Discipline: Love in Disguise

September 19, 2011

Hebrews 12:10-11 “Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Discipline is a process, not an event (that’s punishment). And it’s likely that it’s going to be a long process where the results we expect to see may be very slow in coming. In the case of working with children in the church, we may never see the results of our efforts but we continue in loving discipline anyway. It’s our responsibility and our call as Christian adults.

The goal and purpose of discipline is self control which helps prepare our young people to not only survive but thrive in society—which is why it’s much more than just about classroom control. Discipline is a process of teaching how to think about, care about, and make decisions about others, through the eyes of God, the way Jesus taught us.

When behavior is observed that goes beyond the established boundaries for behavior in the community, family, or group, it becomes apparent that the persons involved need self-discipline. They need to be taught what the boundaries are and how to be responsible for controlling their actions to stay within those boundaries.

A person who has learned self-discipline has self-control, self-reliance, and self-esteem. Self-discipline is assuming responsibility for our actions, and making decisions about our behavior.

An effective discipline plan in the church and in the home, on the soccer field, or at the scout meeting has five essential parts.

1. Preventative: Stops something unwanted from happening. Specifically for our context means protecting against group chaos or unwanted behavior in children.

As the teacher or group leader I will make a commitment to….

Be present and ready before the first student arrives

Prepare the activity or lesson ahead of time

Arrange the meeting space to support learning and remove distractions

Resolve to be a calm, mature presence

Involve my students in setting up some group rules with some agreed upon consequences

Of prime importance will be to work to establish a relationship with each person in the group and to pray for each of the young people by name, regularly.

2. Supportive: Assists something to occur or increase. For us that means it’s something that encourages behaviors we want to see grow in young people.

As the adult leader I will…

Be ready to restructure plans or activities if they aren’t working

Will clearly request the good behavior needed (“We will all listen to Nancy as she reads”)

Will catch my students being good (“I appreciate the quiet reading”)

Will pray for special needs of students

Will let parents know about good behavior

How often do we call or write home about good behavior? Particularly for those parents who might not receive that news very often?

3. Corrective: Redirects undesirable behavior. We use a teachable moment to improve behavior in our group. We’ve done as well as we can to prevent discipline issues from coming up; we’ve been supportive of the students to encourage good behavior; and things still happen!

As the adult leader I will remind myself to…

Name the specific behavior I want changed and why (“I need you to stop tapping your pencil because it’s distracting to others”)

Allow the student to try again

Not be drawn into “side issues” with students

Use a quiet opportunity for behavior chats rather than calling the student out in front of the whole class

Intervene IMMEDIATELY to stop inappropriate behavior between two people

If my corrective methods are not enough to stop the behavior or the behavior is to the level that needs more than just correction, I will move to consequences.

4. Consequential: Something that follows as a result. This is when we allow the results of certain decisions to be fully felt by the child.

There are two kinds of consequences—natural and logical.

Natural consequences are the results that occur from a child’s behavior without the leader doing anything. For instance…if the child refuses to eat breakfast, she will be hungry before lunch. If he forgets to bring a permission slip, he won’t get to go on a special trip (assuming this was not the fault of the parent).

Logical consequences are those results a leader provides to teach students what logically follows when they violate class rules or the needs of a situation. This is where you invoke the agreed upon consequences that you established at the beginning of the year with your group.

5. Amending: Something done or given as a compensation for a wrong. That often means apologizing, offering or receiving forgiveness, making a plan for a repair or restoration, and giving mercy.

We need to help young people learn to right a wrong that they have done. Remember, we’re teaching them to thrive–not just correcting immediate behavior!

And the work of amending is not complete until forgiveness is given.  Everyone gets a fresh start each time they come back to the group…the team…the class…the choir.

Christ died for sinners.  The grace of God is unearned, undeserved, and unmerited.  God never quits giving righteousness—God never quits on us.  We must never quit on each other…and especially our young people.  This may be something unusual for many of the children and youth we are ministering to!  But it does no good to skip to forgiveness without the other steps first.  Otherwise, we are not teaching self-control and discipline.

When you have a discipline plan that works, you give yourself the best opportunity to support the growth of a special kind of community–the Kingdom of God we all yearn to live in–where people care for each other, encourage one another, solve problems together, resolve differences, and experience forgiveness. As the leader in a classroom, a teacher in the church, we are called to model courage, loyalty, justice, respect, honesty, hope, love, forgiveness and mercy. And in all that, we seek to model the love and respect that Jesus showed all people. There isn’t a more powerful way to invite people into a relationship with God!


Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2009

May the gift of our Lord’s birth bring you joy throughout the year.

Merry Christmas,

The LOGOS Ministry

LOGOS Started through Webinar Training

March 17, 2009

Online LearningAt a prayer meeting last week one of our fathers was bursting with joy and pride. His daughter, an eight year old who had been attending our church for four years, came home from our first night of LOGOS so excited that she wanted her parents to buy her a Bible so that she can learn more about God. That is our hope and dream for the ministry of LOGOS and on our first night, March 4th we saw many kids from our church and neighborhood experience a deeper, more vibrant and fun time with Jesus and our church family. We are a small church of about 150 members at Christ Presbyterian Church in Lakewood, California. We had twenty one kids show up for the first night and they are excited to come back and learn more about God, have fun and spend time with their friends!

Our team had been meeting and praying for months to launch this ministry. Each week we saw the Lord lead us to a new idea and a new volunteer. Each time we gathered we sensed God’s leading and presence and the people we approached were filled with joy at the thought of God using them to shape the lives of our youngsters.

We decided to have a prize for the end of our first session of five weeks. The kids get points for memorizing scripture, bringing their Bible, bringing friends and for participating in the theme of the night. The top three point winners will get a night out with our LOGOS coordinators.We thought bowling would be a good motivation and the kids are excited to participate. We used bowling themes for our tables for the meal portion and have made the dinner very fun and energetic. Our leaders have a deep desire to show the kids the love of Christ. We as a church Praise the Lord for this ministry and are looking forward to what God is going to do in the coming weeks, months and years!

This blog article was written by Michelle Conan, Coordinator of LOGOS for Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakewood, CA where there are 24 students from kindergarten through grade twelve in LOGOS after their FIRST NIGHT! Christ Presbyterian trained their volunteers through the LOGOS webinars on line.

The Name Game

February 27, 2009

nametagIf you’re on facebook, you’ve probably seen or played the name game where you create new names for yourself based on specific directions. For example, your “witness protection name” is made by combining your mother and father’s middle names. Your “superhero name” is your second favorite color, your favorite drink, and then you add “the” to the beginning. Try it! It’s especially fun with a group of people.

We all know that names are important. In fact, The LOGOS Ministry was begun by a man who, when he was younger, couldn’t seem to do much right in the eyes of the church. That all changed with a new pastor who called him by name!

Our names identify us and even define us. That was even more the case in Jesus’s day when your name really did express what kind of character or personality you had. There are many stories in the Bible of name changes and they are usually linked to a new mission, or direction or promise. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, Jacob was changed to Israel, and Simon was changed to Peter.

Well, I was thinking about names the other night while at our LOGOS program. I saw two visitors, each whom I had met before but who didn’t know me well at all. The first was a high school student. I greeted her at dinner with, “Hi Julie! How are you?” She looked at me with huge eyes and asked, “How did you know my name?” I told her it was because she had been to LOGOS before! She still was pretty blown away! Then in the hallway I saw a fifth grader who had lived across the street from me a couple of years ago and I said, “Hey Laurie! Thanks for coming to Buddy Night! We wish you’d come every night to LOGOS!” She was just as surprised and opened right up to tell me about her evening. At the end of LOGOS she caught my eye and smiled and said, “Good bye!” How amazing it is to “do ministry” just by remembering and using names! It’s not always easy to do, but it does always make a difference.

LOGOS Conference-A Student’s Perspective

February 17, 2009

Here is a college essay that a student wrote about her Experience at LOGOS Summer Youth Conference.  It is an incredible testimony of the experience.  In her words, ” The Conference changed my life in so many different ways. I thank God for LOGOS!”   Read on and find out about one’s persons connection with God.

Estes Park, Colorado is a sight to be seen. The drive from Indiana is certainly a long one, but once you get out there, the sight alone is worth it. The mountains make you feel like you are just an ant on an anthill, minute compared to your surroundings. The environment there is unlike anything I had experienced in Indiana. The sights and sounds of Colorado are not better than those of Indiana; they are just different. There are endless possibilities to learn, explore, and grow, in both places. I had no clue at that time as to how the experience in Estes Park would alter my outlook on life.

During the summers of 2006 and 2007 I traveled with my church youth group (Logos) to Estes Park for The LOGOS Ministry Youth Conference. Our church youth met with other church youth from around the nation to spend a week with each other at the YMCA Camp. The purpose of the time spent there was to strengthen our bond with God.

I had no clue what to expect. Upon arriving, I realized that it was nothing like I had imagined. I thought it was going to be just another place to meet new people, play games and have a good time. It was that, plus more. It was a beautiful place, but what made it even more beautiful was the fact that people treated each other like they knew them; there were no strangers.

The week went so quickly it felt like 2 days. That was probably because our week was so jammed packed with activities. Activities the whole camp participated in included Choir, Bible Study, Energizers, and Recreation. We also took outings with our own church group up into the mountains or into town.

While I was up there I had so many different feelings. Everyone there treated me like I was a child of God. I felt unified as one. There was no negativity. I felt like I had known these people my whole life. The emotions and feelings that I had were just unexplainable, but left me with a deeper connection to God.

The last night on the mountain we had a candlelight service. It was the most awe-inspiring candlelight service I had ever experienced. It wrapped the week up, summarizing everything that we had learned and experienced into one night. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had experienced so many new and uncommon emotions that week. I did not want to think about the end of my time spent there. I did not want to go home and leave this perfect place.

My second summer came up fast, and I could not wait to go back to that Utopia. The day finally came to go back to Estes Park with the benefits of seeing all of my old friends and that amazing view. When my church group arrived at Estes Park I felt like I had never left; I was home. The emotions welled up inside, and reminded me of last summer.

The second week ended up being even better than the first week spent there. I knew what to expect and what to do. Everything was basically the same, but yet it ended up somewhat different: new people, experiences, sights and sensations.

While I was in Estes Park, the feeling I had was different from any other feeling I have ever had before. I felt free but safe: surrounded by love, friends, family, and God all at once. As I climbed up the mountain I became closer to God. The bond that I had with him was magnified. On my journey down the mountain I realized that I had grown as a person and my life was forever changed. I had always been taught that everyone was a child of God. This was the first time I had seen it demonstrated in my life by others in such a big way. I will no longer perceive life in the same light.

What you get is what you believe

February 12, 2009

We were in staff this week and I brought up a topic we had discussed before based on the pictured diagram.  Our beliefs shape our foundation of who we are which informs the decisions we make and the behaviors we express which produce the outcomes or the end result.  This is a cycle,  so depending on the outcome, our beliefs may be re-enforced or changed.  Therefore, it is not just about making different decisions, it is about having the right belief system in place. For example, I used eating and dieting as a model.  If I don’t believe that I have-  A)bad eating habits, B) I need to sacrifice what I want, and C)that good eating habits are essential- I can choose to diet all I want but I will keep failing because my beliefs aren’t in alignment with my desired outcomes.  So the net result will be I fail to stick to my diet and healthy eating plan.  Trying to make a the decision over and over again won’t work.bdo4

We can see evidence of this in Scripture as well.  If we look at Matthew 14: 22-32, we see Peter walking on water toward Jesus.  The world around Peter didn’t suddenly change in that moment.  The winds didn’t die down, gravity didn’t cease to exist, the waves weren’t gone.  Stones and other objects thrown into the water would still sink.  So what went on?  Peter’s belief system changed.  He believed that he could walk on water because Jesus called him even though everything around him was the same.  And so he made the decision to get out of the boat. The outcome was he walked on water until he changed to disbelief and decided to fear and then the outcome was he sank.

All of this to say, what are your beliefs right now.  Do you believe things are so bad that there is no way out?  Do you believe that things are hopeless?  Do you believe that there is no money to carry on in ministry?  If so, those beliefs will guide your decisions and the outcomes.

Or do you believe that God is in control and all things are possible?  That there is a way to go on in ministry with the resources God provides?  If so, that will shape your decisions and outcomes in  ministry?

Beliefs… Decisions…Outcomes…It is a powerful cycle.

What do you believe?

Trust vs. Self-Centeredness

January 15, 2009

theogram21Are you wrapped up, wound up, and puffed up.  What do I mean by that?  Are you wrapped up in your own worries, fears, and frustrations?  It is an easy thing to do in today’s world.  It is also easy to do in ministry.

However, when we are wrapped up in our own worries, fears, and frustrations, it causes us to get wound up in our own worries, fears, and frustrations.  They become not only the focal point of our thoughts but also the anxiety builders of our day.  All of this causes us to be puffed up because our worries, fears, and frustrations consume us and our  world becomes all about us rather than God.  We get wrapped up in our issues, only to be wound up over them, only to be puffed up thinking it is all about our stuff. This is self-centeredness, rather than reliance on God.

What are your worries, fears, and frustrations?  I find when I think about the things that make me worry, fearful, and frustrated,  I focus in on them more and more until they become the center of my thoughts.  Focusing on these is self-centeredness.  Self-centeredness is being wrapped up, wound up, and puffed up.

So what is the solution?  The answer is to trust and obey God enough to think, care, and decide about things as God would have us do so.  It means to put our daily trust and obedience in God instead of allowing our day to go according to our worries, fears, and frustrations.  Hard to do but so very fruitful for our faith relationship with God.

So go ahead, give it a try.  What do you have to worry about?

I want to say thanks to my friend, Sarah, who reminded me of this in devotions yesterday.