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A few days ago, Mattmo.org turned 4 years old. I started blogging when I took a new job at Fellowship Bible Church as the Preteen Pastor because I wanted to connect with other children’s and preteen ministry leaders.

Blogging has helped to make those connections with some amazing leaders, but it’s also taught me some valuable lessons.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned through blogging:

 

1. There is a bigger community out there than you realize.

Blogging has taught me that there is literally a worldwide community that endures the same successes and failures. I’ve received comments, questions, and encouragement from ministry leaders that were across the globe and some from my own city. We were all strangers until this website connected our ministries and us. I love the lessons and encouragement that comes with this community!

2. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Even more than writing, I love reading blogs. I have the utmost respect for those who consistently share great thoughts because it is hard. It’s hard to find the time. It’s hard to find the energy. And it’s hard to get over the fear that no one cares about what you’re sharing. (And that’s not even mentioning all the tech stuff that you have to learn!)

3. Sometimes you lose your voice (but that’s OK).

Like losing your voice after shouting at a sporting event, I’ve gone through seasons in the last 4 years when I had lost my voice. Sometimes God was just overwhelming with lessons that I couldn’t put into words. Other times, I just didn’t feel like there was anything worth sharing. I’ve realized that losing your voice is OK. I regret being a silent blogger for long periods, but it beats the alternative, which is sharing with a voice that is not my own,

4. Sharing is caring.

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in the last 4 years of blogging is: Sharing is Caring! The big “C” Church needs to share more. We’re on the same mission to make disciples who whole-heartedly love and follow Jesus, so why not share resources, encouragement, and ideas. As mattmo.org moves forward, I want it to be a go-to place for resources that will help leaders, churches, and families in their mission of making disciples.

It’s been a fun 4 years. Thank you for being a part of this community! I look forward to sharing more and hearing from you!

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There are many parts to Preteen Ministry that can be difficult to figure out, but the most difficult has got to be engaging preteens in worship. I’m talking specifically about musical worship…You know that time when preteens stand and stare at you like your hair is one fire! It’s crazy how difficult preteen worship can be.

That’s why I’m so extremely thankful for Ashley Briggs. She is leads our preteen worship and girls’ discipleship groups. She’s coming up with ways to get our 5th and 6th graders engaged in worship, and she’s involving many of them in leading worship. If you are leading preteens in worship, you really need to connect with her.

To help the preteen ministries on our other campuses, Ashley put together a list of songs that are working well in worship with our preteens. I thought there might be a few other that could benefit from the list that she put together. Since sharing is caring, here you go:

Top 12 Worship Songs for (our) Preteen Ministry:

  1. Alive in Us by We the Union

  2. Alive by Hillsong Young and Free

  3. God’s Not Dead by Kristian Stanfill

  4. Always by Kristian Stanfill

  5. Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin

  6. At Your Name by Phil Wickham

  7. Lord I Need You by Matt Maher

  8. This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham

  9. Here for You by Matt Redman

  10. One Thing Remains by Jesus Culture

  11. Burning in My Soul by Matt Maher

  12. Don’t Ever Stop by Chris Tomlin

Hope this list will help as you lead preteens in worship. What songs would you add to the list?

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“About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, Am I ugly?’

Many of these searchers are preteen and teenage girls. I encourage you to listen to this TED Talk by Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

As a husband and father of two girls, my heart aches and my mind is burdened for the world that they must live in. Our media-saturated culture is providing confusing and often conflicting descriptions of beauty. The confusion is leading girls to search for approval from all the wrong sources, and they often are left feeling even more dissatisfied.

Here are some of the statistics mentioned in Ramsey’s talk:

  • 6 out of 10 girls will choose not to participate in an activity because of feeling like they “don’t look good enough”
  • 31% of girls are withdrawing from classroom debate because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves
  • 1 in 5 have girls have not shown up at school when they don’t feel like they look good
  • Girls who think they “don’t look good enough” or “aren’t thin enough” score lower on exams than peers who don’t have those same thoughts
  • 17% of women will not go to a job interview on a day when they don’t feel like they look good enough.
  • These feelings leave girls and women at a higher risk of unhealthy habits, lower self-esteem, depression, and easily influenced by others.

The research they’ve collected is scary. I am thankful for individuals and a company that wants to be a positive influence for young girls. At the same time, there is something missing from their plan.

The Gospel.

I believe the Gospel has the ultimate answer to the question, “Am I ugly or beautiful?” As a pastor, I want all young women to see that they have a much greater beauty and identity as a child of God. As a husband and father, I want my girls to know and believe that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I want them to know that their acceptance and identity is found in Jesus Christ–and in Him alone. I want them to live with boldness and confidence because the God of grace has transformed them into something more beautiful than anything.

 

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I read that written goals are more likely accomplished, and accountability makes those goals even more effective. So in 2014, I tried something new and shared the goals that I had set for myself.  I kept those goals visible in my office throughout the year, but the results were not what I was expecting. In fact, I think it was better.

Not better because I accomplished all the goals. I didn’t. I came close to accomplishing some and utterly failed on some. But one of them literally changed my life.

As our church was preaching, teaching, and discussing God’s grace and it’s effects on our life, I wanted to learn more about grace, pay more attention to the grace applied to my life, and extend grace to others. From sermons, books, conversations, and life experiences—God took me on such an amazing adventure to discover more about His grace. I have not graduated from grace, but this past year has led me to a deeper appreciation and worship for God and His glorious grace!

What’s my goal for 2015?

As I’m becoming more and more aware of my need for Jesus and God’s immense grace to give me all I need in Jesus, I want to experience more of Him. I want to grow in my discipline to spend time speaking to God and listening for His voice. So, for 2015, my goal is to learn more about prayer and be disciplined to pray.

I’ve started by reading some of the writings on prayer by E.M. Bounds. He says:

“For prayer is of transcendent importance. Prayer is the mightiest agent to advance God’s work. Praying hearts and hands only can do God’s work. Prayer succeeds when all else fails. Prayer has won great victories, and rescued, with notable triumph, God’s saints when every other hope was gone. Men who know how to pray are the greatest boon God can give to earth—they are the richest gift earth can offer heaven. Men who know how to use this weapon of prayer are God’s best soldiers. His mightiest leaders.”

This gets me fired up! God, make me disciplined in prayer so that I can be used by You in the things that You are doing!

I’ve always struggled to be disciplined in prayer, but I enter this year wanting and expecting God to change me.