screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-10-30-05-pm

ETCH Family Ministry Conference started with a lot of laughs. Dustin Nickerson killed his set and managed to upset all dog lovers, cross-fitters, and hawkers of essential oils! The whole room—which was packed wall to wall—was rolling with laughter.

After worshiping with the Stephen Cole Band, Eric Geiger came to the stage to talk about the important of equipping. He read Ephesians 4:11-13 and reminded the audience that we are all called to EQUIP the saints for the work of the ministry. This is comes with the promise that we will all “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,”

To illustrate the importance of equipping, Geiger pointed to Joshua 1 where Moses has passed away and immediately the ministry is handed over to Joshua. When we reach Judges 2 and Joshua dies, the Bible says all whole generation did not know the Lord or the works He had done. The lack of equipping left no succession for Joshua. Imagine all the glorious thoughts and stories that were forgotten in just one generation. Equipping is important.

As pastors, we need to be careful to avoid ministry idolatry. We can fall into the trap of living for the approval of others, but this will never bring satisfaction. I loved the way Eric ended his talk with the truth that we need to be more concerned with what God is doing in us than what He ever does through us.

Here are a few more notes I captured during Eric’s talk:

  • “We think we personally need to be the hero for every kid. This is fruitless and unbiblical.”
  • “We are called to be equippers, not entertainers. Equippers prepare, entertainers perform.”
  • “We need a conviction for equipping. If you can’t imagine your ministry without something then you’ve found your conviction.”
  • “Ministry idolatry is building a system around yourself for yourself.”
  • “Sunday School teachers have the same Holy Spirit as you!”

Today, we’re loading 11 people into a 12-passenger van and heading to Nashville, TN! Despite the cramped 5 hour drive, I’m really excited and looking forward to the trip. Here are a few reasons why:

Time with Team

The bonding that comes with a shared experience like this is priceless. It’s the little moments over dinner, in the van, walking 6 blocks to the conference center, and attending the Grand Ol’ Opry that will be memories that strengthen our team.

New Ideas

I’m looking forward to hearing new ideas from great leaders. The hardest part will be picking which breakouts to attend when there are so many great ones. Luckily, we have 11 people going! Hopefully, we can split up and cover most of them!

Networking

I’m also looking forward to the encouragement and wisdom that comes through networking with other children’s ministry leaders. I love using the break times to meet other leaders and catch up with old friends. Those moments seem to always encourage me about what God is doing in their ministry and in our own.

I’m thankful that our whole team gets to attend ETCH Family Ministry Conference. The trip will be short, but full of memories. I’ll try to share more on the blog as we go through the conference this week.

The following is an article that I shared last year on the Fellowship Bible Church blog. In just a few weeks, we will send our daughter to her first day of Kindergarten. I’m excited about practicing some of these notes, and I thought it might be helpful to other parents.


ChalkboardClipLunchNote

It’s time to go back to school.

I can hear the collective groan of children from all over the city. The memory-making events of summer are coming to a close, and parents’ days will soon be filled with school supplies, homework, pickup lines, and trying to fit all five food groups into that tiny lunch box!

I dreaded the first day of school every year. Well, every year except for one. The year I started second grade, my excitement was off the charts. I just knew that I was going to be the talk of the school because of my new G.I. Joe lunchbox.

This lunch box was bright red with locking latch. The front was decorated with the battle-ready cast of the cartoon. But the pièce de résistance was the Thermos. It featured a matching G.I. Joe design, and it had the lid that could also be used as cup. There was something classy and sophisticated about a second grader who could pour Kool-Aid into a cup and sip as if drinking tea with the Queen of England.

Whether your child has a G.I. Joe lunchbox or a paper sack, you can make it a great discipleship tool by including a special note from you.

Deuteronomy 6 specifically commands parents to pass faith on to children as they go throughout the day. Imagine your son or daughter sitting down for lunch, opening their lunchbox, and finding a special note from you to remind them of who God is and what He has done. These lunchbox notes can be your way of speaking Truth to your children even when you can’t be with them throughout the day.

Three types of notes that could be used to disciple your child through their lunchbox:

Affirmations or Encouragement

Every child needs and wants to hear encouragement from their parents. As you see the unique gifts and character that God has placed in your child, be sure to acknowledge and affirm that to them.

Try not to make this about their performance. Instead, focus on what the Holy Spirit is doing in them and through them. An example might be a note that says: I have noticed how patient you are with your little brother lately. I can see the Holy Spirit working in you.

Scripture and Prayer

There is nothing more necessary for children than to know Scripture. In a world of information, some children may not understand the authority of the Bible. As a parent, you can help them to store up God’s Word in their hearts.

This type of lunchbox note can be as simple as a Bible verse that you’ve been talking about as a family and a prayer. It might also include a question that the family will discuss at dinner. For example, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 God, help Maggie know that she was created in a wonderful way for a wonderful purpose. Help her to feel Your amazing love today!

Challenge

What kid doesn’t love a challenge? As children are growing in their faith, challenge them to apply it. This type of lunchbox note is geared to helping your son or daughter be more intentional in how they live out the Gospel in their school. Here’s an example: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 I challenge you to ask a friend or teacher this question: What’s one thing that is making you worry? Tonight, our family will pray for that person and for God to give them peace in that one thing!

The beginning of the school year is a great opportunity to be intentional in the discipleship of your child. As you’re packing their lunch with PB & J and handi-snacks, write a special note to encourage them, pray over them, or challenge them in their faith.

light-bulbs-1125016_1280

For the past two years, I’ve been doing my best to lead our Kids’ Ministry staff team. The team consists of 8 paid staff who are all very gifted leaders. Each of them has their own way of communicating, their own set of needs from me, but one common passion to reach kids with the Gospel.

I cannot even express how humbling this experience has been. In the mixture of wins and fails, I’ve learned a few things that I think are critical to leading any team. Here are my 4 essentials for leading a team:

Take Suggestions & Make Decisions

I’ve learned that leading a team requires me to be a good listener. My natural inclination is to make decisions and move forward. While this is necessary at times, I’ve come to realize that a better way is to listen to others’ input and reach a collaborative decision. Even if we need to make a hard decision, this gives me the opportunity to communicate the how and why behind decision so that everyone can feel confident in the decision. When the decision is made and it’s time to move forward, I feel more energy and excitement because we are all moving together.

Look for Ways to Add Value to Each Team Member

I remember hearing John Maxwell speak on this point about 12 years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. He says that leading people is really an opportunity to add value to their life. It could be  picking up coffee for the team in the morning, a note of thanks, public praise, or meeting one on one to hear how they’re doing. If I want the team to be growing, then I have to be faithful to water it.

Make Room for Growth, Change, and Failure

I can’t stand to be micromanaged, and I suspect that my team feels the same way. I am not always the best at delegating authority, but I do know that the team needs the freedom to grow in their leadership, question how we could change to do things better, and take risks that might result in failure.

Be a Servant to Your Team

We’ve probably all suffered the effects of a leader who has taken advantage of their position. I know I’ve been guilty of it. But I want to be the leader that doesn’t ask anything of my team that I haven’t already done or am not willing to do myself. I want to use my position to serve them.

I’m learning that I can’t always be in the trenches with my team because I need to be leading in the ways that only I can lead. But I know the power of serving alongside them when I can. Those times help me to see what they do and how valuable it is to our team. When I have to lead from the front, I hope they trust that I care about them and their role on our team.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned these essentials more through my failures than successes. I’m still learning. I hope to continue learning and practicing these essentials for leading a team.