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Preschool Volunteer Stories

Posted in Children  |  By Sarah Kent  |  Posted on Wed Sep 16, 2020

I'm reminded of how God has designed His church to function, working together to serve one another. One important way this happens is in worship care. Taking care of our preschoolers on Sunday mornings allows for many parents to get a much needed break to meet with God in the service, but it also begins planting vital seeds of the Gospel in the lives of our kids. 

I get volunteering can seem like a big commitment, though. But don't just take it from me, take it from those who are impacted by this ministry. We have stories below from Grace Johnson, who felt a desire to serve at Shades and found preschool ministry; Denise Black and Kat Powell, who talk about generational service; and Josh Clarke, who encourages us to be the church, and that taking care of babies is actually way more than taking care of babies. Take a look!

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Intentional Discipleship: Are You Redeeming Summer Break?

Posted in Children  |  By Jeremy Horton  |  Posted on Mon Jun 11, 2018

You did it. This is real life, and you have FINALLY reached the end of the school year. No more homework or school projects, school dances, or parent-teacher conferences. No more rushing from school to practice to homework to shower to bed to repeat… take a deep breath; you’ve arrived! 

There is nothing quite like pushing through something difficult and all-consuming to finally reaching the finish line. And what’s the first thing we want to do when we have survived something hard? Prop our feet up, sit back, and zone out. I don’t know many runners who the day after the marathon decide to go for a difficult run. 

If we are honest with ourselves, this is what we tend to do with our summer breaks. We finally reach the end of a hectic and crazy spring season and we put our feet up, lean back, and power down. And I am not referring to the much-needed rest that summer break can bring. I am talking about more than rest; I am talking about checking-out altogether. 

But as transformed parents seeking to influence our children in the love and admonition of the Lord, maybe we should take a step back and reconsider how we approach summer break with our kids. Think about it: What other season during the year provides us with uninterrupted, open time with our children? 

DISCLAIMER: I am not here to add more things to do to your recently cleared schedule. I am talking about being intentional with your summer break as parents who are discipling your children. How can we as parents intentionally disciple our children this summer without adding business and stress back into our lives? 

Let me encourage you in three areas to capitalize on over summer break for the betterment of your family’s eternity:

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VBS 2017

Posted in Children  |  By Stephanie Hartsell  |  Posted on Thu Jun 1, 2017

I LOVE VBS! It is my favorite week of the summer! Why? Because...

  • It generates excitement in our church family and staff.
  • Seeing children worshipping Jesus at 9 a.m. five days in a row is AMAZING!
  • Watching high school and college students alongside parents and senior adults teaching children truths from the Bible is what every generation together looks like.
  • Children will hear the good news of Jesus Christ and have the opportunity to come to know Him personally.

Vacation Bible School is a wonderful week for your child to come and make new friends as well as strengthen existing friendships as they play and learn together. It creates shared memories for children. The memories will include Biblical truths, Bible verses, and fun had at church with friends.

This year our VBS is set at the International Spy Academy where recruits will come and learn to spy out truths in God Word’s and learn how to apply them to their lives. We will be:

  • uncovering counterfeit gods
  • finding fingerprints of God in our lives
  • collecting clues that lead us the truth of the Gospel
  • hot on the trail of Jesus as we learn to follow Him
  • cracking the code to find our mission in God’s big story

To register your child for this amazing week, click here.

VBS is our biggest outreach to children here at Shades. We will have over 1000 children here between bed babies and 6th graders and need over 400 volunteers to make it happen!

Serving at VBS is one way for you to live our mission here at Shades by influencing the children who come for Christ. This can be done by playing games in small group, listening to a child tell you what they think about a Bible story or just by giving a child a smile and an encouraging word.

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How Serving Together Changes Families

Posted in Children  |  By Stephanie Hartsell  |  Posted on Mon Mar 6, 2017

In an “all about me” world, we long to teach our kids what it means to put others first, to have a servant’s heart, and to be selfless. Serving together as a family can be a catalyst for a kid’s growing faith and character, producing these things.

Before you tune me out and think, “We can’t add one more thing to our busy schedules!” I’m not saying you have to plan a three-hour yard cleaning for the widow down the street. Instead, make service a part of your family’s DNA by keeping an eye out for things that need to be done and the people around you who are in need. It may be that the widow’s yard does need to be cleaned. But it may also be that Jimmy, the kid next door, broke his arm and just needs a batch of chocolate chip cookies,& which your children can help you make (or help you pick out the Walmart iced sugar cookies and put them on a plate with a card your kids make and deliver … whichever one you have time for).

Serving together as a family can become a way of life when we change how we look at our sphere of influence. Listen and be aware. Find a need, great or small, and work as a family to meet it. Talk it over, pray about it, involve your children in thinking of ways to meet a need and then do it. 

Once you have completed the act of service, take a few moments to talk about the experience and how everyone felt about it. Take time to pray for the people you helped or your community and ask God to help your family to have eyes to see the needs around you. 

Serving together grows our kids’ faith and produces character because it:

  • requires them to look outside themselves
  • helps them to feel empathy for others
  • helps them to learn about gifts and talents God has given them
  • helps them understand that they can accomplish significant things TOGETHER

Doing service together as a family is an experience you and your children can have and can make wonderful memories for your family.  

How can your family be “LIVE SENT” by serving someone this week?

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Focus your soul on Jesus this Christmas

Posted in Children, Students, Adults, Worship, Community Life  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Mon Dec 19, 2016

You guys, Christmas is great.  

What’s not to love?! It gets a little cold, but not too cold (I see you, January.) so you have a chance to pull out your best jacket and drink warm drinks. There are lots of parties, so you get all caught up on the happenings and the goings-on. There are some great things on TV. It’s a season with it’s own music that you already know the words to. It’s a perfect opportunity to take a tree that normally goes outside, and put it inside! Seriously, what’s not to love about Christmas?

I’m writing a bit tongue-in-cheek, of course, but these parts of Christmas truly are fun and something to look forward to. But without the Christ-child, they’re meaningless. They’re window dressing. They’re liquid butter without the popcorn.  They’re a parade without purpose. They’re an appetizer without a main course.  

The Christmas season is a season of anticipation and remembrance. If the object of our anticipation is wrong, our celebration will be misguided. And if our remembering is weak or fuzzy, our worship is miscalibrated.  

It’s tempting to only anticipate the “season” of Christmas instead of the event. And it’s tempting to remember the Christmases of years past and their memories instead of the original Christmas and the hope that comes with it.

But succumbing to those temptations leads us down a road of misguided praise and misplaced worship. We become the misinformed child who becomes enamored with the cardboard box and unaware of the treasure inside. 

So this Christmas season, practice ways in which the coming of Christ (and his coming again!) is more anticipated than the coming of Santa.  

Read the Christmas story together as a family. Talk about who the Biblical characters were and what they would have felt like. Name out loud how your life would be different in the Christ-child hadn’t come.  

If the Christmas season is about the presence of God with us, practice presence with your family. If the Christmas season is about God’s greatest gift, consider making a gift to someone in need.  

Find a baby, hold him, and think about him as the savior of the world. Consider putting that baby in the dog bowl and ponder the humility of Christ.  

Whatever you need to do to focus your soul on Jesus, strive hard to do that thing.  You were created by the Almighty God to worship Him and know Him. 

Let Christmas be the season for you to do what you were created to do. 

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The Fergusons | A journey of God's faithfulness and love

Posted in Children  |  By Lauren Beck  |  Posted on Wed Oct 21, 2015

The Lord’s hand is clearly evident in Mary’s journey.

When you meet Kay Ferguson, you immediately feel the love of God. When you hear her story about her daughter Mary, you feel the depths of God’s grace and mercy and see a wonderful testimony of His faithfulness and sovereignty.

In April of 1996, Kay was going about her normal duties at school. She spent time with kids at school, at church and at home with her two daughters.

During what seemed like a normal Friday afternoon, she received a call from a friend at Children’s Harbor Family Center. She was asked to come spend time with a baby in the local hospital that she knew nothing about but was in need of comfort.

There Kay and her eldest daughter Andrea found a fragile three month old baby, who bore battle scars from physical violence. Later they would learn that the boyfriend of the baby’s mother was responsible for her current state. While he claimed the baby had fallen from the sofa, doctors said the injuries that she bore were more reminiscent of a high-impact accident. The injury was so severe that part of her brain had to removed.

Andrea wanted to stay the night to care for the baby named Mary. Andrea ended up holding her all night because she was afraid that if she put Mary down, she would disconnect one of the many cords that were attached to Mary. Little did Andrea know at the time, some of the sores on her Mary’s body caused her to be unable to moderate her body temperature. By holding her all-night, Andrea helped Mary regulate her temperature by providing her comfort through physical contact. The doctor was amazed when he returned in the morning because he had not honestly expected Mary to live through the night.

The Department of Human Resources was not sure what should happen to Mary. Ideally, they wanted Mary to return to her hometown of Anniston, but her known family members didn't want her and the identity of her biological father was unknown.

Care for Mary was difficult; she had many doctors visits throughout the week. Early in her recovery, she was on a feeding tube and was completely blind. Mary had a strict regimen of medicine to help with her various medical issues, especially seizures.

Mary needed constant care which her biological family would not provide. Without anyone willing to care for her, DHR was looking to institutionalize Mary, meaning a loveless existence for Mary.

While DHR tried to decide where Mary should go, they allowed the Fergusons to care of her.

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Why VBS is more than just a fun event

Posted in Children  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Wed May 20, 2015

It takes hundreds of volunteers, months of planning, thousands of man-hours and it takes up nearly every inch of our church for an entire week.

Vacation Bible School is one of the greatest weeks in the life of our church. What other week are there nearly 1,000 kids gracing the halls of our campus?

We have the privilege of sharing the gospel with boys and girls who are eager to have fun and learn some incredible Biblical truths at the same time during the week of VBS. There is something special about an action-packed week at VBS that just builds excitement here at Shades. It’s a great reminder of the excitement we should have for God and His work in our lives every day!

We do have a significant goal, however.

Our goal at VBS is to bring as many children to Christ as possible.

Our VBS program is designed to teach the message of salvation and reach those who may not attend church on a regular basis. This should encourage our families to bring visitors. This should be relatively easy because VBS is FUN! In fact, that’s one of the main reasons I have always loved VBS! I get the opportunity to laugh and be silly with boys and girls of all ages as we transform our church into a pirate-themed landscape. Having fun is important – it shows children that loving God can be fun and exciting!

I want to ask you to pray for VBS.

First, ask God to lay on your heart the names of some individuals you need to invite to VBS at Shades. Then, begin praying for the boys and girls who will be in attendance – that God will prepare their hearts to fully understand how they can connect Biblical truths to their lives. We’re praying for God to show-off in some pretty big ways!

While it can be loud, messy, and it can get a little bit crazy – VBS is so worth it!

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Stephanie Hartsell

Posted in Children, Adults  |  By Stephanie Hartsell  |  Posted on Fri Jan 23, 2015

We cannot always control what happens to us in our lives, especially when we are children. Unfortunately sometimes the things that happen to us as children wind up defining the rest of our lives. Sometimes people give up and give in to the lie that because of the things that happened or were done to us, we can never be whole.

We say, "I'm like this because of ______.
I can't change because of ______ that happened to me."
You fill in the blanks.

For most of my teens and early 20's I believed this lie. Satan wanted me to believe my legacy was one of addiction, depression, anger, mental instability. It was not until I came to SMBC that I heard for the first time, that this was truly a lie. God sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and to make a way for me to have a relationship with Him. Through this relationship with God, He gave me a new legacy. I became a new creation in Christ. My new legacy is freedom, peace, joy and grace.

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