Mommy Fails

When I was eleven years old, I told my mother, to her face, all of the parenting mistakes she was making. This came about after the egregious injustice of my youngest sibling not getting disciplined for breaking something and my older sibling refusing to play with me. My mother just smiled and told me she was sure, when I was older, I would parent perfectly. In my passive aggressive, brooding mind, I thought, “Challenge accepted!”

Flash forward a decade and a half. I am on the phone almost in tears telling my mother that my two year old is covered in flour because he dumped an entire bag on the floor, and my one year old took his diaper off during a nap, and now there is a fecal Picasso on my nursery walls. My mother is laughing on the other end of the phone, and I finally realize parenting is not for the faint of heart.

It was always easy for me to look at other parents and point out everything I thought they were doing incorrectly. Then, I ended up with kids who bite, scream, hit, run away, watch tv, throw food. Where were the kids who were supposed to say, “Yes, Mommy. Whatever you say.” As it turns out, I fail at parenting—a lot. My expectations for kids who obey in public, houses that are perfectly clean, healthy home cooked meals, and an always peaceful home went right out the window. Sometimes the only way to not feel completely discouraged was to talk to other moms who, amazingly enough, did not have it all together either. Here are some of my favorite mommy fail stories from mothers I admire.

Poopy Days

“My daughter was struggling with being potty trained around 4 yrs old, so her pediatrician told us to use a half-cup of MiraLAX in her cup. I wasn’t feeling well and prepped her cups late one evening. She was old enough to get her own cups out of the fridge. The next day, she couldn’t stop going and said “Mommy, this poop just keeps coming. I can’t do anything.” I quickly checked the fridge and realized she had drank ALL 6 cups which each had the DAILY amount. Needless to say, we had a couple poopy days.” -Dawn

Fashion Faux Pas

“When my daughter was little, she got something sticky stuck in her hair. She was hiding under her bed and wouldn’t come out. I asked her what happened, and she explained how “it” got stuck and how she tried to get it out, and it kept getting “badder.” Out crawls a little, long haired blonde who looked scared, and when she turned to face me, she had no hair on the left side above her ear. I laughed, and she cried. Oops!

Fast forward to this morning, and my teenage daughter came into the kitchen wearing black and white converse tennies, and the black and white dress she wore to her brothers wedding. I laughed and asked, “Are you wearing that to school?”  My bad again. Then I had to ask forgiveness and remind her I am not fashion oriented! Still learning, I need to hold my tongue and laughter.” -Karen

4th Child

“I wasn’t worried when I had my son. He is my 4th. I’ve got this. Easy. We talk, he talks, it’s all good. One day, when he was  4 years old, I say to the little guy across the counter from me, “What would you like for lunch?” His answer: “I want the round bread with white butter with waves.” Looks like I  forgot to give this one his words. I handed him a bagel with cream cheese and told him what it was.” -Jenny

School Pictures Gone Wrong

“I went to work early one morning and didn’t give any clothing directions because it never really mattered. I found out later that day that it was picture day at preschool, and I got the proofs back with my son being the only one in a t-shirt and unfixed hair. It’s comical now, but at the time, I felt like it was a huge fail!” – Lindsey

In our failures, God’s grace shines brightly. We are imperfect moms raising imperfect kids. When you are surrounded by the “Perfect Moms of Instagram” #KaleAndYoga, it can be really discouraging to look in the mirror and see “No Shower Mom of Paw Patrol” #NuggetsAndYogaPants. I am so grateful to live in a community of people that encourage and challenge me as I parent my kids without comparing or criticizing. As moms, we need as much support as we can get.

This summer, there is an opportunity to help some of the moms at Mercy Hill. Kids Week is June 20th-24th this year, but many of our working moms will be unable to drop their kids off or pick them up due to their schedules. If you have some working moms in your community group or in your neighborhood, consider helping them out by offering to take their kids to Kids Week. It’s an amazing opportunity for kids to hear the gospel, and we would hate for any of them to miss out. We don’t want to fail at this.

-Lauren Whitley (Kids Ministry Associate)

What’s Wrong With my Kids?

It’s 8:30pm on a Wednesday. I’ve been working hard all day and can’t wait for a moment of solitude. So, after his bath time, I let my toddler know it’s time to go upstairs for bedtime. Now, just to clarify, bedtime at our house is simply reading a Bible story, praying, and going to sleep. It’s definitely not torture! However, at hearing the word “bedtime,” my son immediately drops to the floor as if he just found out that the world has run out of M&Ms. He screams and wails, crying and shaking his fists, and all I can think of is how much I wish it could be my bedtime.

I’m sure we’ve all endured moments like these. Moments when, if we are honest, we wonder, “What is wrong with my kid?” Surely other people’s kids don’t act like this. Surely they have figured out a way for their kids to deal with things rationally and maturely. Surely not. The more I talk to parents, the more I see that this is a universal problem. From a toddler crying about bedtime to a teenager refusing to make curfew, there is something inherent that causes kids to think they know best. That something is simply called sin.

Little Sinners

So how do we deal with this sin problem in our kids? While there are a lot of different books, methods, and ideas on parenting, I believe Scripture is the best place to start. Deuteronomy 6:7 is clear about the priority of the Bible in the home. As Moses writes, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” What’s interesting about this verse is that it points out not just one time in which we are to teach our children the Bible, but a continuous process of doing so. In regards to this, Paul Tripp writes, “You must be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event”[1]. Parenting is not a single moment, but it is a process of pointing your kids towards the redemptive work of Christ in hope that they will place faith and grow in Him.

So what does this have to do with how I handle a toddler crying hysterically or a teenager showing disrespect? Everything. It teaches us that it is not about one moment in which we define the trajectory of our parenting. It is about the many moments like these that come every single week. The truth is that little moments add up to a big impact. When we view these moments as a small piece of the greater whole, we can avoid the tendency to get frustrated about the moment not going the way we would like and instead, see each moment as a connected step in raising our kids to follow Christ.

Actually, there is something wrong with your kids, and it’s the same thing that’s wrong with us. That is why we are called to continually point our kids to the truth of Scripture and use Scripture as a lens for which we make every parenting decision. This is not to say that our parenting will be perfect or that your kids won’t struggle with sin. While we can’t keep our kids from sinning, we can change the way we deal with it. So next time you think there’s something wrong with your kid, know that you’re right and think about how you can help them see their sin and see Christ who paid for it.

For more resources on parenting, including our weekly Kids Guide, check out our Family Resource Center here. We are also excited to be offering an Equip Seminar focused on Marriage and Family, which you can register for here.

– Brant Gordon (1 year Ministry Resident)

[1] Tripp, Paul Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

Don’t Tell a Lame Story

In his book, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, Reggie Joiner recounts the story of a father who was experiencing the difficulty of raising a rebellious 16-year-old girl. Exasperated in his attempts to try and correct the misaligned behavior, the father went to his pastor to seek out some advice. The father recounted his many attempts at disciplining his daughter and furthermore, reiterated his commitment to making sure she went to church each week.

Almost without hesitation, the pastor responded. He said to the weary father:

“I think what your daughter is doing is choosing a better story. . . We’re all designed to live inside a story. Your daughter was designed to play a role in a story. In the story she has chosen, there is risk, adventure, and pleasure. She is wanted and she is desired. In your story, she’s yelled at, she feels guilty, and she feels unwanted. She’s just choosing a story that is better than the one you’re providing. Plus, in the midst of placing her in an awful story, you make her go to church. So, you’re associating a bad, boring story with God, who has a great story. Don’t do that anymore. You have to tell a better story.”[1]

Parents, are you telling a better story to your kids than the many stories the world is selling? The reality is there is no better story than the one God tells about His infinite and unending love towards us. In Psalm 78 the Psalmist exhorts, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (vs. 2-4).

The gospel and all of its implications create the most compelling story you can communicate to your child. So are you telling that story? How are you telling that story? What things have you set up in the rhythms of your life, in the habits of your family routine to see this story played out?

As you may know, we are in the midst of Serve Week. Serve Week at Mercy Hill is a strategic time to put the story of God’s love on display. Serving others puts you and your family at the center of God’s story as you fulfill His mission together. It gives your kids a chance to roll up their sleeves, get messy, lift something heavy, do something for someone in need, feel purpose, and build new relationships. There are several opportunities for your family to serve together over the next six months: we have another serve week on May 14-20 and a Serve Saturday on July 29. So, start planning to get your family involved today! Check out this link for some info on the areas in which we are involved: http://mercyhillgso.com/localmissions/

-Jeremy Dager (Age-based Ministry Pastor)

[1] http://orangeblogs.org/orangeleaders/2015/11/09/the-power-of-a-bigger-story/

Five Points About Leaving a Legacy

Sometimes you can’t help but just laugh. The other day, on my way to take my daughter to school, we stopped at a red light next to a gentleman who had clearly just missed his turn. He was a bit frantic and trying desperately to figure out how to correct his mistake. He immediately put the car in reverse and attempted to back up to reposition his car. There was one thing, however, he failed to do: look back. As my daughter and I sat in the car yelling in vain, this fine man backed straight into the car behind him. No one was hurt and to be honest both cars didn’t really seem to be damaged at all, but it did give the two of us a little chuckle to start the day.

As we drove off I thought, how hard would it have been to simply look behind you? Why did he not just look back? Looking back is a big deal, obviously when you’re driving, but it matters too for life in general. This is what a legacy is all about. When we look back at our life what will we see? Two weeks ago, we explored the legacy of a biblical character named Gideon in the book of Judges. We saw glimpses of hope followed by mountains of disappointment. It sparked in me the thought of my own legacy: What wake am I leaving in the water for my children to see? What affect will my life now have on my grandchildren then? How will my intentionality in life today affect the people that I work with and that God has entrusted under my care tomorrow?

Here are a few, hopefully, practical ways to think about the legacy that we want to leave. Write them down, pray over them, and talk them over with a spouse or a friend.

1. Your legacy includes successes and failures.

I love the brutal honesty and genuineness of the Apostle Paul who said that he himself was the worst of all sinners (1 Tim 1:15). Paul’s life was filled with many commendable things that were worth following (1 Cor 11:1). And yet he was OK allowing his failures to be on display as well. It is a good thing to allow our successes, which point to God’s grace in our lives, to be on display. And yet our failures too can provide an invaluable lesson and add to our legacy.

2. Your legacy is never too late to start.

If you still have life left in you, you still have a legacy left to leave. The Bible says that God’s love never fails and his mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). Whether your children are older or you now have grandchildren, God’s love and mercy is at work in you as a follower of Jesus. Seize the opportunities you have to ask for forgiveness or seek reconciliation. May your legacy be that God’s grace is never done working.

3. Your legacy is never too early to start.

On the flip-side there are those too busy with all of life’s pleasures and pursuits to even give thought to our legacy. Unfortunately, our legacy begins far before we ever give thought about a legacy. Paul commends his disciple Timothy not to let others look down on him because of his youth (1 Tim 4:12). Paul understands that even at an early age we have much to give because God has given us much. If you’re in high school or college, you are already building your legacy. If you have yet to get married or have kids you are right now building the foundation of your legacy.

4. Your legacy is not about you.

Often where we get tripped up is making our legacy about us. Movies are made, books are written, documentaries are created to commemorate the legacy of people. But the legacy of a Christian is really not about that Christian at all, it’s about the God who has worked to sustain that person for the entirety of his/her life. Like C.S. Lewis said, we are the rays and God is the sun. Our legacy should merely point others in the right direction, heavenward.

5. Your legacy has eternal consequences.

The story of Gideon really ends in tragedy. The Bible says in Judges 8:34 that after Gideon died, “[The Israelites] forgot the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them.” We tend to be a bit nearsighted in life, forgetting that we live on the blip of the line of eternity. Our legacy will have eternal consequences. We will either be pointing others towards eternity with God or eternity without him. Make it count.

Parents, one immediate application is to join us on February 10th for our family worship night. There will be snacks, games, lots of music, and of course we’ll laugh a lot. You can also visit our family resource center every week for updated resources to lead your family in a devotional time.

-Jeremy Dager (Age-based Ministries Pastor)

Teaching Your Kids Generosity

Last week I came home from a white elephant Christmas party with one of those obnoxious, ball-popping push toys. My sons had one already, but I figured a second one would cut back on their sharing squabbles. I showed the popper to my two-year-old and said, “Look. Now you and your brother have two.” He looked at them, and then back at me, and said, “Me want three poppers.”

I could not believe it! After I could have chosen the oven mitts, candy, or board games, I decided to bring him home a gift, and he had the audacity to ask for more. This encounter just solidified my belief that gratefulness and, by extension, generosity, must be taught. My boys still have the “gimme that or I’ll bite you” mentality. With the Christmas season upon us, now is the perfect time to start encouraging a more loving posture.

Here are four things you can join me in doing with your families this Christmas to help the next generation learn generosity: 

1. Pray

Generosity stems from gratefulness. Encourage your kids to praise God with thankful hearts through prayer. In addition, this Sunday, our Mercy Hill Kids lobby will have a tree covered in white ornaments. Each one has an unreached people group that your family can be praying for. Please feel free to take one. Through Generous December, we hope to have the resources to help spread the gospel here in Greensboro and abroad. Let your kids enter into that prayer time throughout the week so they sense the importance.

2. Pack Up

Have your kids collect toys and clothes they do not need anymore to donate to World Relief, Goodwill, or the Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. Try to encourage them to give up something they care about as well. It can be a good chance for them to feel the burden of sacrifice. Make sure you model this by giving up something yourself too!

3. Pennies

Let your family search under couch cushions and in the car for extra coins. Mercy Hill Kids has encouraged the kids to bring coins so they can take part in Generous December this year! They will have an opportunity to worship God through giving in a friendly penny war this Sunday.

4. Prepare

Sit your family down and explain why you are giving to Generous December. Because kids are very literal, try getting ten, one dollar bills and model the percentage that you are giving this year. Explain that you give generously because, through Christ, you have been treated generously. 

I hope this season will challenge us as we see God move in incredible ways! This is a great opportunity for the next generation to see that the gospel really does change everything. 

-Lauren Whitley (Kids Ministry Associate)

Let Your Kids Take You To Church

The scene is well rehearsed: it’s twenty minutes before church starts. Your oldest child is still looking for his shoes. Your youngest is continuing to complain about the outfit you picked out for her. Breakfast is now a pipe dream, and as usual, your cell phone is missing. Somehow you do it—everyone is quasi-presentable, out the door, and off to church.

Getting kids to church is a task of monumental proportions. But what if instead of you taking your kids to church, your kids got to take you to church for a night? That’s exactly what Family Worship Night is all about. It’s an opportunity for you as a family to come together in a fun and relaxed environment and worship together.   What is Family Worship Night exactly you ask? Here are a few things that hopefully will convince you not to miss it on Friday, November 11th.

It’s an exciting night for the kids

One thing that we’re committed to as a Kid’s Ministry is to help kids realize that loving Jesus and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Church can (and should) be fun! Family worship night typifies this ideal. There will be pizza, lots of singing, some jumping around, and of course a few epic games. It might be one of the most exciting things you do all month as a family.

Equipping for the parents

Having fun is great, but we also want to make sure that you as a family are equipped to worship together frequently in your home. The Bible is clear that parents are the primary disciple makers in the home (Duet 6, Ps.78), and we want to help you at every level to see this enacted in your home. Family worship night is structured in such a way to give you a portrait of what you can do on a consistent basis through the teaching of God’s Word, the singing of Gospel truth, and the integration of activities that make it all stick.

Formative for the whole family

Sometimes we just need a little motivation. Most families that I talk with genuinely desire to worship together in their home, but life can make that tricky at times. Family Worship Night is designed not only to give you a visual of what worship elements you can incorporate, but it’s meant to give you a push in the direction of implementation. Our prayer for you as a family is that you leave with some fun memories, but moreover, you leave with a renewed sense of worshiping together daily.

Just imagine what it would look like if, by worshiping together, we saw generation after generation of kids raised up to believe that the most exciting life they could live is a life lived for Jesus. That dream is made a reality as families worship together and grow together. We are excited to see you and your family worship with us for Family Worship Night on Friday, November 11th.

Here are a few important details to make sure you’re ready for this exciting night:

The night will begin at 6:30 with pizza for just $1 a slice (cash only). We’re also asking families to bring a box of Goldfish or Clorox wipes for our Kids Ministry. Lastly, you must register here so that we can make sure we have room for your family.

-Jeremy Dager (Age-based Ministries Pastor)

Why I Let My Toddler Pray for Lawnmowers

Last week my two-year-old son climbed into his blue Thomas the Train bed and signaled for me to join him by patting his pillow. Before he goes to bed every night, we pray. I started the holy moment that night the way I do every night by saying, “Thank you God for…” and my son finished the thought with, “Mama”. 

“Yes!” I thought. He almost always says Papa or Nana first so I was feeling pretty good that night. We repeated the pattern until he had named all of his family members ending with his little brother who was notably far down the list. Right before I was about to say “amen,” my son went off script and said, “Thank you, lawnmower.” 

I looked at him quizzically and he looked straight back, deep into my eyes, and said, “Jesus, lawnmower for Charlie please.” My son had definitely just asked Jesus for a lawnmower. Earlier that evening he had played with a friend’s toy lawnmower. He could push it, it made noise, if he had the right angle he could knock his little brother over with it. It was basically the best toy he had ever seen. 

I said amen and goodnight to my son and left rolling my eyes. Growing up in a home of all sisters and no brothers, I understand little girls and their love for mermaids, tutus, and fairy wings. I’m still teaching myself to appreciate my sons’ passion for lawnmowers, dump trucks, and anything that sounds like a fart. 

Although this little prayer of his made me laugh throughout the week, I also came to realize that this prayer was a victory in his spiritual journey. I needed to praise God for this growth.

At Their Age, Praying for Lawnmowers is a Big Deal

Although he is only two, I have been praying with him at night for months. When we first started he only listened and could barely say juice, let alone Jesus. Over time, he slowly started to take part as he learned more words and as prayer became routine. That night, however, was the first time he prayed for something without prompting. Not only was he thanking God for something he loved, but he wanted to make a request as well. He asks me for things he needs and wants—which in toddler translation means he falls on the floor and gives a Meryl Streep worthy performance of despair when he doesn’t get it. But, this was different. Our prayer time is an intimate moment where he has just recently gained the confidence to repeat after me. His willingness to engage, more than just repeat what I say, is a major win. 

I recently picked up, “Big Truths for Young Hearts” by Bruce Ware. Each chapter in the book focuses on a theological concept while supplying a study, discussion questions, and suggestions for scripture to memorize with your kids. When asked why he decided to write a theological guide for parents and kids, Ware responded:

The beginnings of this book go back nearly twenty years, to when I was teaching theology at Western Seminary, Portland Oregon. One night it occurred to me that since [my daughters] loved being with us the last part of the day and weren’t quite ready for sleep yet, I might consider co-opting the time and using it do what I loved most and what they needed most (though they wouldn’t have known this yet)- teach them the glorious truths of the Christian faith. . . . Of course, I didn’t explain to them that I was basically teaching them the same theology sequence I taught at seminary, but that is exactly what I did.

Ware started his two-year-old and six-year-old with divine revelation, the living and written Word, and took them all the way through eschatology and heaven. Though Ware admits that not every bedtime discussion was understood perfectly every time, his daughters describe their appreciation for his investment in their spiritual development and how greatly it impacted their love for the scriptures. Their “bedside theology” was paramount to their faith.

In Matters of Faith, We Crawl Before We Walk

We know that discipleship for kids starts in the home. It is our responsibility as commissioned parents of future believers to guide our kids to understand the good news of redemption. For a toddler, we celebrate when they can recognize the Bible or Jesus in a picture. Then in preschool we can praise God when our kids see Jesus as a friend and memorize Biblical stories. This all leads towards elementary where we see our kids recognize their need for a savior and grieve over their sin. Over time these theological concepts build on one another until the Gospel captures their souls. It is never too early to lead our kids to the Word.

Our special prayer time is the first step in his journey. He didn’t pray for the lawnmower tonight, and his little brother was promoted to third place so we took a couple steps in the right direction. He may have ended with “Go pack go, amen,” but I’ll still take it.

-Lauren Whitley (Kids Ministry Associate)

Does Your Family Speak the Same Language?

Getting everyone on the same page is hard. I mean really hard. If you work in the corporate world you know how difficult it can be to have different departments with different tasks and different goals all moving in the same direction. Sports teams struggle to get players from different positions and with different skill sets working together. In the church world there are different ministries reaching different people with different needs.

You name the arena but the concept is the same: speaking the same language can be a monumental task. And this is no exception when it comes to the confines of family life. There are jobs to be worked, practices to be attended, homework to be completed, and mouths that need feeding. Everyone is running in a dozen different directions and finding quality time together (to talk, to read the Bible, and to pray) can seem almost impossible.

With all of life’s demands the family can be pulled in many different directions. This is not simply a scheduling problem but a spiritual problem as well. Parents are engaged in small group, older kids go to youth group, and the little ones have Kids Ministry on Sunday. These are all good things, but they can often leave a family feeling spiritually misaligned. Getting on the same page can be really hard.

What if, as a family, you had one big idea that every member in your household was learning? What if, instead of a bunch of little ideas there was one major concept that collectively you were working on together? What if everyone could speak the same language spiritually?

Mercy Hill Alignment

Family alignment is our goal every single week across all of our age-based ministries at Mercy Hill. It’s our goal as a church to get you as a family on the same page. And here’s how we’re doing that:

Each week, on Sunday, we deal with a specific passage of Scripture and dive deep into biblical truth. During the week our community groups will then dive deeper into that specific topic. But it doesn’t stop there. Every Wednesday night our student ministry will take that same topic (and same biblical text) and unpack it in a relevant and contextual way for students. These students will work together in small groups to also dive deeper just like mom or dad is doing in community group.

Furthermore, at the start of every week, our Kids Ministry team puts together a fun and engaging kids guide that parallels the same material. The Kids Guide is a simple tool to help parents talk to their kids about the same biblical truths they are learning. It contains suggested family activities, discussion questions with answers, and prayer points to be used in a variety of family settings (i.e. the dinner table, before bed, or in the car).

The goal is for every family to be able to speak the same language in regards to how God is at work in the lives of each member. In sum, everyone is on the same page. If you have not yet taken advantage of our Kids Guide, I would highly encourage yo\u to visit our new Family Resource Center here. There you can download or print a copy of our weekly Kids Guide. And if you are not yet in a Community Group, I would strongly urge you to sign up for our next Grouplink here.

Aligning everyone’s schedule might be tricky, but aligning everyone around the Word of God doesn’t have to be.

-Jeremy Dager (Age-based Ministries Pastor)

Child Sponsorship

Whether through a conference, concert, or TV, most of us have heard of child sponsorship and know how it works. Over the years, sponsorship has proven to be an effective way to improve the quality of life for children around the world. It provides a tangible way for families and individuals to serve others internationally in a way that also allows for ongoing relationship building through letters and pictures. For all of these reasons, child sponsorship is a win for everyone involved.

But what if we can take the idea one step further? What if your sponsorship played a part in a larger plan that you would also have a choice to take part in? What if the child you are sponsoring could be directly linked to Mercy Hill every year? What if?…

This coming Sunday, Mercy Hill will do just that. Through our partnership with VisionTrust International, Mercy Hill is strategically serving orphaned and/or impoverished children who live in the squatter slum of Herrera, Dominican Republic and attend the Tia Tatiana School (run by VisionTrust). Each of the boys and girls on the sponsor cards are provided with quality education, nutritious food, medical care, and spiritual discipleship on an ongoing basis through their attendance at the school. Life for these children is very difficult. The average family in Herrera lives on $2 a day, and the ministry provided to the kids (and their families) not only meets the immediate needs of hunger and medical care, but also serves to break the cycle of poverty in their community through education.

Mercy Hill is committed to coming alongside the men and women that serve at the school by sending 2 or 3 teams each year. Recently, Luke and Leslie Phillips served at the school and here is an excerpt of their reflection:

“My biggest prayer was for God to really show me why I was there. I knew that I would not make a difference in one week mopping, painting, and playing with kids. I was aware that my personal presence was highly replaceable. So why was I there? God so clearly spoke to me that He wanted me there to see—to get outside my bubble of people who are just like me and to just share their lives and stand with them for a week. . . . Luke got to play basketball with some of the teenage and college age guys from Herrara, and really enjoyed that interaction. His eyes were also focused on the leadership there (both at Visiontrust and on the pastor of the local church). . . . Luke’s eyes were also opened to see the Dominicans we were serving as just people–no different from those we meet here in the States each day. People are all made in the image of God, and no matter where we live, what language we speak, what color our skin is, or how much money we have, Jesus is all we need and our only hope. We would definitely love to go back to the DR sometime in the future, but for now, we are excited about the partnership our church, Mercy Hill, is starting specifically with the Tia Tatiana School in Herrara. . . .Luke and I are excited to be able to sponsor one of the children that we actually met while we were down there. To us, it is also so exciting that even if the kids in Herrara don’t recognize us personally, they will learn about Mercy Hill, and . . . that people from our church love them because we love Jesus.”

It is our prayer that this coming Sunday we will see over 50 kids sponsored by families at Mercy Hill. We pray that this will open opportunities for more people in our church to be sent to the Dominican Republic on a short term team and/or build a relationship with their sponsor child. Through Mercy Hill’s partnership with VisionTrust, your sponsorship of a child that lives in another country could lead to a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation and a relationship with you and/or others from Mercy Hill. Your participation serves to strengthen this partnership, and we are excited to see what God has planned for the Tia Tatiana School in Herrera as the gospel is planted in that community.

-Jonathan Spangler (Community Groups Intern)

Kids Ministry Resources

As a kids ministry, we have benefited greatly from incredible resources and tools created to help ministry leaders. Here is a sampling of the resources that our kids team utilizes on a consistent basis in the office, the kids classrooms, and even our own homes.

1. For parents:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Discipline is never a fun subject to deal with, but the Bible is both clear in its instruction and helpful in its application. Although not exclusively about discipline, Tripp gives a thorough biblical survey of godly discipline.

Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas

Most parents understand the incredible gift that children are, but Thomas helps parents to more fully understand how God has placed children in our lives as a part of our sanctification process.

Raising a Modern Day Joseph by Larry Fowler

This book is designed to guide parents of kids who are becoming teenagers as they face trials in their faith.

Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony

This book serves as a super practical guide to discovering how to create an environment in the home in which the Holy Spirit can work.

2. For kids:

My First Hands on Bible

This book has 85 stories for kids between the ages of 3 and 6. Each Bible story comes with a hands-on activity to help preschoolers better understand and remember biblical concepts. It’s age appropriate and so much fun.

The Jesus Story Book Bible

Hopefully this is no surprise to you. Many people (parents and kids ministry leaders) have found this book to be an incredible help. Sally Lloyd-Jones records Bible stories with an immensely helpful, Christocentric approach. This book is a must-have for parents with kids of all ages.

The Ology

Yes, this is a systematic theology book for kids. The book is divided well, and the illustrations really attract the attention of kids. This is an excellent resource in helping your child understand the whole of the Christian faith.

3. For ministry workers:

On Guard by Deepak Reju

A book on child abuse is never an easy read, but it is certainly a necessary one. This is an eye-opening and practical resource for setting up procedures and policies that keep your children safe against the very real threat of child abuse in the church. It strips away every possible excuse for complacency or naivety on the part of children’s ministry staff.

Perspectives on Family Ministry by Timothy Paul Jones

Not every family ministry or kids ministry is set up and operated the same way, but we can always learn from the way others do things. This book presents the three leading views and approaches to family ministry (and subsequently kids ministry). It helps to uncover the pros and cons of each approach.

MailChimp.com (e-mail platform)

As our kids ministry has continued to grow this email platform has been helpful in creating mass emails that are clean and attractive. It collects reports on how many parents have opened your email and allows parents to unsubscribe if they no longer need news from MH Kids.

Google Drive

This may not sound very revolutionary, but it is probably the largest and most-helpful tool we utilize as a kids ministry. With an ever-expanding volunteer base along with childcare needs for other church events, we are able to keep meticulous records of who is serving when and where. If you need to stay organized and if that information needs to be shared, you must get familiar with the Google Drive platform.


We’d love to hear from you! E-mail us and let us know what resources you’ve found helpful in your ministry or in your home.

-Jeremy Dager (Age-based Ministries Pastor)