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Change the World Weekend: My Personal Experience
This past weekend was Change the World Weekend at our church. My seventeen year old daughter informed me first. Our church youth ministry had planned for this weekend by offering a parenting and family session and then we had the opportunity to sign up for family community missions opportunities. My daughter had expressed a desire for us to do this together so we signed up.
I didn’t realize how much time and passion had been invested into this weekend until I walked in the door. My daughter and I were presented with notebooks, one designed especially for teens and mine was designed specifically for parents. Tables had been decorated in such a way that appealed to the inner missionary in all of us. I didn’t get a picture of the table, but in the middle was a blown up globe. Families were asked to mark the places where we had been on mission trips, the places we wished to go as missionaries, and then we were asked to mark specific areas around the globe for which we will keep in our prayers. It was obvious from the beginning that today would be about building stronger families who would serve the Lord together.
We began the day with a few silly games. Our youth leaders and several families participated. This was a great way to wake everyone up on an early Saturday morning.
When the games were over, we began our Bible study time. The topic of session one was titled, “What Story Are We Living In?” The idea behind this question is for families to decide if we are living in our own stories or are we living in God’s story? Are we developing our family stories around a self centered reality or a God centered reality? Are we parenting in such a way that we isolate our kids too much, regulate their influences to the extreme, agree with a secular world view? In my personal opinion, some degree of isolation and regulation is a good thing. We are parents, after all, and it is our job to set standards for our families, develop clear guidelines, and set clear consequences for violations. There needs to be a balance. The fourth area of parenting in our study was “Transform the World.” Are we parenting in such a way that teaches our kids to grow up to have a positive impact on the world around them?
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Session two of our Bible study was about helping families walk in God’s storyline. We took a closer look at what we reward as parents, what we admire, what and who we financially support. Then, we compared our own values to those we are teaching our kids. Do they line up together according to God’s Word?
Session three was about wisdom parenting.
And as Jesus grew up, He increased in wisdom and in favor with God and people. Luke 2:52
We covered 7 marks of wisdom:
1. Trusting God
2. Walking in Healthy Relationships
3. Seeking Good Counsel
4. Speaking Carefully
5. Exercising Self-Control
6. Managing Resources Well
7. Keeping Balance
The last session in the study guide includes areas for personal reflection and exercises for our homes. The content is rich in scripture and leaves spaces for answering questions and journaling. This section provides families with the materials we need to take a much deeper look at the seven marks of wisdom.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end, you will be wise, Proverbs 19:20
Our day wasn’t over yet! We enjoyed a nice lunch catered by my beloved Chick-Fil-A.
The next part of our day was a surprise for me. I knew we were supposed to be there until 3:00 but the afternoon was an awesome surprise and the best part of my day.
We were given the option to choose one of 4 community missions projects. My daughter had informed me that we would be doing this but I thought she meant we would sign up but then actually work our choice on a different day. Nope. We signed up and then, after finishing lunch, we hit the home mission field. My daughter and I chose to work a backyard Bible club. Along with several other families, we set up our club at a government housing project. We had about 10 to 15 kids join us. It was hot and muggy outside but we played games with them and they loved it.
One of the other family members on our team told the story of Jonah and the Big Fish.
One of the things I have learned through the years is that when we minister to a child, we minister to the entire family. Towards the end of our Change the World Weekend Backyard Bible Club, a few parents joined us. We had a few gospel conversations with them. We talked about what God has done in our lives and I got the privilege and blessing of listening to one lady tell me about what God has done in her life. Several of her children and step-grandchildren had joined us earlier. She has been in jail 4 times, but during her 4th stay, two ladies from a local church visited the jail, reached out to her, and she finally allowed Jesus to enter hear heart. By her own admission, her life has been a continuous cycle of unwise decisions and she knows the likelihood of making another bad decision is strong. She asked me to write down her name and pray for her. She seemed to have some knowledge about Bible verses but she said she did not own a Bible.
My daughter recently purchased a Bible to give away. She marked specific verses in the Bible, using tabs to mark the Roman Road to Salvation. She has been looking for an opportunity to give the Bible to someone who needs it. I called my daughter over and asked her to bring the Bible she had intended to give away. My heart smiled as I stood there and listened to my 17 year old daughter explain what each of those verses means and then presented it to this woman who desperately needed help. My daughter suggested she use it to learn more about our Lord and also to raise her children to know Him better.
Then, we packed up the bus and headed back to church.
This day was absolutely amazing. My 17 year old daughter and I had spent the morning in Bible study together learning more about her Godly role as a teenager and my role as a Godly parent within our home. Then, we spent the afternoon ministering in our community together. I watched my daughter walk up and down the walkways of an unfamiliar neighborhood, knock on doors, and invite complete strangers to join us for games, stories, and Popsicles. I watched her leave our group to check on a child she noticed hiding behind a dumpster, but was to shy to join us on his own. I watched her leave again to summon a few other teenagers she observed walking down behind a nearby building. They all came back with her. I watched her carry water to overheated parents who were standing nearby but kept their distance. I watched my daughter share Jesus with others – unashamed, unshaken, unafraid.
It was such a joy to minister with her on this day and I look forward to many other opportunities in the future.
If you wold like to organize a Change the World Weekend type ministry in your church, community, or your own family, visit the Real World Parents website for further resources and teaching.
Here is a book similar to the study guide booklet that we used: Real World Parents: Christian Parenting for Families Living in the Real World by Mark Matlock