Tag: antioch kids

Four Back-To-School Tips for Families

It’s that time of year again – back to school. It’s time for new shoes and backpacks filled with sharpened pencils and glue sticks. Sports are starting back up and routines set the pace for the day. Some families are dreading the month of August. For others, it feels like this truly is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

For our family, back to school really means back to the basics. Summer is great with its laid back schedule and unending supply of popsicles. But we can’t live on kool-aid alone. So as our family prepares for a new school year, we try to keep a few simple things in mind as we head back into structured routines.


  1. Family is always first // Before we commit to a new activity, we try to evaluate each person’s activities. We ask the question – can the entire family commit to the activity and support each other? We want to be each other’s biggest fans, so we try to make sure we aren’t too maxed out with activities. We don’t want those good ideas and new activities to become heavy burdens. We look at the overarching schedule and include family fun times, date nights for mom and dad and activities for the kids. Then we choose our commitments wisely. We try to do this altogether and, as a family, decide what things we can do and what we can’t. If everyone agrees on the schedule in the beginning, it’s easier to push through later on in the year.
  2. Devotionals are a priority // Our family devotionals aren’t fancy. We sit around the table and they look different each day. Usually we share what we’re thankful for between gulps of orange juice and bites of cereal. Sometimes we share how we can pray for each other. Other days we read certain passages from the Bible. For us, devotionals are about getting a little focused time as a family where we commit our day to the Lord before we go our separate ways. We declare that we will follow Jesus and support one another. We don’t shoot for perfection, but consistency. This helps us stay unified and reminds us who we are as a family unit.
  3. Nightly check-ins are important // This often happens around the dinner table. We share the best and worst parts of our day, or we share something that we think no one else knows yet. Sometimes check-ins happen in the car on the way to an activity. We ask questions like, “who’d you sit by at lunch?” or “Who did you play with on the playground?” We then ask what they talked about or what game they played. We also make sure to go into each kid’s room at bedtime and chat for a second, looking for an open window into their hearts where they feel safe to share. We try to prioritize this as we’re often tired, but we never regret taking those few moments to ask focused questions that give us insight into their private world.
  4. Pray together // We try to make sure we have a set time during our day to pray together for our kids. It’s not often a very long prayer time, but it’s focused solely on our kids and family. If you’re a single parent, look for a friend that will pray with you for your kids. Praying with someone else really gives us courage to believe the best and helps us trust God with our children’s lives.

No matter how you feel about the start of school, doing a few simple things to prepare will help you start off on the right foot!

By Shawn and Connie Dunn

Shawn serves with our Kids Ministry as one of our pastors. He and Connie have three kids.

Making this Summer a
Win for You and Your Family

School is ending and summer is upon us. With less extracurricular activities and no more homework, chances are we as parents have a little more space in our schedule to plan some fun and meaningful times as a family.


Have some fun together //

  • Make homemade pizzas or a meal together
  • Play board games – let each family member take turns choosing one
  • Make s’mores in your fire pit, if you have one, or on the stove
  • Invite a family over for dinner, dessert and/or a game night
  • Play disc golf at a park
  • Go fishing
  • Go tortilla tossing at the Suspension Bridge
  • Create a picture scavenger hunt to do with another family
  • Fly kites
  • Get outside and play some sports – basketball, gaga ball, kickball, volleyball, etc.
  • Go paddle boarding or kayaking on Lake Waco
  • Go bowling
  • Go on a hike
  • Take a camping trip, or just set up a tent in your backyard
  • Make your own ice cream or frozen yogurt bar at home
  • Movie night
  • Have each family member take turns planning a family fun night
  • Go out for snow cones

Take some time to connect as a family //

  • Pray and wait on God for a word of encouragement for each family member
  • Ask God to highlight someone in need and bless them as a family – help the with yard work or a house project, write notes of encouragement, make them a meal, etc.
  • Have each person choose an area that feels hard or discouraging and ask God for a verse that reminds them of truth. Share those verses with one another.
  • Family worship time – have family members take turns choosing songs
  • Read a portion of Scripture and share insights with each other
  • Plan a Family Retreat – make it a staycation or take a weekend trip together
  • Have each family member take a personality test and spend time observing how different personalities impact communication and expectations within the family; there are several free tests online
  • Help each person identify their love language and share specific ways they would feel loved by family members
  • Take time to identify goals, as a family and individually; brainstorm ways to contend for each other to reach those goals

No matter what you do this summer, my hope is that you and your family have a ton of fun together and grow closer together.

Have a great summer!

By Shannon Jones, Associate Youth Pastor

Find Water

When I lived in Indonesia, I ran across a group of Indonesians who had a desire to share the gospel with anyone they met. They were really excited and always carried a backpack with a Bible inside and something else – a bathing suit! Their theory was that when we find someone who is ready to believe, the next step is Baptism. So, they needed to always be ready to “find water” because often in the Bible salvation is followed quickly with baptism.


It is a personal decision between God and a man, woman or child!  But baptism is the act of going public with your faith. Water baptism for an Indonesian, and I believe for many others in the world, isn’t a small decision. Baptism is the “line” that many Indonesians will come up to but not cross because they know this is when they aren’t just keeping their faith to themselves anymore. By the act of baptism, they are proclaiming to family, friends and strangers that they are a follower of Jesus. They are “all in.”

In the Book of Acts there is an Ethiopian man that believes. Philip, the apostle, finds this man trying to figure out what the Bible is saying and who is this Savior he is reading about. Philip explains to him about Jesus and the man wholeheartedly believes. As they travel the man sees a body of water and says, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” Philip baptizes him right then – hours, maybe even minutes after salvation.

But did he know the Roman road salvation plan?

He hadn’t even heard a Billy Graham sermon.

He probably didn’t even know the 10 Commandments at this point. And he probably couldn’t tell you more than a couple of stories in the Bible.


So, he got baptized.

I work with kids and they have all kinds of thoughts about baptism. I’m sure some of us have the same thoughts, but don’t say anything for fear of being wrong. Below are some of the reasons kids have thought you get baptized:

  1. “The water washes off all your sins.”
  2. “God cleans your heart when you go under the water.”
  3. “The water is magic water and helps you to never ever sin again.”

Often kids think baptism is the time when your sins are wiped away. So, I get to talk to them about the moment they believed.  We talk about where they were and what they felt when they prayed to receive Jesus. At that point, their sins were forgiven, and they began a relationship with Jesus. They are forgiven by God for all their sin, and we talk about how amazing forgiveness is. We talk about how everyone doesn’t know about what God has done in their life, but baptism gives them the opportunity to let others know.


We go in the water to show people that we were full of sin. But then we met Jesus and die to our old way of life. When we come up from the water, we show everyone what has happened to us on the inside – we have become a new creation.

So, we find water when we find Jesus so everyone else can see what God has done and perhaps find Him themselves!

If you are interested in getting baptized at our Baptism Bash on May 20th, sign up here!

By Shawn Dunn – Kids Pastor

Three Things our Kids Need to Hear Today

On Sunday morning in Journey (1st-4th Grade), we got real. About something real, something hard. One of our Ministry Mentors nailed it when he told the kids, “No one really taught us how to lie, but somehow we figured it out.”

As we looked at Jacob and Esau’s life in Genesis 27 together, our anthem as Antioch Kids became, “the truth is good enough.” But this anthem didn’t originate on Sunday morning.

While preparing to talk to our kids about the power of truth, I pondered the same idea their teacher pointed out. How did we learn to lie, anyway? Without being taught or told, we lie. And perform. And worry.


But as parents, educators, friends and mentors, we can counter-weave with truth. With Jesus. With something real. With simple anthems, like the one we learned in Journey on Sunday.

“The truth is good enough,” is an anthem that originated in my childhood. My mom has shared this with me so many times that I can hear her voice saying it right now.


These anthems resound truth inside our kids, and in us as well. Here are a few of my favorites that we can speak over our kids and daily declare for ourselves, too:

  • 1. The truth is good enough // When our kids know we’re not waiting for a better story, a perfect explanation or for ideal behavior, truth is set free. Even when they know the truth isn’t perfect. Even when the truth is messy, hard or sad. Kids who are woven with truth won’t carry around the weight of lies, especially when they know that even their messiest parts cannot separate them from our love or from God’s love.
  • 2. Your best is enough // Have you ever seen a kid’s face light up, when they realize they are exceptionally good at something? This anthem reminds our kids that they bring something to the table that is different from everyone else, and it is enough simply because it was given to them by God. It frees our kids to be ok with failure, a powerful teacher. Most importantly, it empowers them to operate without glancing side-to-side, watching and hoping they measure up. Because they already do.
  • 3. You can do hard things (It’s hard, but you can do it) // Kids need to know that things like telling the truth and obeying when they don’t want to ARE hard. But they can do them. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s right. We do our kids a disservice when we convince them that things like tying their shoes, listening to authority or spending time with Jesus every day are easy. These things are not always easy, but our kids are SO CAPABLE.

Ultimately, the best way to speak anthems of truth over our kids is to ask the Holy Spirit. He knows everything they need, and He is the Master-Weaver of truth.

“And He has given…the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.” -Exodus 35:34-35

“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery!” Colossians 2:2-3 (MSG)

By Sydnee Nichols, Associate Elementary Pastor

Making Back to School a Win – Kids Edition

It’s that time of year again! Summer is winding down and the kids are heading back to school. For most families, this can be an exciting time of year, and for some it can also be a time where our already busy schedules become even busier.  As parents of five kids who are all under the age of 12, we too are in that season of life where we feel pulled in every direction.  Sometimes we need to slow down and just enjoy each other, even during the school week!

Here are a few suggestions on how to do that and enjoy this time as our kids go back to school:


1. Be Intentional:

I love to come up with ideas and then come up with the plans to put them to good use. The problem is- I fail to execute them the way I had envisioned. I know I’m probably the only one with this issue, so please feel free to skip to the next point. In all seriousness, you aren’t the only one! Thinking about doing something that promotes improvement makes me feel great, but actually doing it makes me feel awesome. Parenting kids is not much different. Looking for the small win is better than going for the grand slam. If leading a Bible study for 45 minutes each morning with your kids is unrealistic, and it is for me, then don’t try it. Be intentional with whatever you are doing. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. If teaching your kids the Bible is what you want to accomplish, how about starting with a family memory verse every week, or every month? Post it on the fridge and talk about it on the way to school or to soccer practice during the week. You’ll be amazed at the small win that will come from being intentional in this way.

2. Stay Connected:

It sounds obvious, but the busy bee is always ‘doing’ something. If we are not intentional about connecting with our loved ones, then we will fill up our schedule with everything else. A simple solution is to schedule a regular time to connect with the family. I’ve found that connecting around things you normally don’t do on a daily basis can have the greatest impact. Perhaps a game night on Mondays, an evening at the park on Thursdays or going out for breakfast on Saturdays. There’s no need to make it complicated, pick something that you can commit to as a family and stick to it. All of you will have this scheduled connection time to look forward to in the midst of a hectic school week.

3. Be Spontaneous:

Being spontaneous can serve as a great opportunity to intentionally connect with your family too. In general, kids love it when parents decide on doing something fun that was unexpected. With the new school year comes a lot of routine, it’s okay to be spontaneous every now and then. It adds some mystery and excitement back into the routine. Deviating from a structured schedule can help to slow the pace down which lets you focus on what really matters. My kids love it when I come home from work and take them out for a surprise ice cream trip. Even waking up on Saturday morning and taking the family for an impromptu hike or a bike ride is fun and promotes opportunities for your kids to open up and connect.

4. Pray Together:

Lastly, but most important, take every opportunity to pray with each other. Through both intentional and spontaneous prayer, you’ll find your family growing closer together. Connecting through prayer will help to keep the school year in perspective. Kids will have plenty of things to pray for throughout the year; such as friendships, school work, sports and health just to name a few. If you drive your kids to school or walk them to the bus stop, take those moments to pray with them. Taking this opportunity to focus on prayer and align our desires with God’s, will knit your hearts together more effectively than anything else. Colossians 4:2 is a reminder to devote ourselves to prayer. Being obedient to this will showcase the power and importance of prayer in our daily lives.

I hope you will find ways to be intentional, connect and add some spontaneity to your family’s routine this school year, and doing all this while being devoted to prayer and keeping Jesus at the center. I trust that the Lord will meet you in this effort as you grow closer together and to Him. Be blessed and enjoy the school year!

By Ben Glen – Kids Pastor

20 Things to do in Waco This Summer


  • 1. Visit the bears at the Baylor bear enclosure and get a snack at the student union building
  • 2. Go to Baylor with your swimming gear and play in the fountains at the science building
  • 3. Ride bikes around campus
  • 4. Have a picnic on Fountain Mall, be sure to bring a frisbee or ball to play after you eat
  • 5. Go to the Waco Library, click here for a full list of their summer program events
  • 6. Go swimming at Tonkawa Falls
  • 7. Have lunch at the food trucks and play games on the lawn at Magnolia
  • 8. Spend an afternoon at the Mayborn Museum (admission is free on the first Sunday of every month)
  • 9. Picnic at Mountainview park, the park includes a playground and water features
  • 10. Visit Cameron Park:
    • Picnic at Pecan Bottoms and Splash Pad
    • Walk the River Trail and feed the ducks
    • Climb Jacob’s Ladder
    • Hike around Proctor Springs (be sure to find the spring)
    • Bike down one of the trails
  • 11. Check out the Dr Pepper Museum
  • 12. Take a swim at the YMCA outdoor pool – a day pass is $5 per child and $10 per adult
  • 13. Jump around at Urban Air
  • 14. Visit Cameron Park Zoo, check out their list of summer events
  • 15. Check out the Mammoth Cave
  • 16. Play putt putt or go go-kart racing at Lion’s Park
  • 17. Visit Hawaiian Falls
  • 18. Rent paddleboards or kayaks from Waco Paddle Company and head out on the Brazos
  • 19. Go to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning
  • 20. Beat the heat and stop by Coco’s for a snow cone

Kids Camp 2017

This past weekend 268 elementary students headed out to Latham Springs for camp! From a color run to swimming, to worship and hearing from some of our leaders, it was a blast! Throughout the weekend the kids learned more about what it looks like to follow Jesus, and around 20 kids made the decision to give their life to Jesus.

Take a look at some highlights from camp:

Also, special shout-out to Josh Barbur for helping us capture the weekend!

Living Out the Easter Message

This past Sunday we celebrated Easter: a time of remembering all Jesus did for us and celebrating the freedom we find in Him. In all of our kids’ services we shared the story of the Gospel. We talked about how God created us to be in relationship with Him but our sins separated us from that perfect relationship, so we needed a savior, and that savior is Jesus. At the end of our services we gave kids an invitation to receive Christ, and more than two dozen kids did. Praise God!


As a parent or a friend of one of these kids, or even as an adult coming out of Easter, you can become excited and thankful for all Jesus has done, yet so unsure of what to do at the same time.


We get to look to the Word of God to find out how to live! After Jesus resurrected, defeating our sins once and for always, He spent some time on earth and then ascended to heaven, but He didn’t leave us without instructions. At the end of His time on earth Jesus told the disciples to pray and wait for the coming of the Helper He would send for us. In Acts 1 and 2 the early believers gave us an example for how to live once we’ve come to know Jesus. They were gathered together praying and the Holy Spirit came. The Bible says they were filled with boldness and went out to proclaim the Gospel.


In His time on earth, Jesus also modeled how to have a relationship with God. Time after time Jesus removed Himself from the crowds and simply got time alone with God. Because of this model Jesus set for us, I want to give every child and adult, especially those who gave their lives to Jesus last Sunday, a challenge. I’m calling it the 5-5-5 Challenge!


The 5 – 5 – 5 Challenge
  • 5 minutes of Worship
  • 5 minutes in the Word
  • 5 minutes of Prayer

The 5-5-5 Challenge is a challenge to spend five minutes of your day worshipping God. This can be through a worship song, through telling God what you’re thankful for or by drawing a picture of how awesome you think God is. Spend five minutes of your day reading the Bible or read a Bible story to your kids. And spend five minutes praying. You can pray for your family, for your friends, for people who don’t know Jesus or anything else on your heart. Jesus loves when you talk to Him.

My prayer is that as you take on the 5-5-5 Challenge, you’ll fall more in love with the God you gave your life to, whether you gave it to Him last week or last decade!

By Andrew Wible – Elementary Pastor

Cultivating Imagination: Teaching our Kids to Live Creatively

There is something uniquely holy about imagination, that which envisions and inspires and dreams and creates more than we presently see.

Growing up, my sister and I spent hours upon hours in our basement. Walls became endless gardens, the storage closet became a mysterious maze and my mom’s dresses became ball gowns and capes. We hung foil from the ceiling and stood on the ottoman to dance, imagining that magic filled the air around us.

A few weeks ago I began to think about creativity, imagination and the Holy Spirit. I did not realize during my childhood years, but much of my framework for friendship with the Holy Spirit was constructed in wild dreams, brave adventure and the realization that my surroundings had nothing to do with what I could see with my eyes.

More than ever, we live in a world of mass-produced entertainment and paint-by-number “artistic expression.” Precisely planned activity consumes each day.


Teaching our children to dream creatively not only invites imagination, but inspires understanding of the Holy Spirit.

If imagination is dreaming of what could be and what hasn’t been before, then creating (creativity) is calling and bringing imagination to life. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created human beings in his own image.” God imagined us, created us and then made us like him so that we could do the same thing-imagine and create!


|Recognizing Imagination|

Cultivating creativity in our kids begins with us, as parents, educators, family, friends and volunteers. In order to recognize and encourage children’s imagination, we must first know the power of imagination for ourselves. Often as we grow, we lose sight of the wonder and delight of imagination, but there is joy in remembering. C.S. Lewis once said, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”  If imagination gives way to the power of the Holy Spirit, then certainly “all things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).


How can we lead someone into a place that we ourselves have not gone? Cultivating creativity requires us to be a step ahead, ever reminding our children (and ourselves) that there is more to discover than we could ever imagine.

|Acknowledging Imagination|

As we express delight in our children’s imagination, we represent the Father’s heart. My dad has always loved baseball. When I was little, he coached my t-ball team and I remember his laughing smile as he taught me to play. I could feel his delight in our similarities, “Look, you look like me!” I imagine that this is similar to how our Father feels when He watches us imagine and create. Like a new dad who looks at his baby’s eyes or nose and realizes that they mirror his own. It is so important that our children know the delight of their Father, and His pleasure in their creativity. And He trusts us to tell them.

In Ephesians 3:20-21 Paul says, “To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory…for ever and ever!” Not only do we share the Father’s delight with our children, but we encourage them to imagine freely and then remind them-“the reality is EVEN BETTER than this.”

|Cultivating Creativity|

So what does it look like to cultivate creativity, providing scaffolding as our children build with their imaginations?

Similar to the Holy Spirit, art in its truest form is open-ended and free from limits, lines and outside expectations. From placing rocks to tracing in shaving cream and painting the sidewalk, we can cultivate creativity by encouraging our children to ask “What do I want to create for Jesus? What do I want to create with Jesus? What do I want to create from Jesus (for me/someone else)?”

Much of my framework for imagination was cultivated within the pages of books like The Chronicles of Narnia and other fantastic adventures. We lose ourselves in the wonder of stories, and we can inspire imagination by encouraging children to act out the story, create new twists and imagine alternative endings.

Storytelling encourages imagination, as children dream and create beyond what they have previously seen or known. One of my favorite ways to do this is with the “Person, Place, Thing” game. Write examples of each category on notecards and have kids draw one from each pile. Encourage them to create a story based on the cards. It’s beautiful that every story will be completely different, because Jesus has given every child unique creativity!

Proverbs 13:12 “When dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.”

By Sydnee Nichols, Kids Ministry Staff