickly ping it, swipe up and click the icon. Want to set a discrete timer to end your meeting on time, it’s simple. The apple watch and iPhone are interchangeable and many times throughout the day, it’s just more convenient to do things from your wrist.

Time is the new currency and everyone needs to be tracking how they spend their days. Any watch is a great tool in pushing you forward but back to the original question: should you get one? Yes and No. The apple watch is an amazing tool but like all resources, it’s more important how you use it. Notifications can be set up poorly to be a consistent distraction. A customized watch face is great, but if you don’t keep a calendar then looking at your watch will only tell you that you have no appointments. And while it is super convenient to pause Netflix without searching for the remote if you waste all day on the couch this tool isn’t going to help you reach your goals.

5 Tips To Prepare For A Successful Conference

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The more conferences I attend, the more I see that most people fail to prepare and therefore miss out on great opportunities at conferences. What if I told you there are 5 easy things that you can do today to set yourself up for future success at your next conference?

1. Only attend conferences that fit your mission. With hundreds of new conferences starting each year you need to make sure you attend the ones that fit your goals. Do you believe in the mission of the organization? Why do most people attend this particular event? Who do you know who has already attended this conference and what were their big takeaways?

2. Pay early and register for all activities. It’s no secret that the earlier you pay for a conference the better rate you will find. After you purchase your ticket, line up all airfare and housing arrangements. Make sure you have selected your breakouts and all events taking full advantage of the opportunities to grow.

3. Line up meetings with those who you want to learn from. A quick tweet or email to your favorite conference speakers and bloggers can land you an hour long coffee or dinner for personal coaching. Make a list of those who you want to learn from and see if they can work you into their schedule. Pay for their coffee or take them out to dinner to show appreciation for their time and come prepared with solid questions. These appointments may become the best learning opportunities for you but you need to schedule them ahead of time.

4. Write everything into your calendar. Between the thousands of people moving around and being unfamiliar with the building, conferences can be hectic. Prepare for a successful conference by writing everything into your digital calendar. While everyone else is rushing around and flipping through paperwork to figure out where to go next, you can simply glance at your smartphone or watch and head in the right direction.

5. Pack smart. Dress in layers because you will be freezing in one session and burning up in the next. Know the audience of those who will be attending the conference and dress appropriately. Leave room in your luggage for the books and resources you will be picking up and make sure to bring an external battery for your dying cell phone.

Like most things in life, with a little preparation the outcome will be more successful. Here are 5 of my tips for preparing for your next conference. Let me know in the comments what else you would add or share with me what conference you think every leader should be attending!

The Person You Needed When You Were Younger

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Think back to when you were a kid. You were always reaching for the next goal and never looked back. With mixed emotions, you anticipated kindergarten, you couldn’t wait until Christmas, and your next birthday was always just around the corner.

When you started riding a tricycle, you anticipated the day you could move to a big boy bike. And then when you got the hang of things, you couldn’t wait for those training wheels to come off.

Kids move through different stages, handling different issues, and always wanting to be a little more grown up. Children don’t want to be treated like a child. And certainly the same is true for preteens.

When I was a preteen, I remember sitting in those little chairs, hearing the same Bible stories that I had heard before. A gap had formed. While I was struggling with some tough sins, I was sitting in a room hearing about Adam and Eve sinning and had no idea how it applied to my own life.

I already knew that sin was disobeying God. I already knew that Adam and Eve were the first sinners. And in fact, thinking about their story and them being naked was going to cause me to sin. I didn’t need to be taught the facts again with puppets and felt boards like I was a child.

What I needed was someone to be my friend and walk me through my personal disobedience. What I needed was to be treated as a preteen.

Read More and be Challenged by clicking: http://fourfivesix.org/the-person-you-needed-when-you-were-younger/

7 Powerful Bible Verses That Will Challenge Every Student

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In a world where students lives are saturated with digital distractions and false messages, how do you speak truth that will impact their decisions and attitude? Here is a promise you need to remember: “The word of God is alive and active…It cuts deep enough to separate soul from spirit…It judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.” If you want to challenge a student to shift from the cultural norm and develop their own personal authentic faith, I believe you need to begin speaking and challenging them with the very words of God.

Here are 7 powerful Bible verses that you can begin reading with your students. Challenge them to meditate on these words, asking God to speak to their hearts. Encourage students to commit these passages to memory and you yourself do the same.

Psalm 119:9-10
How can a young person keep their life pure? By living according to your word. I trust in you with all my heart. Don’t let me wander away from your commands.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways obey him. Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.

Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus replied, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

1 John 3:18
Dear children, don’t just talk about love. Put your love into action. Then it will truly be love.

Proverbs 13:20
Walk with wise people and become wise. A companion of foolish people suffers harm.

1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and in how you live. Also set an example in how you love and in what you believe. Show the believers how to be pure.

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns anger away. But mean words stir up anger.

 

 

 

Will Sunday Church Matter Monday?

Monday Is ComingWhat you do each and every Sunday morning matters. The time you invest in the kids, the effort you put into teaching God’s Word, and the connection you make with families can change a soul’s eternity forever. We pour our lives into Sunday morning to make this the best hour in every kids life but what if there is more? At this year’s Orange Conference these questions are being asked:

  • “WHAT IF what you do every Sunday could matter more if you remember what really matters to most people on Monday?”
  • “WHAT IF success is less about who comes this Sunday and more about what happens on Monday?”
  • “WHAT IF your ministry began to rethink every message, every environment, every program and every relationship through this one idea.”

Across the world, Sunday mornings are filled with Bible lessons, skits, worship songs, and small group discussions. After church, parents ask two questions to their kids. Did you have fun? What did you learn? Our hope as leaders have always been that kids will say, “YES! And I learned about…” but what if parents began asking on Monday night about how their kids applied the Bible lesson on Monday morning? What if we as leaders connected the Bible lesson on Sunday to recess on Monday, to the cafeteria on Wednesday, and math homework on Friday?

At this year’s Orange Conference we will be challenged in our thinking:

“Don’t be so Sunday minded that you’re no Monday good.” (click to tweet) 

Join me this year at the Orange Conference to take our Sunday mornings to the next level! Sign up for this year’s conference to connect with other leaders who are making a kingdom difference and lets comes together to learn how to make Sunday matter more on Monday!

Registration for #OC16 opens October 8! Save $80, plus get Insider First Access to Breakouts! TheOrangeConference.com

Volunteer Christmas Gift Ornament

Each Christmas our Kids Ministry team comes together to enjoy the holidays and reminisce on the year. Of all the activities and events that happen in the year, the Kidmin Christmas party is one of my favorites. We enjoy delicious food, a variety of hot coco and cider drinks, and the companionship of a team all on one mission. Words can not express the appreciation I have for these volunteers who give of their time, talents, and treasure to further the kingdom through the kids ministry. I always want to show them appreciation and so I each year, we give a Christmas ornament for the volunteers to hang on their tree. Here are two examples. The first ornament was mashup created to remember the series that we had done that year and the second ornament was handmade from a Pinterest idea. I look forward to filling a Christmas tree with these memories!  PrintIMG_9314

Kidmin Small Group Events

ImageTake a minute to look at your calendar for April and May. You will see that it is FULL! During this time of the year, it is nearly impossible to plan an event to bring the church together and so we plan small group events to bring each kids group into a stronger community. We want the kids who regularly meet together at church to get together outside of the classroom to have fun and experience community on a different level. Our elementary ministry is called the All Stars and so with this sports theme the leaders are called coaches and the small groups are called huddle groups. The coaches are given a $40 budget and are asked to fill out a planning sheet at least 3 weeks prior to the event. These Huddle Events are planned by the coaches and have a wide range of possibilities. This year we had a group host a circus party, frozen movie party, easter egg dying and hunt party, nerf war, fishing and football at a farm, messy games afternoon, roller skating, and overnight camping. 

 

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My First Orange Conference

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Next week I will be one of the 6000 Orange Leaders attending the Orange Conference in Atlanta.  Orange is a gathering of leaders who are passionate about engaging churches and families to influence the faith and character of the next generation. I believe the message that Orange preaches to leaders. They ask the question, “What if church leaders and parents synchronized their efforts to fuel wonder, discovery and passion in the next generation?” My desire has always been to come alongside of families in making disciples of their kids. The Orange strategy comes from “combining the critical influences of the light of the church (yellow) and the love of the family (red) to shows a generation who God is more effectively than either could alone.”

I am excited to find ideas, inspiration, and resources to become an Orange thinker. I desire to create new habits in ministry that encourage lasting change over time. I have anticipation to meet up with old and new kids ministry friends. And I am thrilled to wear my Bright Orange Riddler Bats Batman Big Bang Theory Sheldon Cooper Villain Superhero T-Shirt!

If you would like to join me, RSVP on the Live Stream!

And if you want to get pumped, check out this video:

Iron Sharpens Iron: Who is sharpening you? Who are you sharpening?

 

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Find a mentor and be open to being mentored. – Corey Jones

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17

Who is sharpening you? Who are you sharpening?  

Soon after moving to Georgia I was faced with the realization that one of the best ways for me to help THE church was to help prepare ministers for the future. I asked my leadership for permission to create a mentorship program where I can help sharpen college students to work in the ministry. Over the past few years this internship has been very rewarding to the intern and surprisingly has been a huge benefit to me as the mentor. 

“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” ― Peter F. Drucker

Now if you fast forward a couple of years, I have been given the opportunity to join a coaching/mentorship experience called Infuse. This 6 month program is designed to challenge me and take me to my next level in leadership and ministry. I view this as an investment in myself and like all investments you get out what you put in. As I look back at this first month of Infuse, I can see many areas where my thinking has been challenged. I can see all of those small steps behind me and now see many more leaps ahead. As I sat back to reflect and set goals for the next 5 months, I was hit with the overwhelming sense of responsibility that we all have to sharpen one another as well as be open to being sharpened. We do this each and every week with the kids around us but for some reason as we move into adulthood we feel that we have for some reason arrived. I am thankful for the people that God has placed in my life to challenge and shape me as a person. I am also thankful for the responsibility and blessing that I have to play a role in the lives of those around me. 

Today is a new day, so I ask again: Who is sharpening you? Who are you sharpening?