Category Archives: Christian living

Church Based After School: “Life’s A Pain”

As we walk through life with children and guide them to walk with the Triune God it is important that we teach them the full truth. . .

Life often is a pain!

What are you teaching the children you serve, or your own children, about pain that never goes away no matter how much they beg God to take it from them? This is especially important as you serve at-risk children – their lives are filled with so much pain. Just because they grow to love Jesus and walk with them much of that pain will remain.

Please don’t lie to them and tell them that if they submit to Jesus that everything will be okay. IT WON”T BE

When we try to sugar coat life we cause more pain. If you have been a follower of my Blog you have perhaps read My Heart’s Cry – the story which taught me the importance of not over protecting our children.

My pastor, Todd Rettberg, is a pastor who truly pastors – he knows what you need when you are in the midst of pain because he lives with constant, continual pain that never leaves. I know from personal experience that he walks his talk. God has my husband and me on a very difficult journey filled with physical and emotional pain – Todd is walking with us through it.

I highly recommend his new book to anyone who serves children. It is important that we teach children that God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want. You can find some answers to share not only with children – but adults who question if God cares when they are in the midst of pain and there is no relief.



Life’s a Pain!

But God has treasures to impart through it.

As a pastor who suffers from chronic pain himself, Todd Rettberg knows what it can do to people and families. With straight talk, humor and compassion, he shows Christians how to find God In the midst of suffering.

Available at:

Crosslink Publishing

The e-book is also available at Amazon.


Christian After School Programs: Could Satan Be Tempting You With “Good” So You Will Disobey God?

If you are reading this you most likely have a desire to see justice for kids who are suffering. Read through the following and let me know what you think.

“And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”(Luke 4:5-8 ESV)

 Good vs. God’s Will – if Jesus will bow to Satan then Satan will give Jesus authority. However, we know that Jesus’ destiny is to be King of kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15, Philippians 2:10-11). If Jesus had taken that authority, there would then have been no more war, sickness, evil on earth – but there also wouldn’t have been eternal salvation. The Father’s plan would have been thwarted – Jesus would have sinned.

Satan was offering Jesus to have immediate gratification, to bring immediate justice to all of earth. Why didn’t Jesus do it? Because if He had He would have disobeyed God the Father – that wasn’t the Father’s plan.

What is the temptation that Satan brings to those of us who have a heart for the poor?

Do you think it is possible to want to help the poor and in the end actually harm them?  Do you think that the poor can become an idol?  That we can in the end actually put them before God, all the while doing it in His name?

Jesus certainly told His followers that they must serve the poor – or else! Matthew 25:31-46

Then He said, the poor will always be with you.  What did He mean?
Mark 14:3-9

I’ve been pondering how these two scriptures fit together and have come to this conclusion looking at both passages in the context of the entire Bible.

We definitely have a responsibility to serve the poor and we will be held accountable if we don’t.  However, that does not excuse putting the poor before God Almighty.  We make the poor more important than God when in serving them we break God’s laws, or we twist His truth.

Just as the Israelites did at the foot of Mt Sinai, I’m seeing new gods created to fit each individual’s idea of who God is.  Rather than truth we want a god who will make us feel good. 

But the problem is that when we create this new god we are doing harm not only to ourselves but to those we want to serve.

God’s anger was great, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.  Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”  Ex. 32:9&10

Moses had to fight for the people so God wouldn’t destroy them – God’s anger was great.

Do you think He is any less angry when new gods are created today?  Even if we do it in the name of social justice?  Even though we call this new god Jesus? Placing the name of Jesus on this new god doesn’t make it God.

I believe God wants us to do BIBLICAL JUSTICE; He wants us to fight for justice – but under the banner of His truth.

Let me know what you think.

After School Programs:Church Based – A Family Service Plan

“When you fail to plan
You plan to fail”
Author Unknown

It is important that we are intentional as we minister to at-risk kids and their families.

Intentionality requires planning.

In the PDF below you will find a tool to assist you plan what services you will provide a family. It will take you through a step by step process to assess what each individual family requires for lasting change.

Do not attempt to work with more than one family in this intense manner until you have developed the policies that are unique to your church.

Remember that everything begins with the building of relationship. Read last week’s post – Be Mom’s Best Friend.

A Family Service Plan

If you are a Children’s Pastor with struggling families within your church consider using this tool to come alongside of them.

If you want to use this tool to train staff write me  for the Staff Pages.
The above PDF is from the KidTrek Directors’ Training Manual.


A Tutoring Plan

After School Programs: Church Based – What At-Risk Kids Receive From Secondary Nurturers

Third in series on “What At Risk Kids Need.”

Last week we looked at the training that Secondary Nurturers need in order to be equipped so the kids will receive the following.

  • The truth of Jesus Christ taught at a level the child can understand and receive.
    • No false promises.
    • Learns Jesus has a purpose for every-thing that happens.  Our challenge is to not waste the pain.
    • The vulnerability and honesty of the SN in sharing Christ leads the child to discover the immense love of Jesus.
    • The challenge to know God and know His power.
    • Insight into how biblical truth can be applied in all areas of life.
  • Learns the power of prayer.
    • As a 12 year old, Jamal couldn’t read.  His SN asked Kim if she would pray for Jamal each day.  In return, the SN asked Jamal to pray for Kim. His response, “I’ve never done anything like that, but I’ll try.”  The following week his school teacher moved him into a remedial phonics program.  In two weeks he was reading everything.  (There was a follow-up discussion with Jamal that God doesn’t always answer in this way.)
    • Jamal also learned it isn’t just about him.  Kim, a suburban mother had pain for which she also needed prayer.
  • Learns how to function as a member of the body of Christ.
  • Development of critical thinking skills.
    • Kids receive specially designed “money” for attendance, bringing homework, behavior, participation, etc.  They learn how to write checks, deposit money in the “bank,” and tithe.  They have the opportunity to purchase items in the store each week.  Store items may be food, hygiene items, toys, books, games, potential gift items.  Kids “pay” to attend all activities outside of the center.
    • Tyrone was looking forward to purchasing the Lego Prehistoric Creatures today.  He had been saving his “money” for months. As he approached the store, the center director asked him, “Tyrone, have you bought your ticket for our trip to the snow next weekend?”  “No” came the reply.  “Do you want to go to the snow?” the director asked.  “Yes” Tyrone smiled.  “You better buy your ticket today or you won’t be able to go,” the director suggested.  “But I wanted to buy the Legos I’ve been saving for, and if I get my ticket I won’t have enough money for the Legos.  Will you loan me some money?”  The director laughed and told him the KidTrek Bank didn’t make loans.  The director helped Tyrone go through the process of critically thinking how the outcome would differ if he didn’t buy his ticket that day.  Yes, he would have to wait for the Legos, but they would still be there when he had earned more money; if he put off buying his ticket, he would miss the snow trip, and there wouldn’t be another one this year.
  • The opportunity to deal with delayed gratification.
  • Instruction in all aspects of handling money.
  • The opportunity to make and act on responsible choices.
  • A respect for education.
  • A vision for the future.
  • The opportunity to have meaningful conversation around a meal several times a week.
  • An education.
    • Most times it will be homework assistance and tutoring that is needed,  supplementing the school experience
    • One child was not able to learn at school due to learning disabilities.  The SN  began to home school her.  It has made a huge difference in the life of this preteen.
  • Development of a work ethic.
    • Learns not to expect to receive without working for something.
    • Learns chores and responsibilities are a normal part of life.
  • Opportunities to deal with feelings in a responsible manner.
  • Instruction in basic life skills – eating in a restaurant, making a bed, washing clothes, how to use a bathroom, etc.
  • Guidance in healthy manner of receiving criticism/correction.
  • A faithful adult willing to walk through stages of Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry, and Identity.
  • Understanding that life does not appear fair today (Psalm 73) because we do not know how God is at work.
    • We cannot compare ourselves with others; we must walk the path God has called us to walk – Galatians 6: 4 & 5.
  • Understanding that feelings can be deceptive.
    • Learns how to handle feelings.
    • Learns importance of taking feelings to Source of all Truth.
  • Hope as adults, primary-nurturer/secondary-nurturer/Service Partners, work together to improve the family’s life situation.
  • Vision of a future that can be his/hers – unique to the individual kid.

The following is from a Secondary-Nurturer who has walked through life with her kids for the last four years.  She has had a lot of ups and downs, but remained faithful. She has gotten up early to take a dad to work when his car broke down; she has looked for kids on the streets when they weren’t showing up; she made her home a refuge for kids.  She ministers not only to the five kids with whom she works; she also ministers to mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents. They know she is someone to trust.

We tell the kids that everything they learn, whether knowledge or skill, is something they will need to draw upon later in life. I don’t think they understand or believe this.

Last week Blanca and Henry interviewed for their first part-time job. It is only for three weeks but it is with the city helping weed and clean up the parks. The money comes from a grant for low-income kids. They both commented on how easy the interview was, basically if you show up you get the job.  I explained to them how often kids in the neighborhood don’t show up for jobs and that is why they have the pre-interview to see who is serious about work.  Two years ago, we helped a kid we know get one of these jobs, but he only showed up twice. He is almost 18 and has yet to finish anything.

I reminded them of the kids who showed up for the interview looking scared.  Blanca and Henry have had the advantage of public speaking and working with our drama teacher. The kids and parents give me a hard time about being early or on time.  At their interviews the kids were asked about whether they could be counted on to be on time. It reminded them that maybe I am not crazy after all.

Then they were asked what kind of skills they had with garden and wood tools.  Blanca and Henry have worked with me in my garden, worked with rose bushes, and removed rocks from my garden. They also have learned about wood working. In the interview they had some great experiences to share. The average inner city kid doesn’t have these experiences, nor do they have the work ethic developed like Blanca and Henry.

In my world, those are huge things, though often taken for granted because they are just part of being a productive adult. In the inner city they are huge because these are typically learned during childhood, and they fail as adults without them.

When I first started in ministry I thought the goal was to raise good, godly kids; now I realize the goal is to raise great and godly adults. This is a huge difference. You can have good kids but that doesn’t mean they will be prepared for adulthood or be great and godly adults. We have to look beyond the now and look for positive outcomes.

What are we teaching them that will make their generation different from their ancestors?




After School:Church Based – Why?

(For “KidTrek: Sunday Plus” – a blog on the church’s children’s ministry – click here)

“‘Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’ But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. “
(Zechariah 7:10-11 ESV)


Then he will answer them, saying,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did not do it to one of the least of these,
you did not do it to me.’
And these will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:45-46 ESV)

Why should the church read out to those who are in need?


In the weeks ahead we will look at what you can do at your church to make a difference through an After School Ministry.



By Wanda

We are making some changes!

Trying to write about After School Programs, which is outreach oriented, and Children’s Ministry, which is geared to church raised kids, at the same time wasn’t working.

Thus we have split the two.

KidTrek: Sunday Plus is a new blog which will focus on ministry to children raised in the church.  We are still developing it so expect some glitches over the next few weeks.

KidTrek – After School Programs is this Blog beginning today. The URL has been changed too This Blog will now focus on outreach through the children’s ministry. That is actually where we began.

I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of these changes.

My passion is seeing kids discipled to walk with Jesus. I believe that the church is challenged to not only disciple their own children but to also reach out into the community and disciple kids who do not receive this nurturing at home.

Child Discipleship: A Scripture Memorization Ministry Plan

(I am now writing in regard to Children’s Ministry at  I will continue writing in regard to Christian After School Programs here at

Hugo approached the director’s office asking, “May I quote a memory verse to you?”

“Sure,” Vonnie responded, with a thrill in her voice.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2

Hugo proudly continued . . .

It’s a good thing I memorized that verse. A kid was calling me names today and getting in my face. I kept saying this verse to myself and kept my arms at my sides . . .

“ . . . Miss Vonnie, I was steadfast.”

What a difference when kids apply the Word of God into their everyday lives.

But if Hugo hadn’t memorized that verse the week before he wouldn’t have had it on his heart when he needed it.

Scripture memorization is a vital part of discipling children whole-istically. Sunday Plus Curriculum encourages churches to set up a Scripture Memorization Ministry which eventually engages the entire church (or almost entire church).


Children will have one verse a month to memorize.  The verse will relate to the concept they are learning on Sunday morning.

Why only one verse a month?

  • Children have a tendency to memorize a verse on the way to church Sunday morning and forget it on the way home. Working on a verse for a whole month, saying it weekly to the Memory Verse Specialists and then continuing to say it in the months to come it won’t be easily forgotten.
  • Kids are taught the meaning of the verse in the Midweek Celebration.
  • The current month’s verse may be recited to the Memory Verse Specialists between services.

Children earn Bucks for memorizing the verses.

  • Children will receive additional Bucks as they retain verses and recite each of the previous month’s verses.
    • Children say past months’ verses at home to their parents.
    • The parents sign a voucher which the child turns in on Sunday morning to the Memory Verse Specialists.
  • The Memory Verse Specialist gives the child the allotted number of Bucks when the child quotes that month’s verse between services.
  • Vouchers can be picked up at the Memory Verse tables each Sunday.
    • They could also be passed out in The Shema Focus.
    • Children may say their verses and turn in the vouchers every week.

If a parent or other adult (must always be the same adult) accompany the child to the Memory Verse Specialist and can quote that month’s verse, the child receives extra KidTrek Bucks.

  • Adults may quote the verse in the translation in which they learned it.
  • An adult can quote the verse for only one child.
    • If there are four children in a family the father can quote for one child and the mother for a second child.
    • Children three and four will need to recruit other adults in the church to be their scripture memorization partners.
      • This again engages more of the church body in the discipleship of children.
      • Children are connecting with more adults in the church.

4 year olds through 2nd graders may memorize an abbreviated verse.

  • A “slash” is placed in the verse to indicate the portion they are to memorize.
  • Encourage them to memorize the entire verse if they are able.
  • Parents should also make adjustments for children with learning disabilities.


  • A child receives 5 Bucks for each verse quoted.
  • A child receives 5 Bucks for an adult who quotes the present month’s verse.
  • A child receives 5 Bucks for each past verse s/he quotes to parents and returns the voucher.
  • When two verses are given for a month and the child learns both verses, s/he receives 5 Bucks for each verse

Parental Voucher

If you would like a “Sample Voucher”  Then scroll down to the Scripture Memorization Plan pdf