25 ways to be good news to your local school

As we are being transformed by the Gospel it overflows from us to our world.
Often the world needs to see we care before they will begin to believe God cares.
Often the world needs to see our goodness, before they will believe God is good.
Often the world needs to see we’re not just out for our self-interests but for the interest of others and the community, before they can recognize a God who is interested in them.

Christians are invited to participate in God’s redemptive work in the world – righting wrongs, healing, restoring, bringing hope, caring for creation etc.
In addition, we participate in God’s redemptive invitation, by being God’s messengers inviting others into God’s redemptive story with words and actions.

It seems to me as if, in many ways, we’ve abandoned or learned to keep our faith separate from our schools. May God give us redemptive, creative ways to be His presence in schools again and may it lead to many redemptive conversations! I know some of you are doing wonderful thing to be the presence of Christ in word and deed in your schools – I’d love to hear these stories! Comment below or send us a message.

Here are some ideas on how to join God’s good redemptive activity in the ordinariness of everyday at your school (if you are a student) or at the school in your neighbourhood (if you are not a student):

1. Bring a great snack for the teachers’ lounge with a thank you note
2. Pray every day for your school
3. Join a team (or coach a team)
4. Join a club (or lead a club)
5. Invite new people to eat lunch with you (exchange students, new to the school…)
6. Join the anti-bullying campaign and help it be a success
7. Start a free breakfast or lunch program (or get involved with an existing one)
8. Start a food bank at the school
9. Start a clothing bank at the school
10. Set-up a prayer station or box at the school and faithfully pray for peoples’ requests
11. On a hot day ask if you can give out popsicles at break-time. On a cold day ask if you can give out hot chocolate during recess.
12. Find out what the school really needs (e.g. badminton rackets, flip chart, smart board…) and be a part of the solution to getting those items for the school
13. Slow down and talk to people at the school, find out how they are really doing and what it’s like for them at school
14. Randomly pay for person lunch behind you in cafeteria line
15. Offer to organize/lead a talent show, sports day, or multicultural day for the school
16. Clean-up the school grounds
17. Build relationships with the teachers and administrative staff by taking the time to ask them about their day and their role
18. Join the gay-straight alliance in the school. Whatever your Biblical view of LGBTQ, we can say it is wrong for anyone to be bullied or mistreated. All of humanity is God’s creation, and no one should be mistreated, regardless if I agree or disagree with their current life situation or lifestyle.
19. Offer free tutoring
20. Start a lunch time club for those that want to know they are not alone as a Christian in the school
21. Talk about what you are thankful for and talk about the good in the world to those you hang-out with at school
22. Respond to what’s going on in the world (e.g. earthquake in Nepal) and give others at the school an opportunity to join you
23. Offer to wash the walls at the school
24. Offer to do gardening at the school
25. Give away free coffee to parents and bus drivers dropping off kids one day (with permission)

As are a blessing in your school or to the school in your community I trust God will open doors for you to share about your faith and journey together with people towards God.
Please add your ideas to this list!

-Renée @r_embree

30 great conversation starters with Gen Y and Zers

These are great conversation starters on road-trips (like to Springforth this weekend! See you there if you’re coming!), around the snack or dinner table, while waiting, in small groups…With this list I have in mind generation Y (born between about 1980 to 1990) and generation Z (born between about the mid-1990s to the late-2000s) people in particular (but I’m sure they’d work with other generations too). The questions in this list are sometimes deep, sometimes simple, sometimes fun..because life is all those things and more.

  1. What is one thing you would love to smash with a hammer if you would not get in trouble for it and why?
  2. What movie or TV show have you seen in the last year that you wish all your friends could see? Why?
  3. What kind of world would it be if everyone in it were just like you? Be specific.
  4. Which is greater – riding a ferris wheel or a rollercoaster?
  5. What would you do if you found out today that you won ten million dollars (tax free!)?
  6. If you went to sleep, and while you were sleeping a miracle happened in your life (in the area you need it most), when you woke-up in the morning, what would be your first clues that a miracle had occurred?
  7. What has been one of the most memorable compliments you have ever received?
  8. Which is greater – watching Netflix or going to the movie theatre?
  9. What are 5 things you love to do?
  10. What are 5 things you hate to do?
  11. Who is your best friend right now? What makes you such good friends?
  12. What are 3 things you strongly believe?
  13. What do you think God’s opinion is of you? If you could read God’s mind – what would God be thinking of you right now?
  14. If you had the power to recreate yourself, what are 3 things you would not change?
  15. What are 3 things you will never do?
  16. If you could change anything about church, what would you change?
  17. What makes you feel loved and appreciated?
  18. What are 5 things on your wish list?
  19. How do you best hear from God?
  20. What is the biggest highlight in your life in the last 6 months?
  21. What is the biggest challenge in your life in the last 6 months?
  22. What 5 words would you use to describe Jesus?
  23. If God put you completely in charge of making heaven, what would it be like?
  24. If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be and why?
  25. What story do you enjoy hearing your parents or other relatives tell about something you did or said when you were little?
  26. What is your definition of success? Are you successful by your own definition?
  27. What are your biggest questions about your relationship with God?
  28. What was the greatest achievement you have experienced in your life so far?
  29. What is the greatest misconception people have about you?
  30. Who has been the most outrageously loving person in your life? How did/do they show it?

Enjoy the conversations!

Note – some of these questions have been adapted from “Ministry is Relationships” By cadreministries.com

-Renée @r_embree

25 ideas to bridge generational gaps

Last week we chatted about why it is important to cultivate connections across the generations. Today here are some ideas of how to foster these connections. Please add your ideas to the comments.

I’ve grouped the ideas into three areas

  • Sub-groups (These are groups like youth group, senior’s group, children’s ministry, small groups etc.) – The challenge here is to cross pollinate.
  • Church – The challenge here is to involve, involve, involve as many different generations as possible.
  • Community – that is outside the walls of our church. The challenge here is to bring along other generations with us.

Sub-groups – Cross pollinate

  1. Invite a senior into youth group to talk about what it was like being a teenager when they were younger. Invite them to share how they came to know Jesus
  2. Invite pairs of seniors to regularly come in and do snack at youth group or in your children’s ministry
  3. Have the Women’s/Men’s Mission Group invite in youth to talk about their plans for Tidal Impact (or other short term mission trip) before they go and then to come back and share their stories when they return.
  4. Have the Senior’s Ministry do something to bless the youth in the church. E.g. Donate money for their summer events, make a special treat…
  5. Have the Youth do something to bless the seniors in their church E.g. Make little packages of road salt to keep in their pockets in winter, make cookies for Valentine’s day…
  6. Invite your sub-groups, of different generations, together for a game show night. Provide a variety of trivia questions that will be a hit with different generations.
  7. When the youth are doing a service project, invite another generation to come in and work on it with them together. E.g. Food drive, making blankets for the women’s shelter, gift bags for the men’s shelter…
  8. Invite different ages into leadership in these sub-groups. Do your youth leaders and children’s leaders represent the different generations – grandparents, parents, young adults, youth…? How could it become more diverse?
  9. Invite a group of children into an adult ministry to share the Bible story they’ve been studying via song, dance, drama or puppets.

Church – Involve, involve, involve

  1. Invite kids to worship freely during your service. Have musical instruments for them to play during worship time.
  2. If you don’t have a children’s program during the service at your church, involve children in the service – allow them to share prayer requests, ask them questions during the sermon, have packets prepared with games and colouring on the same topic as the sermon and/or having interactive elements (sculpting a response, painting a response…). Even if you do have children’s ministry in your church turn some services each year in to truly intergenerational corporate worship involving all ages.
  3. Give youth/children opportunities for leadership in the church – greeting, taking up offering, running the sound equipment, running the computer, leading worship, leading prayer, leading in ministries, giving input on boards, coming up with their own projects and executing it.
  4. Create mentoring opportunities across the generations. You can use Tidal Impact or Mission experiences as an opportunity – invite everyone going on the trip to have a mentor who they meet with before they go to help them prepare and then to share with when they return.
  5. Mix small groups and Sunday School classes across the generations occasionally or all the time.
  6. Turn your “Christmas pageant” into an intergenerational family experience where everyone explores the meaning of Christmas together.
  7. Make sure all the different generations are represented from the platform/stage at your church.
  8. Include all ages in your sermon and devo illustrations. Are your examples and illustrations in sermons giving positive examples from all the generations?
  9. Enable other generations to get to events that are designed to help them grow in their faith. E.g. How can the Senior’s group make sure youth get to Springforth and Tidal Impact? How can the youth group encourage their Mom’s get to the Women’s retreat?

Community – Bring along

  1. Invite different generation to serve together in your neighbourhood – spring clean-up, raking leaves, shoveling, planting gardens, stacking wood, food drives…
  2. Do visits together – bring along a child or youth when you go to visit someone in their home or the senior’s home.
  3. Take along a young adult when you go to get your groceries, especially if they are a college/university student they will appreciate the ride and help. You might even pick-up new snack and meal ideas from each other.
  4. Intentionally make your churches short term mission trips intergenerational.
  5. If you (personally) serve somewhere in the community (food bank, coaching, library…) who, from a different generation, could you invite along to come with you?
  6. Encourage people to get to know each other outside of Sunday services – introduce the different generations in your church community to each other by having a “who’s coming to dinner” Sunday. Have people volunteer to feed people in their home that Sunday, without knowing who will be coming. Have others sign-up to go and eat dinner somewhere. Then mix and match people and generations to share a meal together that Sunday.
  7. On your churches facebook/twitter account, ask interactive questions that invite response from a variety of generations.

 What other ideas do you have to encourage connections across the generations?

-Renée @r_embree

Need more ideas? Here’s a list of things being done in children’s & youth ministry that are re-imaging Church for all of us. Look at the bottom of the post: What is the role of children and youth in the renewal of the Church?

25 before 25

25 missional experiences everyone should have before they are 25 years old

*If you try any of these out let us know on twitter #1neighbourhood

By the time you are 5 years old:
1. Know the names and interests of your neighbours.
2. Choose 3 to 5 of your books to give away to someone.
3. Bake cookies (with adult help) to give to someone who could use a cheer up, visit with them and share the cookies.
4. Play with children from different cultures and try food from different cultures.
5. Visit a nursing home and give out hugs or homemade drawings.

By the time you are 10 years old
6. Go through your closet and give away clothing in good condition to someone that would like or use them.
7. On garbage day in your neighbourhood, pull everyones garbage cans/compost bins back to their houses.
8. Have a lemonade stand outside your house to get to know your neighbours, give the money you raise to a church or charity of your choice.
9. Participate in a food or clothing driving for a local food bank or shelter. Visit the food band or shelter and get to know a few folks.
10. Take a handful of quarters and a roll of tape and stick the quarters on gumball machines all over town. You will make a child’s day!

By the time you are 15 years old
11. Show intentional kindness to your school and teachers. E.g. When your school has a Parent-Teacher conference night, rally fellow students & families to provide a great meal for the staff to enjoy in their breaks. Serve and clean up!
12. Apologize to someone you treated poorly in middle school.
13. Experience being on mission for a week somewhere in your home region! More and more churches and camps are having Service Camps. Our favourite happens to be: www.tidalimpact.ca
14. Volunteer at a meal being served for the homeless or under-resourced – serve food, cleanup, visit with people.
15. Take extra school supplies with you to school and generously share them with your fellow students.

By the time you are 20 years old
16. Take an opportunity to explain your faith in Jesus to a friend at work, school or on a team.
17. Give a gift from the CBM Hopeful Gifts for Change Catalogue: https://secure2.convio.net/cbmin/site/SPageServer/?pagename=Gift_Catalogue_Home.html
18. Buy baby supplies (diapers, wipes, formula…) and take them to a Pregnancy Resource Centre. While you are there learn about the place, what they offer and who works there.
19. Find a need and meet it. Spot the needs on social media or around you – is someone sick? Take a meal. Someone have a flooded basement? Go & help and take a care package. Someone raking their leaves? Pick up a rake.
20. Experience an international mission trip (Opportunities can be found here http://cbmin.org/get-involved/short-term-mission/ or with the Springforth Team that will be put together to go to Kamp Tumaini in 2017!!!

By the time you are 25 years old
21. Cook a meal (or order pizza) for your neighbours and have them in.
22. Volunteer or contribute financially, regularly, somewhere locally (your community) and globally.
23. Sit with the dying.
24. Eat your lunch with others at your work or school and get to know their story. Bring a treat, now and then, to share during lunch.
25. Lead something missional. Rally your friends, a group of youth, a small group or a church around meeting a need in your community or world.

  •  If you are older than 25 (don’t worry, we won’t ask your age) it is never too late to go back and experience these things, and move towards making missional living a part of your everyday life and being.

Send us your ideas for tweaking this list and for new lists to come, by leaving comments on the blog or tweet @r_embree or #1neighbourhood. This list was created with the help of Andrew Glidden (@PastorWolf), Louise Knowles, Adrian Gardner (@AdrianDGardner) & Jacqueline Derrah.

*If you try any of these out let us know on twitter #1neighbourhood