6 things I tell every story teller

story

A while back I did a blog post on the 6 things I tell every worship leader. I thought I would do one for every story teller. Our church is blessed to have story tellers who have done what they do for years, but what I have found is the things that make good story tellers great story tellers is they are constant learners.

Here are some practical tips I give our story tellers no matter how long they have been at it.

1. Internalize the script – I don’t tell them to memorize the script because I have found there is something so powerful and profound when people take the script internalize it and express it through their own experience and in their own style. I have one story teller that makes every week a production with actors props and scenery to boot, and the kids love it. Another finds incredible personal illustrations to highlight their point and still another uses props and vocal intonations to captivate the kids. Take the truth, leave it unchanged and add the uniqueness of you.

2. Maintain eye contact ALWAYS – Any time you look down at a paper in your hand you place an impenetrable wall between you and those you are ministering to.

3. Be over animated – you always come across more subdued that you really are.

4. Bring your Bible up with you – Put the sheet with the bible verse in your bible and read from that if you must but preaching from the Bible reinforces in the mind of the kids you are speaking to that these are more than stories.

5. Use peaks and valley’s – Few things create tension for a story then proper use of vocal inflection. Most people are comfortable with one particular vocal range. The problem is kids get used to your “normal” voice. If you want kids to be on their edge of their seats speak softly and  then build to get much louder.

6. Elevate Christ – Elevate Christ make sure that every story points the kids to a place where they can see the greatness of God. Where they realize and recognize their need for a savior. When it comes to the application portion think of practical illustrations for young kids, and older kids, making sure that not only reference Christ but you help kids understand that Jesus is everything.

6 Things I Tell Every Worship Leader

worship leader

If I could speak to adult worship leaders or youth worship leaders most of the items on this list wouldn’t change. I actually have a theory that leading worship for kids is the most raw and most under realized way to develop future worship leaders. If you can’t lead worship for kids chances are you won’t be as engaging and successful with adults. Leading worship for kids strips away the showmanship than can creep into the practice of even the most accomplished worship leaders out there. Here are a few practical tips I constantly remind every worship leader in our kids ministry.

1. Smile – You don’t want to convey worship is painful (actually I have heard of kids pastors who have used worship as a form of punishment. “If you don’t stop talking we are going to worship for 5 more minutes.” I kid you not.)

2. Sing – Even if your voice isn’t that stellar having a vocal focal point helps kids enter in.

3. Make eye contact – When you are leading kids in small group, worship, or large group eye contact is huge. Eye contact is the time out chair of the soul. When kids are messing around eye contact does wonders believe me. If you don’t believe me ask a mother.

4. Make it personal – Share a scripture or something God is speaking to you this week – Kids learn by example be an example

5. Teach kids – Having kids in a kids ministry setting is a huge advantage. We can break down what we do and why we do it, something that will never happen in “Big Church” We need to take advantage of this opportunity to teach them the heart of worship.

6. Be a worshiper yourself – The best way to teach kids to worship is to show them how to worship with your life.

Gratitude Versus the American Dream

How the Gospel Confronts Entitlement

soli-deo-gloria

This time of year most Christians in particular and non-Christians in general stop and give thanks. We pause if only for a moment to remember the gifts that we have been given. The act of remembering and the discipline of Gratitude are central to the Christian faith and to the development of any disciple of Christ. The challenge of gratitude is that it requires humility. You can not properly give God Glory or give honor to others if you believe that you achieved what you have on your own.

The irony of the Puritanical work ethic that came from an understanding of Salvation by grace alone that led to good works has changed over the years to a work hard to achieve the American dream. In America you are told if you work hard enough you can have anything you want, you can be anything you want and do anything you want. This is true as long as we maintain a clear understanding that our lives our not our own. Freedoms that are not based in ultimate truth become cruel taskmasters. Our country has evolved from a land founded by flawed but gracious leaders who gave birth to generations who worked hard to get what they wanted who then gave birth to future generations who believe that this country owes us things that only God can give. We have moved from the land of the free and the home of the brave to the land of the safe and the home of the entitled.

We rightly lament the loss of meaning of Thanksgiving with more and more mega sales creeping into to the time mean for family, humility and reflection. We as a nation as a culture must fight the idea that we are owed a good life, which we deserve certain things and learn to be grateful for the good gifts that we are given. Entitlement is the very antithesis of the Gospel. It is what Paul calls in Galatians “another gospel.” Entitlement sees everything in life not from the lens of what God had done for us in Christ but from what we believe we deserve because of our social standing, race or economic status. Paul tells Timothy this very thing contentment is not settling and a lack of faith but is evidence of who has your heart, where your affections lie and whom you ultimately trust.

1 Timothy 6:6-9

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and[a] we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Are riches bad no but they are deceitful because if we do not learn the value of contentment, humility and gratitude we will never have enough. Our right desire for good things turns into an over desire for things that are not ultimate things. Gratitude is central to the life of a believer because if you do not see salvation as a gift you will go about in a thousand ways trying to earn the security that your heart desperately needs and longs for. You fight to earn what can only be given. Teaching our kids the spiritual discipline is small things connects everything to the most important thing, the Cross of Christ.

When we say thank you we are in a small way recognizing the soverignty of God in all things. Prolific writer and blogger Ann VosKamp explains how she passess gratitude to her children. cultivating a life of gratitude is a long process. “It’s not instant. You can feel like you’ve arrived, but there will always be a situation that can make you un-arrive very quickly. But even that is good news because it’s the Lord’s way of saying, ‘You know what? You need me.’ And you’re back to being laid low before the cross again.” Voskamp emphasizes that writing down her gifts is not about gratitude. “It’s acknowledging the sovereignty of God in all situations and recognizing that God can redeem any situation. He’s using everything to refine me more and bring me into Christ. And we are made to give God glory. That’s what this list is for me. It’s seeing God’s work in any situation. It leads me back into his presence and the fullness of his joy.”

Strong, J. (2014). Ann Voskamp: Seeing God at Work.

True gratitude leads us to worship. To see all things in light of the work of Christ and position as adopted sons and daughters who receive all that we have including the ability to work hard soli deo gloria – for the glory of God alone.

This week at your dinner table don’t just dig in we fight for gratitude.

Ask your kids these questions.

  1. What is the greatest gift you have been given?
  2. Write down 3 things you are thankful for.
  3. Take turns praying have each person thank God for the five following things that R.T. Kendall outlined in Understanding Theology.  Think of things about God and his Word:
    (1)      Thank him for being as he is.
    (2)      Thank him for Jesus and his blood.
    (3)      Thank him for the Holy Spirit.
    (4)      Thank him for the Bible.
    (5)      Thank him for saving you.

Gratitude will always lead you away from what you have done and if followed logically to the end conclusion and by Divine revelation you will be lead to worship. I pray that you and your family enjoy each other the gifts you have been given and the God who graciously gave them to you.

Soli Deo Gloria

3 Things every pastor should say during Christmas

jesus storybook bible

Yesterday I talked about the value of old things and how consumerism keeps us from understanding and seeing the value in redeeming something old rather than always looking for the rush something new provides. One of the mistakes many pastors (kids pastors, youth pastors and senior pastor alike) make is during Christmas we demonize culture rather than show people how to redeem it. If you attend church during Christmas in most churches, you will hear some form of this rant. “Christmas is not about stuff, or buying things; we need to put Christ back in Christmas.” While this is true, it falls short. The church for the past few years has done a good job of talking about what Christmas isn’t and haven’t done a good enough job describing the beauty of Christ.

3 Things Every Pastor Should Preach During the Christmas Season:

The long term damage consumerism causes

bigstock-service-repair-neon-sign-302434

 

I am not Amish and don’t churn my butter. I actually love technology and new things but I think events like Black Friday and disposable everything does more damage to our society than good. We have this obsession with new. When is the last time you repaired anything? Everything we own is new until it’s not anymore then we discard it and replace it and not repair it. Why fix my TV for 200.00 when I can get a new one for 300? We have a society that no longer sees the value in old things. We even want a new version of our old things and call it retro. We live in a society that used to value “growing old” together, now it seems everywhere you turn people are cashing in relationships to chase new things they think will make them happy but what we don’t know is that this new relationship will eventually break and if  we don’t learn to value old things we will never understand or experience the power of redemption. The long-term damage consumerism causes reaches farther into our lives than just our stuff, it erodes the fabric of our relationship because our desire to have new things slowly makes its way into the most important relationships in our lives.