In an earlier blog post, one of a the points that I got the most questions about was why a VBS has to be a church-wide event. My reasoning behind this statement was because I have done VBS as a departmental event and a church-wide event. VBS is such a large event that it either adds to the life of the church or it drains life from the children’s ministry department within the church. Here are a few of the differences I have found between a departmental VBS and a church-wide VBS.
A department VBS is lost in the sea of summer promotions. A church-wide VBS every department feels the pressure so they each push its importance. We canceled our worship team practice because we needed the space but it said to worship team that we are in this together. It served as a reminder that they should register their kids and invite others to come. We canceled our regular programming for youth ministry the week of VBS because of space and because so many of our youth are involved in making VBS a reality.
Experience: Lack of experience is actually a good thing.
One of the things that young leaders have to wrestle with is a lack of experience. It can be very easy as a young leader to push through a lack of experience and lead from a place of insecure confidence. Which sounds like a contradiction of terms but nothing could be further from the truth. I have seen many young leaders make many mistakes because they lack experience and rather than leaning into Christ they act as if they have led for years. The problem occurs when young leaders experience a bit of success and attribute it to the wrong things. It, in turn, produces a skewed view of leadership. They think that their success has more to do with them than it really does. This is where arrogant insecure leaders are born.
The reason many leaders in church ministry are so insecure is because they never learn the lesson their lack of experience was meant to teach them. They build their own kingdom based on what they have done and then spend their life protecting it from anyone destroying what they built. What insecure, selfish, egocentric leaders never learn is that lacking experience is a blessing and if leveraged properly will create a lifelong dependence on Christ alone. As leaders “We are” as Aristotle says “What we repeatedly do”. If you are a young leader repeatedly place your present, your past and your future in the hands of Christ so that he can form you and shape you into what he has for you.
If you are a young leader the best thing you can do is leverage your lack of experience and build into yourself a life long dependence on Christ.
Here are some practical ways to leverage your inexperience:
1. Listen (I blogged about that here)
2. Seek to build up those around you
3. Be about team
4. Give away the credit and take all the blame
5. Remind yourself daily that if you lose everything you still get Jesus
7. Continually ask yourself am I building God’s Kingdom or my résumé
Listen: The most important skill you can develop is the ability to listen.
Bonhoeffer says in his book on Christian Community called “Life Together”
So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to “offer” something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Life Together
Learn to listen: One of the most difficult lesson to learn as a young leader is knowing when to speak and when to be quite. Listening is a skill that must be learned if you are to be effective as a leader and if you are to reflect the heart of God. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of giving people answers to their problems or what we perceive their problems to be. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to say that you are sorry and that you will pray for them or to say that you don’t have the answer but you know someone who does. Pat answers can produce a shallow simple faith that when tested will always bend and will often break.
One of the reasons I started blogging years ago was to try to be to someone else what I wish someone was to me. There are so many things that I had to learn the hard way. When I started leading in kidmin there weren’t blogs, twitter, or even that many conferences. I learned many things the hard way but not everything because I was fortunate to be hired by one of the best leaders I know. He doesn’t have a blog but he has a legacy that is far-reaching I have learned much from his leadership. I also have also been blessed to work alongside some of the best leaders I have ever met. I love the team I am a part of and much of what I know and who I am is because of their voices and their influence on me.
That being said I want to start a series of posts that address some of the things that apply to all leaders but especially young leaders. The rise of the internet and social media has been an amazing thing but it has its downside as well. I want to do a few posts where I break down some of the traps that young leaders fall into that derail them from being what God wants for them to be and from doing what He wants them to do.
Before I dive into these topics I would like to offer this disclaimer. I am not perfect and have MUCH to learn as a leader. I do however feel that if I can help others avoid the mistakes I and others have made it’s worth my time because it builds the kingdom. So for the next few days, I want to cover the following topics.
1. Listen: The most important skill you can develop is the ability to listen.
2. Experience: Lack of experience is actually a good thing.
3. Ego: The Church does not need brilliant personalities
4. Influence: The worst thing that could happen to you is gaining a platform
5. Gospel: What you believe about Jesus and His Church will decide who you become
We did VBS for 5 years in a row and stopped doing them for the past 12 years because we weren’t accomplishing what we set out to accomplish with them. Last year we started to do them again here is why we started again and why you should do VBS as well.
- We live in a very pluralistic society that doesn’t value church but values traditions. There are many parents who have young kids who either don’t go to church or infrequently attend church but have great memories of VBS. They want their kids to have those some memories and will put their kids in VBS before taking them on the weekend.
- Having 15 hours in the VBS week to speak new truth or reinforce what is being taught at home is invaluable. The new regular attendees standard is now 12 to 24 Sundays a year. VBS gives you a nice chunk of time to drill down into core truth that kids need in the world we now live in.
- Partnering with parents starts with equipping parents. Doing VBS with this in mind makes VBS more valuable than a simple stand alone program.