Archives For children’s ministry

Sunday Celebrations

September 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

This was a rough week–hence no posts since last Sunday.

I woke up last Monday with the feeling that there was a dark cloud over me. I’m not sure what was going on, but I just felt attacked. And the week went similar to that feeling.  It was full of some very difficult decisions and conversations. I really overextended myself with work and that took a toll at home. And on top of all that–I got a traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign!!  When it rains, it pours.

In the midst of all this, I found myself at peace. God is enough and He is teaching me to be satisfied with Him.  Sor for this Sunday, I’m just thankful for God.  I’m thankful that He is wonderful, all-knowing, loving, Holy, just, worthy…He is ENOUGH.

Hi, My name is Matt and I am a negative person.

Ok, so I’m not negative all the time.  But I can get frustrated and become a real party pooper when things don’t go as planned. What do I mean by negative? I mean that I point out mistakes, gossip, complain, judge, and then I try to justify it. God has really been working on me in this area. He has shown me that much of my negativity and complaining comes from pride.  When things go wrong, I often shift blame to others and feel like I could’ve done their job better myself.  The truth is that’s not the truth.  That’s the deception of pride.

So here are a few things that I’m learning about negativity:

1. A negative plus a negative DOES NOT equal a positive
The truth is that you’re never negative alone.  My negative attitude is always pulling someone else down with me.  The complaining and gossip always involves more than me.  This is the biggest problem with having a negative attitude: it’s contagious.  My conviction is that my negative attitude has damaged others and caused them to sin with me.

2. A positive plus a negative CAN equal a positive
In the same way that one negative attitude can be contagious, so can a positive attitude.  There are certain people in my life that point out when I’m being negative, and they remind me of the positive.  They can change the course of the conversation by remaining positive and not participating in the complaining or gossip.  As I learn to treat my negativity, I’m really grateful for these individuals.

3. It’s always best to cut off negativity before it starts
I’m trying to learn to always evaluate myself first when something doesn’t meet expectations. I’ve found that I can really put things into perspective by starting with the question, “What role did my actions (or lack of actions) play in this situation?” I’m learning that most often than not, the blame rests on me. When I realize the role that my actions plays, my focus turns to reconciling instead of complaining. 

I’ve got a long ways to go, but God is at work. I still fail at this each day, but I’m thankful for how He is changing me and making me new.

One of the highlights of summer for me is getting to speak at children’s camps.  I love the energy. I love the worship times.  And I love talking with so many different churches and hearing what God is doing in their communities.

This past week, I was at a camp in Smackover, AR.  If’ you’ve never been through this booming metropolis, you’re missing out.  It has one stop-light that is anchored to a cement pylon in the middle of Main Street intersection.  It is definitely a site to see. 

 The town and most of south Arkansas for that matter has been hit really hard by the economic downturn.  And that has greatly affected churches.  But God is still doing some awesome things. As I went through the week, I noticed a few things that were very encouraging.

First, I noticed that these churches have instilled in their kids a high value for the Word of God.  These kids were quick to open to the Scripture that I was speaking from and they were eager to read along and make notes as we discussed.  It was awesome to see this generation so passionate about Scripture.

Second, I noticed that these churches are eager to minister to preteens.  Most of the churches in this region are rural, small, and old.  They average attendance is definitely well under 100, and most of the congregation is probably over 50.  Even if the majority is under the age of 50, the over-50 population is definitely footing the bill for ministry and thus making it tough to try new things.  But even still, these churches were open to new ideas and trying new methods to reaching the preteens in their community.  I sat down with the leadership of one church and discussed their ministry to preteens.  They wanted to ask me some questions and get some advice, but I definitely walked away feeling like they had taught me a thing or two.  Despite their size and their age, they had ventured into preteen ministry and were having huge success.  They were running a preteen worship service that was growing to be about 60% of their church population.  And they weren’t resting on that accomplishment!  Instead, they were asking “how do we take these kids and get them involved in Sunday School/Small Groups?”  It was awesome to see this passion for preteens.

And last, I recognized that God uses all ages to minister to preteens.  The awesome part of camp is seeing those that God has called into leadership at churches.  In one group you’ll have the 20-something college student who is full up bubbling energy that is like a super-hero to the kids, and in another group you’ll have the 80-something grandmother who is pouring out pounds of love on the kids in her group.  And God is using both of them to impact the lives of preteens.  I quickly realized that there is no “target demographic” when you’re looking for preteen leaders.  This age group responds well to young and old, and God will definitely use both to speak into their lives. 

I had an awesome time last week at camp.  I’m still recovering from the camp food, but I can’t wait to do it all over again next week!

It’s the time of year for every children’s ministry worker…you know, right?  It’s Volunteer Recruitment Time! Our church did an amazing job of educating the entire church body on service and calling them to commit to an area of service inside or outside the church.  It’s been amazing to watch people, young and old, step up to serve all across the church.

As I talked with those who have committed to serving in the preteen ministry, I’m trying a new approach.  Normally when we find a great volunteer with high leadership capacity, we hold onto that person for dear life and never let them graduate out of our ministry area.  I know that my tactic in the past was to push people into the holes that I thought needed to be filled rather than really listening to their heart and providing an opportunity to serve in the place that God is leading them.  This year is different.

My approach involves three things: vision, celebration, and a question.

I begin by casting the vision for what we want our preteen small groups to be.  And a HUGE part of that is calling the leaders to commit to spending two years with the same group.  We want them to at least spend the 5th and 6th grade years walking alongside the same group of boys or girls.  And instead of desperately trying to hold on to them, we encourage them to move into student ministry with their group.  We just believe that this will be the best setup for life-change in the lives of students.  But this takes a big decision and big commitment.  That leads perfectly to the next part.

To help them see why this is so important and why we are asking them to make such a big commitment, we celebrate leaders who have done so already.  We have leaders that have been with the same group of kids for several years and it is evident that their commitment has led to great fruit.  We talk about those leaders and the effectiveness of their service.  We share story after story of how leaders were able to be a part of a students decision to trust Christ, their baptism, and their spiritual growth.  We talk about how leaders have guided students through tough times because they were trusted mentors by the child and the parents.   Just hearing these stories helps a person to see how their investment can lead to life-change.

Finally, I just ask them if they are able and willing to make that commitment.  If they can’t make that commitment, it doesn’t mean we don’t want them to serve.  There are places for them to serve, but leading a small group may not be the best fit.  

We want to provide the most optimum environment for life change, and that means we must set the bar high for our leaders.  We’re not 100% there yet, but my prayer is that over the next few years we reach a point where we no longer have to ask them to make such a commitment because it is just the norm.