Preparing Your Kids for Vocational Ministry

Vocational ministry is based on the idea that Christians should be ministering to those around them and sharing their faith in everything they do – including their occupation. Whether your children grow up to be stay at home parents, neurosurgeons, plumbers or anything in between, they can participate in vocational ministry.

Vocational ministry isn’t new. The Apostle Paul and his companions (Aquila and Priscilla among them) were tent makers. The Bible tells us they worked hard to earn the money for their expenses so they wouldn’t burden anyone. (See 2 Thessalonians 3:8, Acts 18:1-3, Acts 20:33-35 and Philippians 4:14-16)

It’s easy to imagine Paul working Jesus into conversations with his clients or asking them to hear him teach somewhere when he wasn’t working. Likewise, we can imagine Priscilla and Aquila answering their clients questions about Jesus or listening to them talk about their problems and finding ways to serve and teach them.

Your kids can do the same things, no matter which occupation they ultimately choose…if you prepare them. Some Christians have been unknowingly practicing vocational ministry for decades. Like Paul and his friends, they find ways to minister to others and share their faith while on the job. In some cases, it required creativity as they dealt with company restrictions, but somehow they managed.

Others have left Jesus in the church building, perhaps picking him up for an occasional conversation on their days off with someone, or participating on a short term mission trip or service activity with their church.

God means for us to be more like Paul, Priscilla, Aquila and ultimately Jesus himself. He wants you and your kids to minister to others and share your faith at every possible opportunity at school, work or during your free time.

Your kids will be more likely to have a personal vocational ministry if you have lots of discussions about it now. What careers interest them? How could they serve others and share their faith on the job? What restrictions does that career track place on talking about God at work? How can they still serve others and share their faith in spite of restrictions? (Note: Most companies just don’t want anyone spending work time teaching people about God or bothering people who aren’t interested. They have no restrictions on break times like lunch, after work, for voluntary participation or for conversations that don’t take place in company facilities. Others have no limitations at all.)

It’s also important you model vocational ministry to your children. Talk about the ways God gave you to serve people at work and/or share your faith when you get home each day. If you haven’t been doing those things, you can start now.

Finally, encourage your kids to start practicing vocational ministry now – at school and extra curricular activities. Talk about some things they can do or say. Make part of your end of day reflection talking about the ways each of you served others and shared your faith, as well as the opportunities you didn’t take advantage of. Why did you pass on the opportunity? What could you do differently next time?

It’s fine if you all learn about and begin practicing vocational ministry together. As you learn and grow, you will be reflecting God’s love, meeting the needs of those around you and sharing the Gospel message with others. And those are always great things for families to do together!

Fun Ways to Strengthen Family Bonds

Feel like you are not as close to one or more of your kids as you would like to be? Don’t ignore the tension in your relationship, hoping it will disappear on its own. It may, but it’s more likely the issues will compound over time, gradually weakening your relationship.

You may not be overly concerned, because you believe it is natural for parents and kids to grow apart emotionally as your children approach adulthood. While teens will become more independent as they reach the end of high school, your emotional bonds should still be strong and healthy.

If you allow your relationship to deteriorate, you will have fewer opportunities to encourage your kids to grow to be who God wants them to be. Since getting your kids to Heaven should be your most important parenting goal, you need to have the type of relationship that allows you to provide guidance and advice to adult children if they need or want encouragement in their Christian walk.

Repairing relationships with your kids can become hard work if you let them deteriorate too far. If you catch issues when they begin though (or even before), it’s perfectly reasonable to expect your relationship to remain strong and healthy with a little focused effort.

There are fun things you can do with your kids that usually lead to a relationship becoming stronger.

  • Playing board games. Games are fun if you don’t get too competitive. It’s a great way to switch gears if you are currently in a period when you have been giving a lot of corrections and consequences.
  • Parent child dates. This is great for kids who have lots of siblings or for a parent who is absent a lot because of work or other obligations. Take one child at a time and do something you will both enjoy. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Choose activities that will allow you to have great conversations, too.
  • Take a class together. Learning together can be a great equalizer for a child who feels unheard or invisible. Take a class in an area where you both have no experience or your child is a bit better at the topic then you are.
  • Hikes, walks and other physical activities. This is great for parents and kids under a lot of stress. If the activity makes talking difficulty, make sure you allow time for talking in a relaxing activity afterwards.
  • Cooking. There’s something about a kitchen that encourages kids to talk. Your conversations will be even longer if your child is helping you cook something – or you are helping your child cook.
  • Planning an adventure. Whether it’s a family vacation, a birthday party or redecorating their bedroom, planning something big usually involves a lot of conversation and a bit of dreaming.
  • Serving someone. If your child is old enough, let him or her take the lead planning and executing the service project. Instead of correcting your child when you think his or her ideas are unrealistic, ask questions to get your child to reflect and make more effective choices. Service is a great way to take the focus off of any tension and put it into working together to help someone else. It can also give all of you some needed perspective.

In the end, what the activity is will not be as important as carving out extra time to really interact with your child in meaningful ways. Those times can help even great parent – child relationships. They can also repair the emotional distancing that can sometimes occur as kids get older. It’s worth your extra time and effort.

How Telling the “Christmas Story” Might Weaken Your Kids’ Faith

When you are fighting a battle, it’s important to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Whether you realize it or not, you are in a constant battle with Satan for your kids’ souls.

Satan is a tricky opponent. He can use all sorts of statements from people in the secular world to confuse your kids. He uses the writings of people from other faiths to cause your kids to question basic faith tenets.

One of Satan’s most devious tricks is taking the teachings of well meaning Christians and pointing out all of the flaws with what they said. These flaws could be a simple misunderstanding, a result of poor memory or weak logic. Unfortunately, many times we could prevent these flaws, but fail to do the research our opponents do to rid our teachings of mistakes.

Christmas is one of those places where error is often innocently taught. Young people can easily find those mistakes. Instead of understanding they were unintentional mistakes of well meaning Christians, adolescents and young adults may allow them to undermine their faith.

When telling any Bible story to kids or teens, it is crucial that you are accurate. Don’t add details that the Bible omits. Here are some things commonly taught about Christmas that could later become a stumbling block for a struggling young person.

  • Christ was born on Christmas Day. We don’t have any idea when Jesus was actually born. Many believe, it is more likely Jesus was born in the Spring or Fall. You can tell your kids some Christians chose this day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but not because they knew it was his actual birthday.
  • There were three wisemen. We actually don’t know for sure how many wisemen traveled to worship Jesus. The number three became attached because the wise men brought three gifts. Similar groups historically had five or more men and possibly their servants, too. (They also weren’t the kings of the Christmas song. They were magi or wisemen.)
  • Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. Since she was pregnant, it is not hard to believe she did ride a donkey to keep from having to walk that far. The Bible, however, makes no mention of how Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was born in a stable or barn. While we know Jesus was swaddled and laid in a manger, the stable part is a bit of a misconception. There are two common opinions of what actually happened. One was that animals often spent the night in a cave. The other is that Mary and Joseph were staying with relatives. The guest room was full of other relatives, so they were staying on the first floor of the house. Many households with only a few animals brought them into the first floor of the home at night. (This still happened in places like Ireland hundreds of years after Jesus.) There weren’t what we would call traditional wooden stables or barns in the area at the time of Jesus.
  • The shepherds and wisemen showed up the night Jesus was born. While the shepherds may have come the night Jesus was born, we are pretty sure the wisemen arrived much later. Their journey was long and King Herod later killed all of the boys under the age of two years, indicating he believed Jesus was probably not a newborn.
  • Jesus was born in 1 A.D. The calendar thing can get confusing. The Bible doesn’t give us the exact year of Jesus’ birth. Based on other information provided in Luke about rulers, most historians believe it is more likely Jesus was born about 5 B.C. (or B.C.E.)

Do any of those details really matter? In the larger scheme of things, the only thing that really matters is that Jesus was born, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies and later died and rose from the dead. If you are telling the story to your kids though, the details do matter. Making up details or repeating details that are misunderstandings can give Satan a tool to use to create cracks in the faith foundations of your kids. It’s worth getting the details right.

Teach One Reach One Ministries Impact Statement 2019

Many of you may not be aware that Parenting Like Hannah is actually part of the larger Teach One Reach One Ministries. As a 501c3, we wanted you to be aware of how your donations are spent. I never receive any compensation from the ministry, as we want those we serve to use their funds for ministering to others. In spite of our frugality, there are still expenses our ministry incurs during the course of a year. Your donations are tax deductible and will give us more opportunities to minister to others through translating resources, building our website, providing more workshops and training, supplying free ministry resources and creating our first free ministry textbooks. Thank you for your support of our ministry!

It’s difficult to create a ministry impact statement. Ultimately, Teach One Reach One Ministries belongs to God. We are merely His servants attempting to go where He leads us and minister to those we can along the way. Only God knows how the spiritual lives of individuals may have been impacted by our ministry this year. We are only sharing where He has led us and what we did while there in an effort to help you understand how we spend the money you donate to us.

  • Added over 250 new free resources to the website, not including hundreds of new blog posts.
  • Advertised four times in the Christian Chronicle to make more Christians aware of our free resources. As a result of our paid advertising, Christian Chronicle also provided several free ads online resulting in even more exposure.
  • Had over 12,000 unique visitors to the primary Teach One Reach One website (that number will be higher by year’s end), a 30% increase over the previous calendar year.
  • Reached people in 144 countries on six continents. The top 10 countries accessing our website this year were the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Philippines, Nigeria, India, Australia, South Africa, Kenya and France.
  • Over 2400 people accessed our free baptism study, while another over 1600 users looked into our free teen curriculum and over 1200 looked into our free children’s Bible lessons. Thousands of others went directly to individual resources and lessons on the website.
  • Taught six weeks at the Ukrainian Bible Institute. Three of those weeks were online and three onsite in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Added new free resources to the website in Russian.
  • Began teaching a cluster of Churches of Christ in India, Nepal and Bangladesh representing 75 congregations. These online classes will be ongoing through at least the first half of next year. We were invited to visit, but are currently unable to due to adverse and dangerous political and religious issues in those countries.
  • Helped Mission to Ukraine develop and implement best practices in special education in their ministry to families who have children with special needs. This included introducing them to IEP’s, IEP conferences, and teaching parents how to homeschool their children with special needs (most of whom are not currently allowed to enroll in public schools). Spent time encouraging better communication between teachers, therapists and parents and overseeing initial IEP conferences. Continued encouraging parents to take their children with special needs into public areas – especially church – more often. Currently having regular video call sessions with leaders, teachers and/or parents.
  • Visited Romaniv orphanage for young men with special needs. Analyzed their facilities for possible ways to provide more visual stimulation with interactive murals. Assisted in lunch preparations to observe improvements in how the young men are fed. Purchased wash cloths and gave skills analysis sheets of self care skills like bathing, hand washing and teeth brushing. Currently the majority of the men are not receiving these services, nor have they been taught how to do them for themselves. These aids are allowing volunteers and staff to teach the men self care skills in ways that are most appropriate for the way they learn. Also taught one Bible class for some of the young men. Currently working with an artist in Atlanta who is designing murals and creating patterns for them to use in painting various areas of the orphanage.
  • Taught at a Ladies’ Day for multiple congregations (approximately 15) in Ukraine. The day included several sessions on children’s ministry with several hands on activities for participants.
  • Taught several women’s small group Bible studies for three different congregations in the Kiev area.
  • Assisted an ESL ministry in Kiev and a potential one in Zhytomir by providing a framework and some resources for them to use.
  • Conducted an informal training session for children’s Bible class teachers at a church in Zhytomyr.
  • Had numerous personal mentoring conversations on a wide variety of topics while in Ukraine – some personal and some ministry.
  • Taught three foster parent training sessions for GA Agape foster and adoptive parents.
  • Scheduled to conduct a training session for at risk parents served by Atlanta Inner City Ministries at their Hope for the Family Christmas event.
  • Responded to various email and phone requests for assistance with ministry issues from all over the United States and in several additional countries.
  • Led a weekend of strategic planning sessions for the Hope Center, an at risk pregnancy ministry that provides alternatives to abortion.
  • Conducted a weekend of Christian parenting sessions in Benton, Tx.
  • Conducted training and helped plan and execute a congregational multigenerational service day in Newport News, VA.
  • Conducted children’s ministries workshops in Lubbock, TX.
  • Provided free resources to attendees at the various workshops including handouts and items to encourage them to do the things we are training them to do.
  • Provided over 150 pounds of resources to ministries in Ukraine (items unavailable to them locally) and a packet to a ministry in Uganda.
  • Continued researching in the fields of education, Christianity, brain science and other relevant fields and passed on helpful information in blog posts, seminars, workshops and conversations.
  • Read and reviewed multiple books in an effort to suggest the most helpful resources to ministry volunteers and parents.
  • Agreed to produce four ministry textbooks to Eastern European Missions in the next year. If their budget allows, these will be translated into Russian, printed and distributed in Ukraine, Russia and other former Soviet countries. Locals estimate a need for at least 5000 copies of each book. The first book on teen ministry has been written and is in the editing process. The hope is to have it translation ready by year’s end with the other three books completed in 2020.

Please keep our ministry in your prayers. We also ask that your prayerfully considering making a donation to allow us to expand the ways we are able to help ministries to children, teens and families be more effective in reaching their ministry goals.

Fun Holiday Family Challenge

When our daughter was young enough to visit Santa, he was always confused by her list. After listening to child after child with lists as long as they were tall, our daughter’s list usually only contained two or three items. He was so befuddled, we had an incident one year when he told her he was bringing something she didn’t even want!

For most kids though, the holiday season is often more about getting than giving. Even if they make or purchase a few presents for others, the focus is on those post Christmas gift comparison conversations with peers.

There is a fun way for your family to switch your focus from getting to giving, without spending a lot of money. Gather your family and tell them you have a family challenge for all of you.

The challenge is for each family member to find a way to give every day between now and Christmas. The only rule is that they can’t spend any money (or give a very small limit) or give anything away without parental permission. You will probably want to spend some time thinking up various ways to give without spending much money. Don’t forget to talk about things like time, talents, attention, etc.

How you format the challenge is up to you. Your family may have more fun coming up with ideas and executing them as a family. Other families – particularly those with teens – may want to make it a friendly competition. Who comes up with the most creative ideas during the challenge period? Who implements an idea that has a ripple effect and has other people giving too? Or come up with your own competitive extras.

Spend time each day sharing your experiences with each other. Don’t forget to talk about what they are thinking and feeling as they go through the challenge. Add insight from scripture where it fits. Spend time in prayer about everything as a family. It’s a great family tradition to add to the list.