I swear, I do my best thinking on long drives in the car, all by myself.
Give me a handful of life's problems, and some alone time in the car, and by the time I pull back into the driveway of my house, I've got solutions.
My trip down to Oakland, CA a few weeks back gave me 12+ hours of road-trip thinking-time, and it was during that drive when I started thinking about how whenever I'm not actively plugged into God's word (through sermons, reading the Bible, praying, studies, books, God-centered friendships, etc.) I suffer and inadvertently, the people around me start suffering too.
I get more impatient. I start chasing after worldly aspirations. I'm harder on myself. I become less forgiving. I get focused on making a point instead of making a difference. I get inward-eyeballitis. (That's what our pastor calls it when we start thinking about ourselves/our problems too much.)
And then I started thinking about the fact that I'm a full-grown, 40 year-old woman who struggles to keep herself plugged-in and if it's that hard for me to stay plugged-in, how much more difficult it must be for the 7 year-old, the 11 year-old and the almost 13 year-old living in my house to stay plugged-in because their young, developing minds are constantly being bombarded by cultural and peer influences that by their very nature, promote un-pluggedness (I totally made up that word.)
So I started thinking about different ways I can help them stay plugged-in and one of the things I came up with was "Car Church."
I decided that once a week, I wanted to load up all of my kids in the car (where I do my best thinking) and that I wanted to pick-up a bunch of their friends and/or cousins (My car seats eight.) to do 'church' together in the car. And as my plans progressed, I decided that I would pre-screen a weekly sermon by someone who feels relatable to my kids (Ben Courson is who we're listening to for now, but I'm open to suggestions on other youth-related pastors.), that I'd write up some study-notes for the kids to work on during the sermon and that afterwards, we'd spend some time talking about what we got out of the message and how we wanted to apply it in our own lives. And then in the week between each study, we'd memorize a related Bible verse to help keep us on track.
And then of course, the organizer in me took over and I ended up getting a bunch of different colored, 98-cent binders from Target and used string to tie matching pens into each one (so no one would lose their pen.)
And then Cole spent half a day making custom pages for the cover of each person's binder made up of clip art with each person's favorite things on it.
And then I decided that each week, any kid who remembered to bring their binder and their Bible and could recite our memory verse would get a drink from the drive-through at Starbucks. (Ironically, our first Car Church sermon talked about how one of the things that is going wrong with this generation is that they are rewarded/think they should be rewarded even if they don't do the work/work hard enough to actually deserve the reward. So honestly, if one of the kids doesn't bring their binder or their Bible or if it is clear that they haven't worked on their memory verse, they won't get the 'reward' from Starbucks, but they'll get an even better reward instead...They'll learn to put in the work that is required to earn the reward next time.)
And then I started doing the eye-opening, guilt-inducing, Starbucks-math...eight people multiplied by $3.00 to $4.00 per drink, four times a month equals $128.00 per month, or $1664.00 per year and that's just not in the Car Church budget. So instead, I went to the grocery store and bought a half-gallon of generic-brand chocolate milk for $2.29 and a box of Confetti Cupcake Poptarts for $2.79, and if I keep buying similar products each week, it'll only cost $20.32 per month or $264.16 per year and that's totally in the Car Church budget.
And so on Friday of last week, we planned to kick-off our very first-ever Car Church service.
We made phone-call invites, we prepped binders, we bought snacks and we discussed plans.
Unfortunately though, our cousins (Tate and Brooke) are out of town and every invite we made, with the exception of Cole's friend, Wyatt went unanswered - so that means there were some empty seats at Car Church last week...
Will have to get a better picture of Cole's binder next time.
Things I will do differently in the future?
1. I will park the car in an area with less foot-traffic. (The kids were totally distracted by all the passerby's - especially the guy that appeard to be higher-than-a-kite as he strolled by us, smiling from ear-to-ear while staring at a rose in his extended arm. I must admit, he distracted me too.)
2. I will bring an extra 'answer-key' for all kids who aren't old enough to spell words like 'entertainment'on their own, yet refuse to go on to the next answer until they're 100% sure that they've spelled it correctly.
3. I will have everyone look up their Bible verse and write it on their notecard before we get started with the sermon so it won't be a distraction during the sermon. (I punched holes in 3x5 notecards so the kids could write their memory verse and keep it in their binder.)
4. I will serve less sugar prior to expecting a car full of kids to sit still and pay attention during a 35-minute sermon.
And for anyone who is interested, here's a link to the sermon we listened to (This one is called Peter Pan-demonium, from 8/14/13 and even though I chose it for my kids, I got a ton out of it myself.) the Bible verse, the study-guide I made up and the answer-key...
And if you end up doing this, feel free to share in the comments section how it went and any things you did that helped make it a success.