WMU Blog

Annual Planning and a Movie

When you think of a WMU annual planning retreat, I surmise you do not think one of the activities would be to sit and watch a Disney/Pixar movie, right? When was the last time you watched a children’s movie and gathered leadership lessons from it?

Several years ago, my team and I had the most fun doing just that at our annual planning retreat. After an afternoon of discussion and thoughtful planning, the highlight was watching Toy Story 3.

We got our popcorn, turned down the lights, and started to watch the hilarious antics of Woody and the gang. We laughed so hard that night!

The movie’s premise is this: Andy (Woody and the other toys’ owner) is leaving for college. While cleaning his room, he places his favorite toys in a box to be stored, but through a series of mishaps, the toys end up at a children’s day care. The toys’ mission/vision was to get back to Andy.

We learned the following lessons:

When the Church Gets It Right

Wheels of the World

Have you ever felt burdened by the woes of the church? I know I have. It seems like every morning there’s some new scandal or financial indiscretion plastered all over the daily news. Sometimes the weight of it all gets a little hard to handle. That’s why stories of encouragement, like the one I’m about to share with you, are so important to tell!

Single Moms and the Gospel

We were pushing our strollers through our neighborhood that beautiful, sunny day. We had an immediate friendship since our babies were just a few months apart and we were both home during the day. We found ourselves escaping from our houses around the same time in the afternoon with two fussy, sleepy babies as two moms who could use a walk and adult conversation.

This day was like any other, except we began to talk about spirituality. Then the subject of church came up.

She said, “They told me I was wrong to raise my baby alone. They said I needed to have a husband if I wanted to be a good mom. They didn’t know his dad was the one who left us. But their words still hurt. You and your husband seem so different when you talk about God. You say how God loves me and my son; and He isn’t mad at me. I’ve never heard that before. You talk like He’s real.”

I cannot even remember what I said in return. All I could remember was that she needed to hear that Christ loves her and her son, He sees her, and they are welcome in the body of Christ as they are.

Pen Pal Badge

Electronic forms of communication such as email, text messaging, FaceTime, and Skype have greatly diminished traditional means of communication. Letters are becoming rare. However, for the person receiving such a treasure, the response is still the same—joy!

Providing the opportunity for Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, and Children in Action to earn a Pen Pal badge is a valuable learning experience that also has many blessings and benefits for both the receivers and senders of letters. Writing letters helps children develop writing skills, learn how to express kindness and compassion with words, and share with another person interesting information about themselves, which can boost confidence and self-esteem. Letters from a pen pal help a child learn about the life of another person, understand how they are similar and different, and appreciate how another person lives in another part of the state or around the world.

Here are three ideas for planning a pen pal project:

Write to senior adults within your church or community.

Next Steps in Teaching Mission Friends

Planning to train

Professional teachers are required to take career development courses in order to keep current with trends in education and to glean fresh new ideas. Professional development helps us bring best practices into our classrooms. For teachers in the church, professional development is not required, but it certainly benefits our children and our ministry to gain as much training as possible.

Because most of us who work in preschool or children’s ministry also have many responsibilities with our families and homes and careers, our discretionary time is limited. Scheduling additional time for weekend or evening conferences can be difficult. We know that your time is precious, so we offer a number of resources that will help you keep up-to-date with trends in teaching at church, as well as the tried-and-true methods of working with preschoolers.

Here are a few ways you can learn more about teaching preschoolers—without ever leaving your home!

The Value of SBC's Cooperative Program

As Southern Baptists, we have one thing that unites us. At our core is the passion to take the gospel of Christ to those who have never heard. We work together toward that common goal. As a child and young adult, my heart was sealed for missions. I am a product of the Cooperative Program (CP).

The CP is Southern Baptists’ unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries.

Nearly 40 years ago, my tiny Southern Baptist church participated in a World Missions Conference (later called On Mission Celebrations). That was my first opportunity to be up close and personal with missionaries. More than 70 percent of your national CP dollars are at work in the United States and around the world supporting missionaries.

Howdy, Neighbor!

Thermometer shows warmer temperatures. How’s the thermostat on your hospitality? Would your neighbors say you are prone to hibernate or do they see you now and then? To share Christ with others, we have to get out there! How can we form relationships with our neighbors to better witness to them? Here are a few ideas:

*Emerge from the den. Do a little something in the yard. Take more walks. Lollygag, doddle, and take your time. Smile, wave, strike up a conversation asking questions with more than one-word answers. Ask how someone is doing and wait for the response. Be purposeful about interacting, not just accomplishing your task.

*Offer help. Using the information you’ve learned from conversation, make a plan to take action. Rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor, run errands for someone recuperating from illness, welcome a newcomer with a treat. . . are all good ideas to share love in tangible ways.

The Association: More than Marketing

We support lots of organizations throughout our lifetime: parent/teacher groups at our children’s schools, local and national charities that touch our lives, neighborhood supper clubs, professional organizations related to our employment. All these groups are excellent and meet a relevant need, but what about your local Baptist association? When was the last time you celebrated what God was doing in and through your association’s churches?

People are starved for meaningful community, and they want more than just being a target of marketing and consumerism. Associational missions can be the connector for people to experience a holy more as you partner with others of like mind. Heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul encounters through associational missions are a beautiful thing that changes you and your community.

Many church members have forgotten or never learned how Baptists partner through the association. An Associational Missions Emphasis event is a fun way to educate them. The payback is huge. God is glorified and people are loved and helped in the name of Christ.

Plan

My Favorite Thing

Imagine you’ve been friends with someone for several years. You know each other’s birthday, favorite color, and how you like your drinks at Starbucks.

Imagine your friend doesn’t know Jesus, and one day, after telling her all your other favorite and not-so-favorite things, you bring Jesus into the conversation. You invite her to church or tell her something you learned in your Bible study that morning.

And then your friend looks at you and says, “You follow Jesus? I didn’t know after all these years that you followed Jesus!”

This is not the response we as believers should hear from those who know us best or from those we want to share Jesus with. As we go out into the world and share with our friends, co-workers, and families that we like our coffee with no cream or that our favorite color is blue, we must also tell them that our favorite thing above all things is Jesus.

Disaster Relief

Helping others in a time of crisis is perhaps one of the most basic aspects of our faith in Christ. When we hear of someone in need, something deep within us stirs and urges us forward to see how we can help. Children understand when someone is hurting. In fact, they often grasp this much better than we do. Through all of our layers of reasoning, distraction, and comfort, we’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the pain of others. But children have a special way of taking on the pain of those around them, and they feel it deeply. They want to help any way they can. That is why it’s so important to teach our children about disaster relief.

There are many ways of doing this, but here are just a few ideas you can use to introduce your children to disaster relief:

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