Why Won’t our Public School Help my Child?

schoolboy crying on the street

Have you had a child get behind in school and tried to get them help? And you were just shot down? Have you ever dealt with a bullying problem, and the school refused to help? Your child is not understanding the work, but they will not intervene until they are two years behind? Maybe, it is the two to three hours of homework each night while class time is spent dealing with behavior issues. Possibly they are teaching to the standardized test and not the curriculum and special projects. Perhaps, you have a special needs child and they are lost in the wind there. Maybe you are dealing with an insufficient teacher that the administration loves but not anyone else?

There seems to be a systemic problem in some schools, even at the district levels refusing to help our children. Why is that?

Maybe, you are lucky and see none of this where you are, fantastic. But, I am sure you have friends dealing with this. Why? Sometimes, it is a lack of funding and other times it is a lack of purpose. Mostly, it is a lack of effective implementation.

As a parent with a special needs child, I have been doing all-out battle with our school district, and for a couple years at a private school too. They do have some great teachers, but shockingly, there is no plan or even a mindset to offer any help to mine or any other child who is not in the mainstream. I am not in a small-town school, in fact, we live in one of the biggest districts there is. It is massive. It is like a factory where the management occupies over half of the positions and the workers, as in teachers, occupy less than half. Management and various bosses are seemingly doing nothing but micromanaging, while the workers are overwhelmed and do not have the resources, training and effective oversight to do their job well.

Yet, the primary and only point people who are geared to do the actual work of teaching are the teachers. And in the state I am in, the ratio is 32-1, about one teacher for every thirty-two plus kids. My son’s previous class was one to thirty-five. The two schools he was previously enrolled with have no aids, available IEP’s, a 504 plan, or Special Ed programs. Their “tutoring” was done by the older kids and proved to be totally ineffective. What is offered is called centralizing services, which is mainstreaming all students into the same classes for budgeting reasons, while research shows that does not work. The teachers are overwhelmed and can’t possibly help our children, no matter how good they are. They just can’t do it all.

And it gets worse. The vast majority of the funding is massively mismanaged going to way too many overpriced administers and pointless projects that do nothing or offer any real educational value to help our students.

They just push reports to one another, as I found out. When there is a bullying issue that affects their numbers and reputation, they bury it. So, there is seemingly no problem. When there is a special needs student they see a money pit. There are no resources for if a child gets behind, thus, they ignore the problem. They may even let you know, you are not welcome there. They may claim that they do not have the facilities or funding to accommodate your child and that you may be better off elsewhere. The principle of the school my son previously attended, who I considered a friend and even coached her son in soccer, told me they can’t accommodate him. This was coming from a public school! Now, my son just needed some extra help, not expensive services. This administrator, like so many, was determined to get rid as many students that would lower the school test scores as possible. That principle’s reward for the effort? A good school rating. It is not a good school! Five years later, the local newspaper reported that this school was closing.

Why such a reaction? From their perspective, there are some good reasons why they will not help students.

It can cost $20,000 to over $60,000 a year in educational expenses. This covers specialists, assessments and speech therapy, and even covers medical expenses for any specialized services. They can accommodate some, but not all in the budgets the districts allocate to each school.  The costs of these services in California on average is $10,467 per student. However, the schools still must provide the services when needed. So, they will drag their feet, take months to assess, lose paperwork, will not call you back or monitor the situation. Hoping you will just go away. Sometimes, this has been going on for years, like in our case. It reached the point to where I had to get an attorney to fight them, which was ridiculous. In the process of my fight, I got a look under the murky hood of dysfunction and a total disregard of what education is all about.

Here is what you as a parent can do:

  • Leave, find the exit and walk as fast as you can out of the school and district. I wish I did this a lot sooner.
  • Consider a Charter School. Look for a good alternative school. Private is not affordable and many are not as good as a Charter School. The private school, we were in and so many others will not put any effort to help a student with special needs. Their teachers were not even credentialed or qualified. Consider this, a Charter School gets less funding, as it comes from the district they are “chartered to,” and they have more expenses like building rents, and still manage to have an average of a 15 to 1 student to teacher ratio. Method Schools has an 8 to 1. They are more teacher-focused not administer driven. They have qualified credentialed teachers who are not overwhelmed and frustrated or in burned out by oversized classes. They have a more of a commitment to handle student needs better. And a better handle on what education is supposed to be.
  • Move. Find a school district that is good and better equipped to help your child in their educational journey.
  • Homeschool. You can’t? There are many that have their credentialed teachers and curriculum do the teaching and the parent coaches, like Method Schools.
  • You like to fight? Then, hire a lawyer. There are ones who specialize in this field and will cut the time of months to years dealing with it this to a few days. However, the school may still refuse to comply and site no funding, which happened in our case.
  • Want to stay no matter what? Make it better yourself. Join the PTA, get to know the teacher, volunteer and be their advocate and help them out.

What can a school do?

  • What it is supposed to do, teach students first, help them, inspire them, awaken the joy and wonder and prepare them for life. Give them the help they need!
  • What not to do? Playing political games and use our children as pawns and conduct meaningless social science experiments.
  • Do not warehouse them and squash the potential just to collect a paycheck.

I do not want to sound overly harsh, but that is the reality of many school districts and the experiences of many parents and teachers I have talked to. Not all schools are like this and not most public charter schools, which are a great alternative. In fact, there would be no need for charter or private schools or even homeschooling if the public schools are doing their jobs right. But, since they seem to refuse to, then the American spirit will come up with a plan with alternatives.

For a school that has a curriculum that is intuitive with great trained and considerate teachers, and has helped my son and can help you and your child’s success, look here: methodschools.org

Stats from: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html   and http://www.ccsa.org/understanding/faqs/  (*$10,467 per student in 2015)

 

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Why Do We Have So Many Problems in Schools Today?

Overcrowded schools

If you are a parent of a preteen or teenager and ventured onto a school campus, you may not recognize the setting and culture that was there when you were a student. If you are a teacher for more than twenty years you have seen vast changes in student behaviors, the rise of bullying and social clichés, and the escalation of all kinds of problems. From years of research and observation and working as a Youth Director, I have come to the conclusion most of this is actually one problem that has fractured into an escalation of many problems. These “complications” range from bullying, lower graduation rates, lower test scores, students falling behind and dropping out, to school shootings. What is it? It is overcrowding! It is not the issues the TV commentators and even student activist groups have been protesting about. While mismanaging social media just amplifies the issues. Sometimes, when you are in the culture you do not see the problems associated with it.

Let’s look at some simple numbers

In 1920 we had over 250,000 schools in the United States and over 120,000 school districts; while, the population was 106,500,000, and there were 22,000,000 enrolled primary and secondary students. In 1950 we had over 150,000 schools and 85,000 districts, 25,000,000 students, and the population was 152,300,000. By 1970, the number of schools dropped to 100,000 and there were 20,000 districts, and a high of 45,000,000 students, while the population was 205,000,000. The school and district numbers remain around that number through today. In 2000, the population is 282,200,000, and we had 40,000,000 enrolled primary and secondary students.  We can call this the big squish. Then you have 25 to over 35 students per teacher. Then after 2000, with usually no aids in schools that avenge nationwide over 500 students. Then, many secondary schools in the big cities average well over 3,000 to over 5,000 students.

Eleven of 13 high school shootings occurred in schools with enrollments over 600 students, and many with over 1,000 students.” (School Shootings, High School Size, and Neurobiological Considerations, Journal of Neurotherapy)

What happened?

In 1920, we had a revolution in how schools were run with standardizations and better training for teachers. Which was needed and good. After World War II the American educational system went through more of a vast change. Some for the better like funding and organization. While other changes to the detriment, like the rise of the mega schools and a turning away from smaller local community schools. The thinking was efficiency, save costs and bring together resources, which are all good ideas. Districts were merged, bigger schools built, and it worked for the most part. We were best in the world in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and then we went into a downward trend in the 1970s’ onward. A collision of newer progressive ideas that were attached to poor research, arrogance, along with out of control unions that created a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy with many with a disregard for what effectual education is all about. With over half of the budgeting going toward administration and not to the classroom environment. Good ideas are important, unions are needed, and origination is a must, good administration and funding are essential; but, if mismanaged, it becomes a colossal failure as it has in many places. When managed well, as some school districts are, then you have a well-oiled machine, fully engaged, that is properly educating its students and prepares them for the future.

Cultural changes

Of course, much of this has to do with the changing of culture, the world is very different as is the classrooms from 1950’s even the 80’s. We have a lack of discipline in the homes, an increase of fatherless families, a greater lack of moral compasses, a total disregard for authority figures, more violent media and entertainment, then there are bad food habits and so much more. So many issues vying to tear into students. Then add in the overuse of instant social media and place all this into an overcrowded school, then you have a hotbed trouble.

Look at it this way, when you take these postmodern students, and add in kids from fractured families, as well as those from various subcultures and interests all into congested situations not to mention teenage hormones, will all synergistically converge to be a factory of psychological stress and disorder.

School environment changes

Then what has been crafted is an environment that is very difficult to manage or create any real measure of success. As the classic book, “Lord of the Flies” so eloquently portrayed. You will have an overrun of clicks, a social hierarchy, like the old caste system in India. So, in a modern school, you will have bullying as a means of command and control from the schools “showrunners”, like the movie “Mean Girls” portrays. You have a greater number of students lost and confused with little hope, or ability to function at peak efficiency. Then these students will overreact and act out either outright or in a passive-aggressive way. Then you even have some schools, protecting the tormentors for the fear of litigious parents. All of this breeds contempt and attitude of flight and fight. Then we have more conflicts and dropouts beyond any reasonable numbers. Teachers and administration can’t possibly be in control of this.

Why did this happen?

There is a thinking that to combine districts and close smaller schools to build a bigger one will be better. It’s seemed effective on paper. But, in real life experience, it is not. Especially when you consider the buildings and resources that go into it, all to create bigger inefficient bureaucracies.

“Crowded classroom conditions not only make it difficult for students to concentrate on their lessons, but inevitably limit the amount of time teachers can spend on innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning and group work or, indeed on teaching anything beyond the barest minimum of required material. In addition, because teachers must constantly struggle simply to maintain order in an overcrowded classroom….” (Source: U.S. Dept. of Education)

What do we need to do?

We need to change our mindset to an attitude of what is best to the wellbeing of the students, for effective education and to foster an atmosphere of care and mutual respect…

What can parents do?

  • Parents need to be more involved and give more input.
  • Demand smaller class sizes and child safety.
  • Demand better management of public monies.

What can Schools, and Districts do?

  • We need to rethink budgeting and planning from perceived needs from various agendas to actual needs.
  • Better manage their vocation, reform the mindset of bigger is better, it is not. The answer is leaner and meaner, as in reduced and efficient. This is smaller campuses, smaller classrooms and better teacher ratios with qualified aids and resources.
  • Teachers need to be better trained and equipped, cared for and rewarded.
  • Parents need to be better communicated to.
  • Get rid of the cattle drive mentality expecting everyone to run in the same direction and tailor to individualized services and needs.
  • Charter a new course that can be your key to success. Start or partner with small charter schools with campus under 200, and student-teacher ratios under 12 to 1. With 1 teacher and 1 aid per class and any additional specialists as needed. With current state funding at over $10,000 per student, this is very achievable.
  • Larger campus can be re-engineered and broken up into smaller factions. By breakdown bigger campus into smaller sections, including lunch programs, with little interaction between them. And then larger gatherings can be used for such as assemblies and sporting events.
  • Tailored curriculum like “SmartFox,” so each student is working at their own level and best pace with biweekly and as needed tutoring. This will foster a better quality of education, make class time less stressful and encourage and equip the students far better and create a better future for all.

Let’s not forget what this is all about, educating students!  

When we get away from the pressure cooker of overcrowding, we can effectively educate and support and inspire students to become their best potential. We will not be able to cease all problems, but we can create a healthier environment for wellbeing and academic success. Test scores will rise, instances like bullying will diminish significantly, school shootings will be a thing of the past and the security and happiness of students, teachers and parents will be back to an all-time high. Not sure? Then visit a small school or a charter school that is well run, then visit a mega school, you will see a stark contrast and there will be no need for more research and statistics, just a need for action!

Stat sources: Digest of Education Statistics. National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 31 July 2015. U.S. Dept. of Education) https://nces.ed.gov/  https://www.census.gov http://www.educationalpolicy.org/  https://www.publicschoolreview.com/

Research on overcrowded schools: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2583&context=dissertations_1 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273124645_THE_IMPACT_OF_OVERCROWDED_CLASSROOM_ON_THE_ACADEMI http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0013916503035004007  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0362331917300241

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J184v09n03_07?journalCode=wneu20

For a school in Southern California that has a curriculum that is intuitive with great trained and considerate teachers, and has helped my son and can help you and your child’s success, look here: methodschools.org

Dr. Richard Krejcir is an Author, Researcher and the Director of a nonprofit that does educational training in third-world countries. He is also a Homeschool Coordinator at Method Schools and an instructor in a STEM program and a father of a son with autism.

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Inbound Church Marketing

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is attracting and connecting with people who come to you through a posted content that they are engaged in. This is how churches can reach people where they are at.

 

I will start with two premises. One, where are the people that you want to engage with or invite to your church? Second, how do we do that in a postmodern were the perceived narrative of the church is negative and even hated in a postmodern culture?

How we meet and engage strangers and turn them into visitors to your church is essential to our growth.

This will fundamentally change the way you and your people will engage the world to promote your church or ministry by using social media, blogs, review sites, gaming platforms and so much more including relating to your existing members.

The new watering holes

Traditionally, church marketing was to place an ad in the Yellow Pages and the Friday or weekend local newspaper, and you were done. In years past that was it, all you need to do. Everyone was reading a newspaper and will see your ad, or if they are new to town, will check the phone listings. But, these mediums have either disappeared or not used anymore. Then, there was the excitement of your current members being the salt and light in the community and engaging in friendship evangelism. This still works and can be a prime tool, but people do not seem to be much interested in that or do not have the time. Going door to door has not worked well either and is even banned in some communities. So, where do we find people who may want to go to our church? It is the same location as where people go to find a restaurant, a school or a solution to their problem or itching the proverbial felt needs. Where do people hang out and engage culture these days? That will be Facebook, Yelp, and other social media and blog sites. That is where the church, the people of Christ must also be at and engage in.

Consider this, there are more than two billion people on social media, most on Facebook, Instagram has 600 million active users, and more than ½ of the people living on this planet have smartphones and Facebook accounts, and it is 91% of Millennials. So, you can reach them where they are at online and in their journey of life. Then 90% of top business are using social media and yet, 90% of churches claim they are using Facebook, but with careful investigations, actually, the vast majority is not using it effectively or at all. Posting what the church times are, and occasional pictures of their youth group is not connecting with outsiders.

We are living in a new era of communication, in an instant that is, and we are more connected locally, even globally and more than ever before. This is why the smart business is also shifting the way they do their marketing and sales. I would like to introduce you to a new world of promotion, that is called “Inbound Marketing,” or content marketing. Your church or ministry can be better positioned to engage culture and show off your wares too to be successful in your strategy and results.

Why Inbound Marketing is a good thing for us

If you have done any serious witnessing, you will have discovered it is harder than ever before. People do not want to be “talked to;” rather, met where they are with “causal conversions” using kindness and grace. Delivering the information and evidence they need when they are ready or ask. We are all in journeys in our lives, many so busy and overwhelmed in life, for many there is no room for church, let alone God. We must meet people on their paths, with encouragement, not being argumentative or arrogant.

Connecting with people is the essential foundation of an effective evangelism campaign, and the direct response most successful business attract and keep new customers.

Business, especially the big ones uses social media marketing as their new prime strategy. They are turning causal conversions and answering people’s conversations online as marketing into profit. You have a new product and want to know how people feel about it, you need to engage them where they are at. And, as we see everyone with their heads down in their phone these days, that place is, the smartphone. The same goes for a Christian business or a church or a parachurch organization. Your customers, parishioners and potential members are already out there waiting to connect.  Then, there are those in crises, you can perhaps help them, from locating housing or a job or a recovery or…. So, how do we do this? Two ways, connect with them on social media, and then blogging. You make blogging and social media posts and then use that content to build awareness and trust. You can use this to solve problems, potential problems and give people solutions they need in their lives.

Create real, relevant and marketable content

This is the classic question, what are the needs of your community? How do we meet those needs? Then understanding where do people hang out? For Millennials, it is in the world of virtual reality. So, you go to them, not by knocking on a door; rather, with engaging people where it is less intrusive and even expected. We also have to keep in mind that people today do not know much about church other than what they see in the skewed bias of the media, pathetic representations in film and TV, and thus many have a skewed and cynical view. Keep in mind you will get the hostility. As many have been hurt, confused, angry, frustrated, and many have been negatively run over by so-called Christians. It has been said, that the only exercise most Christians get is from running over others and jumping to conclusions. So, the world looks at us as crazy, because they have met and been hit by crazy and developed a mindset and a defense mechanism to protect themselves from the bad us. And of course, there is the fear of conviction and the desire to do as one pleases and not have God in their life too. So, we have our work cut out for us. So, remember the Fruit of the Spirit, not assumptions, and do some research into who you will be talking to. Kindness and listening go the furthest.

What do we engage them with?

What are their goals, roles, challenges, and fears? Interview people who left your church, why? Learn from them. Apologize and fix what is wrong. And then how can I help them now. Even if they will not come back. Use that information to engage new prospects.

We are creating the awareness of our church, and meet what the person in the world’s awareness, so the two awareness can meet.

There is a problem and an opportunity. How do I solve my need? This is how friends come together. A need, an awareness of the other, then there is a consideration if there is a fit with personality, interests and so forth, this all leads to a decision, will I risk and an outing. The same process goes for most relationship journeys, including buying a car or house to finding a church, even if they are not looking.

How to do inbound marketing?

Create friendly, helpful articles on how to manage life. You know who is great at doing this? The JW’s! Yes, a cult! Take a look at a Watchtower magazine. This is what the Church should be doing by using Truth, not cultism. And instead of printing, do this via blog posts linked to your church website. So, they click to find out more and it takes them to you. Then you respond within 24 hours by email, with a listing ear and any help they need. For example, ways to find a good preschool with recommendations. A rating of the schools in your area and alternatives. Where to get medical help, or insurance information, or mental health help, or where to get resemble priced designer clothes, and so forth. I did an article on preschools, what are the ones in the area, prices, wait lists, ratings and so forth. The church I was an interim at the time at a preschool and it drove many new people to us. I also did a blog post on how to buy an auto and where to go to not get ripped off, and it was a great tool to engage people.

In the 80’s and 90’s, this was called the “Matthew 10 principle.” Go door to door and asks your neighbors “how can we pray for you?” If there is a need, seek how to fill that from a kids bicycle or a job for or medical need or whatever that is reasonably able to fulfill. Your goal is to help them resolve problems, both personal and even subject not affiliated with your church, before telling them about your church. Pray, research and engage their issue. Then go back to them and present a solution. Tell them a little about your church and that they are always welcome. And to email you if they come so you can meet up with them. I did this with tremendous success, so much I was fired from one church I was a Youth Pastor at, for bringing in too many people who were “not like us!” So, make sure your church is ready, I did not do that.

Create a blog that is informative and friendly. It is best to use your blog for useful, relevant content to the journeys of people in your area. Find out the needs, local Facebook pages city groups, we have “Pasadena Now” and Arcadia has a very popular group, and many subgroups you can join and talk with people of similar interest. Join them at an event and make friends. Do not play the Christian card, just be the Christian without words; Fruit, and let them come to you for questions, then invite them to an event at your church. What you are doing is seeking strangers, making connections, turning them into friends without strings attached. Thus, you started with a stranger on a social media post, helped them with an issue, made a connection that may eventually make a visitor to your church. Even if it does not, God built us for relationships and these are never a waste of time. We never know what God is going in the lives of others. It may take more time, more prayer and someone else to connect with them. What is important is your example as Christ’s ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20).

How to write your blog

In your blog it is essential it is short, 500 words, clear and answers a need people are seeking. Like where to get help if you have a child with ADHD, what are the nearest and best nursing homes, who has the best deals for lunch and so forth. This is spread out to as many people in your church as possible. Each member engages people with their expertise, like legal help, tax questions, how to curb appeal your home, the list is endless. Multiple blogs that are geared to a specific interest in your community that people can write too. Then share them to Facebook groups or other mediums. A friend in my church wrote up a short piece about a rooftop move happening that a local business was doing a promotion to a restaurant, it was a free event. And he and his wife went to a local Facebook page of movie interests and invited people, he reserved a section for them, and he brought snacks and hung out with a bunch of strangers who became connections. If they can’t write, mine the information and find people in your church who are good writers to create them. Since I primarily work with pastors, I write blog posts that answer their issues, that lead them to my websites for further resources, and even my books. Since I am a with a missions organization, I am not selling, just give what they need to build their church for Christ’s glory and I raise my own support in this way too. A business that is not doing well can create new customers in this way too. Draft an article that has a solution to a problem, that takes a stranger to being a lead to a place of being a customer.

You might write about, who are you, your qualifications and experience, then your main talking point(s) or theme, then why they need this information and finally how is this going to affect and help them.

For a Christian business. Who are you, what are you offering, how was this developed, how will this impact their ministry or church and why they need this. Then, where will you be at? Speaking, when and where? Exhibiting at…? Then make sure your church website is up to date, accurate, pleasing to the eyes, and has a prayer submission place.

Here is an example 

How to use a Blog to bring People to Your Church (48 characters) 

Inbound Church Marketing

Create a blog for church growth! If you do not have one already, WordPress is free and great, HubSpot is the best solution for better interrelation. But it is not free.

How and why? We see this a lot on Yahoo news and all those “sponsored ads” that look like articles. Here are people with problems and needs, you have a blog post that answers them, and they find you because:

  • What is the Topic? What will this be About? What is covered, what will they get out of it? What will attract people? The only way they get to read it is because it popped up in a search, so your keywords need to be specific. Your title and topic sentence need to connect that can attract people with their question to you. Be catchy and relevant.
  • Know your Perspective Visitor. Think about what this person will be looking for online, how can I position my blog to catch them in their search. Churches must think locally; bigger ministries can think globally. The more your church people blog on your church blogs, the more help you give and the more trust you earn in your community.
  • Create the Right Title that Connects and Grabs. Google will only read and show the first 50 characters of the title to your post. It has to be informative and grab people. Like, “5 Ways of Positive Parenting.” Use three or four keywords together like “The Best Lunch Spots in Pasadena” or “The Free Medical Clinics in Pasadena,” or “Where is Help for Children with Disabilities in Arcadia,” “Where are the Best Movie deals in San Gabriel” and so forth, be specific. So, readers will know what this is about.
  • The Right Body of your Content. Short, friendly and concise. Use good organization and formatting, a font like Verdana, and white spaces are pleasing to the eye, do not be too busy. People read fast and move on. Use section headers and bullet points. Use a relating picture will also be a good help. Your focus is educational content, not selling a product. Talk about a problem, a short testimonial or quote from someone, then ways to answer that problem. Unless you are a speaker, do not write about yourself. And for evangelism, do not write about your church or ministry, unless you are promoting a specific event. Rather, write about a specific issue. Like, “where in my city takes used computers and cell phones?” You can also do this with a friendly Apologetics site. As people are asking different questions today than twenty years ago and many apologetic sites and books are out of date, and many are argumentative and push people away. Although, this may not bring people into your church, but you can answer the questions people are struggling with. Only one issue per post, think bullet not shotgun. This makes it easier for people to find it, easier to read too. You can also do this with short animations or videos. Do not overwhelm and overload information.
  • Close it Right. Then end where to get more help and this can lead to your church or ministry website. If you are a business, this is where you have your offer or coupon, or a link to an event at your church. On the sidebar of your blog is where you can advertise your event, like a VBS or Alpha, or, Celebrate Recovery, or a Concert.
  • Call to Action. Do not just invite people to your church, except maybe Easter, invite to an event your church sponsors, in the web world this is called, a CTA, “call to action.” Then invite them to your church. And share this with relevant social media groups. Allow people to get to know you first. Then be ready to answer their questions.
  • Have keywords that work or you! People will find you because of the keywords you have and “metadata.” Just posting a blog will not surface, you have the determine the right keywords, Google Webmaster Tools is a great place to find them. But, know your audience and their needs and what they are looking for.
  • Promote It. Create a Twitter like promo with the link to your blog and share in various social media groups. Also, make sure there are social media sharing buttons, so others can promote it too.
  • Did it Work Right? Then keep watch on the analytics, is your post working? If not, tweak it. See what others are doing who are good at it for tips.
  • Newsletter. Collect emails and send out a weekly or monthly newsletter with links to your blog posts, what is happening, your events and any helpful insights and links.

The above section is an example of a blog post. However, for lead generation, this one may be too long with 700 words for most occasions, try to keep it under 500 words. And the bullet points 4 to 5. For informing current customers or members, you can be up to 700 words and up to 10 points.

With inbound marketing or sometimes called “content advertising,” you have a means to reach a stranger and lead them on a journey to being fully engaged members of the Body of Christ. Do not miss this incredible opportunity we have today!

© Richard .J. Krejcir Ph.D. 2018, Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

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What is the Advent Wreath about and is it Biblical?

advent wreath

Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:12-13).

Traditionally, during the Christmas season, we have an “Advent Wreath” in our Churches, and this is remarkably celebrated in all Denominations, including Orthodox, Catholic, liturgical, Mainline and Evangelical. The Advent Wreath is a venerable tradition that cuts across denominational and theological boundaries. It dates to the beginning of the 19th century in Europe. This Advent Wreath is arranged with 4 or 5 Advent candles, 3 or 4 of which are in a circle, along with one in the center, all on a base of evergreens each has a powerful message for us about our Lord. This has prevailing imagery we should not take for granted or consider just another holiday decoration.

Each candle has a special meaning:

The first candle (purple) “CANDLE OF HOPE” means His promise and hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises He made to us. Our hope comes from God. (Romans 15:12-13)

The second candle (purple) “CANDLE OF PREPARATION” means His light and preparation. Preparation means to ‘get ready’. “Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O GOD!” (Luke 3:4-6) (Some traditions combine the first two)

The third candle (pink or rose) “CANDLE OF JOY” means the angels sang a message of JOY! (Luke 2:7-15)

The fourth candle (purple or blue) “CANDLE OF LOVE” symbolizes Christ love. God sent His only Son to earth to save us, because He loves us! (John 3:16-17) (some traditions omit this one)

The fifth candle (white) “CHRIST CANDLE” symbolizes the incarnation, the heart and reason of the season, God giving light to the world. Its location is in the center as Christ’s light is central and radiant. This reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! (in wreaths that have 4 candles, it is in the circle among the rest of the candles)

Each candle is lighted during the worship services each week in progression until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when the last candle is lit. (some denominations and traditions have different color schemes and some only four candles) Each week the new unlit candle for that week is lighted, and then the previous candles are re-lighted. A family is sent up to do the lighting as a passage is read, a carol sang and or a prayer said. The four weeks are a period of waiting also signifying the four centuries of waiting between the last prophet Malachi and the birth of Jesus. All five candles should continue to be lighted in worship services through Epiphany on January 6 (epiphany means “to show,” is the climax of the Christmas Season and the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” It is observed to denote the coming of the wise men bringing gifts and their worship to Christ).

“Make sure you are bringing the Bible into your Church this Christmas Season!”

More here: http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=32879&columnid=3881

 

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Joy

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-4

Bible passages to know: Psalm 32:7-9; 34:1-8; Proverbs 15:13; John 15:11; 17:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Peter 4:13- 19; Hebrews 10:34; 12:2; James 1:2-12

This keyword, Joy, is not meant to be a statement of happiness or being cheerful; rather, it is so much more. It is a beacon for us to be in our thoughts and composure, how we are. This happens when we are a transformed Christian who is growing in Christ in our faith and maturity. It is an often-misunderstood word and even misused too. It has nothing to do with pleasure or how we may feel, or when we get what we want, it is how we are to set our thinking and temperament.

The basic definition is, contentment, and that contentment is not to be based on one’s situation, or what we have; rather, it is all laid upon who we are in Christ. Hence the call in James is to consider, that means to count on it and even to declare it so.

Joy is also a “Fruit of the Spirit.” It is a prime way to let our focus be on Christ as Lord. This allows us to enjoy our relationship with Him, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others. Joy is declaring our life condition as happy and fulfilling, even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. Because we realize the sovereignty of God and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out! Thus, Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Joy is not about pleasure, because we may not be gratified and pleased with it; rather, joy is hope. The unshakable confidence of our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us!

As we surrender and serve our Lord, we will gain more joy. We gain a greater reality, purpose, and contentment that surpasses our desires and wants.

Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Our true pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and cares for us! Christ will meet us in our deepest need and we are complete in Him. Our response is to put Jesus first and let Him work in our lives. Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others (John 3:29; 16:20-22, 21:17; 24; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Thess. 5:18; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; 3:9; 3 John).

Joy is also an aspect of our worship.  Psalm 100

Worship is a covenant and call from our Lord to come before Him and meet with Him with reverence, gladness, and joy. It is a call to know Christ intimately and express appreciation to Him with praise and thanksgiving, doing so with passion, sincerity, conviction, and in reverent fear and trembling. Worship is the aptitude, attitude, and practice of expressing the desire to know our Lord and Savior further, and being grateful for Who He Is and what He has done for us. Our Joy is expressed in worship, as we give Him our best. And, we do this because of our gratitude, we are His; we give Him our heart that is already His. He has given His best to us already; in addition, we are enveloped into His eternal love and care for pure and useful purposes.

Joy is not always an emotional response, although it can be it done with the Truth of our Lord not emotional drama. Because, it is more of a commitment to follow Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Our response is our duty from a heart He made in us. It is also a responsibility and a delight; we do it even when we do not feel like it because we do it to please Him and we find joy in that. Joy becomes worship when we are giving our respect to Christ and expressing our joy for Who He is. We are the people whom He has made and redeemed so that as individuals, we can worship and honor Him in our hearts and attitudes, then come together collectively to praise and honor Him as Lord of our lives.

Take a closer look at James 1:2, consider or count it joy refers to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling. And if we get this, we get the secret of contentment and being a productive and happy Christian. Everything in our life will improve, relationships, even our work. Just because we changed our outlook and approach to life. Even if our situation does not change, our attitude and response will be making the journey of our life easier and fulfilling as we learn and grow in it.

Joy will be the critical character that inspires and leads us. Joy empowers our enthusiasm and recognizes that Christ will lift us up in His time.

It sees the hope to come and takes delight in the moment, even in times of harshness. Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness from and in harmony with God and others. However, there is a catch to this! Joy, as James put it, must be declared and evident even when it is not visible (James 1:2-4). Like planting a flag and claiming a new land, this in the name of our Lord. The joy we are to have is His love filling us so it spills out. Joy must carry us through all of our experiences and situations. It must rule our character and response, not our expectations and desires. Joy must set the tone of how we engage God and then respond to others, whether it is prosperity or adversity, whether we are in the oval office or living in the streets.

So, we can look at whatever situation we face and say this is good, this will better me, or this will help me. I may not understand it, but I can trust God; He is there and He will carry me through it! We are called to declare our situation, whatever it may be, as joy! Because, it is not a question of if we have problems, but when, as we all will face them. We will face problems; they are inevitable, unavoidable, and unpredictable, and no one is immune! How we deal with them is crucial for our contentment and faith. There is no escape living in our corporeal bodies and in a sinful world (Gal. 3:26; Col. 3:1-4)!!

If we are not joyful, the rotten fruits will come in and take us captive. We will bow to anger, despair and bitterness. Despair limits us like a ball and chain from our potential and growth and the enjoyment of life. It cuts us off from relationships, and our learning experiences from and God. It leads to depression that cuts us off from seeing hope and purpose in what life and eternity are all about! We must always be mindful to place joy in all aspects of our life and expectations. If you are having problems, take a serious look at despair and where it will get you, because there can be no delight without joy. You can have no true confidence without joy. What we suffer through, what we go through, what we give up is of no comparison to what we gain! Christianity and suffering are the ultimate delayed gratification.

How do I do this? 

Surrender your life, all of it to Christ’s Lordship. He loves you and is in control. Realize you can have God-given tranquility, which comes from the yielding of ourselves to our Lord. When Christ is in control, we have peace because He is the source of ultimate peace! This will be achieved when we allow tranquility from our harmonious relationship with Christ be our attitude, control, and composure. The closer we are to Christ, the closer we are to contentment and what is really important in life. Because peace allows for wisdom and amity, it promotes enthusiasm, virtue and love and forgiveness. Peace is also a Fruit of the Spirit that comes from the tree of love that is fruited with wisdom, pruned with virtue, watered with forgiveness, and produces the sweet fruits of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience which all synergistically work together (Isa. 26:3; Matt. 5:9; Luke 19:42; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 5:1; 12:18; Gal. 5:19-23; Col. 3:15-17; Phil. 4:7). John 16:16-33

Questions to ponder:

  1. What kind of commitment did you think the Christian life is about before becoming a Christian? What about now?

 

  1. Are you devoted to Christ or a slave to your misguided desires, will and to the manipulation of others?

 

  1. How does joy impact your personality? What about your ministry and church? How does this help you trust and obey Christ and remain fruitful?

 

  1. Why do so few of us actually have this real joy working in us it? What can you do about this?

 

© 1987, 2017, Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org

 

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Relationships

healthy relationship b

Bible passages to know: Psalm 23:6; Romans 12:9-10; Ephesians 5:15-21; Colossians 1:9-14

 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10

 

Life is all about relationships, to the people around us, family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, career, to those we will meet, and of course to Christ as Lord. From the time of our birth, we are in them deep, totally dependent on our Mother unable to do anything, let alone feed ourselves or wipe our rear without an interpersonal relationship. Our need for relationships will span all of our lives and then into eternity with our Lord God. So, we should do all we can, to make them happen well to our best ability.

The problem is, most of us are not very good at them. We have been hurt, so we hurt others. We then become fearful, so we push people away. We can be too needy or not discerning and take on the wrong people who hurt us. And so forth. Nevertheless, God desires us to have fantastic, fulfilling relationships, ones that benefit one another filled with love and joy. Though, in our brokenness, we will either to embrace others with eagerness, or become fearful and alone. One path may make us content; the other, bitter. These trepidations are a natural defense mechanism warning us away from dangerous situations. But, we get stuck in them. Added to that, is our personality and uniqueness. Further on, is our background and fears are all the various attitudes of our culture and the desires of our will, all diverging and converging with one another, causing chaos and conflicts. Meanwhile, Christ is seeking us, beckoning us to follow Him onto a path of solid, lasting relationships. Where there is love and Fruit so we can develop close friendships, understand and give real authentic love. In so doing, build great friendships that last, find the right spouse, and even develop a healthy marriage, family, and legacy.

Consequently, relationships are very important. Yet, there are other activities and goals that preoccupy us in life, such as our careers, cars, hobbies, education, money, pets, and having fun. And there is the artificial relationship building of social media. Consider this thought: when you are at the end of your sojourn on this earth, what will you have received from it? What will you take with you? Will it be that successful career? What about that hobby that took all of your time? Would it be the wealth that you accumulated? I am not saying these things are not important to pursue; rather, they are just a few of the various means to do what really is important, and that is, building relationships! The reason for, and meaning of life is, and God’s Will is, relationships—with God and then with each other!

Therefore, we need to reformat the hard drive of our mind and will, by seeking what Christ has for us, and less focus on our hurts and fears. More on Him, less of me. And we do this in prayer and being in His most precious Word. Then, we will have the right way to proceed into developing our friendships and significant others. So, we can be prepared to come through life, not only with the right decisions, but with the tools, character, listening skills, and ability to make godly, Christ-centered relationships work, filled with God’s blessings and purpose! Even if you have done it all wrong, so to speak, God can, and will turn it around when your attention becomes focused upon Christ, His precepts, from His Word (John 3:30; Eph. 1:8; 4:13; 5:1; Col. 3:2).

I urge you to seek God’s Will by recognizing God’s love for you first. That you are special and deeply loved by Christ, He lived and died for you. In that way, you will be able to apply Biblical principles to help you with a proper perspective, we are to have is a desire for what God wants, not just what we want. Our focus is to be with Him, because He has the best plan for us! Our plans will only lead us to make the wrong decisions and miss out on the best opportunities and situations He has for us (Prov. 8:17; Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20; 1 John 3:1).

Additionally, if you are married, you can use the principles of His Word to spruce up your marriage with a romantic makeover through self-discovery and character with love and respect in action. You can take a look at what you may have done wrong, and then correct it by removing your false thinking and bad behaviors (1 Cor. 7:1-11; 39-40).

The goal—from finding friendships to finding and keeping the “love of your life”—is to live in undivided surrender and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, meaning that He is in charge of all areas of our lives. He is our first and primary love! That means your life must reflect the supremacy and glory of God, and serve as an example in a world of temptation and evil. Since He represented us in life and death, and imparts to us His grace, this is our driving force, our number one reason in life and in eternity to come. Because of what He has done for us, we should have the desire to assemble our lives to glorify Him. That means to also strive toward our best in the fullness of relationships. We have to be willing to take this to heart: His Will supersedes ours; His Way is the best, whereas our will and desires are limited in our understanding and knowledge. By surrendering our Will to His Will, we can build a foundation of trust, reliance, and obedience. These actions become the foundation upon which to build the rest of the house of character, values, and fortitude, of all of who we are to be, and where a Christ-centered relationship can live and grow (Phil. 3:1-14).

You will then be able to make healthy and wise decisions because of the Lord, through His Word and the Holy Spirit, is your Guide. As opposed to what the media, friends, your passions, emotions, and a smartphone may dictate. Because you are seeking His truth, you will be able to discern how to go about your life, your direction and plan, even who is right for you. Following these timeless Biblical precepts will help you make the right decisions, and avoid making the wrong ones. If for some reason, you decide God’s ways are not for you, be forewarned; as you lose yourself into the jungle realm of wrong decisions, you may never receive what He has and what is best for you. Thus, you may face the unpleasant prospect of venturing into a life of misery and strife. So, why do that?

If you are thinking, wait, I might get hurt, or, I have been rejected after I spent so much of my time and energy on, or I am not good at making friends, and so on. Well, take to heart this valuable point; you did not waste your time. And yes, we will be hurt, because we live in a sin-filled world. So, instead of repeating our previous patterns, or turning into an old grump, or throwing the proverbial pity-party, we can move forward. Receiving God’s healing, getting professional help if needed. Giving love and time to others, even when we do not get anything back or even if we get hate thrown back at us, is never a waste of time. Emulating and fostering real love is never a waste, because we follow Christ and His example! Love is not about our conditions or sensations; it is about Christ working in us. Remember, God has born your hurt, too! And your witness is at hand, seen by people you may never know about!

Take heed of this: When actual love is well practiced, our relationships are certain to succeed. When we practice real authentic love, we are both trusting and obeying our Lord, doing His prime will. God’s love must be our model for life!

So, how do I do this?

Brace yourselves, it is not hard! It is about, get in, then trust and obey. Get in His Word, know what it says, and apply it. It is that simple. To really work this: Do not merely get into God’s Word, allow His Word to get into you! Carefully read, know and seek to memorize these passages. Write them down on cards and keep them with you. Read them into your voice recorder and play over and over. Do this one passage at a time. This will be your template to reset your relational operating system:

Bible passages on building healthy relationships: Psalm 23:6; John 13:34-35; Romans 12:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:2-3; 5:15-21; Colossians 1:9-14; 3:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8; 5:6-7; 1 John 4:7-11

The first thing we must see is that God does care, and has a plan for you, even when you cannot see it. So, be willing to learn and develop your Fruit and character. Study the Word, seek wisdom, be prudent, and lean on the strength of the Lord! These things do not come to you by chance; they come from knowing and following Christ (Philp. 3:10-14)!

So, be challenged to search the Scriptures and see what Christ has for you. First look up the passages above. The focus is on timeless values that last, and that work. Remember this: without the right attitude and perspective on life, without glorifying God and following His Will to unfold in and through you, you will not find or build real, quality relationships in your life! You will only find misery and loneliness that leads to anger and bitterness. You will be taking a big gamble on what is priceless and precious.

For deeper insights and self-study, after you look up these passages and thoroughly digest them, ask yourself or in a small group: 1. What does this mean? 2. How can I be changed because of these precepts? And… then do it! 3. How will these precepts affect and effect my life? 4. What gets in the way of His Way? The Bible holds the truth for life today, including how and with whom you should be building a life with.

Questions to ponder:

  1. Read Galatians 5:16-26; notice there are two sets of Fruits. How has the first set, the rotten ones, affected your life? How has the second set, the ones from the Holy Spirit, affected you and others around you?

 

  1. Carefully read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Then, read it and replace the word “love” and “it’ with your name. How did it make you feel? Motivate you? To convict you? What would this mean to your close significant others if you did this more and better?

 

  1. What are some ways you can take the precepts from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-23 to “affect” (impact) you to become a greater “effect” (result) to you and those around you?

 

  1. Keep reading the above passages, asking our Lord, what do I need to learn and apply from this?

 

May the Lord richly bless and keep you in His loving arms, and bless you in your relationship to God and others!

© 2004, 2017, Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, http://www.intothyword.org, http://www.churchleadership.org, http://www.discipleshiptools.org, http://www.heartafterchrist.org

 

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