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Resources, Tips and Content for Children's Ministry and Family Life Leaders

Fear

Sometimes it keeps me from doing the things I dream about most.

Why—because as long as the thing is a dream, it’s a possibility for me. It’s a part of myself that I believe I am capable of.

But the moment I decide to put effort toward that dream, to make it a reality, that’s when I come face-to-face with the obstacles and hard work required. That’s the season when I must confront my own limitations and fears.

Working toward a dream will eventually define a significant part of my life. It will prove the kind of person I really am.

Am I diligent enough to push through the hardships and fear so that I might realize the dream? Or am I the kind of person who will give in, accept the excuses, settle for what is safe and become just another ordinary individual?

I don’t believe God intended me to be ordinary. In fact, I think He expects each one of us to live an extraordinary life; a life capable of working through the fear and unexpected seasons of hardship. His Word encourages us to apply perseverance, wisdom and faith.

Lately, I’ve been letting myself get tossed to and fro. I have given in to the waves crashing around me. I have yielded to fear and its repetitive beatings and have allowed myself to be washed ashore. I have doubted God’s purpose in my life. I have misunderstood the nature of His gifts and what success should look like. It is not about the end game, but about the process and His work in my life.

The Bible instructs me in this very season.

James 1:2-6
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

I have been fearful; not remembering that my life is not my own and has never been mine. I forgot that my days were numbered long ago and that it’s my job to live each one of them to its fullest; not worrying about tomorrow; not caught up in the chaos or drama, but remaining steadfast, confident and full of hope. I have a job to do and the work is mine and mine alone. I must press forward for that is what I was created to do. For me to do anything less will be a disappointment. After alI, I want to become all I was created to be, and living life is the becoming.

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.

So today I will not let fear rule. I will move forward toward the dreams God has given me. I will expect obstacles, hardships and limitations, but I will place my hope and confidence in the Lord and push through the resistance. I will work with perseverance and seek God’s counsel. I will expect God to meet me, and I will fight to stay the course once again.

 

Caught In A Squeeze Play!

squueze playsepia

Ever felt like you were in a Squeeze Play? Someone bunted at the plate and you needed to do your part and run home, but you weren’t quite sure if you would make it? And if you didn’t, you knew you’d find yourself in a Pickle—caught between two bases with little hope of winning at either.

The past few months have felt like a Squeeze Play. Someone has needed me at home and as I’ve left the safety of my basic routine, I’ve often found myself caught in a Pickle regarding time and energy. I’ve spent many days of the last few months between two places wondering if I was going to make much of a difference at either. And yet now that the Squeeze has lost some of its compression, I realize that what’s most important of all has been accomplished.

God knew a Squeeze Play was coming. He knew I’d be caught up in the needs of others. He knew my desire for excellence would be reduced to good enough. And He knew I would struggle with the reprioritization of time and dreams.

So what’s the purpose of a Squeeze Play? To show my allegiance? To let go and let God? To realign my priorities?

It’s in these times that I find myself saying, “Okay God, You’re in charge. Whatever You want me to do, I will. Wherever You want me to spend my time, I’ll go. I’ll trust You with everything and I won’t let myself look back with regret of what I didn’t get done.”

And it’s after these conversations that I remember that’s exactly how He has asked me to live my life—His will, His way, in His time. And it’s really who I want to be as a Christ-follower, as a family member, a leader, an employee and a friend.

Maybe it’s not about the Squeeze Play at all, but about the attitude of my heart as I run back and forth in the Pickle.

3 Things You Need To Know Before Saying, “Yes!”

(part 3 of 3)

Let’s assume that by now…

You are familiar with the organizational chart and all initial efforts of your pre-hire discovery have been successful.

You have thought through the impact of this job upon your personal life (i.e.: location, salary, relationships and work hours) and you have completed the checklist below.

Job Checklist

You have come to realize that you are being offered a position that matches your areas of passion and giftedness, with goals that you can support and feel supported by in a workable environment.

Before you say, “Yes,” consider one more thing…

Personal Influence. 

Continue reading “3 Things You Need To Know Before Saying, “Yes!”” »

Simply Strategic Volunteers

Simply StrategicRecruiting and keeping volunteers is tricky business. It requires planning, honest evaluation, casting vision, equipping, empowering, appreciating and so much more. Two top experts share 99 solutions in 1-3 page bite-sized chunks. You’ll find this book to be an invaluable tool!

 

Tony Morgan & Tim Stevens
Group Publishing, 2005

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7 Practices of Effective Ministry

7 PracticesIf you are ready to rethink your ministry, evaluate it’s practices and re-establish a clear pathway, then you are ready for the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry.

Stanley, Joiner and Jones, three members of the North Point Ministry team, unpack the practices of their ministry success using both a baseball analogy and by pulling pages from their own staff play-book. Information shared will inspire and benefit your entire team.

Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Lane Jones
Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 2004 North Point Ministries, Inc.

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Don’t Travel Alone — Build A Team

The task of leading children of all ages to Christ is enormous and requires a large group of people with a variety of gifts and strengths. But where are you going to find those people and how are you going to get them to make the journey with you?

Bill Hybels from Willow Creek in Chicago once said, “The first rule of building a team is affinity.” I was new to ministry, sitting in an audience of thousands when I wrote this down in my notes and I wasn’t even sure what it meant. But over the years, I’ve come to bank on this statement. When building a core team, always think affinity first!

AFFINITY FIRST!

 Affinity is defined as having a feeling of identification with; a likeness based upon connection; a kinship; a similarity.

Imagine ministry as a 3,342.4 mile car ride from California to Maine in a Honda Fit. You know where you’re going and you know your mode of transportation is trustworthy although a bit lacking in comfort. You’re inviting companions to join the adventure and travel with you; companions to keep you awake, take turns driving, and help decide where to eat, where to sleep and when to stop for gas. Hopefully you won’t encounter car trouble, but if you do, your companions will help with decision-making and extend the boundaries of your personal resources. You’re pretty sure that along the way you’ll encounter the expected, the extraordinary, the bizarre and the mundane. It’s the shared experience inside that car that will give you camaraderie, create memories, provide entertainment and keep you moving forward in the right direction. From time-to-time constraints of space, finances or other needs may cause frustration, but they will push you toward collective creativity, teamwork and opportunities to extend grace.

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The Big Picture

Children’s Ministry—you think it’s about children, but it’s not!

Most people say, “Yes” to working in children’s ministry because they love children, have children, think working with children will be fun, or believe it may be the least stressful volunteer option that has been placed before them. As the leader, however, you know children are just the beginning. The job is much more.

Children’s Ministry is unlike any other educational ministry in the church in that it requires a large team of volunteers to make it happen. A Pastor can teach a room of a thousand adults standing alone on the front stage. Youth Pastors, Women’s Ministry Leaders and even Worship Pastors can do the same. But the moment you have that second infant handed to you, you’ve reached capacity, safekeeping becomes an issue and you find yourself outnumbered.

Leading Children’s Ministry is more about developing a team of volunteers than interacting with children. You might hold the vision, write the lesson plans, organize the supplies, lead the worship and greet families at the door, but if there aren’t other adults and helpers in the room who know each child by name and are prepared to assist, your desire to run an excellent program is at risk.

In fact, the reality is You serve 4 populations!

Continue reading “The Big Picture” »

Leadership: Plain and Simple

Recently I had the privilege of attending the first of two leadership classes at North Coast Church in Carlsbad, California. The class was entitled “Leadership: Plain and Simple” and led by Ned Mervich, the Video Café Pastor from the Vista Campus.

Mervich’s goal was to boil down the vast amount of information available to us on the topic of leadership and present it as something that was simple—deep (meaningful) and fast (easy to grasp). The room was filled with business owners, administrators, parents, teachers, those entering new leadership roles and those in transition.

Mervich presented the chart below and offered the following definition:

Leadership Chart

The Essence of Leadership is—

A person called by God to influence through his head, heart and hands, a group of people who can work together effectively through the use of their skills, gifts, abilities and interests to accomplish God’s purpose for that group.

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The Servant Leader

The Servant LeaderHow do you lead? Are you willing to pattern your leadership after Jesus as an act of service?

Blanchard and Hodges take us inside to the HEART, HEAD, HANDS and HABITS of a servant leader. They challenge motivations, intentions, assumptions, methods, behaviors and commitment. If you seek a closer discipleship relationship with Jesus, as your role model, then start here.

Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2003

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When You Find Yourself Leading Alone…

Leadership can be one of the most exciting adventures of life if you are gifted to lead. However, it doesn’t take long to understand that there are times when you find yourself standing alone.

I can remember my very first staff meeting. I had been hired to be the Children’s Ministry Director and I came to the table with a long list of questions. The meeting began with a time of prayer and then immediately turned to the business at hand. An agenda had been presented and the items on it were huge! Some would determine the direction of the church; others were problems needing resolution that had the potential for heartache; and some required budget adjustments demanding give and take on the part of every ministry team.

There was no time to focus on my unknowns or ease my insecurities. In fact, within just a few days I came to realize that the staff had hired me to be the resident expert. They had no plans or ideas for kids, and although they were extremely supportive and great listeners, they were looking to me for their next course of action!

Continue reading “When You Find Yourself Leading Alone…” »