One of the great struggles we have today in the Church is preserving our children in the Orthodox Faith. Too often they seem not to be interested. Can we somehow motivate our kids to be excited about following Christ and being Orthodox Christians? I believe there is a way. It takes commitment and hard work, but it’s worth it.
1. Make Your Family Your Priority
More important than anything other than the Kingdom of God is our family. I believe if we’re going to raise Orthodox Christian families, our spouses and children have to be our highest priority, next to Christ and His Church.
For the believer, our journey with Christ and His Church always comes first. On that matter, the Scriptures are clear, the Fathers are clear, and the Liturgy is clear. At least four times each Sunday morning we call to mind our holy and blessed God-bearer and all the saints, saying, “Let us commit ourselves and each other and all our life to Christ our God.” Our relationship with God comes first, our commitment to our family comes next, and our dedication to our work is third.
As parents, we need to make a vice-grip-firm commitment that above job, above our social life, above all the things that vie for our time, we will prioritize our families.
If you’re busy, find a way to compensate. I made appointments with my children. If your time is in heavy demand and you don’t block out time for the kids, you’ll never see them. If someone calls and has to see you, you say, “You know, Joe, I’ve got an appointment. I can see you tomorrow.” You decide to prioritize your family.
2. Tell Your Children of God’s Faithfulness
In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is talking to the children of Israel about the importance of keeping God’s commandments. And then he speaks directly to parents and grandparents: “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
Maybe you are a parent who came to Christ later in life and feel you didn’t do a good job spiritually with your kids, and now they have families of their own. Well, now you’ve got a crack at your grandkids! This opportunity does not mean that you become your grandchildren’s parent. But what you can do is tell those grandchildren what God has done for you, just like Moses says. Talk to them. If you’ve become more dedicated to Christ later in life, tell your grandkids about that. Tell them lessons that you’ve learned. Tell them real-life stories about God’s faithfulness and His mercy to you.
Moses goes on to explain the importance of such conversations by recalling what the Lord had said to him: “that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10). Children who are rightly taught the Word of God will teach their own children.
And that is the same spirit we tried to keep in family prayer. When the kids were little, we read Bible stories to them every night. We would pray together. We did that all the way through, and as they got older we encouraged them to say their own prayers at night.
3. Love Your Spouse
Thirdly-and I can’t stress this enough-we do our kids a favor when we love our spouses. Psychologists tell us that even more important than a child feeling love from parents is for that child to know mom and dad love each other. Kids know instinctively that if love in marriage breaks down, there’s not much left over for them.
The beautiful passage that describes this love is in Ephesians 5. It’s the passage that we read as the epistle at our Orthodox weddings. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church”
(v. 25). That means, gentlemen, that we love her enough to die for her. We martyr ourselves to each other; that’s what the wedding crowns are about. I love my wife more than life itself. The crowns also speak of royalty. In my homily at the marriage of our younger son, I said, “Peter, treat her like a queen! Kristina, treat him like a king!” That arrangement works out really well.
4. Never Discipline Out of Anger
There are times when things go wrong, even badly wrong. I would love to tell you that none of our six kids ever missed a beat. Or that mom and dad were infallible. I don’t know of a family where that happens. I will say that on a sliding scale, three of our children were relatively easy to raise, three were more challenging. When some of them got stubborn in their teenage years, I would say to Marilyn, “Remember what we were like at that age? They’re no different than we were.” I was difficult as a teenager, and some of that showed up in our kids.
St. John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). The opposite of that is also true. There is no greater heartache than when our children do not walk in truth. We’ve had a few big bumps in our family. There were nights my wife and I were both in tears as we tried to sleep. We would say, “Lord, is there light at the end of this tunnel?”
One of the verses I memorized out of the Old Testament early in my own parenthood was Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, / And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Let me assure you, that promise from God is true. There were days I wondered whether our family would stand before the Lord fully intact. Thank God for repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and grace.
Two of my daughters have come to me independently as adults and thanked me for holding their hands when I corrected them. They both had friends whose dads embarrassed their daughters, disciplining in a way that was probably too strong. I encourage fathers to guard against a discipline or correction that engenders wrath in your children. After the correction, give them a hug and let them know you love them.There are times when a father may need to refrain from discipline on the spot because he is angry. Remember that line from “The Incredible Hulk”? “You won’t like me when I’m angry.” If that’s true for a cartoon character, how much more is it true for a real-life dad?
5. Help Your Children Discern God’s Will
Let’s look again at Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The phrase, “in the way he should go,” is not speaking of the way you want him to go. Rather, it’s the way God wants him to go. In other words, taking into account that child’s gifts, his emotional makeup, his personality, his intellect, his calling, you help him discern the path God has for him.
I’m really pleased that Peter Jon is a seminarian and that Wendy’s husband is an Orthodox deacon. But I’m no more pleased with them than I am with Greg, who is a marketing guy, or with Terri, who is a mom of five, or with Ginger and Heidi, who both work outside the home to help their husbands provide for their sons.
To repeat, our job as parents is to try to discern with our children what God wants them to do, and then train them in that way. Whether their calling is in business or law or retailing or service to the Church, I want them to be the best they can be, for the glory of God. And by the way, all of us are in the ministry of Christ by virtue of our baptism. We are ordained as His servants-lay or clergy. Therefore, whatever we do, our goal is to do it for the glory of God.
These, then, are the steps we have tried to take with our children. Thank God, these measures have produced good fruit. At our stage in life, it is wonderful with just the two of us at home to think back over the years and to thank the Lord for children, spouses, and grandchildren who are faithful. There is nothing like it.
That doesn’t mean there will never be any more problems. I’m naïve, but not naïve enough to believe that. There may be bumps yet to come in our lives. But as we confess at our weddings, “The prayers of parents establish the foundations of houses.” These years are not kickback time, but they are a time of thanksgiving.
May God grant you the joy in raising your family in Christ that we have known in raising ours.
Read the full article Here
Six years ago I’ve switched from PC to Mac and then back again last year. The first jump came after a friend gave me a second generation MacBook Air. More recently, due to my disappointment with Apple’s latest update to their MacBook Pro line, I switched back to PC to get a fast seventh generation Intel Core processor and a touchscreen laptop. Apple offers neither as of early 2017.
The Mac v. PC debate gets people fired up, but I don’t think it should. Both platforms offer similar quality options in both hardware and the operating system. Smart users can run MacOS and Windows 10 safely and can install first-rate software for church and ministry. The reason to go with a Mac or a Windows PC has more to do with preference than quality. So let’s examine some important considerations and the availability of quality software commonly used in the ministry setting.
PC or Mac: 3 Considerations
The transition from PC to Mac for someone like me who never used a Mac regularly took some time and came with some frustration.
Consider a few issues when making the switch:
- You will need to replace your software with Mac compatible version, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on what you’re using.
- Everything you know about how to do certain tasks will change when making the switch. Little things like formatting a disk, finding files, or adding hardware peripherals work differently.
- Generally, a Mac with similar power and features costs more money than a PC with the same specs, especially with the latest generation of MacBook Pros with the Touch Bar. Apple increased the base price for this new feature that a lot of reviewers don’t find that compelling. IBM disagrees. The organization that used to make the original PC, now uses Macs and claims that this switch saves them a lot of money.
Going the other direction, from the Mac to the PC, also means replacing software and learning new tricks. However, most of the time going to the PC from Mac will save money. To illustrate, right after the current generation MacBook Pro came out, I bought a Lenovo Yoga 910 laptop. It has the latest generation Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. It doesn’t come with dedicated graphics processor like the MacBook Pros, but the MacBook Pros use the previous generation processor. The price difference was over $1,000 less for my system compared to the Mac of similar speed and capability. The Lenovo also adds a great touchscreen display and convertible design, something Apple doesn’t. I’m pleased with my choice to go PC again.
PC or Mac: Church and Bible Software
Churches use different kinds of software in different roles. Here’s a list of the categories that most churches or ministers use regularly.
- Bible study software for sermon and Bible study preparation and staff development
- Creative solutions for editing videos for worship, photos for worship and digital/print publications, and desktop publishing for fliers, newsletters and more
- Worship presentation software
- Church management solutions for keeping track of attendance, membership, and giving
- Office suites for writing, creating presentations, number crunching and more
In each category, users can find and use great solutions on both Windows and Mac. It used to be hard to find good Bible study tools for a Mac or good creative apps for Windows. Now, you can have both. Most people can run office suites, church management solutions, or Bible software on either Mac or Windows without a problem. You won’t need to relearn everything to switch.
Here’s a list of solutions that run on both platforms with few differences:
- Microsoft Office works great on both platforms and you can install on each especially if you subscribe to Office 365 Home for about $100/month. That lets users install on up to 5 computers and for up to 5 users all for this same price.
- A few free or open source solutions for office suites include G Suite (AKA Google Drive or Google Docs), OpenOffice or LibreOffice all run equally well on Mac and Windows.
- A lot of the best church management solutions run online through your browser, but you’ll need to check yours before making the switch or check our recent post about the Most User-Friendly Church Management Software solutions.
- Most Bible software companies now offer a Mac and Windows version, although a few use emulation software to run a Windows version on a Mac (marked with * below). See the following:
*I’m not sure if the Mac version of PC Study Bible runs directly on macOS or uses emulation. Biblesoft’s not been willing to cooperate with my requests to review their software.
PC or Mac: Creative & Worship Presentation Software
Like Bible software, the worship presentation software companies make great Mac and Windows software. Here’s a list of the top options that run on both platforms equally well except for EasyWorship, which only comes on Windows:
- OpenLP (free open source option)
- EasyWorship (only Windows version)
Check out our Worship software guide.
The Mac used to rule the realm of creative software, but not anymore. Adobe changed the creative software market with their Creative Suite subscription service. For $10 to $50 a month, churches and ministers can use the best software available and it runs on both Mac and PC with little differences between them.
Some creative types prefer Apple’s Final Cut Pro X for video editing or Logic Pro X or audio editing. Very few still use Aperture, which Apple quit developing recently. Apple doesn’t seem as committed to creative professionals. They limited the amount of RAM available in their laptops and haven’t updated the Mac Pro in four years. But the Adobe solutions work great on any of Apple’s computers and most Windows computers except the lowest price options.
Mac or PC: Which One to Buy
So after all of this, should you get a Mac or PC? It’s plain that neither platform dominates. It’s a matter of personal preference. If you want a Mac and can pay a little more, then go for it. If you prefer Windows, then you’ll enjoy any of the above software.
If you want a touchscreen that works like a laptop or a tablet, then you have to go with a Windows PC. Apple has a touch screen computer available. It’s called an iPad Pro. However, if you want a Mac with a touchscreen, you’re out of luck because it doesn’t exist.
How about for your ministry? What does your church use? I’d love to hear your feedback if you’ve switched from PC to Mac or back to help others along this journey. There’s certainly more than a few readers contemplating the same switch.
Originally posted here
“There is no other person I would rather work for.”
“I enjoy my work and ministry so much, and the biggest reason is I serve under an incredible pastor.”
“My pastor rocks.”
Those are some of the laudatory comments we heard from church staff persons who serve under excellent pastors. In my previous post, I shared the top ten ways pastors can be bad bosses. In this article, I look at the positive perspective.
Here are the most frequent comments we heard from church staff. These are ten ways pastors can be great bosses.
- Cast a clear vision and path. “You have no doubt where he is leading our church and us. He is clear, articulate, and his vision is compelling.”
- Support other ministries. “As a children’s minister, I have served in churches where the pastor never says anything about our area. My pastor, though, is always lifting up my ministry and other ministries.”
- Create a fun atmosphere. “Those who serve on staff in local churches face many serious and challenging issues. I love the way our pastor encourages us to have fun and enjoy our work. I love the way he jokes around with us.”
- Provide a good role model and example. “Whether it’s work ethic or character issues, my pastor serves as an excellent role model. Even when I disagree with him, I never question his integrity or commitment.”
- Be decisive. “This pastor is the first I ever served under who does not hesitate to make a decision, even if it’s a tough decision. We are never left wondering if or when something will happen.”
- Include other staff as part of the team. “We have different responsibilities and ministries among our staff, but our pastor makes certain we see the big picture. He really helps us to feel like we are part of the team.”
- Have the back of your staff. “I knew what kind of boss I had the first time a cantankerous church member read him the riot act about me. My pastor let the church member know he supported me and respected me. I will never forget that.”
- Listen well. “He is really a rare leader. You know when you go to talk to him about something you have his full attention. He not only listens, he responds very well.”
- Support the staff member’s family. “I don’t know how he found out about our financial struggles. But my husband and I cried openly when he quietly gave us a check from funds he had collected from church members. I suspect he contributed a lot himself.”
- Communicate frequently and clearly. “Most leaders, pastors included, never communicate enough. That is not the case with my boss. We are always in the know. He actually worries about over-communication. I love it!”
Bad pastor bosses. Good pastors bosses. Those who serve under them have spoken clearly. May we who lead take their words to heart.
Originally posted Here
As Christian leaders, we are called to serve others even as we’re completely reliant on God. Too often, though, a leader who was once a servant wrongly transitions into being the king of his own kingdom. Here are some signs that a leader has become the “king”:
1. Even if he invites discussion from church leaders, he does not change his mind. The “discussion” is in name only, as his decisions are already made.
2. He sees everyone else as expendable. If he’s worried about church members leaving, you’d never know it. In fact, he can usually hyper-spiritualize the reasons that others leave.
3. He is seldom, if ever, wrong. Kings somehow convince themselves that nobody can do things as well as they can. Everybody else still has something to learn.
4. Staff members tend to stay for only a short time. Kings are good at recruiting strong staff members, but not so good at keeping the best of them. Kings want dependents more than co-laborers.
5. He seldom allows others to preach. The pulpit becomes his platform, and he rarely gives up that position, even for a single Sunday. He’s most unwilling to share that space with gifted speakers he might perceive as more gifted than he.
6. He treats others as “subjects.” That is, people become a means to an end: tools to help him build his kingdom more than brothers and sisters in Christ.
7. He demands unquestioned loyalty. Even the slightest sign of disagreement is considered rebellion.
8. He expands his kingdom broadly, but not deeply. After all, deeply-developed kingdoms require serious discipleship—and genuine disciples would recognize the problem with a king’s leadership style.
9. Often, those who know him best question his spirituality. That’s not a surprise, though. Kings depend on themselves, not God.
10. He does not consider leadership succession. He might talk about retirement at some point, but it’s often just talk. Kings don’t give up their position easily.
Lest we judge the “king” leader too seriously, though, all of us are susceptible to moving in this unhealthy direction. Pride is always a temptation for Christian leaders.
Originally posted here
Proactive Approach Trims Risks Linked to Chronic Illness among Children in Ministry Settings
Good planning limits ministry liability when handling children with infectious diseases
If a parent approaches a worker in your children’s ministry to say that his or her child has a serious chronic illness such as AIDS, hepatitis, or tuberculosis, will the worker know how to respond? How will workers respond if they learn that a child is being treated for temporary afflictions like lice, chicken pox, influenza, or the common cold? What if a parent or guardian wants to enroll a child who has not undergone standard immunizations?
For the health and safety of the children, ministry leaders should take a proactive approach and develop policies and procedures for handling children with infectious diseases. In many ways, this is a legal balancing act as ministry leaders must balance the interests of the infected minor with the ministry’s responsibility for the overall health and safety of all children and ministry workers. An infectious diseases policy can mesh legal requirements with generally accepted “best practices” for handling infectious diseases in settings involving minors.
Develop “Best Practices,” Policies, and Procedures
A good place to start is The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has established infection control guidelines for health care workers that churches can adapt to meet the needs of their ministry situations. State health authorities and organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics also are excellent resources that can help ministries identify “best practices.” Brotherhood Mutual’s sample policy form includes standards adapted from CDC guidelines, attendance standards, and other logistical information that can be helpful as you develop such a policy for your church or ministry.
Guidelines related to including or excluding minors from church programs should follow the requirements set by the CDC and state and local health departments. Any infectious diseases policy you develop should itemize specific symptoms of short-term illness that would exclude minors from ministry activities.
If a ministry decides to accommodate an unvaccinated child or a child with a chronic communicable disease, a special medical needs agreement can facilitate the child’s participation in ministry programs and activities. Brotherhood Mutual has developed a sample medical needs agreement for that purpose.
Protect Minors’ Privacy Interests
Ministry leaders should be sensitive to the privacy interests of minors with chronic, communicable diseases and encourage parents to voluntarily notify the church if their child has such a disease. Develop a health information form that asks for health-related background information that ministry workers need to recognize a potential health emergency. Brotherhood Mutual’s sample health information form can provide the foundation for one you develop for your ministry.
A church can limit its risk of being the target of a privacy suit by making sure that private health information is shared only with ministry workers on a “need to know” basis. Generally, parents of other children in a church’s childcare program do not have a right to know about the health status of other children in the program.
Finally, ministry leaders should be aware of any legally mandated reporting requirements to state or local health departments or regulatory authorities when the church is aware of a minor with an infectious disease. State laws commonly name specific communicable diseases that designated mandatory reporters such as physicians and school nurses must report to authorities.
Ministry Worker Training Helps Ensure Effective Policy Implementation
Training of ministry workers is essential to the proper implementation of the ministry’s infectious diseases policy. Ministry worker training should instill a thorough understanding of the church’s policy and the significance of the special medical needs agreement for a child with a chronic communicable disease. It also should build the workers’ knowledge of applicable health, safety, and legal guidelines for church programs for minors. Workers should:
- Be aware of signs and symptoms of illness.
- Know procedures for handling sick children.
- Understand standard guidelines to reduce the spread of infection.
- Be informed of emergency care protocols and the location of first-aid supplies, the use of CPR, and first aid.
- Clearly know the church’s expectations for handling the private medical information of children.
As employers, churches must comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements to develop an exposure control plan for blood borne pathogens if they have employees exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Training of employees is an important element of complying with OSHA requirements, and an important part of a church’s overall worker training program on infectious disease control.
Maintain Open Communication
Keep the lines of communication open with parents regarding the ministry’s policies and procedures pertaining to infectious diseases. Ministry leaders should ensure that all parents receive a copy of the ministry’s infectious diseases policy and know the church’s guidelines for protecting the privacy interests of minors.
In addition, if the ministry admits unvaccinated children, notify all parents and legal guardians, in writing, that there are—or may be in the future—unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in attendance at the ministry facility. It’s generally permissible to address the importance of vaccinations and to include the possible consequences of not vaccinating children, such as unvaccinated children being excluded from attendance during an infectious disease outbreak. Also, inform parents that their children’s likelihood of contracting a vaccine-prevented illness may increase, as vaccines are not always 100 percent effective. Do not share the names of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children, except with caretakers who have a need to know.
Consult an Attorney
Church leaders should consult with a local attorney who can provide guidance on the many complex legal issues involved in developing an infectious diseases policy and the related forms and procedural guidelines. A local attorney can provide important instruction to church leaders on relevant federal, state, and local laws that the church or ministry must follow, as well as important overall legal risk management guidance.
Originally Published Here