Lesson Trailer for February 5th

Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Sunday, February 5th, kids will hear about the amazing faith one Roman centurion had in Jesus and the miracle that followed (Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Sunday, January 29th, kids will meet the twelve ordinary guys who became extraordinary leaders as Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).

February Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate this February:

February 5: Toddlers-4th Grade will hear how Jesus healed the servant of a faithful Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: Why does God want us to encourage others?

February 12: Toddlers-4th Grade will learn that Jesus loves all of us, no matter what we’ve done or what others may think of us with the story of the calling of Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: How do we see people as God does?

February 19: Toddlers-4th Grade will be amazed as they hear how Jesus feed over 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish (Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: How do I overcome fear?

February 26: Toddlers-4th Grade will be reminded that God is with us even when we’re scared as they hear how Jesus surprised His disciples by walking to them across the sea (Matt 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:16-24). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: How can I follow God when pressure against me is strong?

Big Picture Parenting


By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

In the midst of parenting, I tend to focus on the here and now. Between my wife and I, our idea of getting a big picture in our parenting is to update our calendars with all the events, practices, programs, and activities that people in our family have committed to for the next few months. Even this simple task feels like an amazing feat.

Early in our marriage, however, my wife and I were fortunate to have a group of friends that were intentional about creating a big picture of what they wanted of their marriage and their family as well as what they wanted their kids to be like as adults. We were amazed at this idea, but in the midst of diapers, late night feedings, and making sure we didn’t lose any kids it seemed beyond our reach.

A short time later, my wife’s grandfather passed away. Through the stories from friends and family members, we began to see how his purposeful life created a vision for his family and the long-term effect was a lasting legacy that continued in the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

So, we began to create a simple vision statement, first for our marriage and then for our family. Every few years we go away for a few days to pray and reflect on this vision. Sometimes it needs modification, and sometimes we need to modify our life choices.

How would you answer the question: “What do you want your child to be like as an adult?” What parts of your identity, life, values, and faith do you want to ensure continues in the life of your child as a lasting legacy?

It’s too easy to get caught up in the daily busyness of life and miss opportunities to train, invest, and encourage our children.   Maybe now is a good time to step back for a moment and reflect on the big picture.

I’ve provided a few tips and suggestions I’ve gleaned over the years. There is a lot of info on the web, as well. First, though I would suggest you start with a few ideas and then flesh them out without worrying about formatting or cohesiveness. Afterwards, post it somewhere in your house as a reminder to be intentional and to take in the big picture. Here are a few questions to help you get started.

  • What values would you like to instill in your children?
  • What Biblical truths does your child need to be a life long Christ follower?
  • What do you want them to be like?
  • What will their faith look like?

Create a Vision Statement: Write out a statement that expresses the whole of what you want your child to be as an adult. Details can be added later, but this is a simple word picture.

List: Think of faith skills you want your child to have and how you want to integrate their spiritual growth into your family’s daily routine. Consider what elements of spiritual formation are most important for you to focus upon during the time you have available as a family.

Example: We started by listing spiritual and faith elements we wanted our kids to have, know, or have integrated into their daily life with our family.

Our kids would…

  • Have a thriving and active relationship with Jesus
  • Be able to know and hear God’s voice, discerning it from other voices
  • Desire to obey God when they hear His voice
  • Obey God through the power of the Holy Spirit, not just on their own.
  • Love and serve God with all their strength, hearts, minds, and souls (Mark 12:30)
  • Discern that the Bible is true, relevant, and that its words can be applied to our daily lives
  • Know that the Bible and God are exciting!
  • Shift from self centeredness (sin) to others-centeredness (right related/living out God’s agape love)
  • Know how to study God’s word, pray, worship, share, and serve.
  • Reflect God’s love in all their relationships: school, friends, family, and daily interactions in the world.
  • Value being surrounded by faith-filled peers who can speak into each other’s lives (accountability, community, and growth)

Creating a Vision Statement for your children’s spiritual growth not only gives you as a parent a goal and focus, but it also provides a lasting point of reference you can continue to use and adapt as your kids grow.

Lesson Trailer for January 22

Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Sunday, January 22, kids will have a front row seat to the greatest showdown ever as they learn of the face-off between Jesus and Satan in the desert following Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river (Matt 3:4-11; Mark 1:1-13; Luke 3-4:13).

I Don’t Agree with You


By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

“I don’t agree with you.” “I feel differently than you do.” “Have you thought of it like this?” Sometimes it is hard to say those words. Other times, it is very easy to say those words. The question I have been asking myself, especially when I am on social media is: how do we model to our children respectful disagreements. Respect is the key word for me.

How do we, individuals who are trying to the best of our ability to be Kingdom Followers, have our own opinions and have healthy discussions about the opinions without tearing the other person down? Do we always have to be right? What is our motivation in the discussion? Most importantly, what are we modeling to our children when we speak, in our actions and in our body language? Little eyes seem to see and hear everything. As a parent, as a volunteer or as a family member, you are being watched. How do you handle the responsibility? How do we model?

I did a little research to see what the experts were saying on this topic. I found some good reminders for myself, what I would like to model. Here is a small portion of what I found:

  • Model – challenge yourself to use a calm and neutral tone. Stick to facts, your feelings or what you have observed; no name calling.
  • Permission- our kids need to know that they don’t always need to agree with others but do need to show the love of Jesus in how they disagree, which, again, means no name calling. Help them see the value of teaching in love while doing nothing out of selfish ambition.
  • Give the words – help your child work out with appropriate words for disagreements. You can even do this with younger children by teaching them to say that made me sad. This helps them identify how they are feeling, teaching them to identify early what is causing an Older kids can be encouraged to use phrases like, “This is what I think,” or “Can I tell you how I feel?” as great starters. You modeling this will help them even more.
  • Be willing to listen – if your child is making a good faith effort to respectfully disagree, listen. Help them build the skill.
  • Don’t fix it – let your child know you heard them with your words but don’t simply step in and take care of things yourself. Help him/her work out the situation using love and respect.
  • Teach and practice – help your kids see that you will not always agree and that is okay. Teach them that those who see the world differently have value and are loved by God.
  • Help your child learn that his/her identity comes from God, not others. This lesson is good for us all but is sometimes very hard to remember.

As we move into 2017, let’s love and model love. Let’s respect and respectfully disagree. Let’s let Jesus shine through us and be different.

New Year – New Opportunities


By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Creative Arts Director

Woodland Hills Church

2017 is here! Going into this new year, many people make resolutions or lists of what they want to do/accomplish/quit/try in the next 365 days. Whatever your feelings about individual New Year’s resolutions, one thing is certain: It’s a new year full of new opportunities for you and your family to grow and learn together. Below are some ideas for how your family can create new memories while also building character and faith this year.

  • Have a Family Fun Day each month – Schedule a day or a weekend each month for your whole family to spend time together doing something fun and engaging (i.e. ice skating, berry picking, nature walk, day at the zoo, movie marathon at home, waterpark, eating out at a new restaurant, etc.). If you have older children, you could even divvy up the dates and allow them to choose what your family gets to do those days. Make the most of these special outings together and take lots of pictures!
  • Family Service Opportunities – Look for ways you and your family can serve your neighborhood/community/world this year. You might want to pick a day each month to serve together, or you could join a mailing list for a favorite volunteer organization and pick out opportunities as they pop up. Serving together as a family does two things: It helps kids put their faith into action and it gives them the chance to see faith and love modeled for them through your example.   Plus, it creates a fun family memory! Some local organizations to get you started could be Feed My Starving Children, the Merrick Community Food Shelf at Woodland Hills, and your local Humane Society.
  • Learn Something New Together – When heading to the library, have your kids (or a designated child if you want to take turns) head to the non-fiction side of the kids’ section and choose a book about a subject they are either interested in learning about or something/someone they’ve never heard of before. Then, as a family, sit down and read the book together. If it proves an interesting topic, encourage your kids to do more research, either at the library or online. (We recommend you do online research with your children as it’s pretty easy to “google” something and get material you wouldn’t want your kids to access.)
  • Try New Foods – When my cousin’s kids were young, she wanted to expand their pallets while avoiding the dreaded dinnertime tantrums. So occasionally, when they went to the grocery story, she would take them to the produce section and encourage them to find a fruit or vegetable they had never eaten before (it was even better if it looked weird). They would buy one, take it home, look up how to prepare it, and then try it in a grand “experiment.” If they liked it (which they often did), they would buy more for a meal. If they didn’t, they all laughed and called it a failed experiment. Her kids got all kinds of exposure to new fruits and veggies and found new favorites they never would have otherwise tried. If you wanted to really get creative, head to an international market or grocery store and find some truly unique foods (and meet new friends from around the world)!
  • Create Sabbath Space for Your Family – We live in a busy world, and families are often some of the busiest people around. But it’s important to take time together to reconnect with each other and God. You might try doing this by creating a specific, regular “Sabbath” time (anywhere from an hour to a whole day) where you intentionally spend time together worshipping, praying, reading the Bible, or enjoying God’s creation. (This could be done as a weekly or monthly event.) Sound boring? Not if you get creative. Your worship time can be full of fun music and dance and even homemade instruments. Prayer time can be artistic with prayer requests being drawn or written into a journal. Reading the Bible gets a whole new life when you encourage your kids to act out the stories. And a family walk takes on new meaning when your kids are excitedly searching for the “coolest/prettiest/weirdest thing God made” in your neighborhood or at the park.

Whatever you do this new year, be sure you make the most of the opportunities you have to love on your kids, build character and wisdom into their lives, and help them to grow in their faith. Time flies, and 2017 will be no exception. So here’s to a great year full of fun, laughter, memories, and togetherness!