Adult Team Blog

Plan a Recognition Service That Celebrates Everyone

I remember recognition services where proud parents beamed as their children’s achievements were celebrated. Little boys squirmed and little girls smiled at the attention from the adults. Where did those days go?

Recognition services are out of sync with our sophistication today. But what have we lost? The entire church was enlivened by the simplicity, beauty, and joy on the faces of its children. Adults saw the fruit of their hard work and were encouraged. Those who worked with children and youth were celebrated and honored for their faithfulness. Children and teens felt as if they were part of the whole church and that their service to God mattered.

But what about the children with developmental challenges? How do they and their parents feel?

Our church was celebrating the end of the semester, before the holidays, with a special Sunday night service and fellowship time. The children had memorized their verses and made posters of their missions projects. They were excited and a little scared about Sunday night’s service. Their leaders were, too.

Listening Is like Exercise

I’ve lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for 12 years. Moving here was scary. It was the largest city I’d ever called home. I went to college with my roommates but had never lived with any of them before. Nonetheless, I took the leap. And it was terrible. I’ll spare the details but, as a result, I began to suffer from mild depression. I needed to talk to someone and work through what I was experiencing. I needed that individual to have no personal stake in my situation.

So, I found a Christian counselor. We talked about what was happening in my life, what had happened in my past, and what I wanted for my future. She gave me the confidence to face some issues, overcome some fears, and remember what true surrender to the Lord looks like. I moved out of that apartment. It was lonely and scary, but it was the right thing to do.

Since that phase of my life, I have tried to be the kind of friend and ministry partner who knows when others need to talk and is available to listen. And the trick to listening is that it’s like exercise. You have to do it to get better at it.

The Mission of Listening

Many times I find myself completing my 84 year old Mother’s sentences. Now she is more than capable of being able to speak the words and finish her sentences. But in my rush to move on in the conversation I complete her sentences or interrupt with the answer. It’s become a habit birthed out of my busyness. Justified? No! Rude? Yes! Additionally Scripture warns not to give an answer before one hears (Proverbs 18:13).

Mission opportunities occur everywhere. Around the globe and in my Mother’s home. What is God saying to my missions heart lately? Simply this: It’s time to develop the Ministry of Listening. The ministry of listening reflects patience, love, understanding, my relationship with Christ and the ability to truly hear. In this season of care giving I have the opportunity to share the love of Christ through listening.

No matter the age there is always a new mission which God is calling me to or making me aware of. You are never too old or too young to develop the Ministry of Listening. What about you?

Just Listen: 3 Ways to Connect Your Family to People Groups

We fell in love with South Asians. Maybe it was the warm milk tea, the curried food, the bells and loud music, or the welcoming smiles (OK, sometimes stares), but South Asians stole our hearts. Since moving to a rural area of Alabama, we wanted to look for ways our family could meet South Asians in our area. At first, we were told there weren’t many South Asians in this area. As we began to seek internationals in our area, we found that many families from South Asia reside in our town, and we wanted to get to know them.

A dinner, an English class, a Thanksgiving celebration—whatever could be used as a way to build relationships—we wanted to connect. We had a successful first get-together. Then for a couple months afterward, we tried to establish something else. And for months, this “something else” never quite worked out. The relationships were there just not the events.

What were we doing wrong? We weren’t listening—to God, to the people we were trying to reach, or to our family’s missional gifts.

The following are a few ways we’ve learned to connect to a people group through listening:

Thank you for Listening!

I am a Vietnam War veteran, U. S. Women’s Army Corps, stationed in Augsburg, Germany during my tenure. Over the years I have met veterans who were dealing with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, PTSD is not confined to those coming home from military service. It affects people from all walks of life who are dealing with traumatic situations. The good news is we’ve come a long way in being able to recognize this disorder and offer support. You and I may not be trained counselors, but we do have the same credentials—ears to listen.

Listen with your body language. Sometimes it is not about the talk, simply be willing to be there. Listen with your facial expressions. This means good eye contact, a smile, not sighing or rolling your eyes when the individual is sharing the same scenario or event repeatedly. Listen with your heart. Be patient, don’t push them to talk, be respectful and non-judgmental. Listen without expectations and remember you are not there to tell them what do or how to move on.

“Thank you for listening to my story,” may be the compliment which opens the door for you to share His story.

Send out the Missions Volunteers

Your missions team has prayed and is ready to go. Now it’s time to figure out how to get them there. The more folks involved in sending, the more will also be praying and feeling they are a vital part of the kingdom work God has planned for the team. Many hands also make for easier—and quicker—work.

Consider these ideas to spur your church on in its sending efforts:

Bake and Serve Silent Auction

As the WMU director, solicit donations from church members: plates of cookies, loaves of bread, or gift certificates for a pan of lasagna or a homemade meal. Consider asking for services to be donated as well: 2 hours of leaf raking, 3 hours of housework, or 4 hours of babysitting.

Carryout Dinner

Sell tickets for a barbecued chicken dinner. Ask members of adult missions organizations to gather at the church kitchen early in the day to prepare chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and rolls. Set up an assembly line to fill carryout boxes, and deliver to vehicles as folks drive by to pick up. Recruit students to direct traffic in the parking lot.

Missions Books for Bucks

The Blessing of Listening

When was the last time you really felt heard? When have you really felt like you heard someone else’s heart?

This month, we have been thinking a lot about how to grow relationships. One way that is harder than it sounds is by learning to listen.

The gift of listening is more than just keeping our mouths shut. To listen, really listen, we need to engage with our minds and hearts. We need to enter into someone else’s reality to the point that we can sense what God is doing in their lives. It is rarely what we think about on the surface. Something is always deeper. Our God’s love is deep and wide. It removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Truly only He knows the plans He has for us. Only He can walk us through the valleys. Our relationships with others recognize His work in their lives and we must listen well to even begin to see His ways. He often surprises us in the journey.

Listening: A Relationship Builder

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is an old quote and it holds the key to building deep and lasting relationships. One of the ways we genuinely show we care is by listening.

Offering Biblical hospitality in my home and office has generated spontaneous moments to listen and to show I care. Over a cup of hot tea served with scones or coffee served with muffins, what has started out as a generalized conversation turns into my guest sharing their most deepest needs. Once a person knows you can be trusted and that you truly care; pretenses crumble and the foundation is laid for an authentic relationship.

Everyone needs someone to simply listen. It isn’t that you hold the answers or can solve the problems, but there is something therapeutic about being able to voice our ‘whatever’ to someone who will accept us as we are with a listening ear and heart. Who in your life that needs Biblical hospitality and a listening ear is God placing on your heart?

 

If I Will, You Will

One minute I had my perfect post-college plans set, and the next I was convinced they would never come to fruition.

The plan (or so I had hoped) was to move overseas in 2015, a few months after graduation. I saw no need to look for a full-time job or move back in with my parents, because I was going to start my life as a cross-cultural worker when I wanted.

It quickly became apparent that my timeline and God’s timeline weren’t matching up, despite my best attempts to get my way. I went to my university pastor for advice, and he told me to pray and listen to what God was telling me about it.

I prayed and very clearly God told me, “If the Lord wills, you will do this, but wait.”

While that wasn’t the answer I wanted, I listened, and it paid off. I’m only a few months into my term, but I can see that if I hadn’t waited and listened, delaying my plans by a year, so much would be different.

Even as I try to stay focused on my work in South Asia, I find myself wondering about what’s next, and He continues to remind me, “If the Lord wills.”

Are You Listening?

My toddler, positioned on my left hip, was jabbering away. Suddenly he realized I wasn’t listening. With his two chubby hands, placing one on each side of my face, he turned my head so it was positioned directly in front of his face. Happy that he now had my full attention, he continued to speak to me as if I understood every word. That scenario happened almost 38 years ago and I still find myself having a problem listening with my full attention.

Listening is something which does not come naturally to us. In our selfishness we talk first and listen lastly. Listening is a skill, an art. It means consciously making the effort to listen with our mind and hearts, being intentional and disciplining ourselves to learn the skill. Listening involves all of you. It is eye to eye contact with full attention devoted to the person who is sharing.

Over the years God has placed women in my life who have listened in that way. Ears attuned to my joys, sorrows, problems, and giving me their undivided attention. They have listened, prayed and invested in my walk with Christ. Are you that kind of listening friend?

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