Thursday, April 28, 2016


Wow, am I tired! Last night was our final KICK for the year, followed by our end of year program and supper. KICK is our afterschool program.  Every other week, we send about 500 invitations for KICK to the elementary school which doubles as a permission slip. Eight members of our church plan games, songs, crafts, and lessons to make disciples of the kids who come. This year, 47 kids came through the program, with over 2/3rds of them coming regularly after their first visit. We have seen them practice what they preach and find their own identity in Christ’s kingdom. From the little boy who was so excited in discovering 2 of our men volunteers have attention deficit disorders and insisting he sit with them because he did too, to our sixth and fifth graders taking on leadership roles and helping teach lessons and serve snacks, it has been an amazing year of watching God grow these kids in his kingdom.

Last night continued the blessings that we experienced throughout this year. Roughly 20 kids came after their Tincaps field trip to share their lessons and songs with the guests they invited. Around 35 people came to hear what they had to say. From my own experience in inviting people to church events, that means they probably invited 2x that number. Along with their guests, our 9 regular volunteers, plus around another dozen church members came to help make the night extra special. Many of those extra members made a kid-friendly supper, so that families didn’t feel the rush to get home.

In all, that comes to about 75 people gathered together as part of Christ’s Kingdom.

It was a wild night as a pastor. Only a handful of our KICK kids go to a Sunday worship service that I know of. Only 3 there last night come to our worship service, and 2 of those 3 are my kids. It’s a lot of numbers, but basically it means we had a lot of people present that usually aren’t.  And for me, that is why I am in ministry.

I am not interested in competing with other churches for Sunday morning worshippers. There is a saying, “The point is not whether the cup is half empty or half full, its that the cup is refillable.” That’s kind of how I feel about our church. On Sundays, we are like a half filled cup. But God is not interesting in filling us with someone else’s half filled cup. He wants to fill all the cups. He wants to reach the people in our community who don’t have a church they call home. He wants us to reach those who need us most.

I am in ministry to share Jesus with those who don’t follow him and are not connected to the Body of Christ (the church.) Being part of a church doesn’t make you a Christian, but it sure helps you to grow as one.  And because I believe in the community of the church, I pray for each of our KICK families, that they will be in our sanctuary again before next year’s program. I want them to experience what our KICK kids have experienced. I want them to discover themselves in the Bible, and discover God in their world. I want them to be so excited, that they share it with the people they love the most in the world.

So I pray that the revolution of compassion at LaFontaine UMC that causes half of a congregation to get involved in an afterschool program, and that attracts 47 kids to come to a place where only 70 worship on Sunday morning will continue to grow. I pray that their compassion will be so powerful, that it will draw those families deeper into the community of faith. May this end-of-the-year program be just the beginning!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Custody Battle: A Reflection about 2 Fighting Prostitutes

 *Each morning, I intentionally start with God's word. To get a new perspective on the familiar stories, I am currently reflecting specifically on the women in male-dominated texts. This week I have been in 1 Kings, and reading the stories we often consider about King Solomon. Below is one of my reflections that I felt is very applicable to the world we live in. Right now seemed a safe time to share it, as I do not know anyone in the middle of a custody battle.*

The story of these two women is no doubt to point to Solomon’s wisdom. It is a story of 2 prostitutes living together. One of their babies dies. The fight is a she said/she said. We are not told if Prostitute 1 rolled over, killed her baby, and then switched the babies. Perhaps Prostitute 2 woke up to see her child was dead, and brought the matter to court to seize the other one’s child as her own.  What we do know is that both prostitutes wanted to avoid the shame of losing their baby. And we know that between the two women they knew who the baby’s real mother was. 

Solomon also believes that one woman is lying, but recognizes that he cannot decipher from their stories which one it is. So he threatens the baby’s life…to give each woman half. The liar of the two, sees this as fair. If she can’t have her baby (who is dead) than no one should have their baby. Even here, you can see her jealousy arise. Half of a dead baby at least clears her from the shame of smothering her child. But the true mother loves her child so much, she is willing to sacrifice her parental rights so that the child can live. 

Wow. It totally makes me think about the many times in divorced families when a child is used as a pawn as the king tries to checkmate the queen…or vice versa. Parents fight over the child’s custody, and pull at the child, planting ideas of hatred toward the other parent, sometimes even making the child claim neglect or abuse against the other parent when no such abuse is present. Just like Prostitute 1, the parent’s reputation as the good parent outweighs the child’s best interest. 

And yet a true parent is willing to give up their child, whether for a weekend, or some other way, for the child’s best interest. It is not easy. Think of the true mother in the story. She was not giving her child to someone she trusted fully or agreed with in parenting style. She was giving her baby to someone who had killed her own child and lied about it. Someone who had tarnished the mother’s reputation as a good mother. And yet, her child’s life still meant more than her raising it on her own. I am not saying that we should not stand up for a child in an abusive situation, but often times we separate as parents because of flaws we see in the other, even though that person should know their child. A true parent puts the child’s life first, before their feelings about each other.

New Way To Worship?

There is this idea in my head that keeps rolling around. I haven’t shared it really with anyone but Nick, my husband. It started quite a while back when I was thinking about how my church could do a better job of getting people into worship. We have a huge contingent of folks who are connected to our church through KICK and our Food Pantry, but just a few of those folks ever darken our doors on Sunday morning. I really think worshiping with others is an important practice that everyone connected to the church should practice. So how do you help people worship who for whatever reason don’t show up on Sunday mornings? Also research is really clear more people who have not worshiped before come to a new service rather than one that had been there for a long time.

Here is an example of what a topic might be.   

So I have been playing with this idea of having a new worship service on Wednesday night. A worship service re-imagined, unlike the one we have on Sunday. It would start at 5:30 after KICK kids have been picked up, so KICK families were already there and could stick around for it. We would start with a really simple meal (think tacos, sloppy joes, potato bar, etc.). On the tables would be a list of questions about the topic we were going to learn about that night. There would be paper and crayons for kids to use while we watched a TED presentation. Then after the presentation, the kids would share their art, and the adults would share their thoughts on the subject. We could share songs about the topic at this time too. My goal would be for us to end by 7, so families could get home, get homework done, and still get to bed at a decent time.

I think it would be awesome. But here’s the thing…I am not always the best judge of my own ideas. I couldn’t do this on my own. I would want at least 5 core households to commit on being there consistently to make it worth it. AND I don’t want those coming to be the same people who show up to Sunday morning worship. Those leaders are busy enough, and if it’s going to be a new thing, I would want new leaders. (Of course, some overlap would be good.) Worship services usually have some music and an offering. I don’t have a plan for those elements, but I think it would be good to include them somewhere.

So I am going to leave this idea here. And I am going to patiently wait for God to give me an interested team. I invite you to share with someone you think would be interested. I invite you to talk with me if you are interested. If nobody talks to me, than I know this was of me and not God.