Archives For discipleship

One of the hardest parts of ministering to preteens is overcoming the myth that the Bible is boring or stale. If we can just get them to engage in the Scripture, it will prove itself as anything but boring and stale. But how do we create that spark?

I was recently given a copy of The Almighty Bible, and I’m really impressed with this resource. The Almighty Bible is produced as a graphic novel for each book of the Bible. Each novel is full of illustrations that coincide with the Biblical text. The Almighty Bible is not intended to be the only Bible your child owns, therefore it is not a word-for-word translation of Scripture. Even though some of the Biblical text is summarized or omitted to keep the novel format, the stories that are told are incredibly accurate to Scripture. The series is designed to generate an interest in Scripture that will lead preteens to a deeper study of a more traditional Bible, and from my reviews, I think it does just that.

I asked several preteens to look through the copies that I was given, and their responses were priceless. One student turned page after page after page, and all he could say is, “This is the coolest Bible ever!” Another student read a story from II Samuel and asked, “Did this really happen?”  Based on their intrigue alone, I would say be sure to order your copy!

In summary, The Almighty Bible blends the timeless and perfect Word of God with the high-definition media that saturates a preteen’s life.  This combination creates a great spark that will pull a preteen into the Bible and fuel their journey through God’s story.  The book series, the iPad app, the online club, and much more—make this resource a must have for the preteen in your life. 

Go check it out at The Almighty Bible

Check back tomorrow for your chance to win a free copy of this awesome resource!

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.

This week has been a busy week for me, both professionally and personally.

Professionally, this past Sunday was the launch of our new ministry year.  1300 kids and 700 volunteers made for a really exciting day!  I was excited about the number of new volunteers that we have in the Preteen Ministry. 

Personally, this Thursday is our little girls’ 1st birthday.  It doesn’t seem like Maggie should be a year old already, but we’re excited about celebrating that with family.  It’s been so much fun watching her grow and develop over this first year. 

As I think about the way that Maggie has developed over this first year of her life, I can’t help but notice the similarities between her development and the development of new volunteers in their first year of service.  For example…

1. Most of what our daughter learned was learned in the last 4 or 5 months.
Talking, crawling, walking (not there yet), following instructions, eating solid foods…all of these things were learned in the final months of her first year.  This is a good reminder to stay confident in new volunteers.  While they may not completely get it on the first week, they will grow and develop.  Give them time and keep encouraging.

2. Most of what our daughter learned was what we chose to teach her
My wife was intentional about teaching Maggie some sign language.  She consistently taught the signs over and over until our daughter understood and used them on her own.  New volunteers are going to learn what we chose to teach them.  What are we choosing to teach our volunteers? Even if the answer is “I don’t know”, we’re still teaching something and chances are it’s not good!

3. Some of what our daughter learned was through others’ example
Being around other kids has helped Maggie to learn new things.  This is especially true when she is around older kids. I love for Maggie to be around kids who can walk and talk because this models the behaviors that she is trying to develop and master.  It’s important that we give new volunteers the opportunity to rub shoulders with experienced volunteers.  Trust in your experienced volunteers to model the vision and strategy for the new volunteers.  Pretty soon the new volunteer is an experienced volunteer and ready to model for someone else.

4. Our daughter was motivated to learn new things because we rewarded her and celebrated her accomplishments
When Maggie says a new word or masters a new skill, we can’t help but love on her and praise her.  She gets the biggest smile on her face because she knows that she’s done something well.  New volunteers need the same type of encouragement.  As they develop and grow, they’re not sure if they’re doing everything correctly and they are searching for approval.  Spend time each week celebrating and rewarding new volunteers.  If the time comes when you need to correct a volunteer, it’s much easier to do so when you’ve also poured encouragement into their life.

5. Our daughter is not perfect and she has a lot of boo-boos
Part of growing up is making mistakes.  Maggie is learning to stand and walk, and it seems like she falls 100 times a day.  New volunteers will make mistakes.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely make my fair share of mistakes. There will be scenarios that you just can’t train them for.  It is the role of the leader to keep encouraging and helping them to learn through mistakes.

How do you nurture your new volunteers?

Maggie_and_me

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!