dawson family of faith


(repost for CPC friends)

i love the Gospel and i love geocaching. so when it came time to plan our family worship event for the spring, these two came together in what we now call pursuit. we had planned on doing some sort of Holy week or palm sunday stations with families at a worship at our church. then the thought hit me, “what if we planned these activities outside the church and allowed families time to discover and experience the Gospel together?” a quick email to three other kidmin leaders in my community made pursuit a reality. (pursuit could not have happened without the involvement of these other churches and the community we built may be my greatest treasure from this special time.)

in geocaching, the goal is to find treasures, whether micro or large boxes, using GPS coordinates and sometimes hints. geocaging has been one of my favorite outdoor, family-friendly activities for years so i thought what better treasure to find than the Gospel? plus, to do it as families just made this project sweeter. the great reward was seeing grandparents, aunts and family mentors also take part in pursuit with their families.

we recently began implementing using “the story” as the means for presenting and sharing the Gospel at our church, so “the story” was my jumping off point. i rewrote each of “the story” Gospel points to make them a little more family-friendly and interactive for this specific experience. each church had a bright orange box hidden on their campus that included these devotions, the supplies needed to complete them, and a Bible. these four devotions are attached below.

families signed up using the “band” app. this enabled up to post announcements, participants to post pictures, and we could attach the pdf that included the clues to each location as well as active links for videos and worship songs for families to listen to enroute to their next stop. this pdf is also included below.

families were encouraged to go in order. some did all four stops in one day while others chose to spread out the stops over their spring break week.

here is a quote from one of our families that participated in pursuit

“The Family Pursuit was truly a wonderful experience for our family!! We loved jumping in the car, listening to the music suggested and going on each adventure together. My husband and I loved seeing what knowledge our kids had, the questions they asked and how we as a family learned from each pursuit!  We went on a little family vacation at the end of the week and loved how we were able to use what we had learned in our pursuit chase on our trip.  We went on many nature walks and the kids spotted even more of God’s wonderful creations and would stop along the way and want us all to pray over where we were and to thank God for all HIS mighty handy work!!  We can not thank all that was involved enough for creating such a fun family pursuit chase and look forward to doing another one if the future!!”

while we chose to test this family activity over Holy week, it can really be done at anytime. the Gospel is always relevant and we wanted to make sure families searched, experienced, and discussed these truths together. the response was so positive and encouraging. so much so that we plan to do another pursuit this fall centering on praying for back to school.

PDF of clues and links provided on the band app for families
devotional guide

feel free to use in your setting, but if you add something amazing be sure to share with me so we can make our next pursuit even better!

kids are the church of today and if we give them a chance to actively participate in prayer we may just be blown away. this is a post from my archives about kids and prayer.

last night our church hosted a night of dedicated prayer to take place in over 40-50 homes all over the city of birmingham. while prayer is probably my weakest spiritual discipline, i was so looking forward to this night for several reasons. the first is that the night was all about prayer; not fellowship and food, which are two things baptist have seemed to master. secondly, these groups were a great mix of people from all ages and walks of life. lastly, the kids weren’t dropped off at a nursery or childcare, they were invited to the night of prayer. it was quite a night. let me just say, we had church!

as a ministry leader, i learned that we are setting the bar too low for kids and prayer. oh i get it and i understand the questions. several people asked me for confirmation that kids were really invited. i immediately exclaimed “yes, we are having church like in Jesus’ day. gather together and hear and seek him and not divide into age groups scattered all over buildings.” then there were those who doubted kids would be able to focus on prayer for a whole hour. to be honest, i wondered that myself. (i don’t sit still well, and let’s just say i may have wiggled more than the kids at my designated home.) and next was the question we all knew was coming (this time from a child, but we can imagine some adults were thinking it, too) “do we have to pray out loud?”

after a solid hour of praising God for who He is, thanking him for all He has done, silent confession, and intercession for others, i was reminded that i would take a house of praying kids over an adult house any day. here are just a couple of things i heard from the mouths of babes:

  • “God let the lost look to You and bow down to You.”
  • “may the adults in this room be as bold about sharing Jesus as kids are.” (that one stung a little, but i knew it to be true with the crowd of kids that surrounded me in prayer.)
  • “thank you for Jesus.” (amen.)
  • “thank you for butter.” (i mean really, i loved this and wondered when was the last time i thanked God for butter.)
  • “God help me have the courage to share my faith at school even when others make fun of me.”
  • “thank you for our sunday school teachers.”
  • “thank you for clean water.” (obviously they have been listening, as we partner with countries to bring clean water to those in need.)
  • “help me be kind to others even when they are not nice back.”
  • prayers for the homeless in need of shelter.
  • prayers for our new pastor (we are in the search process) and the search team.

i could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point — the kids got it. one of the sweetest things to hear was the kids continually thanking God for things throughout our prayer time. when we changed gears to confession or intercession, they weren’t bound to only these types of prayers. thanksgiving prayers were still being uttered aloud as people were silently confessing or audibly interceding for others. (“thank you for science. thank you for math.) they knew all things were from Him and came prepared to thank Him. these kids boldly approached the throne of grace and not one (from the smallest preschooler) complained about us praying for a solid hour. one child at another home said at the end of their time that “it just felt like 10 minutes.” again, they get it. doesn’t time spent with someone you love and you know loves you, just fly by?

so as a kidmin leader here are my takeaways.

  • prayer shouldn’t just be something we use as a transition pieces in our lesson/classes. prayer can be the lesson.
  • we underestimate and often undervalue kids when we limit prayer to a short amount of time because we think kids can’t handle long periods.
  • kids pray as Jesus taught, to the point without a lot of show for attention. so, how can we intentionally guide them in more prayer times?
  • kid’s get it. they can boldly and transparently lay their requests before a loving Savior. instead of taking so long for prayer requests, why don’t we simply teach them to pray?
  • kids are listening to what is being taught. let’s make time for intentional prayer after the lesson and allow kids to talk it over with the Father.

i am done with expecting less of kids because they are younger. really, in my experiences, we should expect more. so no more settling, i am setting the bar high for kids and prayer and i am going to sit back and watch the Lord work.

this picture was form another prayer house, but i love it. just look at how excited and attentive they are.

my fifth kidlife at dawson is in the books and appropriately, i have five favorite things i want to share from this year’s one way journey with Jesus. i am always in awe of how God does abundantly more than i could hope or imagine and allows a broken vessel like me to catch glimpses of His glory.

1 – Gospel team – while leading a child to Christ is what kidlife (vbs) is all about, i was finding myself rushed and running out of time to thoroughly counsel kids that marked they wanted to know more about Jesus. this reason and the ministry smarts of a former coworker and friend gave birth to the KidLife Gospel team. this team, made up of ministers and church staff, had two main jobs: 1 – greet and reach out to unchurched families and 2 – counsel kids that marked they wanted to talk further about a relationship with Jesus. here is what that looked like.

  • unchurched outreach – on the sunday prior to kidlife, the Gospel team coordinator would pull the names of all the children that marked “no church affiliation” on their registration form. these names, kidlife class assignments, and parent contact information was divided among staff that agreed to be on the Gospel team. on monday of kidlife, Gospel team members found and met kids sharing with them how excited our church was that they were attending kidlife and prayed for their week. the Gospel team members also gave the kids a sticker (example here) to wear home that said they had met with a staff member. then staff members went back into their office and emailed the parent explaining that they met their child at kidlife and they were available for any questions during the week or after. this gives another contact other than children’s ministry to help minister to and meet the needs of these special families we were honored to have on our campus. lastly, the Gospel team member would fill out info on a google doc (example here) so that after kidlife all important information was stored digitally in once place.
  • Gospel counseling – on wednesday our 3rd-5th graders heard a specific Gospel presentation in snack time and were given a chance to respond to a response card. (example here.) 1st-2nd graders heard the Gospel during the week and could ask to meet with a staff member, but didn’t get a response card. as soon as these cards were completed a youth assistant would rush these cards to the Gospel team leader. these cards were divided and assigned to different Gospel team members giving each staff member a smaller group of kids to talk to and more time to do so. after speaking with each child, the Gospel team member would complete a report on a provided google doc designed especially for Gospel follow-up. (example here) then, the parents of each child that was spoken to were sent a letter from me, along with a copy of their child’s response card and a Gospel God’s plan for me booklet. 


2 – high five guys & bling 

  • high five guys – i simply can’t say enough about these men. i get to work with many amazing volunteer teams in ministry, but these guys are simply my favorite. this is our fourth year for high five guys and i have blogged about them before (see here), but we increased our number to ten guys and with more men comes more possibility for effectiveness. i often joke with them that i could disappear during the week and no one would care, but if they were not in their spots for high-fives and ready to listen to memorized scripture and anchor points, well the kids would revolt for sure. there is just something so powerful about seasoned, godly men investing, celebrating, encouraging, and challenging kids as they seek to know Jesus and His Word. this year they also got to shoot off confetti cannons in the worship rally and drive remote control helium sharks and fish above kid’s heads. we have some more things in store for them next year and can’t wait to take their ministry to the next level.
  • bling, bling and more bling – it was our fourth season of bling (i have blogged about bling before here.) and with this tradition brought another year not only of kids memorizing anchor points, a memory verse, and a challenge passage, but also kids taking these tokens home to hopefully remind them of truths in the future. (click here to see this year’s bling designs) year after year i am convicted by the persistence kids show in not only memorizing the memory verse but the challenge passage. not only are kids hiding more of God’s Word in their hearts, they are challenging the older generation to continue to do the same.

3 – kids connection – one of my favorite ministries of dawson is the kids connection ministry. (learn more here.) thankfully a couple of years ago the Lord put it on a member’s heart to bridge the gap between the kids connection store and kidlife. now for the third year we brought kids in for kid life and watching them experience the truths of Jesus was nothing short of a God-sighting every day. once they are registered for kidlife through a kids connection counselor, their parents simply bring them to kids connection each morning. awaiting the kids is a team of compassionate, Jesus-loving volunteers to love on them. each child receives a kidlife drawstring backpack with their very own new Bible, a kidlife t-shirt, and a boxed breakfast. after kidlife each day the kids have a boxed lunch on the way back to kids connection to await their parent’s picking them up. this ministry is totally lead by selfless volunteers who passionately want to extend the reach of kidlife far beyond our neighborhood.  they are the true kidlife heroes.

4 – kidlife cruise news – i take zero credit for our second year of kidlife nightly videos. our amazing communications staff took it upon themselves last year to create news-style videos to recap the day’s events and truths through videos and interviews. this year they called it “kidlife cruise news” and they were posted on our church’s facebook page every night at 7 p.m. this was a great way to give parents a peek at all that was packed into the three hours of kidlife, but also to connect them with our church’s social media. to check out an example of one of the recap videos, click here.

5 – staff videos – i am so grateful to serve with a staff that completely goes all in for kidlife each year. we had so much fun last year (click here for a glimpse of last year.) with staff videos promoting the theme, leader recruitment, and kidlife signups, we thought we would do it again this year. since we were cruising for kidlife we thought it would be fun to use our staff in a gilligan’s island and love boat video. not only did we make videos, we made posters to promote the theme throughout the church building and social media. you can check out the videos here: gilligan’s island & the love boat.

not only do i love seeing kids come to Christ through kidlife, i love the realtionships built not only between adults and kids, but other adults as they serve in the trenches togther. i count it a privilege and a joy to be just a small part of all that God does through this week each summer.

what is your favorite part of your vbs week? i am always trying to learn and grow, so i would love to hear your favs from your vbs this summer. comment below and let’s share ideas.

sheetthis year at vine family worship we are working through our dawson kids blueprint model. each family worship night takes a deeper, hands-on, and family focused look at one of the points in our blueprint theme for the year. “the fall” was the topic of our second vine family worship, so we created a blackout family worship that would take a look at the seriousness of sin, but also how the light of Jesus Christ breaks though the darkness. (all families were encouraged to dress in all black.)

we always begin each family worship with an early arrival activity. we want to engage families as soon as they are seated at their tables. here is early arrival activity sheet that was placed on each table that night:
blackoutearly arrival



when it was time to begin, we led the families through the following Bible-centered, interactive experience.

• as a family read romans 5:12, “therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned”

• family activity – the person with the next closest 12186377_1177985725549264_471491982949503532_obirthday stood while the kids wrapped them in crepe paper and the adults wrapped them in cling wrap. this was so much fun to watch. some tables had kids getting wrapped and others had parents getting wrapped.

• family discussion question – “how is this cling wrap and crepe paper like sin?”

• we then read aloud john 8:34, “very truly i tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” then we had families discuss this question: “what does it mean to be a slave?”

• to further stress the point of how sin binds us, we played a game. each table was given an object to pass quickly around the table. the object was to be passed as quickly as possible around the table with everyone touching it. yes, even the person that was wrapped in “sin” had to try to participate. we then had families discuss this question “how does being a slave to sin affect those around you?”

• next the families read 1 john 1:8 “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” we asked “what if the person wrapped up at their table just pretended that it never happened and they were not wrapped in cling wrap and crepe paper?” “how is this like when we claim to have no sin?” we are only fooling ourselves.

• families then read 1 john 1:9 “ if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” finally the person who had been bound in sin for most of the night was unwrapped by those at their table. 🙂

• we ended this experience time by singing “nothing but the blood.” we challenged the families to really think about each word they sang and to savor the fact that only the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sin.

• next asked ask each family member to take off their labels of sin they were wearing (from the early arrival activity) and trade them for one of 10012763_1177987358882434_3748371340862754809_othe candles on their table. (each table had a candle for each person.) as they held their candles the Gospel of Jesus Christ was presented and we shared with children that Jesus breaks through the darkness and brings life. we no longer need to be slaves to sin and be trapped in darkness, we have a Savior and His name is Jesus. at the end of this time we had each person turn on their candle (we did battery candles) and we closed the night in several songs by candlelight. we sang “Christ is risen”, “i saw the light”, and at the end, with only voices and candles in the darkness, sang “this little light of mine.”

i say it often and will say it again… family worship is one of my favorite parts in ministry.

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