Archives For family ministry


Last week was a busy one. We did the lion’s share of renovation work on our new preteen ministry space. There were several late nights of work for myself and some awesome teammates, but there was one big job that we did not do. We did not paint the walls. We let 12-year-olds do that.

Actually, preteens and their parents did the painting. We got coffee, donuts, and 20 gallons of paint. Then, we set them loose with paint rollers. It probably wasn’t a “professional grade” paint job. And it did have its share of messy moments, including some carpet squares being drenched in paint. (I’m sure I’ll hear about that at staff meeting!)

But it was all worth it for one major reason…buy in. We’re making a lot of changes to preteen ministry, and it is crucial that we gain the trust and support of the parents. Painting allowed preteens and parents to take ownership of the room and in essence the ministry. There was a buzz in the room, and some parents even commented on the fact that they loved “getting their hands dirty” for this ministry. And I’m sure that when we launch in August, there will be more than one preteen remark about who painted what and who spilled paint where!

You might not want to let preteens paint the outside of your church or the worship venue, but it might be a great step to let them paint a classroom or hallway. Just be sure that you cover the carpet!

Stay tuned for pictures of the new space and details on how we’re programming for the new ministry year!


In life and in ministry, we all meet difficult people. Difficult people are those people who never approve of anything you do and always feel the need to let you know their disapproval. They consume much more of your time than is necessary just so they can complain about things that may or may not be under your control. These may be great people and they may have great intentions, but their emotions have taken over their brains. Their actions are not normal, and certainly not constructive. Whether they’re complaints are right or wrong, these “difficult people” can suck the life out of you.

I don’t have a foolproof way of dealing with difficult people, but I have picked up a few things over the years. Here are 5 tips for dealing with difficult people in a healthy way:

1. Don’t get defensive
When you become defensive, it paralyzes your ability to make good decisions. Most of the time, these people are approaching you with an outburst of emotion. The worst thing you can do is to respond by letting your emotions get out of control.

2. Respond with grace
No matter what they say or do, respond with an attitude of grace. When the Pharisees would complain or hurl insults at Jesus, He always kept a spirit of grace. Sure, Jesus would rebuke them. But He would also take the time to teach them to understand the Truth. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

3. Listen closely for what they’re NOT saying
I’ve found that some complaints are only the tip of a much larger iceberg. Listen for clues that might point to the larger problem. It could be that they have been hurt by you or someone else, and their complaints are just a symptom of a much deeper wound.

4. Work toward resolution
The best way to deal with difficult people is to solve the difficult situation. Look for solutions without compromising your calling or vision for the ministry. Even with the most difficult people, they will often shed light on real problems that need to be solved.

5. When necessary, cut ties
There comes a time when it is healthier for you and the other person to just cut ties. Again, try to do so with a spirit of grace, but get out of dodge. In ministry, there is way too much at stake for you to be consumed by one difficult person. For the sake of the ministry, separate yourself from that person and move on.

What tips do you have for dealing with difficult people?


When I was a kid, I absolutely despised summer reading! The only reason for me to pick up a book in the summer time was to prop up the broken leg of the ping-pong table! But over the years, I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of summer and the opportunity it brings to read some books on my wish list. I may not get through them all, but here are the books I have on the agenda for this summer:

1. Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce A. Ware
I’m currently reading this book, and I am loving it. The purpose of the book is to enable parents of 6-14 year olds to guide their child through all major doctrines of the Christian faith. This book is Systematic Theology 101 put in an understandable, easy-to-use guide for parent-child discussions. I am definitely going to recommend this book for preteen parents.

2. Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson
I’m really excited about the emphasis that our church has placed on discipleship for the coming year. I’ve heard great things about this book, and I really think it can help me better define discipleship for my life and ministry. I’m also looking for some major themes that we can use to better train our leaders who are discipling preteens.

3. Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins
I’ve been in the Children’s Ministry world for 10 years, but I feel a shift occurring in our preteens and in our ministry philosophy. I really want to call them up and challenge them on a deeper level, so I’m hoping this book will give me some ideas for how to move in that direction. I know it may not be 100% applicable to preteens, but there are always transferable nuggets.

4. Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
As we launch our new preteen ministry, the first year of curriculum is going to include teaching on some major doctrines: Biblical inspiration and authority, what is sin, the Gospel, etc. I spent two semesters going through Grudem’s Systematic Theology textbook, so I’m hoping this book will be a refresher for some of the points made in that book.

5. Growing up Too Fast: The Rimm Report on the Secret World of America’s Middle Schoolers by Sylvia Rimm
I’m intrigued by this study. The study surveyed over five-thousand preteens to look at the big issues they face in this stage of life. Many of the issues were thought to be “teenage” issues, but the study found that many preteens (and even younger children) were struggling with the issues.

6. Adolescence Isn’t Terminal by Kevin Leman
This is another book that I want to read in hopes that it might be a recommended resource for preteen parents. I’ve read other books from Dr. Leman, and I’m a fan of his research and writing style. The book tackles some major preteen issues such as sexual maturity, peer pressure, relationships, etc. The reviews all say that is very practical and helpful for parents, so I’m looking forward to reading it for myself.

What books are you reading this summer?
What books should I add to the list?

Main Session #3 at the Preteen & Parent Retreat was led by Dr. Robert Lewis, author of Raising a Modern Day Knight and founder of Men’s Fraternity. I’m convinced that you could drop Dr. Lewis in any culture to talk about any topic, and he would inspire that audience and leave them wanting more. I know that our parents could have sat for hours discussing the topics that he brought up. Here are notes from his session:

Stay humble and know that to be a good parent you will always have to be in the posture of a learner.

Barna, “most parents assume they know what to do”

Here are some helpful things to remember in parenting:

1. 75% of all great parenting is a good marriage. (Build your marriage!!)

  • 40% of kids don’t have dad at home
  • Single parent homes, poorer health, poorer jobs, sexually active, drugs and alcohol more present
  • Two parent homes with poor marriage will have same characteristics as single parent home.
  • In the 50’s homes were not child-centered.  Today we are child-focused not marriage or home focused
  • Little parenting in the Bible, but a lot on marriage. (ex. Ephesians has 12 verses on marriage and 1 on parenting.)
  • A good marriage leads to good kids

2. Always keep the long-term in view when parenting

  • What is the long view? Where you as a parent’s primary focus is on character and Christ
  • You cannot make their popularity your major view
  • Contrast Tim Tebow vs Tiger Woods
  • Write down what you want them to be (know Jesus, loving, giving, responsible, loyal friend, others focused, etc). Will they be a difference maker or a problem?  Ask God to help you find ways to help instill these character traits.

3. Seek to balance discipline and instruction with love as a parent

  • Four quadrant figure from Men’s Fraternity (permissive, neglectful, authoritative, authoritarian)
  • Authoritative is high discipline and high love.  This is the best parent
  • Number 2 is the permissive which is high love and low discipline
  • Number 3 is neglectful…low discipline and low love
  • Number 4 is authoritarian…high discipline and low love
  • Ephesians 6:4 Fathers do not provoke your children to anger
  • “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!!!” 6 times in the Gospels
  • Boys are looking for their Dad to say they are good enough

4. It is smart to sharpen and customize your parenting approach to each child by using objective testing tools

  • You will need help knowing your child.  You are not objective.
  • The more we know about our child’s uniqueness the better we will parent them
  • Today good testing mechanisms: personality, design, aptitude, and intelligence tests
  • First test is personality test. Robert uses melancholy, sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic. by Florence Letour
  • You don’t ever change your personality
  • aptitude test is a must before college (Aims aptitude testing)
  • Design test in High school
  • Intelligence testing will be done in school

5. Real Christianity for a child is caught or lost at home

  • Do not become dependent on the church for your child’s Christianity
  • Paul said follow me as a follow Christ. Should be the model of your home!!
  • Number one thing of families is to be open and honest in communication, especially about your Christianity
  • Don’t pretend and live different from what you say.  Kids will sniff that out and it will inoculate them against Christianity
  • Be authentic!!!

6. Avoid the four horseman of “Too Much”

  • Too much control.  Micromanaging a child 12 to 18 will kill them.  “I will trust you until you prove me wrong”
  • Too much money and stuff spoils and pacifies
  • Too much of high expectations discourages and wounds
  • Too much taking care of. Too much care in sons will steal their masculinity. Moms have to unplug the mom cord when they turn 12 or 13.

7. Spend lots of personal time with your child one on one

  • They will have unbelievable doubts from their friends, and quality time will help them.
  • Date your daughter

8. Provide clear gender vision

  • Focus on sexually, socially, and spiritually
  • Bless them by answering what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman.
  • Need a Biblical Definition of manhood and womanhood