Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Organic Outreach For Families

Image credit: Amazon.com

I am so thankful for the opportunity to read and review this book. My husband, as the pastor of our church, has been teaching that sharing the gospel with your family and friends should be a natural part of daily living. In Organic Outreach for Families, Kevin & Sherry Harney give practical advice for doing exactly that.

The goal of their book is to encourage and equip you to reach your own family with the gospel, then to create a home that is a lighthouse of truth for the world around you.

I greatly value the local church for worship and discipleship but, for too long parents have depended solely on church programs to evangelize and disciple their children and youth. I know many people who don't understand why their grown children don't attend church anymore. I truly believe it is related to a gospel focus not being at the center of their home life.

"Something is very wrong if we reach our neighbors with the love of Jesus but our children feel forgotten and marginalized. We have confused our priorities if we invest more time in our church than we do in our own children." (17)

After thoroughly discussing the priority of reaching your family with the gospel, the authors transition into creating a home that is that is welcoming not because it is physically attractive but because it is a safe haven filled with love, prayer and fun.

Too often people expect churches to be a community center of programs and events in the hope that people searching for God will come through their doors to find Him. In contrast, the Harneys suggest that our homes and our family's involvement in the community be the natural place people see the hope of Christ lived out.

I appreciate how the Harneys are gentle and kind in helping us rethink our approach to outreach and evangelism, unlike some parenting or outreach books that come across as bossy and finger pointing. At the end of each chapter they give practical ideas to move your family toward "becoming a lighthouse". They also include testimonies from their sons of the effectiveness of the organic outreach lifestyle in their own home.

They have clearly done much research and study on parenting and personal evangelism as they quote many well known writers as well as personal friends who have lived out the truths they are promoting. My only complaint of this book would be the over use of the words "organic" and "lighthouse" - but I get it, that's their theme.

This book has been encouraging and enlightening to me as I have been reminded about the great responsibility I have to my children in sharing the gospel with them. I have also learned about making my home a refuge for my kids and welcoming to those I hope to reach with the gospel in my community.

*Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
For more information on Kevin & Sherry Harney check out their websites at:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homeschooling with Humility

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

 I thought I was a good teacher, after all I have been homeschooling for 7 years. My oldest daughter learned to read just fine. My third child, a boy, learned to read very easily before starting Kindergarten. But for some reason, my second daughter is really struggling with learning to read in 1st grade this year. As part of a Virtual Academy, my daughter's advisor has to do state standardized testing with her and had serious concerns about her progress. I was humbled to admit that maybe we needed some help and should back up and reteach.
Of course I want what's best for my little girl. I know every child learns differently. I want to work at her pace and make sure that she comprehends the material and feels confident in her abilities. But I took the adviser's concerns as a stab at my ability to teach. I mean, how dare she question my ability and devotion to educate my children? I took it personally. But after some prayer and wise insight from my husband, I had to confess she was not attacking me or my abilities - she had the same desire I did - the best education for my daughter.
Although for awhile I struggled with submitting to the reteaching plan, God's grace has enabled me to admit a need for extra support. I have no doubt that my little one will become an excellent reader, but my real prayer for her is that the Lord will use this refining moment for me to teach her respond to advice and correction with humility and grace.