Enjoy the article – and mention this blog post and get $50 off a Kidology to Go event booked during January or February in Southern California, Arizona or South New Mexico or Nevada – check out the schedule for more info!
We hope you enjoy Marty’s article – but better yet, we hope you’ll book Marty and his family at YOUR CHURCH!
PLUS, you can now book Rob Biagi for a Friday evening Family Concert the evening before the training event. Contact Marty for complete details!
If you aren’t a subscriber to Children’s Ministry Magazine (in which I have a column, Age Level Insights, ages 6-9) you truly are robbing yourself! In this issue alone my good friends Jamie Doyle and Gordon West contributed!
Finally, we went outside… and there he was… at the nativity, worshiping Jesus.
What did he bring? Was it Frankincense? Myrrh? A toy car?
OK, so the picture was posed, but it has been wonderful to see our son’s understanding of Christmas blossom this year, especially as this was the year he asked Jesus into his heart, and all by himself one evening when he was alone.
“Quizzed” by his parents later, he assured us he knew what he was doing. We’ve seen so much fruit to reflect a change in his heart and vocabulary we are assured that the Christ of Christmas now lives in our little boy. Now he won’t let a day go by without Dad teaching him something new about Jesus!
It’s made this Christmas all the more special to us.
We couldn’t believe our ears! We were at our church’s Family Gingerbread House making event, and there were well over 100 families making yummy houses. When they announced there was a competition and my wife saw my face slightly change she said, “You’re not competing are you?” I answered, “Of course!” (Men, you understand.) But I didn’t seriously think we had a chance, after all, I had a four year old on my team who I was not going to cut out of the process to increase my chances.
We struggled away with our house, since we didn’t cheat and use a kit (!) and even added shingles and a chimney! When we heard the ten minute warning three sides were still blank! I then realized that the chimney look a little like a steeple, so I quickly added a triangle and a cross just as we slapped on frosting and stuck candy all over the sides!
When I got to the tables and saw all the amazing creations I thought we don’t have a chance but as I was setting ours down I overheard the judges say, “Look at that and its not a kit.” Wow, that was encouraging!
When we ultimately won out of so many entries we were laughing all the way home. There were so many incredibly amazing creations there! Lots that, if I had been a judge, I would have chosen over my own. But for some reason, ours was chosen – perhaps for the family effort, the shingles, and the steeple. I mean, it IS a neat Gingerbread Church, I don’t mean to belittle our hard work. But there were some other amazing ones there too. We just DID NOT expect to win! But we’ll take it!
It made me think of Mary and Joseph – the most unlikely couple to be chosen to “win” the choice as the Parents of Son of God. A single teen age girl? A young man with no experience? Poor and unknown! So many others would have been more impressive.
But God chose them. Like us when we heard our name announced, they were probably laughing too that God chose them of all people!
Even when I look at the growth and impact of Kidology – and then consider myself, I have to laugh again. That God would choose me. God truly has a sense of humor as well as grace and delights in choosing those who don’t deserve to be used. I think that’s a big part of the meaning of both Christmas and the Cross.
Once again it is time to post the Bastian Christmas Letter! We hope you are in the midst of enjoying a wonderful Christmas Season! As usual we are getting our letter out the week of Christmas! (Ahhhhhh!) We mail it to family and some friends, but to save on postage I also post it here on my blog so anyone interested can also download the PDF and enjoy it, just click on the image here:
Then, in February, I went on a personal solo sabbatical to experience “Yosemite in Winter” snowshoeing the valley. It was incredible. I didn’t blog about it, as it was a personal time between me and God. But I did make this highlight video:
March saw anotherCPC – I’ve lost track how many I’ve been to, but I’ve been to every single once since 1995, so I’ve been to over 35 of them with all their locations, some years there being three! (See Why You Should Go to CPC)
In April I hiked Devil’s Backbone with some friends as the beginning of Hiking Group I’m trying to start in Colorado.
In May, I went on my third Yosemite Summit. This has become the highpoint of my year, as I unplug (quite literally!) from everything and spend almost a week disconnected from normal life with God and some other children’s ministers.
June was a real treat, as I finally got to go to Toronto to see my brothers town, just before the G4 riots and before he moved to Ohio! I also spoke in at the KidBuilders conference while I was there.
In October, I decided to become a rat, and we lauched our Family Pit Stops, which have become a highlight of our family – and are mentioned in the Christmas Letter. (My dad says that reference in the Christmas Letter needs explanation and sounds like we all head to the restroom together. If so, read this link.)
One thing I do realize, as I reflect on my blog, is how much Facebook and Twitter has trumped my blog. There are so many events that in the past that I would have blogged, but that I didn’t because I was updating Facebook along the way or Tweeting pics and comments. The only problem is – those posts are long gone, and difficult, if not impossible to link to, which is why as much as I surrender to the advent of Facebook, I really don’t like it. I would much prefer that every had a blog and Facebook only aggregated feeds from them. But that’s a post for another day! (on my blog, not Facebook!)
I do plan to do some re-thinking of how to integrate all my online data collection in the New Year… its tricky! But I do know, I much prefer things on my blog, as they are “safer” and better preserved than Facebook, but things are read more on Facebook.
On the center table of our home is a figurine of Santa kneeling down and worshiping Jesus. It was the one thing I wanted from my childhood. My mom promised it to me as a little boy. To me, it summarizes the role Santa plays in our home. He is a part of Christmas, but he is subservient to Jesus.
My story is a funny one, because in my home, we enjoyed Santa – but not only did I not “believe” in Santa, I didn’t know any kids actually believed in him until my first Christmas as a children’s pastor! I found out in the most horrible way.
Teaching on the “true meaning of Christmas” in kids church I must have mentioned that Santa wasn’t real… (well, he isn’t!) I didn’t intend any harm to children, it wasn’t the point of my lesson, I also said it wasn’t presents or lights or snowmen or trees! I don’t even remember exactly how it came up! Maybe I was asked by a child. But Monday morning I was in the senior pastor’s office (who was a father of six kids) being asked…
Boss: “Did you tell the children in children’s church that Santa isn’t real?”
Me: “Um, I might have.”
Boss: “Why would you do that?”
Me: “Well, um, maybe because, he isn’t?”
Boss: “But why would you do that in church?”
Me: “Well, my lesson was on the true meaning of Christmas?”
Boss: “But what gives you the right to spoil Christmas for kids?”
Me: “How does telling kids the reall meaning of Christmas spoil Christmas?”
Boss: “Because a lot of kids believe Santa is real?”
Me: “They do? Not grade school school kids. Who tells them that?”
Boss: “Their parents.”
Me: “Not CHRISTIAN parents?!?!?”
Boss: “I do.”
It was a real eye-opener to me! I never knew that anyone, let alone Christian parents would tell their kids that Santa was REAL! I can’t bring myself to “lie” to my son. (I use the word lie very lightly, but it is lying, as its not true.) However, I don’t judge parents who do this, I have good friends and family members who do let their kids “believe” in Santa. But for me, I don’t see the need to believe in something for it to be fun. I didn’t need to believe Star Wars was real for it to bring so much joy to my childhood. (or adulthood for that matter!) – - sorry, if a few of you out there are just now saying, “What!?!? Star Wars isn’t real!?!”
The real clincher for me is that so much of our Christian faith, if we are honest, is hard to believe! Faith is required. (Josh*)
I want everything I tell my son to be TRUE. When I do tell him things that aren’t true – as I often do in a joking manner – if he asks, “Really, Dad?” I answer honestly. I don’t want him to discard Jesus when he discards Santa. But he can always tell when I’m “lying” or having fun making stuff up – be fanciful. So when I say, “This is true” he believes me. So when I say the Sea parted, or the sun stood still, or Jesus walked on water, and my son says, “Come on, REALLY DAD?” I want to be able to say, “YES, Son, REALLY.”
That’s why I don’t lie to my son, ever. And I can’t bring myself to tell him Santa is real. Because so much about our faith IS unbelievable. And yet so true. So why start at this young age telling him something that isn’t real, is?
But that’s not dogmatic or judgemental. That’s just MY decision for MY family. Because I have a responsibility to raise MY son to know the difference between what is real and what is true and to not discard Jesus when he discards Santa, as 85% of all high schoolers do according to research “as a childhood belief.”
A lot of people are worried about their kids believing that Santa is real. It’s not the story you tell at Christmas that’s going to determine their belief in Jesus. It’s the story that you tell every other day of the year with your life that makes the difference.
NOTE ON COMMENTS: I have 20+ on Facebook so far and 2 here… keep in mind Facebook comments vanish and are never read again, comments here are archived and become part of the annual discussion (like Lori’s comments on her blog) so be sure to post your thoughts here to last longer!
*Josh, faith doesn’t mean ‘blind faith’ – faith means even with the overwhelming evidence, there still remains an element of trust, a leap to trust & accept. Atheists or evolutionists must do the same, in fact, even more so I would argue!
O.K. – I’ll be honest. There WAS one thing I hated about being a children’s pastor. I avoided it like the black plague. It was pure evil. Satan, I thought, must have come up with the idea. It was a plot to keep me from ministering to kids, sharing the Gospel, doing visitation, and equipping and encouraging my volunteers.
And it wasn’t my fault! The church’s database stunk too! If they couldn’t even keep theirs up to date, what hope did I have?! So I’d create my own, I thought. I bought every software sold on the market. Even programmed my own once. (that was a nightmare!) For seasons at a time, I didn’t bother, or I’d let it look I was keeping track of the kids – but God knew I didn’t have a clue who had really been there or not. Don’t worry – I made sure the person who dropped off the kid picked up the kid and that we had a “never alone” policy in place. Sunday morning security was a priority. But beyond keeping the kids safe on Sunday – my data was usually a mess! Please tell me, I’m not the only CP guilty of data confusion!
If only KidCheck had existed when I was a full time children’s pastor!
AND I KNOW HOW THEY DID IT TOO!
They got a hold of 1.21 jigawatts and a Delorean and traveled back in time and read my mind!
MANY a time as I sat for hours typing in data or asking some poor sap of a volunteer to do it I thought to myself,
Why am I doing this? This makes no sense! We should be having our parents and volunteers fill this in themselves at home online! And when it changes, they should update it. Who knows better how to spell all these names, when these kids where born, what they want to be called, when they move, and if they even still attend our church.
Well. If you have a sinful nature like me, and are wiling to admit you hate your current database system and are spending countless hours hacking at a computer or fussing with equipment when you could be doing ministry – or you are devoting precious volunteer talent to a database when they could be invested in building or leading a ministry – then you owe it to yourself, and to your ministry to take a look at KidCheck, and be prepared to be blown away.
I just KNOW they have a time traveling machine there at KidCheck, because they have built in EVERY feature I ever wanted and that NO OTHER check-in system ever included all in one easy-to-set-up package!
You might just get your sanctification back under control!
KidCheck is a web-based check-in system that is EASY to use, user-controlled and maintained plus it is scalable for both small and large ministries.
and is incredibly affordable!
It has everything you’d ever want in a check-in system from reports to alerts to forms to ease of use – it practically does it all for you with onscreen videos to walk people through the process at church AND (more importantly) at home. It even works for multi-site churches too!
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey