Parenting Resources about Generosity

Parenting Resources about Generosity


As a church, we’re here to partner with you in parenting. We know that generous kids become generous adults, so we want to help you teach your kids how to love giving to and serving others.

Generous kids don’t happen by accident. As a parent, you have to make intentional choices to encourage selflessness in your kids. Sure, it can be easier or faster to just do it yourself—whether it’s volunteering or purchasing gifts for others. If you don’t involve your kids, you miss out on an opportunity to help build their character and remind them of what a generous God we love and serve.

These resources come from Parenting Cue, a division of an organization called Orange, which creates resources our kids ministry utilizes and recommends. Find some encouragement and new ideas to help you raise kids who become selfless and generous adults:

Don’t forget about our Unselfie Toy Drive August 25 & 26. It’s a perfect opportunity to put these ideas into practice!

6 Steps to Not Losing Your Faith in College

6 Steps to Not Losing Your Faith in College


Plenty of research has been done to show that students are leaving the church in droves – some studies suggesting that as high as 66% of church attending high school students will leave the church in college and never return.

But leaving the church is just a symptom of a much more heartbreaking reality – students are giving up on real faith and life with Jesus. The solution is not to get students in the doors of a church, it’s making sure they engage in an integrated relationship with Jesus that affects each facet of daily life.

I’m a pastor’s daughter moving off to college in the next few weeks. In this time of transition, here are 6 steps I am taking to own my faith in college. Not just in a weekend service, but in daily life that results in encouragement, growth, and participation in Jesus’ mission in the world.

1 // Making a Plan

Simply sitting down and choosing to be intentional about my faith in college is a foundational step in making sure I actually follow through with those goals. Lack of concrete goals will almost always result in aimlessness and apathy.

2 // Finding Christian Community on Campus

These groups are powerful because they are tailored for the unique opportunities and challenges found on college campuses, and are often effective in providing vibrant and godly community. We must put ourselves in communities where Jesus can be poured INTO us if we ever want to embrace Jesus’ call to pour OUT to others. CRU, Navigators, and Young Life are all popular ministry options on most campuses.

3 // Committing to a Church

While campus ministries are amazing and crucial, the church is the entire body of Christ, unified together and baptized in his name to bring hope to the lost. CRU won’t be available after college, but being involved in a local church is a lifelong and fundamental part of following Jesus. I will avoid feeling lost and without community after graduation by practicing finding my own church to invest in, serve in, and be fed by while in college.

4 // Finding a Spiritually Mature Mentor

Proverbs 1:5 says that a “man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” One of my goals is to find a female mentor to hold me accountable, to challenge me, and to push me toward growth – particularly as I transition out from being under my parents’ constant leadership.

5 // Getting Involved OUTSIDE the Church

As an enthusiastic pastor’s daughter, most people are surprised to hear that I chose a liberal university instead of the popular local Christian college. Because of my background, I live in a world that encourages my faith, but is limited in opportunities for God’s love to spill out to those outside the church. In college, I am going to be intentional about forming relationships specifically with the people living around me. If Jesus is about transforming lives, then my personal transformation is not the end of his goal. He desires that my salvation be used to transform the lives of others.

6 // Filling the Gaps

There will be a time before I feel connected to a community, and a time before finding a strong church, where it may often feel like I left the faith I knew behind. Those gaps in the transition can be filled with other resources.  If I am not connected to a worship service yet, I plan on taking time each week to get away from people with my guitar and worship on my own. I plan to continue to listen to podcasts of teaching from Mission Hills as I search for solid biblical teaching near me. These are not permanent solutions, but using these resources will keep me from slipping into isolation and apathy during the transition time.

Simply finding Christian community in a church or ministry on campus is not the sole answer to the collegiate exodus from faith. Jesus desires more of me than just my weekend attendance in church. Embracing the full life of both personal salvation and outward mission that Jesus is calling us to live is what yields real transformation – in college and beyond.

Being a Christian and an American

Being a Christian and an American


As Americans, we get to enjoy a great deal of freedom that others in the world can only imagine. Typically, we seek to enjoy the full extent of those freedoms, taking full advantage of the rights and privileges and leveraging them to our own benefit.

As Christians, we have been given freedom from sin, from the law, from condemnation and from death through Christ. But, as Paul reminds us in his letter to Galatia, God expects us to have a different reaction to this newfound freedom. He writes,

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


Regarding our freedom, our mindset should change from, “Is it legal?” to, “Is it love?” In most areas, God’s law and the law of the land line up, like in the case of murder. It’s both legal and loving to not murder your neighbor. However, there are areas in which our identity as a Christian can come in conflict with our American identity.

For example, the first amendment secures your freedom of speech, but God expects you to use that freedom to love your neighbor. Your speech shouldn’t just be legal, but loving. Especially in our current culture, speech that loves and honors others can be hard to find and will be clearly seen as supernatural.

We may have to ask ourselves other hard questions like, “Do I love and value God’s people of all races and nationalities or Americans specifically?” or, “Do I love the ‘enemies’ of America who live on the other side of the world and want them to know Jesus?” These questions can put us at odds with our national identity because they push us to value God’s kingdom and values more than America’s rule and reign.

How much comfort are you willing to sacrifice for others? Through our loving service—especially to those who disagree with us—God can transform the world. We only have to look to Jesus for an example because he didn’t seek to transform the world through the political structures of his day. He sacrificed himself and practiced what he preached by loving his neighbors and his enemies. The world has been changed by it ever since.

God wants to work through you to transform the world, but it’s going to take some self-sacrifice, as real love always does. Even though this idea is counter to both our human and American identities, it places us directly in line with the way Jesus sacrificed, served, and gave hope to the world. To follow his example, we may have to hold onto our Christian identity more tightly than our American identity.

How to Make Sports Camp Last

How to Make Sports Camp Last


What parent has not received their son or daughter back from an experience like camp, only to say a week later, “Gee, my kid seemed so excited and transformed when he first came home. But now, it’s like he never went at all! Isn’t there some way to make camp last?”

At Mission Hills Church, we believe the only Sports Camp worth putting on is the kind that produces lasting results long past the days your child is in our care.

To ensure this happens, we constantly remind ourselves that no one on the MHC Kid’s Ministry staff is your child’s head coach––you are!  As the coach, you are the ones responsible for seeing that the momentum of Sports Camp continues in your home.  Sure, we just hosted a safe, exciting, educational, healthily competitive, spiritually-challenging camp for nearly 800 kids, but we’re only the assistant coaches.  You’re in charge now!  So, say these words out loud right now as you read them––“I am my child’s head coach!  And I can keep the ball rolling!”


Even so, there’s not a coach on the planet who doesn’t need a little continued education.  That said, the following three principles should help you and your child get the most out of Mission Hills Sports Camp.

Principle #1:  “Make it fun!”   Remember, your son or daughter has just spent four days immersed in high-energy activities.  If they return to an environment that resembles a library, they’re probably going to go through major withdrawals.  On the other hand, if you’re willing to spice things up with games, songs, riddles, puzzles, and competitions, (especially at the dinner table), then Sports Camp could last you all the way to September, when school begins.  Two good resources for improving the fun-factor in your home are: “Playing for Keeps”, by Reggie Joiner, and anything by Karl Rohnke, the guru of creative games.

Principle #2:  “Make it fit!”   As many people know, we’re sold on the “Orange Strategy” for kids’ ministry at MHC.  This blending of the “light of the church” with the “love of home” is a perfect way for us to build a bridge between these two vital institutions.  Part of the Orange Strategy involves understanding the “phase” that accompanies each age group that we minister to.  At our recent Sports Camp, four of those phases were represented.  If you truly want Sports Camp to last, and your efforts to fit the specific needs of your child, you can become a student of the phase that fits your child.  The four phases represented at this year’s Sports Camp are as follows:

 Kindergarten and First Grade

This is the, “Look at me!” phase, where all of life becomes a stage for your child.  During this phase, your child has just begun to attend school, which means he or she now has to share undivided attention with as many as thirty other children.  To insure the results of Sports Camp continue, devote yourself to noticing your child a LOT!  It’s the most important thing you can do in this phase.  Remember, we’ve been praising your child for every basket, goal, pass, and handspring for the better part of a week.  So, you’ll want to make sure you continue this pattern of paying attention and praising your child.

Second and Third Grade

This is the, “Sounds like fun!” phase, where your child is still excited about the things you’re excited about.  Interestingly, studies show that fairness matters almost more than anything during this phase.  So, if you’re playing a game at the dinner table, make sure all the rules apply equally to every family member––or you may see all that Sports Camp transformation flying right out the window in the course of one short meal.  Making it “fit” with this age group really means making it “fair.”

 Fourth and Fifth Grade

This is the, “I’ve got this!” phase, where you will see your child become super-interested in belonging to some tribe, team, club, or clique.   Peer approval will mean the world to them, and peer disapproval will crush them.  So brace yourself––because your opinion is suddenly going to mean a whole lot less to your child.  Fortunately, kids in this phase will still long to show you how smart, fast and strong they are.  This means you can turn anything into a fun competition, and it will fit the “I’ve got this!” phase.  Literally… anything!

Sixth Grade

This is the, “Do you care?” phase, and if ever there was a phase where drama will happen, it is this one.  Period.  Also, you will notice a huge growth in your grocery bill, particularly if your sixth-grader is a boy.  So, keep the snacks coming, and you can reduce some of the drama––though not all of it.  And most of all, prove that you care by not letting the drama get to you.  In time, the drama will pass.

Principle #3:  “Make it forever!”  Jesus once said, “A slave can’t exceed his master,” and what He was really getting at was that we can’t expect our kids to be any more spiritual than we are.  Sadly, it’s the temporal things of this planet that often get our devotion.  But if you really want Sports Camp to last––particularly the spiritual aspect of it––make sure your kids see you reaching up to God for the “forever” things.

For instance:

  • What if they heard you talk more openly about your time in the Bible that morning, or the things you learned from Craig’s sermon last Sunday?
  • What if they watched you appreciating God’s creation, and listened to you praising Him for creating beautiful mountains, streams, trees, and birds?
  • What if they saw YOU begin to treat everyone around you as if he or she was a “forever” being, rather than just the man who picks up your trash, or the woman who makes your coffee drink at Starbucks?

We think that “making it forever” is the best thing you can do to keep Sports Camp alive in your home.

So… there you have it.  If you really want Sports Camp to last, it’s up to you to see that it happens.  Make it fun!  Make it fit!  Make it forever!  And most of all, remember that the church is here to assist you.

Go get ’em, Coach!

Your friend,
Will Cunningham, Family Pastor

What is Wisdom?

What is Wisdom?


Wisdom isn’t just a series of sage sayings. It’s not always gained with gray hairs and it’s not only achieved the hard way—by making the wrong decision. It’s not even the same thing as knowledge.

Wisdom is “applied knowledge.” If knowledge is the invisible ideas in your head, then wisdom is the visible actions produced by putting that knowledge to work in your day to day life—with your kids, spouse, co-workers, and neighbors. You can’t just read more books to become wise. Wisdom is displayed by one’s deeds.

James agrees. Concerning wisdom he wrote,

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom…But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:13, 17)

Let’s unpack those qualities to see what they look like:

1. Pure: Free from the world’s system of valuing others for what they can do for you

2. Peace-loving: Values peace even when it’s personally costly.

3. Considerate: Chooses not to remember or return mistreatment.

4. Submissive: Changes its mind when the evidence requires it.

5. Full of mercy and good fruit: Quick to bless others whether they deserve it or not.

6. Impartial: Uses God’s standards to judge value, even if it’s personally costly.

7. Sincere: Has no hidden motives.

Enacting wisdom isn’t just a good idea in particular situations. It actually displays and determines who we are and become. N.T. Wright, in his book “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters,” argues that wise actions have a culminating effecting, stating, “Virtue is what happens when habitual choices have been wise.” Begin building your a character of virtue for tomorrow by making wise choices today.

Seeing Needs and Doing Faith

Seeing Needs and Doing Faith


James 2:14 inquires,

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”

As James goes on, he argues that faith without deeds is particularly worthless for those who are in need. “Dead” faith sees a need, but doesn’t do anything to meet it. Instead, real religion can be seen through action.

If we want to be the kind of people who have faith that is real and alive, we must be ready to help and serve others. Our busy schedules and hurried days threaten to keep us from enacting our faith in this way, but these three steps can help us to continue to cultivate real and authentic faith:

Ask to discover the real need

But what about the rest of the time? How often do you ask someone else, “What could I do to help you?” or “How could I serve you?” People may be resistant to answer, but that doesn’t allow us to avoid asking. In James’ example, the need was obvious—food and clothing—but this isn’t always the case. If you’re like me, you might be guilty of assuming what someone else needs and missing the real need. Sometimes this means we give money when what was needed was quality time, or vice versa.

Do what you can

None of us can meet every need of everyone around us, but before we simply tell someone, “I’ll pray for you,” we can do what we can to meet that expressed need. This is the point at which we can be creatively incarnational—being Jesus’ hands and feet to everyone we meet. Maybe your elderly neighbor next door is lonely; offer to cook for her once a week and let her teach you how to crochet. Maybe a friend has a hard time getting to church because he doesn’t have a car; offer to drive him and have dinner together afterward. Maybe a young friend is having trouble finding a job; offer to help review her resume and practice interviewing together. If you can offer someone a home, car, or job to help, don’t assume God doesn’t want you to help in those big ways, too. However, not being able to completely solve someone elses’ problem doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways you can help and be Jesus to him or her.


Prayer doesn’t come last because it’s a last resort, but because it shouldn’t serve as a scapegoat for our inaction, as it does in James’ example. Just like his audience, we can also be guilty of offering to pray for someone instead of actively showing our faith through our action. However, even with all our efforts, we acknowledge that God is ultimately in control of circumstances. God desires to care for his children and He often chooses to do so through the normal means of people, so we pray, not instead of action, but as we act.