Kids’ and APEX Small Group Leader Conversations

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CULTIVATING A HEART FOR OUTREACH. HOW TO START ‘EM YOUNG.

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Restoration is a place that connects people to God, to others, and to the needs of the world. We are a church that seeks to support those most vulnerable who live both locally and globally. Yet, most of our outreach opportunities are for older teens and adults.

 

So how do we grow kids into adults who are chomping at the bit to serve others?

 

We are mindful of the opportunities we have with our RestoKids to both talk about and model what it means to serve others. The stories we study in kids’ small groups often highlight examples of others in the Bible who serve. The compliments we give to kids are specific about ways we observe their kindness in sharing markers or encouraging someone on the margin to join in a game. The annual packing of snack bags and writing notes to give to kids at AFAC is a hands-on way to help grow their hearts to love others.

 

This Christmas we have two opportunities for even the littlest among us to get involved in caring for folks outside of our immediate Restoration family:

 

Navidad para Niños. In the lower narthex at Restoration, there is a tree that contains photos of the children from Niños con Valor, one of the groups our 2016 Bolivia team got to hang out with while visiting last summer. Niños con Valor (NCV) is a family model of caring for Bolivian children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or removed from high-risk situations. Consider selecting a photo ornament from the tree to support our friends in Cochabamba, Bolivia. There are several ways you – and those little hands and hearts around you – can get involved:

 

  • Pray for the children of Niños con Valor as they learn and grow. Sign up to receive prayer newsletters. Then pray for the children and encourage the children in your life to lead those prayers. You will be amazed by what you hear!

 

  • Write to the children via email. The children in your life can even draw a picture to be photographed and included in the email to a sponsored child.

 

 

Doorways for Women and Children. Each year, on Christmas Eve, Restoration has given gifts to Doorways, a safe place where women and families can receive help. This year Restoration has been invited to bring in bedroom items. Here is a list of specific items most useful to the women and families Doorways supports. Bring your gifts to the Restoration Christmas Eve services at 3pm, 5pm, or 9pm. You’ll have a chance to bring them forward during the offering part of the service.

 

So, talk to kids and shop with kids and pray with kids. They will follow your example about how one loves and serves those among us who are most vulnerable – and their hearts will be the better for it.

 

The cost (and benefit) of discipleship

At Restoration, we have a passion for discipling our kids. And the only way this happens is through an amazing community of adults who devote their time and energy to our kids. Did you know that there are 44 adults at Restoration who’ve made a weekly commitment for 10-months to invest in the lives of our kids? Ten-months of a weekly commitment is a huge cost. But the investment pays great dividends. Take a look:

Spending time with the kids/youth at Restoration is a highlight of my week. It brings me so much joy to laugh with them, have good (and often silly) conversations with them, and to run around and play together. They are just so dear and so fun. Being with them helps me grasp the love and delight that Jesus has for each of His children. I hope that their experience at Restoration helps them understand Jesus’ love for and delight in them as well.

Kat (an APEX leader)

 

I’ve seen God helping middle schoolers get through the daily challenges that they face at school.

Andrew (an APEX leader)

 

Working with the middle school girls of Restoration via APEX has been a wonderful and growing experience. I get glimpses into their fears, their hurts, their triumphs and, overall, witness how they infuse their walks with Christ into their life in every-day situations, which is inspiration for my own life. It’s a humble gift and I truly look forward to Sunday evenings each week to hang with my girls.

Ashley (an APEX leader)

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As a kids’ small group leader for five years, I’ve grown to appreciate my time with our adorable Restoration kids as just another form of Sunday worship: fellowship (with adults and kids), reading of Scripture and thinking through applications, singing. But as a bonus, we get to laugh out loud and jump around. I appreciate the opportunity on Sunday mornings to interweave service with worship — hmm, worship service??

Susie (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)

 

When I started volunteering back in our little church on Quincy St. I probably thought I would see God work through me all the time, but he’s actually worked within me much more (which is definitely cooler — way to go God). I didn’t realize I needed to look at the Gospel like a 3- or 4-year-old, but that was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. He has made my heart gentle. I am ALWAYS welcome downstairs. Those kids have shown me what I *should* be like in how I interact with others in the church and how open and teachable my heart should be. There’s never an expectation or judgment; for them, I never feel like I’m putting on a mask to look good on Sunday or I have to say the right thing. Their reaction when they come through that door is: “Awesome. My day just got better simply because you’re here, and now we’re going to have fun and be silly together.” And if all of community was like that, that would be pretty sweet.

Sara (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)

 

God has shown me through the eyes of these kids that no matter how many times I encounter a story from the Word, it can always be exciting, new, and insightful. For example, did you know that when [kids read the story of the fall they see that when] Eve gave Adam the apple, she put it an inch from his nose? Or that [as a leader helping kids see and touch the story of God parting the Red Sea that] the Red Sea could be made of Russian coins? You could learn all that and more by being a Restoration kids small group leader!

Leigh (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)

 

When I said yes to leading a Restoration Kids’ Small Group, I expected adventure and a little bit of drama, but never expected the joy and the fun we had this year in the K-1 group. Whether we were burning paper with our sins written on it and turning it into ashes, or building a Jenga-inspired Tower of Babel, the kiddos were always eager to learn more about the characteristics of God. I’m so blessed to be on this adventure as we learn and laugh together!

Phyllis (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)

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Would you consider making this kind of investment in discipling our kids? You, too, will see not only how our kids grow, but also experience how God will grow you to be more and more like Jesus.

-Louise and Clay-

Giving thanks

Saying “Yes!” makes such a difference.  That day in May — before our building was finished — when I asked Jesus how He wanted us to use our building, was the day I got the phone call from Operation Christmas Child:  “Operation Christmas Child has been praying for a church in Arlington to be a Relay Center during National Collection Week; a place where people from your area can drop off their filled shoebox gifts.  Would Restoration be interested?”
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So, we said “Yes!” in faith.  Faith that our building would be done in time.  Faith that we could find the volunteers to help serve.  Faith that people would come.  Faith that we could manage all that we didn’t even know to expect.  Faith that our space would be another link in furthering the good news of the Gospel.  Here’s how our prayers were answered and our faith strengthened:  We received 2,420 shoeboxes.  Packed them into 134 cartons.  Filled 3/4 of a 26′ truck and drove it to Alexandria. All of this with the help of  51 Restoration folks volunteering around 110 hours.  There are numerous stories of people we met who are the whole reason we did all this in the first place.  Pray for those folks who got to experience giving in this way and those who may have stepped foot in a church for the first time in a long time and  those who are so young, yet seem to hear and know more than the grownups do.  Thank you, Restoration, for participating and serving; for modeling for your children and family and friends what it is like to be part of a community that desires to see broken people, restored by grace, living God’s story.
-Louise-

Kids’ Small Groups @ Restoration

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Hey, friends!

 

I am so looking forward to being in our new space together and, like you, am eagerly awaiting news about the building and our first Sunday back on Quincy Street.  David will keep us informed via a CCB email blast, website update, and Facebook update later today as soon as we hear.  Do check in as you are making your weekend plans.

 

There is much to tell you about our kids’ small groups that will help as we transition into the new building!

 

Please register your kids.

We ask that parents register each of their children — nursery-5th grade — every year so that we know how best to care for our kids.  You can register your kids here.  Please complete a separate registration form for each child.

 

Preschool (those who are 3 by September 30) thru 5th grade kids’ small groups will start September 21.

We made the decision to delay the start of kids’ small groups until September 21.  This is the best way for us to prepare for a safe kick-off.  The “summer” worship bags will be available, along with a worship guide geared toward preschool-5th grade kids.

 

Nursery WILL be open on our first Sunday.

We will have the three nursery rooms ready for our first Sunday — babies (non-walkers), toddlers, and those who are 2 by September 30. You will find a nursery check in station mid-way down the hallway on the ground level.  The check-in system will be similar to the system we had at Little Falls.  There will be a shepherd there to assist you.

 

Join us for a “put IKEA furniture together” party!

During the day tomorrow (September 6) beginning around 9:30 AM, we will be downstairs with screwdrivers and Allen wrenches putting tables and chairs and storage units together.  Join us if you can, and bring tools, too!  We’ll have some to share, but not enough to go around.

 

There are still opportunities to be a kids’ small group leader.

We had a lovely evening of training with the 30 kids’ small group leaders who’ve already said “YES!” to serving our kids.  There are still opportunities to get in on the fun:

 

9 AM — 1 person to join Nan Swift and Megan Westmoreland to teach 4th-5th graders

 

11 AM — 1 person to join Simon Gray and Jerry Greenlaw to teach 2nd-3rd graders

11 AM — 2 people to join Eric/Erin Owen to teach 4th-5th graders

 

5 PM — 2 people to join Sara Gast to teach preschoolers

5 PM — 1 person to join Nate Brennan and Liz Brennan to teach K-1st graders

5 PM — 2 people to join Stef Winston to teach 2nd-3rd graders

5 PM — 3 people to teach 4th-5th graders

 

Let me know if you are interested in serving, or if you know someone who would be a great encourager and teacher!

 

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions!

 

I am so grateful for God’s good gifts to us!

 

-Louise-

Giving thanks for our leaders

Giving thanks for our leaders

 

The book of Hebrews says…

Remember  your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and  imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is  the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13: 7-8

Over the next couple of weeks, Restoration will conclude a few significant programs before taking a break for July and August.  APEX has already finished up, Tri2 of small groups ends next week, and our last day of Kids’ Small Groups is June 29.  Hundreds of people have benefited from the incredible people who volunteer as adult, Apex, and kids’ small group leaders.  HUNDREDS!!

The encouragement from Hebrews is to remember these volunteer leaders–  meaning to give thanks for them, to think about them, to be deliberate in praying and articulating gratitude for them.  They have opened their lives to us.  They have helped us wrestle with the Scriptures.  They have taught us how to make crafts.  They have asked hard questions and encouraged us to pray for each other.  They have let us learn from their faith and trust in the goodness of God.

Our Kids’ small group leaders have served at great cost to themselves.  Since we have gone to one service, they have not had an option for corporate worship on Sundays.  Our adult small group leaders coordinate child care, get snacks, study Scripture, and THINK ABOUT YOU all week long.  Our Apex leaders have been covered in cheetoes and asked insightful questions and given up Sunday nights to love our middle and high schoolers.

Would you consider how to thank them over the next couple of weeks?  Send them a note.  Look them in the eye and affirm their gifts.  Seek them out and tell them how grateful you are.

I do not take these servant leaders for granted.  Restoration is chock full of people who want to give and who want to see folks walk faithfully after Jesus.  I thank God for them everyday.  Would you join me?

Thanks Small Group Leaders.

-David

P.S. Want to become one of these servant superstars?  Drop us a line.  There is always room for more.

 

 

From our Cairo Correspondent

Working in Cairo this week, I got back to my hotel room late Tuesday evening, I found a large bouquet of flowers and a bowl of fruit, and wondered why the hotel had given me that? The card that came with the flowers told a different story: it was a welcome gift from the Stephen’s Children ministry: I had arranged to meet one of them on Friday, to hand over the check representing Restoration’s Easter collection. I thought of King David when three of his warriors fought their way into Bethlehem to fetch him some water (2 Samuel 23), and David was awestruck by the generous spirit of these men, putting themselves at risk to bless David. Perhaps not quite the right analogy, but such a generous gift from a ministry working with the poor – I almost cried, and felt very humbled!

Today, I had the privilege of visiting of the many ‘garbage cities’ on the outskirts of Cairo– of the 90 or so locations where the Stephen’s Children ministry runs schools for the poorest of the poor. This ‘city’, home to perhaps 900 people – predominantly Christians – is in a dusty, stony hollow away from the road. Nothing grows there – there is no soil. None of the buildings has more than one level: the materials they are made from would not really support more. There is no electricity. Running water was made available about a year ago (this has attracted more people to move in). In the school room perhaps 40 girls aged 6 to 15  sat in rows on benches, learning the alphabet with great excitement. Nearby, I visited a study group for boys. Half a dozen squatted in the shade of a rusty corrugated iron gate as myriad flies buzzed around, and listened to the story of the cripple who had sat by the pool for years, waiting for a miracleThe back yard was buried in rubbish – plastic bags mostly, which are burned down to produce a hard black mass that can be sold for recycling (an adult and four children scavenging can earn perhaps $1.50 a day doing this).

Stephen’s Children employs around 1,500 staff to run kindergartens, and now one school, for some 30,000 children, visiting them weekly in their homes to support a holistic ministry of education, teaching on basic health and hygiene, and the bible. Many of the children, and some of their parents, are not officially registered, through ignorance and discrimination.

This was not a miserable place to visit. The children were happy as they learned. A little girl smiled broadly as the teacher washed her feet (this is done to teach hygiene, and to check for cuts and infections in little feet that at best have flip-flops to wear). Adults were welcoming. The ‘motto’ of the ministry is: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (phil 4:13). The children and their families are being given hope, not just once or in theory, but day by day, week by week, year after year. I am lost for words, but full of admiration, and very blessed to have seen God at work through his people in such a way.

Simon G.

To Worship the Child Like a Child

I love the way our church is truly a community. We gather around and reach across demographics to include the oldest and the youngest in our congregation. To our oldest, we look for wisdom and experience and to our youngest, we offer our church as a safe place to grow and learn. We make space for these things in our worship, and there are times when some things we do as a congregation are [seemingly] for the benefit of one demographic in particular. And yet. And yet.

1. Keeping watch. Each week during Advent, we’ve “hidden” a lamb in the Sanctuary and encouraged our kids to find it. It has been a “Where’s Waldo” kind of way to remind us to wait and watch for the coming Lamb. Our kids get to have fun with a “game” of sorts, but I need those physical reminders to connect my brain to what my heart needs, too. Looking. Watching. Waiting. Seeing. The Lamb.

2. Joining in. At the 3:30 and 5:30 services on Christmas Eve we invite children [of all ages!] to be part of the Christmas story by dressing up as their favorite Nativity character. So, dig through your dress up bins and pull out your finest! Or, just come as you are — dressed in God’s grace and mercy as a loved and forgiven child of God! During the reading of Luke, Erin will invite those who are dressed up to rise when their character enters the story. We participate here by physically taking on the story of being there at Jesus’ birth. Of dressing up and standing up as we enter into the story. As grown ups, how might we engage in this form of worship – where we are fully – heart and mind – entering in to God’s story of love and rescue and redemption?

3. Giving gifts. Also at the Christmas Eve services we get to gather and give gifts to infants and children in our area – in much the same way that the wise men gave gifts to the Baby King. So, join us by donating a new, unwrapped item from the following list to be given to Doorways for Women and Children:

Child teething soothing gel
Children’s Benadryl
Children’s cough/cold medication
Infant cold/cough medication
Infant gripe water
Baby body wash
Baby oil
Diaper cream
Baby powder
Baby shampoo
Children’s toothbrushes
Children’s toothpaste
Baby bottles (Avent plastic or glass (any brand)
Nipples for baby bottles-med. Flow and heavy flow
Sippy cups for children, with lids

As we celebrate the never-changing, always and forever story of God’s gift – Emmanuel – join us in really living the story this year. It is through the eyes of a child that we just might see The Child anew.

Come, let us adore Him!

-Louise-

Discipling Kids

This Sunday marks the kick-off of small groups — kids’ small groups, that is!

Did you know that over 100 kids are discipled each week as they meet in their small groups on Sundays to do all that the “grown ups” do in their small groups?  They read the Scriptures, they ask the tough questions, they pray with and for one another, they grow in community and friendship with their peers, and, every now and then they do cool stuff like make a battery out of lemons or create an origami heart or play “Jonah, Jonah, Whale”.  And, they do all of this under the leadership of nearly 30 adults in our congregation who invest in “their kids” on a weekly basis, allowing kids’ small group leaders to witness lives that are transformed — the kids’ and their own.

Leading kids really is a win-win situation.  Our leaders get to do a slightly more in-depth study each week as they prepare to present the lesson.  They get to pray for their kids.  They get to see “ah-ha!” moments in the lives of kids.  They get to laugh and be challenged and sometimes be graced by the wisdom of kids who can distill the truths of the Bible in ways that blow my mind. As our leaders shepherd our kids, they, too, are cared for by me.  (It’s one of the highlights of my job!)

Is God calling you to disciple our kids?

At Restoration, we take seriously the privilege of  sharing with our kids God’s story of His amazing, never stopping, never giving up, always and forever rescuing love for each and every one of them.  We desire for our kids to know these things:

God knows them.  (Psalm 139:1-8)

He’s crazy about them.  (John 3:16)

He goes with them everywhere.  (Matthew 28:20)

Please pray for and encourage our kids’ small group leaders as they respond to God’s call to love and serve our kids.

-Louise-

Pastor Pearl and the orphans

The little girl standing next to Fiona in this picture was fascinated by her skin – she stood and stroked it for ages – eventually saying “your skin is so lovely, it is white like the mug” – Fiona had been hoping to acquire a tan whilst abroad so this didn’t come across as the huge compliment that was intended! Isn’t it funny how different our perspectives and dreams can be?

Pastor Pearl is ethnically half-Chinese and half-Burman, and we met her in a township just outside Yangon. Ethnicity is always one of the first things you are told about someone in Myanmar as both historically (the government recognizes over 135 distinct ethnic groups) and geographically (they are surrounded by 5 countries), ethnicity is a significant source of identity, but one thing became clear as we visited a number of different pastors, ethnicity was no barrier to adoption! I’m not too sure how many orphans Pearl cares for – or widows – but her house was FULL: she is a walking, living, breathing Prov 31:20 woman, She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Orphans is a term which is often used quite broadly – Pearl’s orphans could have lost one or both parents or be ‘economic’ orphans (abandoned permanently or temporarily because the family can’t afford to keep them) – but what is true about all of them is that they need care. Pearl welcomes them all – and feeds, clothes, loves them and teaches them about Jesus, whilst also pastoring a church and caring for a number of widows, and other poorer families. The development term often used for children like these is OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children) and in May OVCs are our focus at Restoration. The Weekly Good Ideas on the bulletin each week will run with the theme and we will spend time at the Tuesday prayer meetings interceding for children.

As a church community we try to support a few things well – Casa Chirilagua (and Dawnielle, the Hoppes and others) www.casachirilagua.org and World Orphans (and the Blaines) www.worldorphans.org are our two major connections in this area. Within the congregation many individuals are involved in other organizations: e.g. Cindy Darnell is an enthusiastic board member for David’s Hope http://www.davidshope.org , Jade and Melanie Totman advocate for Compassion (Simon and I also support five children through Compassion) http://www.compassion.com/ and I expect that friends in your circle of influence can recommend similar organizations. We also have a number of families in the congregation who have adopted children, or who are fostering. Look out for them, talk to them and ask them their stories! And, please tell me your story. How are you involved? How are you walking or would you like to walk with the poor, the widow and the orphan?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)

Next Thursday, May 10th, 7.30pm come to church and hear from the Blaines about their imminent departure for Cambodia. It will be a great opportunity to listen to their story, learn more about Cambodia, and what God is doing to reach orphans in a different land. Bring your friends – and expect to hear from God!

 

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