TLP 198: Creating Community
Does your family have community? Join AMBrewster as he unveils TLP’s first meetup and discusses how to create a Christ-Christ-Honoring community for Christian parents.
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Two weeks and a day ago I landed in Dallas and had the supreme privilege of hanging out with over 65 people at our first TLP meetup.
I cannot tell you how amazing it was, but I want to try.
Now, this is not merely going to be a rehashing of my trip. I’m not just going to tell you about how I had to “Home Alone” it to make my final plane back home.
Seriously, I swear I could hear “Run, Run Rudolph” blaring over the airport PA as sprinted through Chicago-O’Hare airport. I’m also pretty sure they turned the plane around for me. It was crazy.
Anyway, my goal today is to tell you what God taught me and how I believe all of our families can benefit from those lessons.
But before we jump into that, I want to share this Facebook Recommendation. Listen to what Kim wrote, “This might be the most biblically-based parenting podcast in existence. [Their] wisdom is clearly borne of in-depth study of God’s Word. [They speak] honestly about common parenting issues and what’s really behind them, yet [do] so with gentleness and humility. Even if you’re not a parent, you can glean much from this podcast. It’s well worth a listen!”
Kim, your words are significant and immense. I pray that TeamTLP and I are able to consistently live up to that recommendation.
There is nothing more amazing into which we could root our parenting than the everlasting and complete Word of God.
If you are new to the show, I want you to know that this show is not about man’s opinions, man’s pseudo-sciences, man’s philosophies, or man’s experiences and anecdotes.
And that was exactly what Season 7 was all about. We believe wholly in the sufficiency of Scripture for life and godliness and parenting. And if that excites you as much as it does I, then I invite you to subscribe and take this parenting journey with us.
And as we move into Season 8 today, I pray that solid foundation will be at the core of all we say and do.
Also, if you’re new to the show, check out TruthLoveParent.com. We’re slowly working at becoming the hub for all things Christian parenting. I have so many dreams and aspirations for what TruthLoveParent.com can be, and if I accomplish only half of them, it will be awesome!
For now, please go to the website and join The TLP Family which will give you a code to become a part of our closed Facebook group for Christian parents.
And you should also sign up for our free parenting course, “25 Days to Becoming a Premeditated Parent.”
I met a wonderful lady named Millye in Dallas who has a discipleship group with a bunch of amazing young moms and she said that she and her girls are going through the course together. That is super awesome!
And “Hello!” to all the moms in Millye’s group!
All of that to say, we TLPers love God and want to grow in our parenting as we’re conformed to His image, and we want to help as many parents as we can to do the exact same thing.
Lastly, if you’re a fan of TLP and would love to see this ministry reach more dads and moms across the globe, will you please click on “5 Ways to Support TLP” in the description below? There you’ll find 5 ways you can extend our reach, and two of them don’t even involve money! So, there’s that.
Ray and Carolyn are two of our Equipping Patrons — in fact, Carolyn will be joining us in the next month or so to talk to us about teaching your children how to think for themselves — and I can promise you that Ray and Carolyn would very much encourage you to prayerfully consider supporting TLP with your finances.
That’s all I’ll say about that for now, I’ll just let them share their thoughts more intimately later.
Alright, let’s talk about the lessons I learned at our first TLP meetup and discuss how you can have one of these life-changing events in your city.
Before I start, please allow me to thank my super-awesome-rocking-cool hosts. Matt and Sonja are such fantastic people. This was their brainchild, and they sacrificially gave of themselves for three days straight to make my visit as impactful as possible.
And I love how God used them to be such a blessing to me and everyone else.
And I also want to say “Hi,” to one more person. I had the supreme pleasure to meeting one of TLP’s biggest evangelists. Her name is Becky, and she was the one who introduced Matt, Sonja, and so many others in the Dallas area to Truth.Love.Parent.
Becky, you and your husband were so encouraging, and I hope we get to spend more time together in the future.
Okay, I’m going to talk about the lessons I learned in chronological order.
1. The most loving thing you can do for your kids is to love God.
It sounds obvious, but we don’t live that way.
We make so many other things so important — our jobs and sports and finances and family time and providing and school and church — and those things are important, but they’re not more important than God.
So if we find that our personal lives are filled with more thoughts and plans and habits surrounding those things, our priorities are wrong.
If we could take all the conversations we have with our kids in a week and slip them into the above categories, how much of our Family Talk would be packed with our love for God?
Even if we’re talking about sports and school and work in light of God’s awesomeness and authority, that would be fine . . . but do we do that?
2. The second most loving thing you can do for your kids is grow in your understanding of God’s Word and let it affect your parenting.
Of the over 60 people who showed up at our first TLP meetup, the vast majority of them had never listened to an episode.
That means that these people had found babysitters and driven across town and some of them had gone into the home of a complete stranger all with the desire of being equipped for their ministries to their families.
Most people seek pre-marital counseling before they’re married, but no one ever gets pre-parental counseling.
And I think so many of us are just super arrogant when it comes to parenting. We hate to admit defeat, we hate to admit ignorance, and it’s just all so personal.
But the reality is that we all need help.
One of my future goals is to create a pre-parenting program. It would have been so great to have something like that when my wife and I were starting to have kids.
Neither we nor our families can afford for us to not be Bible-filled children of God who apply His Word to our parenting.
3. Let your kids see you with your hard copy.
Millye shared this nugget with me. It was so good.
Hopefully we’re teaching our kids the pitfalls of technology and we’re preparing them to use it in a Christ-honoring way.
But imagine a child being told that they have to limit their screen time only to see mom and dad seemingly living on the device.
“But sometimes I’m reading my Bible!” you say. And I get it, but do your kids know that?
My kids have come to the place where if I’m on a device they assume I’m either working or playing chess.
By the way, if you like to play chess and you’re on chess.com, you should totally connect with me. It would be great. I haven’t been playing for very long, but I’m really enjoying the game. My handle is EnigmaticNinja.
Anyway, the reality is that I could be doing so many things on my device from banking to reading a parenting book to studying Scripture, but my kids have rightfully identified the things for which I use my phone the most.
So Millye suggested you just get used to using your “Hardcopy” of the Scriptures. Wouldn’t it be great for your kids to see you actually sitting on the couch with your Bible?
Maybe your kids don’t assume the worst when you’re on your phone. Maybe they give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re using it well. Wouldn’t you rather your kids see how dependent you are on God’s Word than on your phone?
Now, let’s be real . . . even if we did our God and I Time where our kids could see us, we wouldn’t really spend that much time with our Bible’s open.
And that’s probably something we need to reconsider.
4. Take notes.
Okay, let me tell you, this humbled me.
I write all the time. I write over 30 pages of single-spaced, 12-point font manuscripts on a weekly basis.
I jot down notes on my phone and get far more detailed on my Macbook, but I never ever carry around a notebook and pen.
But it seemed everywhere I went while in Dallas these parents had a hardcopy of their Bible, a notebook, and a writing utensil, and they took notes like crazy. And some of them — like a man I met at a Dad’s breakfast — even made their notes look cool with word art and stuff.
And I never do that.
I’ve had many friends over the years encourage me to take notes on paper, but I never jumped in. Let me tell you, I’m seriously reconsidering it.
Note-taking is the way to kinesthetically learn information. You listen and you watch the speaker, and when you take notes it’s like you’re “doing” the information. It’s so helpful for remembering things you’ve heard.
But it’s also great for reference later on.
Most of the people who I know who actually take quality notes like to go back and review those notes as part of the process.
And the beautiful thing is, using note taking this way is exactly how people are successful in school. It’s like we knew it back then, but we’ve completely jettisoned it from our lives because apparently we’re adults now who have it all figured out.
But that’s rarely the case. Right?
5. Be honest with your struggles.
I had the opportunity to speak at the TLP meetup, attend a Dad U breakfast at Watermark, counsel with a couple families, speak with the parents who send their kids to Covenant, meet some of the family pastors at Watermark, and hang out with some cool homeschooling moms, and I love how much genuine honesty I encountered.
Listen, like G.I. Joe used to say back in the 90’s after telling some morality tale, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
Being able to admit that we need help and be honest about the struggles we have is the first step to changing. In fact, I’d say it’s most of it.
Just like in Matthew 5, Jesus said we needed to recognize our spiritual destitution, let it grieve us, and meekly seek Him for grace, and only then will we hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Acknowledging our sin isn’t half the battle, it’s like 75% of the battle!
Now before I continue with the last two lessons I’m going to share today, I just want to tell you that I would love to have a TLP meetup in your area as well.
It would be awesome to do a parenting workshop or family conference or couples retreat. I’d love to speak in your Christian school to the students and the parents. I’d love to hang out with you and pray with you and offer any counsel I can. It would be amazing to be a blessing to your church or speak at your camp.
If that sounds like an awesome idea to you too, please reach out. It may not happen this year or the next, but at least we can talk about it. It would be incredibly cool to see what we can do to make that happen in your area.
You can send an email to TeamTLP@truthloveparent.com or click on our “Speakers” tab at TruthLoveParent.com.
It was such a great experience for so many people, I know I learned so much, and it would be awesome to meet all of you.
Now, you may be thinking, “How do I legitimately make something like happen?”
Well, Matt and Sonja created the whole thing from scratch. They orchestrated the speaking opportunities and made the introductions.
But perhaps you could start by simply telling your pastor about TLP. Matt and Sonja’s idea started by telling their school. Maybe you could find other people in your area who listen to Truth.Love.Parent.
For example, even with all the people in Dallas who listen, there are a bunch more TLPers in the Wichita, Kansas area.
If we only look at 2018, Wichita is number one for downloads, Atlanta is second, Dallas is third, Seattle is a very close fourth, and Charlotte, North Carolina makes a very respectable fifth.
Those could all be fantastic places for a TLP meetup!
Of course we also have a good listener base started in Minneapolis, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and Denver.
At the same time, I do have to admit that Canada and Australia have a good amount of TLPers also.
The point is, my mom taught me that it never hurts to ask. We may all be surprised what the Lord will do and how He’ll orchestrate things we never would have imagined!
Okay, now, let’s take a couple of these lessons I learned and put them together to see what they create:
If you’re deeply in love with God and combing His Word to grow in Him, and if you’re honest about your spiritual state, then you’re going to . . .
6. Invite community and give them permission to really love you.
One of the best things about my trip was being able to experience the gorgeous community that Matt and Sonja have.
Their church, Watermark in Dallas, is a HUGE part of that, but Matt and Sonja have so many other people who are part of their community that don’t go to Watermark.
Now, when I say “community,” I’m not talking about the people who live on your street. I’m not talking about your colleagues, and I’m not even talking about your church family.
I’m talking about a group of believers who loves God and who you have deliberately decided to let into the most inconvenient and personal spheres of your life. It’s life-on-life.
It’s a James 5 type of relationship where you “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.” A decidedly discipleship-oriented relationship with no holds barred and complete transparency.
I saw that with so many people. I saw how Watermark worked hard to create an atmosphere where the body of Christ would feel that it was natural and normal to cultivate those relationships.
John and Wes poured into me while I was there, people I never met before were honest about their struggles and I got to watch them speak Truth into each other’s lives.
It wasn’t merely a shame-sharing event or a “glorying in our suffering” type of event. It was people sharing their struggles fully intending to be told they were wrong and be shown from the Bible how they could change!
It was beautiful and awesome and so very much the way that God wants us to be.
And — let me tell you — this is a struggle for me. It’s a struggle because — in my flesh — I feel like I don’t need people. It’s a struggle because I’m so busy. It’s a struggle because my work is my home and I’m isolated from even normal interaction with co-workers. It’s a struggle for me because I live in the Northwoods of Wisconsin where the closest gas station is 20 minutes away!
But none of those are legitimate excuses. This is why — a couple Sundays ago — I preached about this and I was preaching to me more than I was anyone else. And after the service a dear man in my church walked up to me and said, “So, how are we going to fix this?” And I found out that he wanted to make time to get together with me.
And even though he’s a farmer and I work at Victory and our schedules do not match up, we’re going to make this work. We need this.
And you do to.
So, before I get to my last lesson, let me invite you to try some things I’m working on in my life in order to create community:
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s what I’m trying to do in my own life, and I hope it helps you.
And if this is how we’re living, then I think we’ll all understand the last lesson God taught me in Dallas . . .
7. Always be looking to learn something new.
I went to Dallas to teach, but I believe God had me there to learn.
I hope that you listen to this podcast because you want to learn something new about God. I pray that the lessons I learned can be a challenge to you.
I want nothing more than for us to create growing communities of moms and dads who love God and love each other by helping each other love God and be conformed to His image.
It’s not until we’re stupid enough to think we don’t have anything more to learn that true, spiritual change becomes impossible.
Pride will eat us and our families for lunch, but God-inspired humility will always show us new areas where we need to grow and equip us to learn what we need to learn from God’s precious Word.
Now, before I tell you about Season 8, let me thank — once again — all the amazing people I met in Dallas. Thank you to Matt and Sonja and the family pastors at Watermark. Thank you to the Covenant family and the homeschoolers who taught me the benefit of learning Latin.
Thank you for the people who let me be part of your community and all the new listeners.
You guys are great.
Okay, Season 8.
So, this time around I was trying to find a theme for the season, but I was really struggling. This is kind of becoming the Season for all the studies that didn’t fit into other Seasons.
Maybe we’ll call this the Potpourri Season or the Miscellaneous Season or the Smorgasbord Season.
But just to give you a taste of the types of things we’ll discuss, my plan is to talk about avoiding parental burnout and teaching your children how to learn.
I also want to get my mom on the show! How cool will that be?!
But we also need to seriously consider whether or not we’re parenting zombies. You may be very surprised about what the Bible says about zombies and how much it sounds like your children.
I’d also like to finally discuss Terrorist Parents and how to not be one.
Of course, we’ll talk about Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we’ll also reveal who the biggest sinner is in your house.
And so much more.
So please subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. And go back to our pilot season — our content is evergreen and eternally relevant because it’s grounded in God’s Word.
Many people have told me how they like to go back and re-listen to episodes. In fact one of our listeners said it would be incredibly valuable to re-listen to all of the episodes once a year. I can only hope they can be that valuable to you.
Also, share this episode with your friends and download our free episode notes.
And join us for our next episode when we talk about your child’s bungee, what it is, and what it means for your parenting.
And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, join the growing number of people becoming a part of The TLP Family and our closed Facebook group just for them, and check us out on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
And remember, it doesn’t matter where you are . . . God’s wants you learning something.
So, to that end . . . I’ll see you next time.
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