Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crosswind Doesn't Care About You

Seth Godin's brilliant blog reminded me of a common occurrence that happens inside outreach... that is de-personalizing. Time and again people come in our office to see if Crosswind can assist them, pay a bill, help them with their trouble, etc. And many times, I have to say, "No I'm sorry, Crosswind cannot help you at all, but there may be some people who can." By the way, I'm not being a smart aleck or trying to make a distinction that doesn't make a difference, it makes all the difference in the world.

Seth Godin rightly said, "No organization cares about you. Organizations aren't capable of this. Your bank, certainly, doesn't care. Neither does your HMO or even your car dealership. It's amazing to me that people are surprised to discover this fact. People, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of caring."

John came in and asked if Crosswind could fill up his gas tank. I said "No, but I will." What transacted for John was critical to outreach.

There must be a relational, personal, community connection before people will fully appreciate what is transacting between you and them. And a pleasant byproduct is they may also quit using you.

People steal from WalMart because it's not personal. Ask those same people if they would steal from their friend and they say "of course not"! Why? Because you just made it personal.

In outreach it is critical to the gospel and to redemption and to truly helping someone to make it personal. When I told that man that I would give him gas he knew that I had worked this week, that I had taken the fruit of my labor and sacrificed it on his account and that in some way he and I had just deepened our relationship. I had loved him personally. That's way different from him getting an organization to buy gas for him.

Friends, Crosswind doesn't care about anyone, but Clifton does, Judy does, Lucky does, Nicole does, and many more who hang out and try to live a missionary lifestyle on behalf of neighbors for the sake of our Lord Jesus do.

Nope, Crosswind doesn't care at all, but we sure do.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Missionary moms can really make an impact

I've been burdened and even alarmed at what I think is the most glaring gap in our county's improvement plan. At almost every turn we seem to have something in place to address our problems. It may need to be strengthened and have more support but at least someone has a plan or program that addresses most of our weaknesses.

But what if THE KEY WEAKNESS had hardly any community emphasis at all?

I am becoming convinced with many others that this may be the case and am making every effort to rally our citizens, especially Christians, and even more specifically mothers to the cause. Let me begin by clearing some brush so we can see clearly ahead. #1. The answer to all the world's problem is the finished work of Jesus on Calvary weekend. He is making all things new by that finished work and uses His church on earth by his Spirit to accomplish that end. 2. There is very little room between sacred and secular in my thinking. What I mean by that is, for me, helping someone learn to read is as Christian as going to a worship service.

Now then, we are finding (nationally) that the brain development of a child between 0 and 3 years is crucial to a child's capacity to learn in their school years and also crucial in them having a chance at a fruitful and productive life. The stimulation of a little baby's brain literally creates capacity for learning. So, by the time a child reaches school (the first time a professional interacts with them) the foundation for learning has already been laid. Or to say it another way, if you want to get a lot of learning in a brain you have to have a big box. That box is made before the child gets to school. So who has baby in those crucial years? Yep, you got it, for the most part it's mom.

The problem: The degree that a child is cared for or neglected (touched, played with, talked to or read to) determines the brain development of a child. Factors that exacerbate the problem: 1. Working moms (with little time to interact with the child) 2. Daycare centers (which leave babies in a crib rather than interact with them) 3. Young mothers (especially teen mothers) who haven't matured enough to selflessly care for their child's needs above their own and finally 4. mom's who don't know how to be moms. Quick caveat: Not letting dad's off the hook here, just primarily it is mom who interacts with baby. That list is not exhaustive and judgmental at first glance especially to mom's who are trying to make ends meet and doing the best they can with what they have.

HUGE missional opportunity: It doesn't matter who stimulates little baby's brain, just make sure it gets stimulated.

God gives a great picture of gospel fruit bearing older women... "they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, " Titus 2:4

There are about 70 babies born to teenage mom's every year in our county. Yes, every year... last year, this year and next year. Almost four out of every ten babies are born to single moms in our county. These mom's have to work (many times two jobs) to make ends meet, some are so young that they just leave their kids in strollers or cribs all day. Christian mothers can reach out to these mom's in a profound way. Babysit their kids, start affordable, small, at home child care centers, start play groups with mom's in high risk circles, take an interest in young at-risk momma's. Teach them how to "love their children", you love them, show them the gospel, teach them about their babies' little brains.

As you go your missionary way this week remember mom's and their tiny ones: 1. touch 2. talk 3. play and 4. read... If every mom did it we'd make big boxes ready for much learning.

None of this takes much money but it does take much love, sacrificial love. The kind of love that mom's are wired with anyway, especially Christian ones.