Bible, Children, Church, family, Kid's Fun, Ministry, Parenting, Uncategorized

When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: who’s fault is it? (4 of 6)

This is part 4 of a 6 part series entitled When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: who’s fault is it? Start HERE at the beginning or refresh yourself on the last post.


When my son was three, we attended a church that was pastored by someone who went to Bible college with a great Pastor-friend of ours. The church was exceptional. The children’s ministry seemed to be organized and exciting. The youth was on point with an outstanding youth pastor. The pastor himself delivered a good word every sermon. 

Bells and whistles went off, for me however, when I picked my son up one evening and the teacher – of whom has no medical background – tried to insinuate that my son may suffer from ADD or ADHD. I assured her that he was a typical three year old boy who was also under the care of one of the best pediatricians in the area. Then she proceeded to encourage me to put him in preschool – even though I worked from home – because “the consistency and discipline of being in a classroom environment would benefit his behavior.”


Now, I think every mom – at some point – has experienced the whole unsolicited advice thing; but, I’m sure you can agree with me that this was both a little over the top and above her pay-grade. It was unbelievably hurtful and worrisome for her to infer that my son may suffer from a very real behavioral disorder. Then she assumed my family had the budget to put my son in a preschool and that I would rather him be there than at home with me. All of this should have worried me and it did. I shared my concerns with my husband and he (and please know that I’m not throwing him under the bus here) assumed that this was just one woman who’s opinion didn’t matter a flip to him.

Well, a couple of weeks later I found my three year old in the nursery with the infants. I inquired as to why he was not in his classroom and they said that it was just easier for the class for him to be in there. I was hot. I was livid. I was ….. beyond angry. I was so angry, in fact, that I asked my husband to deal with it because if I dealt with it, I could not promise that I’d be Christian about it. So, my husband spoke to the women of the preschool classes there to assure that it would not happen again. He even offered for either himself or me to be in the classroom if there were any problems. They assured us there would not be and we were not called away from church… ever.

Fast forward about three weeks and while picking up my son a little girl who was about four or five very nastily says in a sing-song way, “Oh she’s here to pick up little baby Eli.” I would not have thought much about it except for the fact that one of the teachers quickly shushed her with a composure of utter guilt all over her face. I came to find out that this was a name that not only the children were calling him but a name of which had been perpetuated by one of the teachers. I guess they thought they would teach him to man up by calling him a baby and allowing everyone to make fun of him.


Can you imagine how I felt in that moment? Can you? I can try and take you there. I can try and explain the seething anger that vibrated through me like a coursing river. I can attempt to describe the way it felt as if my blood was quite literally boiling and the top of my head might blow off. I can tell you that my hands fisted and flexed and I took several deep breaths before lovingly taking my son and then not-so-lovingly looking at the teacher and saying, “You never have to worry about my son being a problem in your class ever again. He will never again darken the doors of this place. Mark my words.”


Pretty awful, yeah? Yeah. I thought so, too. For two years my son called it “the mean church” whenever we drove past it. We tried to never drive past it obviously because we didn’t want our son to harbor anything but good feelings towards a house of God. We would get something in the mail from them and he’d say, “The bad church” and I would have to redirect him. At three! Does that tell you the amount of hurt he had to have endured there that I wasn’t even aware of? I mean… most three year olds forget about their best friend saying they hate them the very day before but my kid held onto this for nearly two years.


Now, because my husband and I have been and are a part of different ministries we’ve experienced several different churches and, with them, their respective atmospheres. One church in particular that my husband must attend weekly because he has a leadership role there has an interesting approach. The woman who runs their preschool ministry does in fact run a daycare. With all due respect, this doesn’t impress me as it does others. It’s not a daycare. It’s church, as I inferred earlier. To me that’s like asking me to be impressed that a high school principal is my highschooler’s new youth pastor. The two are different vocations and require different approaches. I cannot tell you how many times my husband was called away to come tend to our son. There was simply too many times to count. At one point we were asked to come get him and take him.


I was done after that. I’m not saying whether they were wrong or right. All I can tell you is my opinion. In my opinion, you don’t kick ANYONE out of church. I mean…exactly how terrorizing can an overly-hugging motor-mouth 4-year-old be?! Isn’t that quite literally saying, “You’re not welcome in God’s house because of your behavior,” when in fact God’s word is constantly begging everyone – regardless of their background – to come unto the Father?


If my home church in Savannah, Georgia could lovingly tell fuddy-duddies that complained about the guy on the pew that stunk to get over their sensitive nose or find themselves a new church, then I’m pretty sure this much bigger church that is spreading its seeds all over North Georgia can figure out that church is where the hurt, lost, confused, and sometimes stinky people – whether in body or behavior – are supposed to be and that my four year old is welcome there no matter his behavior. They never wanted us to partner with them. They wanted our son to fit into their mold or leave. Seriously. That was it.


Come back tomorrow when I’ll share with you the hope we found, the hope God sent us. 

Advertisements
Bible, Children, Church, family, Kid's Fun, Ministry, Uncategorized

When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: who’s fault is it (3 of 6)

This is part 3 of 6 of When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: who’s fault is it? Begin this subject HERE or revisit the LAST POST.


NO!

No, I did not do that. You know why I didn’t kick that child out of my class? Because you don’t teach a child by removing them from the classroom. I would have him immediately apologize to the child. I would inspect the “hurt” child in front of him and see that they were fine and put that child on a task. I would talk it out with him away from the other children, not embarrassing him. I would be firm and say, “We do not hit. Ever. If someone in this classroom hurts you or upsets you, you tell me. I will protect you and be by your side if something is wrong. If you don’t understand or you’re angry, you do not hit. You talk to me.” Between my being firm and my providing him a place where he felt safe – where he didn’t have to protect himself, he was able to just… be. He never hit a third time in my class.


This brings me to other children. I had some children that needed validation so they may be my helper for the evening. I had some children who were desperate to talk and show off how smart they were so they make it to read or act out a part of the Bible. I had some that were overly excited and had a lot to say so they sat in my lap and helped me from there. Why? Because he needed a little extra attention and I didn’t want him to distract the entire class. I would find myself saying things like, “Tell Mrs. Erin in her ear while the others work on their project.”


Never… not once… did I ever send for a parent. Ever. The thought never crossed my mind. I was a youth leader on Wednesday nights and kept children from infant to fifth grade on Sunday nights for at least 13 years. I never in that entire time called a parent. Further, it would have never even occurred to me to ask that a child be removed from the classroom or nursery. I remember separating a biter in the nursery and – after church at pick up – speaking to the mom and saying gently, “We’re going to work on not biting.” I remember being on a youth trip and the youth pastor and I pulling a kid aside and saying, “I know you have a smoking problem at home but you won’t be smoking on this three day trip. If you do, you’ll be sent home immediately and the cost will go to your mom.” Do you know? I don’t even remember putting a child in time out?

 

Who needs to be REMOVED from hearing about the word of God? 

Who needs to be REMOVED from hearing about the word of God?

Isn’t that counterproductive?! I mean… if we’re not to expect the unbeliever to act as believers, if we know we’re all lost without Christ, if we know that it’s the direction of the Holy Spirit residing within us that directs our path in the way in which we should go… then wouldn’t it stand to serve that we should be collecting everyone regardless of age and clutching them as close to the Word as possible? One would certainly think. I mean that’s fairly logical. Right? I mean… I am going on basic logic and Biblical knowledge here. I have had no formal training in either child rearing nor childhood education. I’m simply a mom.

Yet…what do we see in The Church now? We see our children being assigned numbers in order that a parent could see it flashed across a screen if they’re needed. Of course this is a great way of getting a parent’s attention if the child has gotten injured or something. (We just used to use ushers, though.) I mean: exactly how many parent-retrieving-worthy injuries do you really think are going on? Not enough to need a flash-the-number system, I assure you. No. As sad as it is, we have parents being called out of church because of the behavior of their child. As mind-blowing as this may be to some of you (and I hope it is) we even have children being removed from the classroom because of their behavior, some of them even indefinitely until a time for them to be reevaluated in the future. This is happening…in The. Church. Today.

This is hard for me because my two children span the spectrum. Seriously. My daughter was the perfect child. She was the most well behaved, intuitive, intelligent, respectful little girl you would have ever met. Everyone loved her – teachers, elders, peers,… everyone. Then… I had my son. I often joke that God had me wait 15 years because I needed to store up the patience necessary to raise him.


Quick rundown on the way we parent in my house: Biblically, with consistency, we give no slack because therein lies the path to madness, and we do our very best to love far more than we discipline. This means that if we’re disciplining hourly, there’s a lot of love that has to be given to balance that. There is no spoiling in my house. My children get no quarter with me. My “no” means “no” and that is the end of it. My children know where the rubber meets the road with me no matter how “cool” I may seem. I’m all kinds of cool and fun until you cross me or my rules. I do believe in spare the rod spoil the child [Proverbs 13:24]. (But don’t send me emails or nasty responses because I know that there is an exception to every rule and that that verse in the Bible may not apply to a child who has had a horrific experience in their past. I’m only referring to my children).


Now, that being said, my son is hell on wheels. Seriously. He’s headstrong, strong-willed, stubborn, and to make it all worse… he’s unbelievably intelligent. He’s going into kindergarten and reads at a 3rd grade level. Smart + Strong-willed = I think I know everything and far better than you…. which subsequently = a lot of discipline. He’s truly very smart and imaginative but thinks he knows everything and has the self control that most five year old boys have which means he has very little. He can’t seem to control his mouth and he’s excited about life in general. I’m well aware of the child that is my son.


So, if you thought this was where I was going to tell you how horribly misunderstood my child has always been in class, you’re wrong. Again, I’m aware of who he is and what he’s capable of. No. This is where I tell you that every single teacher he has ever had has been met by myself and my husband, we have told she or he that we are on their team and want our son to get the most he can out of their class while behaving appropriately, and have made ourselves readily available to them. This is also where I tell you that we have had experiences ranging in “Wow. That just happened.” to “Oh my dear Heavenly Father, tell me that did not just happen in the house of God.” I kid you not. At times it’s been a revelation and aweing. At other times, however, it was heart-wrenching and astounding in its hurtfulness.


Check back tomorrow when I’ll share with you the heartache we experienced…along with the hope. 

Bible, Children, Church, family, Kid's Fun, Ministry, Parenting, Uncategorized

When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: whose fault is it? (2 of 6)

This is part 2 of a 6 part series on When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: whose fault is it? Begin at Part 1 HERE!


When I asked my dad why he became a children’s pastor, he said, “To make a long story short, you and your brother started to go to children’s church; and, when you did, I wanted to go down there and see what y’all were being taught. There was a young man down there that – little did I know – wanted to rid himself of having to teach children’s church and… I sort of inherited it because of no interest by anyone else in the church. It became something important to me because I saw the effect that it was having on the children there.” My dad didn’t have lesson plans given to him. He created his own lessons; being a long-time Sunday school teacher of adults this wasn’t hard for him to do. He built inspiring sets, had puppetry, and even dressed me up as a giant cardboard Bible for the “Hallelujah Party” (aka Halloween). I’m pretty sure I’ll need hypnotherapy and psychedelics to remove that particular memory.

I think this is often how it happens. A person feels called into the ministry but not necessarily children’s ministry. Or, there’s simply a spot that needs to be filled. I know that, as for me, I kept nursery for many years and when my daughter came along there weren’t many volunteers for teachers. I believe in being part of the solution, not the problem. In other words, I wouldn’t complain that there were no teachers and then not volunteer. So, I found myself teaching my own daughter from Pre-K through 5th grade on Sunday nights. Don’t get me wrong, though, I felt a passion for it – a calling even. I had always volunteered in one capacity or another for the kids and youth. I’ve always liked teaching and talking about the Bible and love, love, love, children; so, this was truly a passionate thing for me and no burden at all. My only requirement, of which the pastor approved, was that I didn’t have to use the lesson plans that the church offered. The pastor knew my family well, knew my father’s teaching style. He understood that I would never deviate from the Bible, so he was fine with my creating my own lessons.


Why would I do this, you ask? Why would a person who was a single mom at the time and working full time, put upon her plate creating a captivating lesson plan each week for her students? I’ll tell you: because the kids could teach me about Noah’s ark and every parable known to man. They all knew them by heart but… not in their hearts. You know? They knew them like you’d know a song. They could repeat them back to me but couldn’t apply them to their lives. Further, they lost their excitement for the stories they had been taught.


Photo courtesy Robert McLaughlin, www.robertmclaughlinart.com

So, I found myself asking them about their days at school, at home, what sort of situations they were dealing with; and we found the Biblical answers for what to do when your friend decides to not be your friend anymore. We found the Biblical answers for why we must be bold and at times quiet. These things were not over the kids’ heads. And… I’m talking about first graders, here. I mean children! These were real-life scenarios that we were conquering through God’s word. Not to disparage such stories as Noah’s ark and the parting of the Red Sea but they weren’t what some may call a “rhema” word. They weren’t the Word that these children needed at the time. They didn’t need the same stories regurgitated to them in a circular fashion for five years in a row. They were hungering for meat and yet still being given milk. Sounds very adult-y, doesn’t it?


Not to digress, as you may already think that I have, but this leads me to a valuable point: When you have people “teaching” Sunday school and children’s church that are really more of a daycare or day school coordinator or administrator, they are approaching the children from a caretaking standpoint rather than a spiritual or ministerial standpoint. When this happens, you find that your children’s ministry is treating your child as if they are a student in school rather than a church member – a child of God. For instance, at school if your child is disruptive, not listening, invading someone’s personal space… they will probably find themselves in time out. If this happens repeatedly, they may be asked to be removed from the class. Have you noticed any of these things happening in your church? If it feels as if that’s wrong, that’s because it is.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew‬ 19:14

If Christ says it, that settles it. So.. back to our regularly scheduled programming where we left off with Little Timmy and Little Molly having real world “adult-y” problems… 


And…just as with a group of adults, a group of children have very different… complex personalities. Sure, I always had my core group of children that I could count on to be called to attention under my authority; but… there were other children that I had sometimes regularly and sometimes not. Those children were the ones that I prefer to refer to as “unpredictable.” 


Unpredictable is not a bad word. It’s simply a word that means “not able to determine what will happen.” Some of these children cried at the tiniest thing because there was no continuity at home and slight changes terrified them. Some hit because they thought that was the only way to get something to change, however it ended up… they just wanted the situation changed. Some unpredictable children simply didn’t talk. They were shy. They were quiet. Some were quiet because they didn’t yet feel comfortable talking but once they felt part of the family you couldn’t shut them up. Other quiet children simply were observers. They preferred to keep to themselves yet were devouring everything around them.


Photo courtesy Robert McLaughlin, www.robertmclaughlinart.com

We don’t kick the grumpy out of church. We don’t kick the person who talks all through service out. We don’t kick out the prostitute, the drug addict, the gang banger. So….why are we kicking children out of church? Don’t we realize this is setting a precedent in their minds? Is that how God deals with us when we’re difficult? 


As I write this, several children stand out in my head. One child was what some would label “a hitter.” I refuse to label children. I believe it’s a horrific practice. People today would never label a puppy “a bad, biting, puppy.” They would teach the puppy healthier behavior and simply call him a puppy; yet, in the same breath they’ll say, “That kid is a spoiled brat.” It’s awful.


Whenever a kid would do something unexpected this child would hit them. It only happened maybe twice with me. It apparently happened more often on Wednesday nights because that teacher asked me how I had stopped it. Simple, I called his mom and told her she had to come get him in order for me to protect the other children!
 Or did I?🤔😏

Come back tomorrow for Part 3 (of 6) of When Children’s Church Goes Wrong: whose fault is it? when I’ll talk about our approach to students, the Church’s responsibility, and ours!

Read Part 3 HERE!

Bible, family, Kid's Fun, Outdoors, Uncategorized

Painted Rocks

Jesus is the rock of my foundation….

….the rocks will cry out…

And they remembered that God was their rock…

I will say to God my rock…

…go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel.

For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God?

On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.


On and on the Bible refers to God as our “Rock.” Rock is a natural substance of which we consider valuable for many reasons: we can build with it; we build upon it; we lean on it; and we desire to be as strong as it.

My family has been painting rocks as kind of a time-killing, family oriented, hobby that we could all do together. It’s been going on for on and off a couple of years now. So, this new phenomenon of hiding painted rocks for others to find and re-hide has excited us. 


Because we already had a few, along with some that just needed to be finished, we are already hiding these rocks. If you keep up with my blog, you’re most likely be able to keep up with the towns that we have visited or are going to visit. If you find one of our rocks, you will know it because it will say “The Headcase Christian” on the back. Take a picture and send it to me and we will automatically share your picture on all of our social media. 


If you are lucky enough to find five of our rocks, you will win a prize. If you are crazy lucky enough to find all of our rocks, you’ll win an amazing GRAND PRIZE! Good luck and send me a picture if you find one of ours!*

Need ideas to paint your own rocks? Follow my Pinterest board here: PAINTED ROCKS

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Locations hidden so far and upcoming:

GEORGIA: Talking Rock, Jasper, Gwinnett County, Kennesaw

TENNESSEE: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

*Must be a follower of blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in order to win. Winner of five rocks found will win a prize between $20-$50. Winner of finding ALL rocks will win a prize of at least $75, but not exceeding $100 unless sponsored.