Author Archives: joshkellar

Family Dojo

Back in January I got to hear Mark Scandrette talk about his faith community in California. I was captivated by what he had to say about the Jesus Dojo and decided to attempt something similar with our families at church over this past summer.

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We decided that on Wednesday nights we would have “Family Dojo.” Dojo means “way of life.” We wanted our families to center their way of life around the teachings of Jesus. To do this we looked at short passages from the Sermon on the Mount, shared in some discussion then experimented with what it would be like to live those passages out during the week. The response was varied. Some families found it natural to “experiment” in this way, others it was forced. I wasn’t bothered by this since the goal was simply to discover practical ways of living out the ways of Jesus. If it proved difficult for families, then perhaps they were able to reflect on what may need to change about their family rhythm. Families that found the experiments fitting naturally into their lives said the kids would remind the parents of what they were supposed to do!

Below are links to the short devotionals I put together and offered to the families.

Blessings,

~JK

Children See, Children Do

Children see, children do.

To be honest, this is one of the most uncomfortable truths about parenting that I have to face. How many of us have been in the grocery store and had to apologize for what a child said only to realize later that they probably heard it first from us. Or have you ever looked at your spouse after witnessing your child do something and smiled as you jokingly said, “I wonder where she gets that?”

A number of years ago, NAPCAN, Australia’s National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, put out this sobering commercial. Watch with caution as it contains mature content…


For better or for worse, children learn behaviors from their parents. Bad habits, negative personality traits, discouraging phrases and poor ways of handling problems are all passed on to our children. The better news is that good habits, positive personality traits, encouraging phrases and helpful ways of handling problems are also passed on to our children.

Imagine if my child was left to inherit the messy way I deal with life with no real power to overcome the obstacles created for her. Also imagine if the limits of their capacity for making positive changes in their world were set by my own standard of doing good.

I don’t want my children boxed in by the limits of my “goodness” or the depth of my depravity.

Thankfully, there’s a teacher better than us that can use both the good and the bad to redeem our children from our parenting. If we consider the words of Jesus, we can be relieved from the hopeless pressure of raising the perfect child.

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” John 14:25-27 (MSG)

Children see and children do – yes. But thank goodness, there is a Friend, that brings peace in our chaos and equips us to excel beyond what we have witnessed.

~JK

Dreaming of More for The Next Generation – A Reflection

9781434700162_p0_v1_s260x420I just started reading Dreaming of More For the Next Generation by Michelle Anthony. One chapter in, I am already impressed with the biblical foundation she lays for a family ministry paradigm. The end of the first chapter she invites readers to “reflect,” “respond,” and “dream” about what how might want to awaken us to more in our lives personally and in ministry to children and their families.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Reflect:

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

Luke 5:37-39

Family-MinistryWe are asked to describe our current wineskin. What a great question! From a family ministry perspective, I would describe our ministry to children and families as “Family Friendly.” The children and youth programs function independently but create opportunities for parents to get involved on some level. The discipleship of children is important and parents are viewed as having a crucial role but they must rely heavily on the programs provided. Little is done outside of the youth and children’s ministry to equip them to be more spiritually focused in their child-rearing.

In my six years working in children’s ministry this model has been a source of frustration at times. I think many times churches want to hire children’s ministers to oversee children’s programs and give a head-nod to the role of parents but are satisfied if mediocre content is taught by volunteers whose arms may have been twisted into plugging a hole on Sunday morning. This has not been the case in every classroom of my ministry career but in praxis has been the general result of the ministry as a whole when not everyone is on the same page regarding what successful children & family ministry looks like. The resulting fruit is families who are not only unequipped by their church family but even hindered in their ability because “spiritual formation is best left to the experts.” In the lives of children, fruit is measured in terms of ministry event attendance and levels of Bible knowledge and skill. We might even pat ourselves on the back if we feel that their Bible class attendance and knowledge of scripture affects the child’s behavior, though none of these provide an accurate measure of faith.

Leather Wine SkinWhen we are faced with the choice to change the system, lay down our old wineskin in exchange for a new one, we panic or circle the wagons. We worry that without the old wineskins our children will not know the Bible. We become concerned that if children aren’t attending our program, they might not be spiritually formed anywhere. We place on a pedestal our old wineskin and claim that it worked for me when I was a kid without considering that the Spirit knew just what we needed at that time. Now, perhaps the Spirit is choosing for the growing generation a different vintage. The Spirit wants to pour out a new wine but our old wineskins can’t handle it. They will simply burst.

What if we were willing to create (or allow ourselves to be created into) a vessel worthy of the sweet wine the Spirit was ready to pour out? What would ministry to children and families look like that did this? Right now, I don’t know. But I do know that if the Spirit was being poured out and we had allowed ourselves to become a wineskin worthy of receiving him, we would be measuring success in terms of how well we cultivate an atmosphere where parents are primary.

What would your ministry look like if God were pouring out new wine on it?

An invitation…

When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

                            Ephesians 3:12-21 (MSG)
You will never be able to trust unless your feet are firmly planed on love. Unfortunately, its because we have experienced the very opposite of love that we often have a hard time trusting. At our best we might feel capable of intellectually telling someone that we love them but the connection between our head and our heart is missing. When we spend too much time feebly attempting to figure out love, figure out why it went wrong, figure out how we can get others to give us more of it, we miss the opportunity to just be present in what has existed since the beginning of time.
His
never stopping,
never giving up,
unending,
always and forever love!
                    ~Sally Lloyd-Jones
Having our feet firmly planted on this kind of love- the way we were always meant to- allows us to make a connection between what we think and what we experience. It surrounds us. There are no limits to its dimensions, power, or fullness. It needs no figuring out because if you could, it’s limits could be described. The response to this love is not to figure it out or even to think about it. It’s an invitation to enter something meant for you, meant for your heart. An invitation with no strings attached.
You are invited to
just
be.

Creating A Spiritual Legacy

Nobody wants to think about leaving a legacy, but we do it every day with every single decision we make. Here is a sermon in which I share a story of Jesus and what we can see about intentionally creating a spiritual legacy for everyone we influence.

~JK

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