WMU 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.

Are We Spending Too Much?

Imagine this conversation between a pastor and a WMU director:

Pastor: “You know, I’ve been thinking about our missions education program. I’m concerned that we spend too much money on curriculum and missions products.”

WMU Director: “Pastor, I’m with you! We all want to protect God’s money that is given to the church. And, as the WMU director, I constantly watch how much we much spend and why we spend it. Our leadership team regularly evaluates our missions education budget and we try to squeeze as much out of it as possible.”

Pastor: “Have you considered dropping WMU materials and going with another missions education program? There must be a lot of them out there.”

God Hears the Prayers of Preschoolers

God hears me when I pray

“Tell all the Mission Friends to keep praying.” These were the words we heard from missionary, Tobey Pitman, after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I do not think it was by coincidence that Mission Friends® featured Tobey and Cathy Pitman as our missionaries that August. Preschoolers learned all month about New Orleans and the Pitmans’ ministries to the people of New Orleans. Immediately after the devastation of the hurricane, Mission Friends leaders from across the country contacted WMU with concerns about the Pitmans. Their preschoolers had heard about the flooding in New Orleans, and the preschoolers were asking about Mr. and Mrs. Pitman. The leaders told us their preschoolers were praying for the Pitmans. When we heard from Tobey Pitman and told him all the Mission Friends were asking about them, his response was to “tell all the Mission Friends to keep praying.” What a difference it made to these missionaries to know our preschoolers were praying. This is why I believe that God hears the prayers of our preschoolers.

Celebrating 20 Years of Christian Women's Job Corps

Flo speaking to CWJC partcipants

After hearing the diagnosis, she asked the doctor, “How long do I have to live?” The doctor said, “Two months, maybe three.” That was more than 50 months ago. Flo (pictured at right) intends to minister in Christ’s name through Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) until she draws her dying breath.

“Looking at women who came in broken and left whole, I knew this was where I was meant to be,” Flo said. “I thank God every day for the gift of love. I fell in love with them and knew this was where I could make a difference; I felt like this was my purpose.”

She added, “How awesome it is to enjoy what your purpose is—ministering and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”

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.

Let’s Learn About . . . The Christian Concept Areas

Let's Learn About . . .

The Christian concept areas are the building blocks of faith development for preschoolers. Each weekly session includes one learning outcome based on the work of the missionaries and one learning outcome based on the concept area being featured that month. How are you incorporating the Christian concept areas into your Mission Friends® sessions?

The book Let’s Learn About . . . by Angie Quantrell is an excellent resource for helping your preschoolers learn about how specific facets of Christianity apply to their lives. In this book, Molly and Mikey explore the concept areas with their teacher, Miss Goodwin. Here are a few suggestions for using Let’s Learn About . . . during your Mission Friends sessions:

  • Each month, during your first session read about the month’s Christian concept area as an introduction before your begin your group time story.

  • Bookmark the section about the featured Christian concept area and place the book in your Books area. As preschoolers find the book and the bookmark, picture-read that section.

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?

CA: On the Grow!

I recently traveled to Seattle, Washington, for the Northwest Baptist Convention’s CM52 conferences. I led a series of conferences about kids’ missions discipleship and spent time hearing about children’s ministry work in the Pacific Northwest. While I loved every bit of my time there, a certain pastor will stick out in my mind for quite some time.

I never thought to ask him why a pastor was at a children’s ministry conference. I suppose that he was there to support his children’s workers who came to the conference. But when he found out that I work for national WMU and was there to talk about Children in Action, he and I became fast friends.

I heard stories about what the CA leader at his church is doing each week with children. And I got to meet her in person. The pastor’s excitement for missions discipleship was more than obvious—it was contagious! The CA leader was eager to share her work with me, and I was excited to walk away with a few new ideas.

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:

Girls' Friendship Party

Celebrate your girl friends by hosting a party or sleepover. Have girls take the lead in planning the evening—they will plan the food, games, and activities.

Here a few ideas:

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