Maybe our parenting approach is all wrong?!? Parenting and the Church pt. 1

My wife and I have 5 kids. We have 3 teenagers (17, 15, 13) and a 9 and 3.5 year old. Parenting is an important part of our lives. One of the most important. And, for the past 22 years, I have had the privilege to serve families in local churches and have had a close up view to many different kinds of parenting styles.

On top of that, I have traveled all over the world and have spoke to thousands of teenagers. I don’t know the exact number. Retreats, Conferences, Camps, Christian Schools, Public Schools, Churches and Colleges. All over.

One more on top of that, we have a Senior in our house. That means we have one year left before she heads out on her own. It really is amazing how quick it goes.

All of that to say, we talk parenting a lot in our house. I talk parenting with my parents a lot. All of my friends have kids similar in age and we talk parenting a lot. I read parenting books and articles. I talk to parents about their thoughts. I talk to teenagers and parents about their thoughts. Because of all that, I’m at a crossroads and I’m thinking that…

Maybe we’re just wrong…jonnywow-maybe

Maybe Tracie and I are just wrong about Parenting when it comes to the Church.

Here’s where we’re coming from. We want our kids involved with the ‘Church’ and their Church. That’s the goal. That’s the win! 

Actually, we don’t want them to ‘just’ be involved or to just be attenders. We want them to be Contributors, Investors and Owners in their local Church.

Why?

A. Because the Church is the most important organization on the planet! I mean, Jesus gave His life for us and then He gave us the Church! It is the Bride of Christ and there is nothing more important. 

AND…

B. Something becomes so much more alive when you actually own it, rather than just renting it. 

Our point of view on the Church with our kids…

So, our approach to Parenting and the Church is that the Church is non-negotiable. It’s just a part of who we are as a family. And, we don’t want to sit in the cheap sits and watch. We want to be involved. We want to be on the field. We want our kids to love their Church and to be an Owner as much as we are.

That means that our kids are expected to care about their Church, pray for the leaders of their church and to be involved. And to be involved with their age appropriate ministries.

And, from what I can tell, our kids love their Church.

  • Madison, our 9 year old, has been talking about her Club 45 SpringHill retreat for months. (Club 45 is Thrive’s ministry to 4th and 5th graders)

A side note: As a family, we have made the choice that our kids won’t miss retreats or camps. Why? Because that’s where the power happens! There is something so incredible that happens on retreats and camps. I actually wrote an article about this years ago that’s been posted on many camp websites! Here it is. 

  • Zach, our 13 year old, decided to not try out for a travel baseball team because they practice on Sunday’s and he didn’t want that to interfere with Church and Youth Group.
  • All of our teenagers have already started their countdowns to next summer’s Big Stuf Camp. 
  • Shoot, during my recent 29 days off, our kids, on their own, still decided to join our Thrive community on Sunday’s. We let them decide and they decided to be a part.

Don’t think for one second that we’re experts or have the perfect family. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are so many things we do wrong and need to do a better job when it comes to parenting and parenting teenagers and kids. 

Ok, why all of this? Why am I going on and on?

As a Pastor, I pretty frequently from parents who are beyond disappointed that their teenagers want nothing to do with the Church. 

I hear from other parents who are banging their heads against the wall and want help in getting their teenagers involved at church. 

So, all of that to say…

What if Parents gave even 10% of the passion they put towards their kids…

  • Prom Pictures
  • Football Practice
  • Travel Sports
  • Marching Band
  • 4H
  • Dance Competitions
  • School Stuff

And gave it to celebrating their involvement and serving in the Church?

I mean, its safe to say that parents are very excited about spending hundreds of dollars on Prom and then posting a million pictures of it. I mean, maybe I’ve missed something, but why is spending all that money and going to a dance all that important?

Now, I’m not trying to sound ridiculous. I love that my oldest daughter has gone to prom. She’s beautiful inside and out. I’m also proud that she hasn’t made a big deal about going with a guy and has just choose to go with friends. I went to prom. I love the dance scene from the movie footloose as much as they next guy.

But, when it comes time for parents to pay for summer camp or a youth retreat or a mission trip, sometimes its the end of the world.

End of the freaking world!

‘I can’t pay for that’ or ‘We don’t have it for that’ or ‘the church expects too much’

Hmmmm. But when it comes time to plunk down the fundage for a travel team, or a spring break trip, or a dress…the money is somehow there.

Ok, I know this a GIANT generalization. But, it’s also based on my experience of 22 years of being up close and personal to hundreds and hundreds of families.

Just imagine, MAYBE, how much more passionate our kids and teenagers MIGHT be about God and Church and Student Ministry…

If their parents Celebrated their faith like they celebrated Prom of Football or Soccer or Band?

Is this all unfair?

I know some parents slap up pictures on Facebook of their kids first communion or confirmation, but what about all the other hundreds of Sunday’s? Oh, it could be that some parents only get excited about a few milestone type church events. It could be that those parents themselves are only in Church for those milestone type events. That’s a whole other situation.

But what about all the Sunday’s their kids could be learning about Jesus? What about all the Sunday’s their kids could be leading at Church. Using their music gifts. Using their art gifts. Using their people skills.

Mom and Dad’s, we’re at a crossroads.

It’s time for us to decide if the goal of our parenting is to raise Jesus Followers or Prom dates or Soccer players or Baseball players or Marching Band Players.

The reality, if you don’t make your child’s faith a priority now or you don’t make Church a priority for your family, the likelihood of them coming back to the faith decreases rapidly.

All I know is…

What gets Celebrated gets Repeated.

(thanks for that phrase Andy Stanley)

So, if all we do is celebrate the Prom nights, the homecoming dates, the games, the grades and we don’t spend any time celebrating Church or making room for it or Youth Group or Bible Study or Small Group or celebrating our kids involvement with them. We can almost guarantee that our kids won’t be excited about them.

Maybe I’m Wrong. Maybe I’m too passionate about my kids loving the Church or being involved.

Maybe.

Or Maybe I’m onto something. More thoughts in part two coming next week.

 

 

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5 Reasons I’m beyond EXCITED about Thrive’s Dad Fest Sunday!

This Sunday is one of Thrive Church’s most exciting Sunday’s…

DAD FEST!18951327_10158911643060235_5540560706029634397_n

We host Dad Fest every year to honor dads, to hopefully attract men and dad’s to Church and to remind people how amazing our heavenly Father is and how much he loves us!

Some of my favorite Sunday’s in Thrive’s almost 4 year history have been Dad Fest Sunday’s.

Here’s 5 Reasons I’m so Excited! 

1. It will be a blast to honor Thrive’s ‘Dad of the Year’!

This year we’re doing something new. We are awarding a prize for Thrive’s ‘Dad of the Year.’ This will be an awesome moment! Many friends and family have nominated their dads, friends and relatives. Our staff looked over each nomination and prayed and picked. I can’t wait!

2. It will be a blast to remind Thrivers that we have a good, good Father!

The amazing Dr. Tom (Thrive’s Spiritual Formation Pastor), helped me find 5 amazing truths from Psalm 103 about our heavenly Father. I can’t wait to encourage our Church with those truths!

3. It will be a blast to combine both experiences into one!

This is always a treat! It doesn’t happen much, but this Sunday we get to gather all together!

4. It will be a blast to worship outside at Island Park!

I am so proud of how hard our band works to provide an amazing worship experience. Plus, they’re going to play a few pretty fun songs as well! I hear Whitesnake and the Zac Brown Band are making an appearance!

5. It will be a blast to see families experience EVERYTHING!!

This Sunday will be the first time we have all 8 Giant Inflatables set up! It’s going to be awesome! We have also some cool cars coming, a fire truck, police cars, an archery game and a bacon tent! Yes…a bacon tent!

What are you doing on Sunday? 

I so hope you can join us! I know its nice out, but I hope you will consider giving some of your time to gather together!

We will be at Island Park from 9 (ish) to 1230 (ish). Can’t wait!

Are we Crazy!?! Thrive’s 5 year Vision and our Prayer Wall!

Last month, the Pastors of Thrive Church were at the Exponential Church Planting conference in Orlando, FL. It was a GREAT trip. Lots of laughs, dreaming, praying and learning!

The theme of the conference was ‘Dream Big’ and we were challenged to do just that.

One morning, I found myself dreaming big in my prayer journal. I presented this to the other Thrive Pastors (Matt Moore, Dave Shephard and Dr. Tom Rundel) and we all tweaked it a bit. Then, this past Tuesday, I presented it to our staff and we tweaked it a little bit. Next month, I am going to present it to a combined meeting with our Thrive Elders and Financial Team.

Let me just say this…

It’s a wild and crazy Vision!

I read through it and some of the items on there scare me. In a good way, but they’re so big and so audacious, that really ONLY GOD could provide the needs to make some of this stuff happen.

So, this is our 5 year Vision at Thrive! This is what we’re praying and asking God to provide. We desperately want to make a HUGE impact in Central Michigan and the world and we’re stepping out in faith and believing that God can do the impossible.

Thrive turns 4 in October and I feel like in many ways, we’re just getting started!

Thrive’s 5 Year Vision

  • Every Life is changed by Jesus
  • Thrivers to be passionate about: Jesus, the Bible, Prayer, Giving and their Small Group
  • Elder and & Staff Unity
  • Financial Wisdom, Margin and Radical Generosity. We’re praying for a $600,000 a year budget and 4-6 months of operating budget in savings.
    • Staff to not have to raise support.
  • Partner with Local Churches who are struggling and provide help and new life.
  • 20 Acres of Land to be Donated.
  • Semi-Trailer and Box Truck to be donated.
  • A New Hub. 15,000 square feet of Offices, Prayer Center, One Youth Space, Tutoring, Thrive Counseling Center, Studios (Music, Video, Art), Do Good Space
  • Equipment. (2) MacBooks, Drum Set, Keyboard, Video Camera’s, Gaga Ball Pit, Obstacle Course Inflatable, Color Copier.
  • New Staff & Team Leaders. Small Group Director, Youth, Video, Stewardship.
  • Midland & Big Rapids Campus Pastor.
  • Add a Thrive campus in a local prison.
  • (2) Church Planting Residents.
  • Reach 1500 people weekly by 2022.
  • 24/7 Building that can be used 7 days a week by the Community. Including a small apartment complex that can be used to house Single moms, families, refugees, interns.

SHOW UP

  • Raise an additional $20,000 a year to reach students at CMU. This will give us a major presence on campus.
  • See 150 people a year Trust in Jesus at Thrive on Sunday’s.
  • 100 people to be baptized in 2017. 200 by 2022.
  • Record a live worship album.

JUMP IN

  • 500 people in Small Groups by 2019.
  • Increased Volunteers
    • 50 Road Crew
    • 200 Thrive Kidz
    • 75 First Impressions
    • 30 Prayer Team
    • 20 Care Team
    • (3) Worship Leaders
    • 40 Musicians
    • 30 One Youth Leaders
    • 30 Chi Alpha Leaders
    • 30 Outreach team
    • 25 Cars Ministry
  • Start an online Bible School. Offer practical courses to help develop life long followers of Jesus.

DO GOOD

  • Plant (2) Churches in Ecuador through Stadia and Compassion. ($190,000)
  • Join and help plant (2) Churches in Michigan.
  • Raise $50,000 a year to give away 1500 shoes to elementary students at local schools.
  • Give away 20 Cars a year and repair 40.
  • Support 15 Back to School Parties for Local Schools.
  • Sponsor a ‘Night to Shine’ Event
  • Host a community wide Halloween Party at Finch Fieldhouse
  • Sponsor a Teacher Appreciation Night for hundreds of local teachers.

NEXT GEN

  • Thrive Kidz
    • Raise up a Thrive Kidz Worship Team
    • Create a special needs room at Thrive Kidz
  • One Youth
    • Send 100 Students to Big Stuf Summer Camp
    • 40 Small Groups
    • Student Lead
    • Raise up a One Youth Worship Team
  • Chi Apha
    • (2) Houses on Campus for College Students

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Today I Get to make one of the BIGGEST announcements I have ever made at Thrive Church and I’m SOOOOOO EXCITED!!

I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

Today, I get to make a freaking huge announcement!

I mean, it will have giant implications for Thrive Church. Especially for our Kids and Teenagers!

And, I believe its going to help make a GIANT IMPACT in the Central MI area and beyond.

Oh man!

I am so thankful and honored that God allows me this GREAT privilege to Lead Thrive Church!

HERE WE GO!!!!!!

Meet Sam!! Thrive’s Newest Staff Member!! I am sooo EXCITED!

I pinch myself daily because I believe that God assembled an…

  • ABSOLUTELY
  • HUMBLE
  • HARD WORKING
  • FUN
  • CREATIVE
  • JESUS FOLLOWING 

Thrive Staff Team!!

I mean, I think I have a little experience in the matter! I have served at local churches for  22 years! In that time, I have worked and served with some amazing people. But, BUT and its a BIG but, I have never worked and served with such an amazing group of people!

They really are selfless. Many of them work crazy amounts of hours, way more than they’re paid for, to serve the people of Thrive Church. Many of them raise their financial support so they can be a part of the team. They just serve tirelessly and they do it to serve Jesus and others. No one has gotten a raise. No one is here to get rich. Any one of them would drop anything to see someone find and follow Jesus!

And now, God has increased our team! The Thrive staff team is made up of a few different positions. We have full time Pastors, we have part time paid staff, part time volunteer staff and then we have interns.

Meet Sam!! Our Thrive Kidz Creative Director! 

Sam is absolutely incredible! She’s been involved at Thrive for about a year and a half and

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Sam is second from the right. 

in that time has made an unbelievable difference! She’s humble, she’s hard working, she has an incredible attitude, she is a team player, she loves kids, she serves volunteers, she’s hungry to learn more, she’s a leader, she’s a very good communicator, she always brings so much life whenever she is a part of something, she is a difference maker and she loves Jesus!

She is really a spectacular woman!

So, when the opportunity arose for Sam and I to talk about her coming onto the Thrive staff team after she graduated from CMU, I jumped at it!

On May 16th, she’ll join the team full time! She’ll concentrate on creating irresistible environments for Thrive Kidz. Environments where kids can learn about Jesus in fun and exciting ways. She has already, in her team at Thrive, begun to build an amazing team of creative folks who pour into kids each Sunday at Thrive and that will just get better and better.

Sam is also raising 100% of her financial support for this position and she is stepping out in faith to do so! Yeah, its pretty amazing.

I wish. I dream. I know someday Thrive will be at the place where we can afford for our staff to not raise funds, but we’re just not there. For our size church, we should be. But, there are some variables working against us and we’re working hard to figure those out.

I am so excited! Our team is excited!

If you would like to help Sam raise support, you can give here. Just click on her name.

The Best is Yet to Come!