Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Why Behind The Wow -Part 3

I see it all the time, churches say we welcome kids we just need to keep our facilities multipurpose. Kids aren’t the only ones who use them. That’s true but if kids have shorter intention spans and learn better in a creative, exciting environment why not design it with them in mind and let the older more mature folks have their meetings, classes, and small groups in a room designed for the only age group Jesus said to let come to Him and to do not hinder them. When ever you hear the term multipurpose remember this is just a code word for adult decor!

I’ve been hanging out in churches for a long time and I don’t understand where church learners bought into the idea that beige was God’s favorite color. He sure didn’t tell Solomon to make the temple beige. It was a brute place not a dull one. Gold, silver, red and purple those are not in the beige family.

When you welcome children you do things with them in mind. When a church prepares for kids they also show families kids are important. I have been blessed to work at some great churches who put their money where they mouth was and showed by what they did that children and reaching families was a priority. Along with the decor add interactive features that you can use to make learning lasting and effective as well as just neat to look at. Security is also a way to show that kids are important. It shows parents and the community that you honor children. If Jesus honored and valued children so should we.

I had the privilege of visiting Disney World with my grandson not very long ago. As I walked through this “experience for kids and families” I thought to myself investing in kids has sure paid off for Disney. It also sends their messages loud and clear. We in the church can learn a lot from them. I want to put the wow in worship as we help kids experience God firsthand. I believe it can payoff for us, Jesus deserves our best and so do our kids.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Why Behind The Wow - Part 2

Being a good Southern Mama’s boy I want to use my sweet Southern “RedNeck” Mama to illustrate what it means to welcome someone. I was taught when you welcome someone you roll out the red carpet. If we were having company over growing up my Mom would clean like the Queen of England was coming over. She was mop, wax, vacuum, dust and get the entire house all shined up. Then she would start cooking. When my mom was preparing for someone special she went nuts to cook all their favorites. She would make an impressive spread. If she wasn’t sure what their favorites were she would go overboard to have choices so they would be treated royally. This seemed like a little too much work and going way too overboard until I went out of state to college. Not being able to come home like I went to an in state school when I came home Mom put on the dog for me. All of a sudden I saw all my favorite stuff being prepared for me. It was like my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled up into one. And there was always cookies and stuff to take back to school. All my buddies in the dorm where waiting on me, if I didn’t bring them home with me. The cool thing is I could bring them home. My Mom wouldn’t have cared. Her philosophy was the more the merrier! When grand kids came along she went from me and my wife and my friends being the guest s of honor to my girls (her grand kids)being the guests of honor. She went out of her way to make any time those kids were at her house special. Did my girls feel welcomed YES! Did they know what went on at Grandma’s was done with them in mind? YES! Did they feel special and that they we welcome? YOU BET CHA! As kids it was one of their favorite palsies to visit. They never put up a fight to go because of how they were welcomed and all the fore thought and effort that was done prior to their arrival. The crazy thing is it’s still that way today. If my Mom knows her grown grand kids are coming to see her all their childhood favorites are there waiting for them. She even has Grapico (this is grape flavor soda that can only be bought in Alabama.) and my girls only drink that stuff at their Grandmothers. Her great grandson is just three and she’s already starting to make him welcome.

We also saw this several years ago between adult restaurants and kid friendly restaurants. I remember taking my small children to a steakhouse. First we were seated in the back away from all the guests who did not have children. The kids menu was an after thought, yes they gave you some bad crayons but you could tell they were only serving children because they had to. This was not the case at McDonald's. Before they started targeting the fufu coffee crowd they went after the kids. They’re advertising was to kids. They installed huge playgrounds for kids, their food was packaged for kids but they even went a step further they prepared their restaurants to welcome and receive kids. They screwed the pictures in the wall. They ached their tables and chairs in concrete. If your kids spilled something at McDonald’s it sure didn’t upset them they had prepared their floors and walls to welcome kids. They would just blow that spilled milkshake out the door with a pressure hose. They were ready for kids. And because they welcomed kids and were ready for them the kids came and they got their parents and grandparents to come with them because kids don’t have driver’s licenses. It was sure not the food that got them there. It was the fact they welcomed kids. When we welcome children Luke 9:48 says we welcome Jesus. There are some wonderful speakers and musicians we could have at our church but if I had my pick of anyone I could have minister at my church I’d choose Jesus. By welcoming children and making our facilities kid friendly and a place designed and created with them in mind we are welcoming Jesus. When Jesus shows up great things happen.

more to come....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Why Behind The WOW!

Just because you call your church a family church doesn’t make it one. I can say I’m a car and sleep in the garage but it doesn’t make me one. The truth is no matter what churches say not all churches truly see the importance of teaching and training children and youth. I think our actions speak louder than words. 
At the same time I know churches who have spent thousands of dollars to “Pimp their Church” and yet what they offer families is just bright lights and smoke and mirrors. I am proud to say that I know more churches who are willing to do what they have never done before in able to reach children and young people in more effective ways. There are some amazing companies out there that can help transform your classrooms into kid friendly environments. It’s amazing what churches are doing to show kids they are special and to add some wow to  traditional church facilities. Each and every issue of this magazine you get article after article how to teach kids effectively and to help you build a wonderful team to fulfill Jesus’ commands to go into all the world and make disciples. But have you ever stopped and considered the why behind the wow?

First I would like us to look at a very familiar passage for us in Kidmin. Luke 9:48 tells us “Then he (Jesus) said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” This is a powerful principle that I think lots of churches don’t fully understand.
Mr. Webster defines making someone feel welcome as to “Receive and treat someone hospitably.” so what does it mean to treat someone hospitably in regards to an environment? Again Mr Webster defines this as “pleasant and favorable for living in.” There is a huge difference in an environment being tolerable and one to be “pleasant and favorable.”  When an environment is favorable it is preferred and done with who you are receiving in mind. If you don’t enjoy seating somewhere you don’t take in what is being taught. I learned years ago the heart can’t grasp what the rear end can’t endure. Creating a welcoming environment means more than creating a room or an area. It’s also about creating an experience. A learning experience where you remember what you learn. You can live what do can’t remember.

more to come...