Tag Archives: Nurturing Children

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.


Church Based After School Ministry: What Is/Is Not Relational Ministry?

Relational Ministry isn’t  easy – you must continually set aside what is easy and comfortable in order to minister to REAL NEEDS.

there are so many needs!!!

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:12-13 ESV)


Relational Ministry is Deuteronomy 6:4-9 put into intentional practice.

It will never happen unless verse 4 is a desire of your heart.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV)

I would love to hear some of your stories of relational ministry meeting REAL NEEDS.

Discipling Children – Equipping Parents To Disciple Children

By Wanda Parker

(I am now writing about Children’s Ministry and equipping parents at www.kidtrek-sundayplus.org  I will continue writing about Christian After School Programs here.)

Below is a sample of a Parenting Tip found in the Sunday Plus curriculum.

We are now providing on-line training check it out here You can also check out the Sunday Plus Curriculum here    and After School Curriculum here




Celebrations provide a great opportunity to train your children to plan, prepare and implement tasks. These are skills that are vital for a productive adulthood.



  1. Planning begins with a purpose.
  2. Planning requires looking into the future.
  3. Planning requires looking at ALL the options.
  4. Planning requires making difficult choices based on desired outcome – Purpose.
  5. A planner learns to eliminate what feels good for what will bring the desired outcome.
  6. Planning requires one to learn to be intentional.
  7. Planning teaches one how to predict outcomes.


  1. Preparation of the plan provides the opportunity to learn new skills to fulfill the plan.
  2. Preparation teaches perseverance.
  3. Preparation teaches cause and effect


  1. Implementing a plan builds vigilance.
  2. Implementing a plan teaches consequences.
  3. Implementing a plan develops a sense of accomplishment


  • Adults unable to predict outcomes resort to impulsive decisions.
  • Adults unable to understand cause and effect take dangerous risks.
  • Adults who didn’t learn to persevere, may have trouble keeping a job.
  • Adults with no sense of purpose will have no life goal.
  • An adult who does not believe s/he is capable of accomplishing anything of worth won’t accomplish anything of worth.

Who do you want your child to be when s/he is 40 – mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually?

As a parent, if you desire to be more intentional in planning out how to walk with your child into adulthood ask your Children’s Pastor/Director for KidTrek’s Child Discipleship Plan.

Essential Church? Children’s Discipleship – The Place To Be

Wanda Parker

If you are looking for curriculum to disciple the children in your church check out Sunday Plus click here

I continue to Blog on the book “Essential Church?” but relate it to the disicpleship of children (birth-6th grade) as opposed to teens, as the authors Thom and Sam Rainer address.

Page 61 “We want the church to regain its status as the ‘third place.’
“The third place is an anchor of the community, which facilitates relational interaction between people in the community.”

This is what Starbucks has strived to become.  Have you noticed if you go into the same Starbucks for a few times they begin calling you by name when you enter the door.  They remember what you orderon a regular basis too.  It is the place where everyone knows who you are and are glad to see you.

This is what any Esstential Church is – from the time you first enter the church, even if you are only an infant.  It is where you are known, where people are excited to see you.

I tell the STORY OF AN INFANT here


I remember one Sunday standing outside the 4 year old Sunday morning room as they were releasing children to parents.  A mom came to the door to get her son and when he saw her he began to cry. “No, no I don’t want to leave,” he cried (indicating he wanted to stay for the next service).

“But you have a birthday  party to go to.” mom pleaded.

“No, I might miss something.” the little boy cried.

“But there will be cake and ice cream and you may win a prize,” mom continued to plead.

Mom of course won but I stood in the background telling God, “Yes! yes! thank you Lord for making this a welcoming, good place for this child – better than a birthday party.”


Dad had been oversees for a year in the military, while he was gone mom had started bringing the kids to church.  The kids were excited because dad was coming home the following Saturday – no one expected to see them Sunday morning.  BUT there the WHOLE family was walking up to the church.

Dad had gotten home close to midnight but one of the first things the kids told him was that they all had to go to church the next moring.  They were in their parents’ bedroom early waking mom and dad up telling them to get up.  Dad said they told him how great church is and that he had to come and see how great it is too.

Three stories of the church becoming an essential place, becoming the third place, to children.  Oh yes the first place is home and the second place is school.

I use to tell our team of shepherds and disciplers that we needed to develop a ministry through which kids would grow up feeling so connected to the church that one of the first places they wanted to go when they came home on Christmas break was to see everyone at church.

How do you do that?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Listed below are my other posts on the Essential Church and Discipling Children with more stories of how I’ve seen the church become an essential place, the third place for kids.

Here are links to previous posts on the Discipleship of Children:  Discipleship and Sumer Sundays click here, Discipleship through Summer Ministry #1 click here, Discipleship through Summer Ministry #2 click here, Discipleship of Infants and Toddlers click here, the high calling of discipling children and the difference adults can make in the life of a child click here,  is your church raising up 1st,  2nd or 3rd generation Christians click here,  the importance of parents modeling their faith, of the church modeling the faith click here, research shows that 70% of churched kids are walking away – does your church have a plan to disciple your children click here

Essential Church:Children’s Discipleship Summer Ministry cont’

By Wanda Parker

Yesterday I began a dicussion of my vision of Summer Ministry and why it is important – I will continue today.

Yesterday I spoke of Day Camps  click here to read.

Vacation Bible School: I like starting the summer off with a big bang that gets the attention not just of the church but also the community.  What better way to do that than with a well orchestrated VBS.  This is a time for the whole church to get involved – men you need to be there too.  I’ve known quite a few men to take vacation time so they could be part of VBS.  If you have several hundred kids on your campus for a week – even if just three hours each day – you must make sure everyone is prepared and trained. 

This preparation begins months ahead with the women of the church gathering to prepare the most creative crafts that can be thought of – not ones that will be thrown in the trash on the way out the church door.  These gatherings for preparation are evenings of socializing (which includes good food) and a lot of fun.  You want to make it so the women don’t want to miss out.  In the weeks before have gatherings for all leaders to be trained and prepared.  Make sure that someone is in charge of welcoming new women who don’t know anyone.

Previous to VBS all leaders who will be interacting with the kids should know the Biblical concepts that are going to be taught and how to do guided conversation with the kids around those concepts. It is best if the leaders can have memorized the verses ahead of time.  Give them games or ways to keep kids engaged when there is a lull. No matter how hard you plan things won’t go just like you planned, but if you have prepared the leaders for such times the kids won’t realize there is a lull.

Make sure you are teaching Biblical truths in a manner in which kids can grasp and internalize.  Remember that children are concrete thinkers so they don’t learn the way you and I do.  Biblical truth is abstract and floats over children’s heads unless we take the time to make that truth concrete.  Skits and Object Lessons are abstract – if you want to know more about that write me.  Here is a link though that speaks to this a little more click here

Day Trips: In the off weeks when there is no Day Camp there are fun trips to local venues depending on where your church is located.  These trips are for fun, building relationships and teaching kids that no matter where they are they are representing Jesus Christ.  I will never forget being at Disneyland when a man approached a sixth grader and asked him what “PrimeTime” was (the inscription on the t-shirts and the name of that church’s’ Children’s Ministry).  Without hestitating the kid responded, “It is the most important time of our week because it is when we are learning about Jesus.”  I stood behind them and shouted within me to the Lord, “YES! YES!”

Are you thinking intentionally about everything you do with your kids?  Are you preparing them, training them to think strategically also?  Are they learning that Biblical truths aren’t just relevant on Sunday morning but in everything they do?

Mommy and Me: a time for preschoolers to come and spend time with mom at the church in organized activities.  A time to become comfortable on the campus of the church, to feel special.  A time for young moms to connect with one another. An opportunity for older women to minister and interact alongside of younger moms and their children – hopefully rubbing off some of their wisdom.

Preschool Mornings: a time for preschoolers to be dropped off to enjoy an intentional time of play and learning about Jesus.  Building up that feeling bank that will last with them forever that the church is a safe place – an essential place to be. Building relationships with children with whom they will travel through their childhood.

Family Festivals: Usually held Saturday evenings a time of celebration, games, togetherness.  Building memories and relationships to last a life time – leading to the ultimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

In my next post I will address Super Summer Sundays – what are summer Sundays like at your church for your children?

If you have not followed the previous posts in regard to the Discipleship of Children you can do so by connecting to these links 

Here are links to previous posts on the Discipleship of Children:  Discipleship of Infants and Toddlers click here, the high calling of discipling children and the difference adults can make in the life of a child click here,  is your church raising up 1st,  2nd or 3rd generation Christians click here,  the importance of parents modeling their faith, of the church modeling the faith click here, research shows that 70% of churched kids are walking away – does your church have a plan to disciple your children click here

Essential Church? and Children’s Ministry/Discipleship part 2

By Wanda Parker,

Last week I began blogging (click here) in regard to the book “Essential Church?”  This book is a must read for anyone working with children and/or youth.

“Certain absolutes found within Scripture are so crucial that a Christian should be willing to sacrifice his or her life for them.”  Page16

Wow!  Powerful and so true.  These truths and this type of commitment should be taught from the time the child enters the nursery.  It isn’t taught with words at that stage but through the commitment of the adults.

Do adults in your church give up their wants so that the children of your church have adults committed to walk through life with them?

Where do parents spend the most time with their kids?  On the soccer field or in the church?  From where parents spend their time what are the kids learning is important to mom and dad?  Why are kids leaving the church in droves?  Probably one important reason is because moms and dads have taught them through their actions that everything but church is important.

Below is an excerpt from the White Paper on Competition and Emotional Development click here to read entire paper

From the time my own children were infants, I have prayed asking the Lord to teach me how to raise my children up to be godly adults.  I felt totally inadequate but the Lord found varying means to teach me.

Joe, my husband, was on staff with Open Doors with Brother Andrew when our children were in early elementary school.  As part of Joe’s ministry, we were part of a team sent to take Bibles into China.  While in Hong Kong, we met a family who had only recently escaped from China.

The mother of the family told us the story of her family while her eldest surviving son translated for her.  In the mid-1960’s during the Cultural Revolution, the Red Guard had come to their home and wrenched their four children from the home.  The Red Guard had set up a bench in front of their home and made the four children, ages 11, 10, 6 and 3, sit on the bench.  They called all the neighbors to come watch what was about to take place.

Then the soldiers went from child to child asking if he loved Jesus.  When the child responded, “Yes, I love Jesus,” the soldier would hit the child in the face, knocking him to the ground.  The soldiers went to each child several times, but the oldest, Steven, got beaten over and over because he refused to renounce Jesus.

Finally the soldiers turned from the children to attack the parents.  Stephen crawled into their home and lay down on his mat.  Daniel, the 10-year-old followed him in and knelt beside him.

“Don’t tell mama but I’m dying Daniel I’m dying.” The 11–year-old declared.

Just then Mama came and knelt beside her son her head had been shaved.    “Mama, mama, I’m dying. Mama, I’m dying.  Mama, you have to forgive them. Mama, you have to forgive them.”  Then lifting his hand toward heaven, he cried out, “I see Jesus, Mama. I see Jesus.” And he was gone.

I looked at this woman who had just told me the story of her eleven year old son whom she had watched be beaten to death and there was a peace on her face.  “Mama, how do you raise a child so that at the age of 11, he will not renounce Jesus, though he be beaten to death?” I quietly asked.

She looked me in the eye and she said, “There are three things you must do.”

“From the time your child is born, you must teach him that he must never renounce Jesus nor another Christian.  Your life might be dependent on that other believer.”

“Secondly, you must pray sacrificially for your children.  That means you are praying so much for your children that you are giving up things you want to do for yourself because you are praying for your children.”

I will never forget the little chuckle she gave before she continued, “Thirdly, and this is hardest for you in the West.  You must let your children suffer. They will never grow strong if they don’t suffer.  If there is nothing natural that causes suffering in their life, then create a reason for them to suffer.”

I was so excited when I got home.  These sounded like such good sound principles to follow.  I could hardly wait to share these principles with my friends.  The first person with whom I shared was a close friend and she wept as I shared Mama’s story.

When I was finished, my friend looked at me and said, “But Wanda, if my children suffer, then I will suffer and I don’t want to suffer.

It was one of those “ah-ha” moments of life.  How much of our parenting, how much of our nurturing of children is about what makes me feel good rather than what the child really needs?

This made me realize that as adults we must constantly look at what each child’s real need is.  We must be careful to not do what makes us feel good, nor what makes him feel good today, but is harmful for his future.

Healthy nurturing of children will often cause adults to feel uncomfortable, cause adults to suffer.  (For a tragic story of adults’ faulty-reasoning in providing comfort today but long term pain in a child’s life, go to the KidTrek White Paper on Secondary Nurturers.  http://kidtrek.org/white/

God’s command to us in Deuteronomy 6:7 & 8 tells us how to raise up children.

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.”

In verse 4 we read, “O Israel,” this wasn’t a command to just the parents but to the entire nation.  The entire church is responsible to live out Deuteronomy 6 with the children in the church.

Is your church intentionally doing this?  Check out the curriculum here that gives you the tools to not only disciple the children in your church but also their parents. CLICK HERE

I am now blogging on Children’s Ministry at Kidtrek: Sunday Plus.  I will continue blogging on Christian After School Ministries here.

What kind of Children’s Ministry does your church have?  Click here

Competition, A Tool, Not A Vise, In Nurturing Children

By Wanda Parker

What do you think of using competition as a tool in nurturing children?

We have just posted a “White Paper” at our website http://www.kidtrek.org/white/ which explains KidTrek’s position on using competition as a tool in nurturning children.  When you get to the website scroll down the page and click on the link “Competition: A Tool For Emotional Development.  You may print the paper to share with others if you like.

After reading the paper please come back to the Blog and let us know what you think.

If you haven’t been to our website before “take a walk through” and discover KidTrek’s vision/passion for at-risk kids. 

Yes, the picture at the top of the web page is of me many years ago when I lived and served in a migrant  labor camp in Texas.  The other picture is my husband.  We met while serving as VISTA Volunteers in “Johnson’s War On Poverty.”