Growing Up

By Colleen Mahannah, Baby Bay Director, NewSpring Church

ColleenMahannahGrowing up, all I wanted to be was a mom and eventually a grandma. I didn’t have any glamorous ideas of professional jobs or high-dollar careers. All I wanted to be was a mommy. My own mother was a great example to me. I started babysitting my brothers, cousins, neighborhood kids and family friends’ kids at a very young age.

When I first got married (going on 37 years ago), I couldn’t wait for us to start a family. Then when things happened we hadn’t expected and some time went by, I began to question, “Is it God’s plan for me to be a mom or not?” I clung onto Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) which says  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And I kept hoping that His plans included me being a mom –somehow, someway.

Then God begin to bless us. Over eight years we had five children–including a set of twins! Although I got my wish to be a mom, life didn’t quite go the way I had hoped. We couldn’t afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom. I worked outside the home as a bank loan secretary. I had a boss one time who was a very career oriented woman. She just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t. She couldn’t grasp the fact that all I wanted to be was a stay-at-home mom. She felt you had to have a career to be something important. She was a mom, but felt the career made her complete. That wasn’t how I felt though.

Eventually (when our fourth child was almost a year old) I was able to open a home daycare, which was the next best thing to being a stay-at-home mom. So for almost 25 years, I was able to stay home with my kids, but also watch other people’s children. I’ve totally lost count of how many children I watched over the years (I kind of wish now that I had kept better track). I did eventually get an Early Childhood Degree – not that I felt I needed the education to complete me, but in hopes it would help me to be a better childcare provider. If this was what God had planned for me, I wanted to have the knowledge to be the best I could be.

In church, I would volunteer in the nursery and other children’s ministries. Just as my parents did, I wanted my children to grow up to know Jesus. I began teaching them at home but also wanted them to learn in church. We were members of a small church (similar to what I grew up in) from almost the beginning. Then in the fall of 2000, we came to NewSpring (at the time it was called Messiah). Shortly after joining the church, I started volunteering. In 2006 I joined the children’s ministry staff. Now I am blessed to be a part of a fantastic children’s ministry in an ever-growing, amazing church, and am delighted to be the nursery director. I just realized that I have been doing this for almost 10 years. Wow! Time flies.

Sometimes I find it rather funny, that growing up, all I wanted to be was a stay-at-home mommy. And God blessed me with five awesome children. This is one very proud mama. I am a grandmother now of six and more on the way. AND I also get to care for and love other people’s children. First in the home daycare and now at church in the nursery. I pray that they all grow up to know Jesus.

In Baby Bay and Adventure Avenue this month, we are learning that God has a plan for you and God’s plan is always best. The route my life has taken hasn’t been quite the one I thought it would be as I was growing up. As the Bible story of Joseph demonstrates, there are trials we may (will) have to go through before God’s plan is revealed to us. God has a plan for me (you) and that His plan has been (is) best. Not only have I been blessed and honored to be a mommy, but also an “adopted” mom and “adopted” grandma to many other children over the years.

When my oldest son joined the Marines and went on two tours in Iraq, the verse that I hung onto was Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (It’s still one of my favorite verses.)

So when things aren’t going quite the way “you” had planned, or not going the way you thought they would growing up; and whenever you wonder what God’s plan is, just keep hoping and trusting in Him. He does have plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11) and He will be with you all the way (Joshua 1:9). God’s plan is always best.

More Than Just Stories

By Ashleigh Bryan, Adventure Avenue Assistant Director, NewSpring Church

5_AshleighCloseUp (2)Kids are some of the coolest people on the planet. They believe in possibility. They are not limited by reality or logic or any of the other things that we at some point possess as adults. Their minds are open to anything.

For instance, when we tell a Bible story, it is so much more than a story. For them, the stories didn’t happen a long time ago, but just the other day, and they were there to witness it. They were there when Daniel triumphantly came out of the lions’ den unharmed, giving glory to God. They were there, watching, when David slung a rock and hit Goliath in the head, defeating a giant and winning a battle. They sneaked along with the spies as they went into the city of Jericho and hid with Rahab, believing that God would take care of them, even in the face of their enemies. They don’t just hear stories about biblical heroes, but they live the stories, right along with those heroes, and then they implement those stories in their everyday lives.

Just the other day, during the weekend, we had a superhero who was having trouble being brave. As the actor was saying her lines, I heard the kids begin to shout out, and I almost reminded them to be quiet, but then I heard what they were saying. They were saying, “Be brave! God is with you!” “You don’t have to be afraid because God will help you!” “God can help you be brave!” They were boldly and fearlessly proclaiming the truth of who God is, and they weren’t scared that it would make the conversation awkward. They weren’t worried if the person believed the same things they did or not. They weren’t concerned about losing a friend. To them, it wasn’t about that. It wasn’t about whether they were telling their friend, a grown-up, a stranger, or even a superhero, who wasn’t supposed to be scared of anything. To them, it was about seeing someone who needed help, and calling on the One who is the everlasting source of help and hope. It was no longer about what we told them in the Bible story, or about repeating a phrase over and over again. It had become something they could hold on to, something that could help them, something they believed in. And they knew that if they believed in it and if it could help them, then it could help someone else, too. And these were preschoolers.

This is what is so exciting about watching them grow up. Today they are learning how to be brave during a thunderstorm so that later they can be brave when God calls them to the tremendous purpose He has for their lives. Today they are learning how to stand up for what they believe in so that in college, when someone challenges their faith, they will be able to stand firm. Today they are learning that everyone is made by God and loved by God so that tomorrow they can fight for what matters.

Working with kids is always an adventure. I am inspired by their imaginations, encouraged by their faith, and amazed by their potential. And it might be cliché, but they really do teach me more than I could ever teach them:

They are helping me believe for the impossible.
They are reminding me how awesome our God is.
They are teaching me how to have a childlike faith.

There’s this quote by Rabindranath Tagore that I love: “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”

When I hear a kid recite their memory verse, or watch some of them go out of their way to include another child, or comfort a child who misses their parents, I am reminded of this. Kids are our everyday reminder that God is love, He hasn’t given up, and He is still doing great things.


Written by Daniel Mahannah, Middle School Pastor, NewSpring Church

DanielMahannah“We are the champions, my friend.” Sing it with me, “and we’ll keep on fighting to the end.” Don’t you love that song?  Some of us weren’t alive in 1977 when the song was written by Freddie Mercury and recorded and performed by British rock band Queen.  But we still know the song because it has not only became a worldwide success, but it remains to this day among rock music’s most recognizable anthems. Everyone loves that song, especially at sporting events. And who hasn’t imagined that song playing in the background as the soundtrack to our lives during great moments of victory. It’s a classic.

I think we enjoy that song because it speaks to our heartfelt desire to be champions. We like winning: sports games, board games, dance competitions, raffles, races, bets, arguments, debates, relationships The list goes on and on. Winning is important to all of us in some fashion. All of us desire to proclaim, “We are the champions.” I’m sure there are studies that analyze why human beings desire to win, but I think it’s just natural. I think it’s been hardwired in us to want to succeed – to be champions. But, maybe we were meant for more than just winning at sports games and debates.

According to, the word “champion” is defined this way: “a person who has defeated all opponents in a competition or series of competitions, so as to hold first place.” That’s a pretty basic, self-explanatory definition. However, there were four more definitions after that and the fourth and fifth definitions add so much more weight to the word “champion.” Take a look: “a person who fights for or defends any person or cause” and “a fighter or warrior.” That’s the kind of champion I want to be.

As a middle school pastor, I feel the weight of the word “champion.” Middle school students are in a phase of life that is so often misunderstood and misrepresented. They are in a season of life that’s full of discovery, changes, and difficulty. Every day is different from the last and they are trying to find their way. They are making decisions that will shape the rest of their life – and most of the time they don’t even know it. They need and desire to know that they matter and that they have a purpose. They need positive Godly influences in their life that can help affirm their personal journey. What do they a really need? A champion. They don’t need to be a champion – but someone to be their champion. They need someone who’s more than just a first place winner in a series of competitions. They need a person who is fighting for them and defending their phase of life. A fighter. A warrior.

As a middle school pastor, that’s what I get to do. I work along with an amazing team of staff and volunteers and we get to be champions for middle school students. I don’t mean that we are champions in their eyes, but we are fighting for them and their phase of life. It’s our desire that middle school students are told over an over again that their phase of life matters. Middle school is not just a waiting period for the rest of life – it’s probably the most important phase of a person’s life and we don’t want to miss it. And we especially don’t want them to miss it. Middle school matters.

I think that most of us truly desire to be that kind of champion, the kind that is fighting for something significant in this world. That kind of champion understands that life is really all about Jesus Christ. After all, wasn’t Jesus the ultimate champion, in every sense of the word? He not only defeated sin and death, but he fought for us. He championed His greatest creation – us.

I want to model what Jesus did. I want to fight for students like Jesus fought for humanity. I want to be a champion. Do you? I think you do. So, let’s be champions together. Let’s fight for our kids and students, families and friends. Let’s champion their causes and phases of life. Let’s make an eternal impact in the lives of those around us. Let’s fight for people so they can come to know who Jesus is. Let’s be champions!

Work in Progress

As I promised last week in my blog post I am having my staff doing some guest blogging on my site. I am so blessed to work with some of the most passionate and creative people on the planet. Over the next few weeks you will have a opportunity to get to know them and their heart for the things of God.

Written by Jesse Mahannah, Elementary School Pastor, NewSpring Church

JesseMahannahWe bought a house! My wife and I are first-time home buyers and we found the perfect house that had literally everything on our wish list. Well…almost. Everything except a working bathroom…and okay, maybe a functional kitchen…and it did have wood floor but it had to be refinished. Alright, so we may have bought a fixer-upper! Of course most people would say that renovating is a lot of work. Now throw in our 18-month-old, high-energy, all-attitude, do-it-herself, miss-independent of a daughter and you have an interesting combination. But the amount of work ahead of us didn’t slow us down, we dove straight in! You can blame ambition or ignorance, but either way we were excited about a reno project we could work on together.

It might sound weird to get excited about sheetrock and sawdust, and I guess it kind of is, but I think it honestly is a little bit bigger than the renovation. I don’t know if I could’ve nailed down exactly what got us so excited about the prospect of a large project to begin with, but as we’ve continued working I think I understand a little bit more now where our excitement comes from. One time in particular stands out to me. For me to work on the house safely, my wife would entertain our daughter in what would eventually be her bedroom with a baby gate separating both of them from the worksite warzone. This particular time however, Elizabeth, our daughter, thought the best use of her time would be to stand at the baby gate, shaking it back and forth, and yelling “Daddy” at the top of her lungs over and over again. While endearing, I knew that she was ready to run through the house yelling and having fun. That was one of the harder parts of working with Elizabeth; she wanted to run through the house and it just wasn’t ready for her yet. That was hard for her to understand.

As I cut the sheetrock, there was a moment of clarity for me that seems to accompany most of my parenting. My first thought was, “Even though this is frustrating for her, I can’t wait when everything is finished for her.” And then I thought, “I wonder if this is how God feels?” I laughed to myself. See, my wife and I had dreamed about this home for years. We had talked about every detail, debating pros and cons for hours. For Elizabeth it was just too hard to picture. (I should probably cut her a break–she’s only 18 months old!) She didn’t see that the old carpet would be replaced with a finished hardwood that would be fun to slip and slide on in her socks. She didn’t see the spot by the crumbling closet where her toy chest would sit. She didn’t see the place underneath the drafty window that would be perfect for Mommy and Daddy to read to her before bed. She couldn’t see it yet. And that was okay. I laughed at the image it must look like for God when I get upset at something that’s really just a work in progress. It’s probably similar to a toddler shaking a baby gate.

See sometimes I ask God questions about messes in my life and I’m quite sure that my Heavenly Father can’t help but smile and think, “He just can’t quite see it yet.” I’m positive that there are times when I stand at what I see as an impenetrable obstacle and scream and holler and God waits on the other side preparing something amazing for me. I know from experience that those moments when I feel like I’m the messiest I’ve ever been and can never be cleaned up, he has a plan to make me more like his Son. Just as it was true for the prophet Jeremiah it’s true for me and you that “before [God] formed you in the womb [he] knew you” (Jer. 1:5).

Don’t get frustrated that you can’t see God’s plan; he’s been planning it for years. And don’t get frustrated if you or your kids or your life seems to be a mess. It’s like Paul told the Philippians to be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Ph. 1:6).

What stood out to me that day wasn’t just the realization that God has a plan for me. It was the joy that accompanies my plan for Elizabeth. I’m not excited about sheetrock dust and late nights working just because I’m glutton for punishment. I’m excited to prepare a place just right for my daughter and my wife. How much more excited should I be that my Heavenly Father doesn’t just have a plan for me, but for Sarah and Elizabeth as well and for you too? That’s what I love about NewSpring Church. We don’t act like we’ve got it all together. And in KidzWorld we most certainly understand that you and your kids are going to have good days and bad days. Our thrill is when we can come alongside families and help them–help them see that their Heavenly Father is absolutely nuts about them and that he has a plan that is perfect for them! And even though there are going to be messes or surprises that might not be part of the design, our Heavenly Father is well equipped to handle all of our works in progress.

Need a New Friend?

I have served at NewSpring Church for over 20 years now and I’ve had lots of conversations with people about a multitude of topics. (The weirdest one was “Do we really need a building? Can’t we save money by just using tents?” Here in Kansas where the wind blows 30-40 mph all day long, tents aren’t a good idea.) One conversation that has come up many times usually starts with this question, “How can I connect and make friends at NewSpring?” We are large church of 7000 and I know it can be difficult to make new friends and be part of something that is so big.  One suggestion is to find a small group within NewSpring, which is a great idea and has a lot of value in growing closer in relationship with God and others.

There is another great way to make lasting relationships with others. This option can often be overlooked as an opportunity to make connections. I’m talking about volunteering. Often we tend to think of volunteering in the sense of how we can benefit the ministry by being involved. But I’d like to focus on how YOU can benefit when you volunteer. First of all, you are allowed to use your gifts and talents to help others connect with their Creator. Some of those talents stay hidden all week long and some are even unknown to you until you get the chance to try them out conversing with middle-schoolers in a small group setting or operating a camera in the main auditorium or helping a new family navigate the building and feel welcome.

Secondly, I see so many people develop close friendships because they are serving together and watching first-hand what God can do when we turn ourselves over to Him to serve others. I love it when our volunteers care for one another and develop great friendships outside the ministry. So if you are looking for a way to make friends, why not try serving? I think you will find that the blessings you receive will be amazing. Find out more about all the volunteer opportunities available at NewSpring by visiting

Over the next few weeks I will have some guest bloggers on my page–my staff. Be sure to check back every week as you will be able to get to know my staff and their passion for the ministry at NewSpring Church.

Looking Back on August

We had an amazing time at KidzWorld FX and The Wire Event in the month of August at NewSpring Church.

FX was a blast with hundreds of families showing up to learn about Wisdom–finding out what you should do and doing it. Each family present got a wisdom wheel that gave them Bible verses to help deal with difficult life situations. 29 kids went public with their faith through baptism–choosing to let the whole world know that they have decided to follow Jesus.

Our first ever Wire Event for students and their parents was a huge success! It was incredible to see parents and students enjoying worship together and learning from some great teaching from Senior Pastor Mark Hoover. Middle-school Pastor, Daniel Mahannah shared The Wire’s vision for the coming year as the new venue just for middle schoolers will be completed sometime in the spring. I am so proud of the 22 Wire students who took their stand for Jesus by being baptized at the event. Feedback from families who attended was positive and we hope to plan more events like this in the future.

KidzWorld Back-to-School FX–August 21

Looking for something FREE to do with your family this Friday night? Come out to KidzWorld Back-to-School FX at 7 p.m. in the main auditorium at NewSpring Church. We are going to have a great time celebrating God’s Big Idea of Wisdom. It’s going to be an hour filled with fun, laughter, games and much more. Invite your friends and come early to get a great seat!

Making KidzWorld the best hour of your child’s week!

What can you do as a parent (or grandparent or other caring adult) to make your children’s church experience the best hour of their week? At NewSpring, we spend our whole week preparing for the weekend experience. We look for fun and innovative ways to share God’s Word in a way that children can grasp and apply to their own lives. We recruit and train volunteers who desire to spend time getting to know your children and helping them see God’s love. We have even created some exciting environments that have been known to make kids ask, “Are you sure this is a church?”

With all that we do to engage your children, you still have the most important part in the equation. You have to bring them! It can be challenging to get everyone up on a Sunday morning or get everyone cleaned up after a full Saturday of recreation, but it’s always worth it to spend time with others who love Jesus.

In KidzWorld, we have made the extra effort to make church convenient for you. Our environments for kids from birth through 4th grade are open during all 5 weekend services AND the environments actually open a full 30 minutes before the service begins! That gives you time to check-in, get something from the coffee shop and get a hug from your kiddos before drop-off. It helps everyone in the family be in the right frame of mind to worship our Creator. So, just plan to leave the house a few minutes early this weekend and make your church experience the best hour of your week!