Archives For children’s ministry

We hosted a parent meeting this past Sunday for all our 5th grade parents and we talked about what was in store for their child in 6th grade.  We discussed the various units and lessons that we will cover, and then it happened.  I said “Pornography.”  Just the mention of the word puts everyone on high alert.  I don’t think parents were shocked as much as they were desperate for some assistance in how to address the issue with their preteen. 

Here are the cold hard facts…

The fourth most-searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under in 2009 was “porn.”
For all kids up to age 18, sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

A recent survey found that 30% of girls ages 9 to 15 years old had sent or received sexual messages or photos of themselves.

1 of every 3 that reported to receive “sext” messages said that they accidentally received the message that was intended for someone else.

(Data from OnlineFamily.Norton.com and research from AK Tweens)

These stats mean that many preteens are falling prey to pornography, intentionally and even unintentionally.  As the church, we need to be thinking through a strategy for equipping parents to have a conversation with their children.  I am reminded of the damage and consequences that came from just one look in the life of King David.  His eyes caught Bathsheba naked, and his mind could not escape the image.  The result was a downward spiral of sinful decisions.  The danger is real, the stats are real, and we need a strategy.

I feel like the best way to address the topic is on the family level.  Therefore, we have chosen to equip the parents with resources to carry-out a discussion with their child that points to God’s call to pure actions and thoughts. 

What’s your strategy for equipping parents to deal with the danger of pornography?

I’d love to share some of the info that we’ve given to parents to help that conversation.  We also give information for protection services that will help them to create boundaries on their computers and mobile devices.  If interested in that material, you can contact me via comment, twitter, or email.

 

My wife and I attended a family wedding last weekend at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, AR.  After the wedding, we toured the Presidential Library with family and friends.  There were some interesting exhibits from the Clinton administration, but what I found most interesting where the daily logs of the President’s activity.  For each year of office, there are 12 binders worth of 365 itineraries.  As I looked through the logs, it became clear to me that I do not want to be President.  The days were mostly 18-20 hours long, and personal time was virtually non-existent.  No wonder they all get grey hair!

As one who works in ministry, I got to thinking about my own lack of relaxation and personal time.  I love my job.  I love my church.  And I love my co-workers.  But even in doing what I love, I reach points when I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.  This exhaustion steals my motivation, which greatly hinders my availability to be used by God.  In those times, I need to step out and get re-energized.  Some of the wisest advice given to me regarding ministry was to always incorporate a time of personal renewal, a time of family vacation, and a time of spiritual retreat.  These three times are essential to staying in the game for the long haul.

Here are some interesting stats on ministry: 

  •  90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and most ministers do not exercise nor take regularly scheduled vacations
  • 66% of church members expect a minister and his/her family to live by a higher moral standard than they do
  •  80% of ministry families believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families and 94% report feeling pressures of being in the pastor’s family.
  •  70% of ministers report not having a close friend to confide in.   

There are seasons when we just need rest.  These statistics show how Satan plots against us.  Without a time of renewal with God, we will fall into the traps set for us.  God has set an example of rest throughout Scripture.  He desires for us to have a time of rest in Him. It’s a hard discipline to take time off and get away.  I struggle with it, as I’m sure you do as well.  I love reading and listening to Carey Nieuwhof.  I especially like what he said on this subject,

“I get terrified by the idea of a real Sabbath – a day where I produce nothing…absolutely nothing and simply let God be enough for me.  I’ve had very few days in my life where I completely did nothing…produced nothing, got distracted by nothing (no sports, no movies, no biking, no reading) and just let me be in the presence of God.  Wonder what that would be like?”

I am taking next week off for family vacation, but the time away is already getting crowded out by other things.  It’s going to be hard to “shut it down” for a whole week, but I think doing so will be a rewarding experience for my family and me.

Do you have a plan for rest?

How are you held accountable to take that time of rest in the Lord?

 

 

 

I jumped into blogging about preteen ministry and my role as preteen pastor, but I really wanted to share how God gripped my heart for this age group.

I love ministry.  I understood God’s call ever since the age of 16, and I realize that he was preparing me even long before that.  God led me through a series of events that made it clear my role would be in children’s ministry.  I did my best to serve Him in that role for 8 years, and then something happened.

I began to feel a passion being fueled by God.  As Bill Hybels calls it, I had a “Holy Discontent.”  Hybels, in his book titled Holy Discontent, describes it as the one thing in the world that when you see, hear, feel, or even come close to.  It is that one thing that you can’t stand to leave alone, and every part of you burns to make a change.  I knew that I was feeling something, but just could not label it.  I discovered that the thing for me was how churches minister to preteens.  And I learned it in a very unique moment.

While serving in a children’s pastor role that had responsibilities for birth through 5th Grade, I had a defining experience.  One Sunday, two 5th grade boys approached me and asked to have a meeting.  I had no idea what it was for, but I was definitely game.  So Elliott, Wyatt, and I scheduled a meeting for that week at the lunch buffet of Pizza Hut.

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I talked with one of their parents about the meeting, and I learned where the conversation had started.  On the way home from church a few Sundays prior, the boys had made several comments about how church wasn’t exciting.  They enjoyed their small groups, they enjoyed what they were learning, and they enjoyed the worship time.  But their comments centered on the idea that there should be something more.  The parent did an amazing job of listening and continuing the conversation.  She prompted to bring their ideas to me and see what we could do.

So, back to the lunch buffet at Pizza Hut.  It was amazing to sit across the booth from two 5th grade boys and listen to them lay out a ministry strategy.  They talked about their interest in serving.  They talked about how they were ready and willing to put into practice all that they knew and were learning.  They didn’t want to just sit back and listen.  They wanted to do!  They had ideas to form teams that would serve in various capacities.  They had ideas for how to do sign-ups, how to do training, and how to show appreciation to those that serve. 

I’ve sat across the table from some amazing men of God that serve in very successful ministries.  I’ve read books and attended conferences with some of the most successful business and ministry leaders of our time.  But, I’ve never been as impressed as I was when I spoke with Wyatt and Elliott.  They took what God was laying on their hearts and made a strategy for action.  They went through all the steps to make sure that we took that action.

Through that conversation we created the “Work Crew.”  These 5th graders served every Sunday in different roles around to church.  They served as greeters and gave tours to new families.  They served on the tech team for our elementary worship time.  They assisted small group leaders or the storyteller during our large group teaching.  It was amazing to watch the group grow together by serving the body of Christ.

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This was an amazing win for our church.  It was also a defining moment for me.  I had realized where God was leading me.  He was leading me to make change for the way churches equip and unleash kids ages 9 to 12. 

That is really how God led me to preteen ministry.  He stirred my heart in a meeting with Wyatt and Elliott at the lunch buffet of Pizza Hut.

 

What is your “Holy Discontent”?

What is the one thing that you burn to see changed in your lifetime?

What has God called you to?  How did He call you?

 

 

Tonight I was reminded about the importance of greeters in our ministry.  They are literally the “front-line” of our church. Every Sunday, they are the first faces seen, the first voices heard, and the first impression left on regular attendees and first-time families.  Given the magnitude of their role, we need to evaluate the message that we’re sending (or not sending) through our greeting team.

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Meet Willie. Or as he’s known around these parts, “Willie the Wal-Mart Greeter.”  (And yes, that’s his name on Facebook.) Tonight I watched as Willie did his job, and I was filled with ideas and inspiration.  Willie is a living legend because of his role as greeter at our local Wal-Mart.  Here’s why…

When you walk into the store, a seemingly mild-mannered man greets you.  As you get closer, he holds out his arm with hand clinched in a fist.  As your fist bumps his, he lets out the loudest “BAM” that you will ever hear.  Then he smiles a HUGE smile and says, “All right now…my man!”  As you continue walking, you hear that greeting repeated over and over to the customers coming and going.  When you’re in the very last aisle of the store, you can still here his greetings resonating over everything else. 

Here are a few things I learned from Willie that I think are transferable to greeters in ministry areas:

Willie is always smiling.
I’ve never seen him in a bad mood.  People enter frustrated, stressed, lonely—but they are instantly cheered on by the greetings from Willie.
Do our greeters understand the emotions and stresses that people are dealing with when coming to church?  How are we preparing them to counteract those emotions and prepare people for worship?


Willie is always stationed at the same entrance.
You can’t miss him.  He is always working the same entrance, the same hours, the same days.  People will intentionally park on that side of the store so that they can be greeted by Willie.
Do we promote consistency in our greeter team in the same way that we do so in our small groups ministry?  Why would it look like if we did?


Willie is always “on.”
Willie doesn’t let anyone pass without a greeting.  He doesn’t take a break from greeting or get caught up talking with other employees.  He knows that his job is to greet everyone entering the store, and he makes sure that he does his job. There can be 60 people walking in at the same time, and Willie will make sure that each of them get a personal greeting.  He does the same for those leaving the store.  He makes sure that they are thanked and invited back soon.  Even when someone walks through the door in a foul mood and tries to avoid the greeter, Willie finds a way to reach out to them and say hello.  (I can’t even put into words how amazing it is to watch)
How do we train our greeting team to approach those that are seemingly “unapproachable”?  How do we make sure that every individual receives a greeting?

I have to admit that greeting team is often overlooked in my ministry.  I know the importance of the position, but I don’t have a strategy for that ministry.  Willie does his job with excellence because he has a strategy.  He may not have it written down (or maybe he does), but it is clear that he has thought about it and took action to do his job well.  I will definitely be using what I’ve learned from him to train our greeting team.  Or better yet, maybe Willie can come train them!

If you’re ever in Maumelle, AR and need to visit Wal-Mart, let me encourage you to enter on the grocery/pharmacy side of the store.  Willie works everyday 3pm to 11pm.  Every day, except Wednesday and Sunday because he is also a minister at a local church.   You will immediately understand why Willie is a living legend.  The impression that Willie has left on people as a greeter will live on way past his service as a greeter. Would someone say the same about you or your greeter team?