Children's Blog

Pastor/Church Staff Appreciation

 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:11–13 (NIV).

October is traditionally Pastor/Staff Appreciation Month. It’s not too late to honor your church’s pastor and staff. As you do, there are a few things to keep in mind. Never forget that serving as a pastor or church staff member is a remarkable and awesome blessing and privilege. But, sometimes, church staff members are the most misunderstood people in the church. Often their hours are long, their pay minimal, the criticism considerable and constant. Despite the joys of serving God, feelings of disappointment and discouragement can plague the best of them.

However, there are several ways that God can use you to become a blessing in their lives:

One Good Turn

Recently, I heard from a church planter in Louisiana and a Girls in Action® director from a larger church in Mississippi. Besides both being from the South, these individuals only have two things in common: they both love Jesus and value children’s missions discipleship.

Their understanding of the need of children’s missions discipleship is what brought these two together. Through a mutual friend, the churches were connected and the larger Mississippi church purchased a Children in Action subscription for the church plant in Louisiana for three years.

We’re talking approximately $200. Just a drop in the bucket to any large church. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

This gift—small to that Mississippi church—will allow the church plant to share the Great Commission and tell stories about missions work happening across the street and around the world with children who have never been part of a missions organization. Eventually, those children will participate in missions.

To the church plant in Louisiana, this is a big deal.

Why Missions Education is Still Relevant

A new church year is underway. It could be you’ve served in children’s missions education for years, or it could be that this is your first year. Either way, there may be times over the next year that you will wonder just how relevant missions education is in your church and for God’s kingdom. It could be that you’ll ask if missions education still has any importance.

Of course, you would expect WMU® to say that missions education is vital! After all, missions education is all that we are about! But, to answer the question about the relevance of missions education, you’ll need more than our word on it.

So, what is the relevance of missions education in 2015? Why should churches continue with missions education programs for children? Here are three reasons to consider.

A Christmas in August Story

This summer, I met a NAMB/state missionary while I was at a missions camp in South Carolina. After introductions, I asked about his ministry on the college campus where he and his family work. He shared with me his passion for reaching the nations through the international students on the college campus, but the conversation quickly changed when he realized I worked for WMU. He wanted to share his Christmas in August testimony.

He and his family were Christmas in August recipients several years ago. As NAMB missionaries, their ministry was chosen as one that could be supported by WMU members around the country through the Christmas in August initiative.

His face lit up as he told me about being overwhelmed with gifts and notes of encouragement. We laughed when he shared that they had trouble deciding where to store the gifts. They were sent so many gifts that they are still using some of the supplies! They are amazed when they receive a card or note in the mail from the churches that sent material support and are still sending encouragement through continued prayer—years after being chosen as a Christmas in August missionary.

Packaged with Love

In an earlier blog last spring, I described how my church does missions during the summer. We take a break from traditional children’s missions programming to better accommodate summer schedules. Now, that’s not to say we take a break from doing missions. Oh, no—not at all! This summer has been packed full of engaging, hands-on missions opportunities for children of all ages!

It’s been a fun summer for everyone, but now all area school systems are back in session. As school teachers have been getting ready to welcome students back to school, my church’s missions leaders have been busy, too, getting ready to welcome returning and new children back to missions!

This past Wednesday night we kicked off a new year in missions with a Christmas in August party. Each missions group was assigned a different Christmas in August missionary and asked to bring items from their list. Rooms were decorated with Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights. Christmas music played in the halls as children gathered in their missions meeting spaces.

Our Changing Times

In the 1960s, Bob Dylan sang a song titled, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

I would go out on a limb to say those words still ring true in 2015, wouldn’t you?

Our favorite soap is new and improved. Our year-old car has now been redesigned. Our six-month-old computer is considered outdated and in need of upgrading.

The times truly are changing. Things change, people change, churches change, and ministries change. I suppose change isn’t terrible—it’s just a reality of life.

However, just as real is the certainty that while all of life changes around us, God and His Word never change! The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

I am so thankful that I can depend on a Savior who is changeless! I am thankful that I don’t have to stand on a foundation that was built this morning or yesterday, but was formed before the foundation of the earth itself!

Meet Sheila Barksdale

Sheila Barksdale is serving her community of Sturgis, Mississippi, as the 2015–2016 Oktibbeha County Assistant WMU Consultant and the Oktibbeha County GA, RA, and CASM Consultant. She and her husband have five children and three grandchildren whom they love to see growing in Christ.

Growing up, Sheila and her friends participated in GA activities, which Sheila says they lived for. She went on to serve her church as Children’s Director, Vacation Bible School Director, and Sunday School teacher. After five years of service as an interim piano player at a friend’s church, Sheila says God called her back to her home church, Morgan Chapel Baptist, where the church’s GA leader asked her to join in leading. “God opened the door wide for the opportunity,” she says.

Sheila says she knows that girls in the GA age range are impressionable. Like sponges, they soak in everything. “This is the time to be training, teaching, and motivating them to a life of servanthood, a life of continual service to God’s plan for each of them.”

Christmas in August

What do you think of when you think about Christmas? Happiness, family, giving and receiving gifts all come to mind, and as Christians, we certainly consider Christmastime to be a time to remember and share the greatest gift ever given to mankind—God’s very Son. Christmas is a time to remember the way God sent his Son. It is so unlikely that a gift so precious would come in the manner depicted in our little nativity scenes—He dwelt among His creation with little notice for so long. But He continuously reached out, drawing in His neighbors and community members, showing them His love and healing.

You probably don’t think of the warm August weather or back-to-school blues when you think of Christmas, but what an immeasurable peace it is to know that God does not only offer this beautiful gift of life at Christmas and Easter! God offers His Gift of salvation through Jesus daily, and it is also daily that we have the opportunity and responsibility to share it. Our children’s missions groups and entire churches have a wonderful opportunity to assist in spreading the love of Jesus through Christmas in August.

Resetting

I read somewhere recently that after only one week of camping without electronics, your biological clock resets—causing you to sleep better.

Well, I’ve never been one to go camping. My idea of roughing it would be a hotel without cable TV.

However, I do see the value of unplugging from electronics and reconnecting with God, family, and myself.

I never cease to be amazed by how connected, dependent, and even obsessed people are with being online—especially being on social media. People really think that everyone cares about what they had to eat for lunch, so they must show us a picture of it. Some people think we care about the road conditions in some city we may never even visit. Some folks think that everyone really needs to know about their every move, any observations made, or about somebody that has made them angry.

Sorry, but we really don’t. Honestly. We don’t.

Meet Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell is a GA leader at the First Baptist Church in Marshall, Missouri. The wife and a mother of two says God has given her the gift and love of teaching the Bible. Naomi’s personality shines with a love of Jesus and a passion for spreading His love to her community.

Naomi decided to become a GA leader after attending a GA sleepover with her daughter. Through interacting with the girls at the event, she felt led to share her faith and invest in the girls’ lives. She signed up to become the leader of the first- and second grade GA group at her church.

Through GA, Naomi says God has shown her how the Great Commission is an important part of Christian life in which she can take part and see lives change in her own community. “It’s the basics of life, really—a childlike faith, strong enough to move mountains and transform entire households’ lives and wellbeing from the inside out.”

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