While Kids Ministry is now having Sunday morning activities at the church, we understand that there are some families who are not able to join us in-person. We want to stay connected to our families and continue discipling all our kids, regardless of whether they are here at The Heights or at home.
Each week, those of you joining us online can watch Kids Ministry live on our FACEBOOK PAGE Sundays at 9:30 AM. During this Livestream, kids will have the opportunity to worship and listen to Bible lessons from our wonderful staff and volunteers. We will also continue to have our Bible Review Activities and GodTime Devotionals posted to our blog as well as the church app.
This week's blog post is about making the right choices. Read on for the seventeenth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Kids Ministry Assistant, Jordan Kiefer.
One of the most important lessons that you can teach your children is how to make the right choices. Some decisions are small, everyday ones, but others can change the course of your child’s future. With such a big importance on decision making, it can be hard to figure out how to choose the right path. In the world we live in, wrong choices are often applauded, and the right choices are seen as old-fashioned. As such, it is so crucial that parents raise their children to value integrity, honesty, character, and righteousness. Here are some ways that you can teach your children how to make the right decisions.
Remind your children that when Jesus had to make hard choices, the first thing he did was pray. “… Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) God loves to hear our prayers and he has unlimited knowledge and wisdom at his disposal. He speaks to us through this time together and brings creativity or conviction to his children. Help your child realize that God is primarily interested in what kind of person they become. He seeks for us to be people who are righteous, have excellent character, and above all, who love deeply and wholeheartedly. The best way to put them on that path is to teach them the importance of prayer. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Ask Help from Parents & Others
Sometimes we feel as if we must make all the decisions by ourselves and that is simply not true. Start teaching your children at a young age that they can and should turn to wise people around them for counsel. This can be mom and dad, an aunt or uncle, an older sibling. God has placed certain people in your children’s lives to offer wisdom, advice, and support when they need it. You children have a whole community of brothers and sisters in Christ who can love them and help them fill in the gaps. They can also provide a different viewpoint, point out something missed, or tell about their experiences. Getting advice from people they respect might be difficult to hear, but it makes all the difference. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future”.
Let Them Grow
As a parent, you want to protect and shield your children from all harm and give them a life without stress and strife. While that is understandable that you feel that way, it is important to understand that God cares about our spiritual growth and that means letting us exercise moral agency. God has permitted His people to travel the wilderness as they wrestled with the consequences of the choices they had made. This doesn’t mean that He doesn’t care about us; in fact, it’s just the opposite: He cares and loves us so much that He wants us to develop and grow through our own trials, actions, and experiences. Teach your children that they’re going to choose the wrong path from time to time and that in those situations, God’s grace is freely available for them. It is important that they learn from their mistakes. Living with the consequences of their actions will help your child’s character development grow immensely. It will be painful and difficult, but that’s all a part of growth. People who have excellent character, will, judgment, and wisdom were formed that way by having to make their own hard decisions and learning for the consequences of those decisions. Romans 5:3-6 says, “…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
This week, show your children some biblical examples of making decisions, both right and wrong. The most infamous example, of course, is the choice that Adam and Eve made in the garden when faced with whether or not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. An example of good decision making is the story of Moses and how he followed God’s direction even though he thought he was unworthy. After reading some stories to your children, engage in a discussion with them about the consequences of decisions and how that applies to their lives.
Published on Nov 29 @ 1:13 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about being generous. Read on for the fifteenth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Kids Ministry Assistant, Jordan Kiefer.
Generosity is one of the key components of our Christian faith. God wants his children to reflect His character and model His acts of generosity. 1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” It is such a simple, yet profound, life-changing act that has a far-reaching impact. There is a multitude of passages in the Bible where we are called to give generously of our time, money, energy, and love. Anyone can be generous. From a young child all the way to an elderly adult, being generous does not require a whole lot. It is simply about being kind and caring, seeing a need, and filling that need, and being readily available for someone less fortunate than you. That is it. You give even when no one is looking. You give even when you don’t have to. You give that little extra that you have to someone who doesn’t have as much. At its core, being generous is about treating others with respect, compassion, and worth, just like Jesus did. Here are some ways that you can teach your children the importance of generosity.
Being Generous with Your Money
Show your children that they don’t have to donate a huge sum of money; every little bit helps. They can drop off some coins in the tithe plate at church or put a couple of dollar bills in the tip jar at a restaurant. Use the story of the widow in Luke 21:1 – 4 to show your children the importance that God places on generosity.
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly, I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1 – 4.
Jesus sees us when we give. While he notices how much we give, he is far more interested in the motive and heart behind the act of giving rather than how much is given. God loves a cheerful giver. Being generous is also powerful because it’s costly. The value of the gift or donation is determined by what it costs the giver. If you simply give excess stuff or money, it costs you nothing. However, the widow’s gift was so valuable because it cost her everything.
Being Generous with Your Time
One of the most important things you can teach your child about generosity is that it is not always about what you have financially. Next to money, and maybe even above it, time is the most precious commodity that we have. Show your children that they can be giving with their time by looking for ways to help their church, family and friends, and the general community.
Some examples of giving of your time include:
- Spending time with friends who are having a hard time and listening to and supporting them
- Writing cards and letters to people in hospitals or soldiers overseas
- Volunteering at a charity or non-profit organization
- Organizing a food drive for people less fortunate
Philippians 2: 5 -7 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Being Generous with Your Possessions
Another way to bless those around you is by giving up your material possessions. More than ever before, people in our world are accumulating stuff. If we take a step back and ask ourselves honestly, “How much of this do I really need?”, we find that we can bless those around you who have very little by donating your excess goods to them.
Some examples of donating items would be:
- Donate any books that have not been read in a while to your local library, Goodwill, or Salvation Army
- Go through your closet and take clothes that haven’t be worn in over a year to a charity store or give them to friends and family
- Instead of throwing away unwanted items, take them to a resale shop or non-profit organization that is in need of them
Luke 12:33 says, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
This week brainstorm some ideas that your family can be generous this Christmas season. One way you can practice generosity is through our annual Three Trees event. This wonderful event is a great way to bless our community with some Christmas cheer and the message of HOPE. There are plenty of ways that you can be a part of the event including buying toys and gift cards, wrapping presents, praying for the families, and serving at Three Trees on December 13th. For more information, go to www.theheights.org/threetrees
Published on Nov 15 @ 1:24 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about overcoming peer pressure. Read on for the fourteenth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Small Groups Coordinator, Jessica Widmer.
What is peer pressure? Peer pressure is when we feel compelled to act a certain way because we want to fit in or be accepted by certain people. No one wants to be the person who gets talked about or made fun of behind their back. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose focus of who we really are and where we derive our identity because it becomes so much more important to us to simply just fit in, especially when we are young.
Perhaps your child feels pressured to be the same as the others in the group – to talk as they do, to dress as they do, or to want to watch movies or have social media just as their friends. It is quite natural for us to want to conform and to belong.
But if we truly desire to be God's children, we must consciously look for and choose His way of life. Romans 12:2 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
As parents, as much as we desire to keep our children safe, it is inevitable that sometime during their lives, they will experience peer pressure. Therefore, it is our job to instill in them the knowledge to avoid it, equip them to face it, and the grace to love and forgive them when they have given into it.
Get plugged in
One of the easiest things you can do to help your children avoid peer pressure is to get them plugged into a Christ-centered environment. For some, this may mean the local church, while for others it may be a school organization or club. In either case, we aspire to surround our children with peers that will build and strengthen their faith, rather than tear it down.
Another thing we can do as parents is to get ourselves plugged into our children’s lives. We should know who their friends are and where they are spending their time. In our home, we’ve taken the approach of trying to make our house the gathering place (in non-pandemic times); this way, we have at least a little bit more visibility into how our children interact with friends than we would otherwise. Taking an interest in our children’s interests, whether it is sports, video games, academics, drama, etc. shows that we have a sincere concern for their welfare and builds a deep trust that can come into play when situations of peer pressure arise.
As parents, how do we help prevent our children from running into situations where they will inevitably face negative peer pressure? First, it starts with identity – theirs and ours. When we choose to walk a life with and for Christ, we are already taking a road less traveled. Our identity comes from experiencing His grace and sacrifice for us, not what the newest trend is or worrying about what others think of us. As such, we owe it to Him to teach our children to speak, think, and act differently.
When I think of an example of peer pressure in the Bible, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 comes to mind. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were men of God, understanding His commands and wanting to show obedience to Him no matter what the cost. As we know from the story, they chose to take a stand, differentiate themselves from the crowd worshipping the golden idol, and hold faithful to the Lord. And what did these men receive for their faith? A trip into a fiery furnace. However, the story did not end there. God was with them, protected them, and brought them safely out of the fire.
Throughout the course of their lives, our children will face an incalculable number of choices. Some will draw them closer to God, while others will bring them further away from Him. As parents, it is our responsibility to help prepare them for making these decisions and understanding the longer-term impacts and consequences. Only when they have been tempered in fire, will we be able to see their strength.
All of us are sinners that fall short of God’s ideal picture for our lives. What then do we do when our child has given in to peer pressure and the temptations of this world? Do we make excuses or condone their behavior or bad choices? No, we extend them the same grace and forgiveness that Christ modeled for us upon the cross. As I write this, I am reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. The relief the father experiences knowing his son has come back to him despite all his failings and poor choices is a model we should seek to emulate.
In preparing your children to tackle peer pressure, start small and begin with a simple conversation. Ask them what went well in their day/week and where they may have had challenges. Then, participate in an activity with them of their choosing (ready to strap on those rollerblades again?). The goal here, in addition to just plain having fun, is to build a foundation of trust with you, their parent, that they can fall back on when times get tough.
Published on Nov 3 @ 12:59 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about teaching your kids to value and respect others. Read on for the thirteenth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Associate Kids Pastor, Blake Hooten.
Four Ways to Teach Your Kids to Value and Respect Others
1. Teach Your Kids to Love Jesus
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:1-5 (NIV)
There are many resources, blogs, and parenting newsletters that will give instruction or tips on how to correct your children’s behavior or how to train them to respect others. I do not want to downplay how helpful those can be for parents, but there is no greater way to see a transformation in your child’s life than by introducing them to Jesus. That is because we are not naturally born caring and respecting others. Our hearts are selfish and self-centered.
Jesus is the only one who truly has the power to change our selfish hearts, to give us the perfect example of one who values others above himself, and to help us when we are weak. Make following and loving Jesus the number one priority in your family, and your children will grow up knowing they should have the same mindset of Christ when it comes to valuing and respecting others.
2. Model Respect for Others
“The values-in-action of the parents are the ones that children see and imitate. For this reason, parents who intend to communicate traditional moral values to their children need to be conscious of how they, as parents, live, speak, and behave.” (Strommen and Hardel, Passing On the Faith, 88-93).
If you teach your kids to respect others, but then yell at the referee, complain about your boss, insult their teacher, or have an attitude with a store employee, your kids will see respecting others as optional and not something Christ commands us to do.
If you yell at the driver in the slow lane, or cut others off in traffic, talking down about the lifestyle choices of others, or seek to “cheat the system” to benefit your family at the detriment of others, your kids will learn that taking care of themselves is more important than considering the thoughts and feelings of others.
Instead, as a parent you need to be sure to model what respecting authority looks like, especially in the moments you may not want to. You need to show what putting other's needs looks like and go out of your way to help others. These types of non-verbal lessons will do more good at shaping the way your children treat others than any verbal lesson will.
3. Set Firm Boundaries
The only one of the 10 commandments directed at children commands them to honor, or respect, their father and mother (Exodus 20:12). So, teaching your children to value and respect others begins by teaching them to respect you.
Parents must work together as a team and have clear boundaries for the whole family. Let your “no” mean “no” so your child understands who is in charge. Have a clear list of consequences for breaking the rules, so your child knows they can be held accountable for their actions. If a child is disrespectful and tries to talk back, firmly but calmly let them know that disrespectful talk is not allowed in your family.
It is important that you are respectful to your child while enforcing all these rules as well. Yelling, getting upset, or having an attitude with your child will only counteract what you have been teaching them. Once again let your actions will show them the right path to take, and will let them know that the right way to treat others is with respect.
4. Teach Humility
As C.S. Lewis said. “Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.” Humility naturally causes us to value others because humility causes us to think about others. Even more importantly Jesus teaches us that we should seek to make ourselves lowly and to serve one another (Matt. 18:1-4, Luke 9:46-47, John 13:1-17).
The best way to teach your kid humility is by giving them opportunities to serve others. These acts of service may be as small as dropping a few coins or dollars in the offering plate at church, or as great as helping to serve meals at a local food pantry. The important part is that you find ways for your child to serve and that you serve alongside them. This will reinforce the idea that we should not always be looking to take care of ourselves, but instead, we should look to the needs of others first.
Start looking for opportunities for your family to serve others in November and December. Many serving opportunities that are normally available this time of year may not be available, so extra planning is needed to find ways for your kids to help others. Start now, so that when the time comes, you already have a plan in place and can help teach your kids to value and respect others.
Published on Oct 25 @ 2:28 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about reading Scripture with your kids. Read on for the twelfth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Kids Ministry Assistant, Jordan Kiefer.
Reading Scripture With Your Kids
Reading the Bible to your children is one of the most critical things you can do for the development of each child’s faith. It is important to get them into this habit early, as you want this exercise to become an integral part of their whole lives. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. Depending on how many children you have and their ages, you can either read the Bible to them one-on-one or as a family. It is completely up to you and what you think will be the best for your family. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” for Bible-reading time, here are some tips to help parents decide what will work best with your family and your needs.
Establish a Routine or Schedule
The first thing to do is to establish a routine. Look at your schedule and figure out what is the best time of day to set aside for reading Scripture. This might be challenging at first and it may take your family a few weeks to get in the swing of things, but it is so important to establish a time for reading God’s Word. That being said, don’t feel bad if you stumble once and a while and don’t read Scripture with your child. Life is full of twists and turns, unexpected problems, and just general craziness; you are going to forget or not have enough time occasionally and that’s OK. The important thing is getting into the habit of reading Scripture. 1 Timothy 4:13 says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
Be Intentional in Reading
Not only is reading the Word of God important but the way you read it as well. When reading the Bible with your children, try not to just randomly select some verses here and there. Yes, this is spending time in the Word, but it is an incomplete overview of the whole story. When you read little snippets here and there, it is harder to see and understand the connections between passages. Instead, read whole books of the Bible together over a period of time. This allows you and your children to dive deeper into the meaning of Scripture, establish connections between the many books and even between the two Testaments, and help everyone come to know God better. And last, but certainly not least, reading Scripture this way shows your children that the whole Bible points towards Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Savior. Luke 24:27 says, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself."
Make it Interactive
Simply reading Bible verses to your children is good, but if you want to make the experience even more enriching, make it more interactive. Asking questions increases the chances of your child understanding and remembering what they have read. By actively engaging them, you are increasing the probability that the lesson and its message will stick. Asking questions is also a great way for family members to interact with one another. Questions often lead to meaningful discussions as everyone has a different viewpoint that they come in with. It’s also important to let your children ask you any questions they might have as well. If you know the answer, respond in a thoughtful and sincere way. If you don’t know the answer, be honest with them. Look for the answer and pray to God for wisdom and guidance.
You can also make it interactive by spending time in the word of God in different ways. Switch things up a bit: one day, have everyone pass the Bible around and each read a portion of the Scripture. On another day, have each person act out a character in the story. Or encourage their creativity by having them draw scenes from the lesson, memorize scripture, play charades; anything you want! Each child is special and uniquely created by God and as such, they will connect with the Word in different ways.
If you are looking for a specific reading plan to follow, I highly recommend “Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids” by David Murray. This book is the perfect fit for kids ages 6-12 and includes daily Scripture readings, prayer prompts, memory verses, discussion questions, and much more!
There is no place to start like the beginning, right? For this week’s challenge, start your Scripture reading with your children in the book of Genesis. Once you have found a good time of day to set aside for reading God’s Word, decide how much your family will read in a day. Go at a pace that your kids will enjoy and understand what they are reading. The hardest part is getting started. Once you establish reading Scripture as a part of your daily routine, it will get easier and easier until it becomes another part of your lives.
Published on Oct 18 @ 1:55 PM CDT